Wild animals cover up their injuries and illnesses and hedgehogs have the added safeguard of being able to roll up so you cannot see what is going on with them and things may not be as easy as they look.
Normally I keep them in an incubator to observe them for 24 hrs. Their poo tells a lot, colour, texture, amount and most important is there blood in it? Apart from in babies, green poo and blood stains are indicative of heavy worm burden and need immediate treatment. Letting the Vet or Vet Nurse look at it under a microscope will show which type of worm you are dealing with. I use Panacur powder for intestinal worms and Levacide for Lung worm. Both will probably have an effect on either worm but will be most successful with the one I have designated. Telmin paste is also good for treating lung worm but I have not used it.
Parasites - Ticks are the main one that I find. Long, fine tweezers or a tick lasso can be used to grasp the tick at its shoulder, then twist and pull. It is essential to get the mouth part out and it is also essential to give antibiotic. When they are carrying a large number, I let the Vet do it with the hog asleep. More expensive but kinder. I removed 250 from one hog that lived to tell the tale.
Fleas - never see them - well, once in 10 years. Rid Mite powder or spray will sort it. Powder may be obsolete now.
Mites - usually the hedgehog scratches a lot but is not losing hair or prickles. For both fleas and mites, use Ridmite Powder. Ridmite is used on birds so is considered safe for hedgehogs. Just sprinkle along its back so it does not inhale it when rolled up. The powder may not be around now so you will need the spray.
Mange - Always a "joy" to find this. Prickles fall out and have a lot of debris around the root and creeping up the prickle. It is a mite and can be transmitted to your pets so handle with great care and hygiene. I use a product from my Vet which is dropped on the hedgehog's back once a week for 4 weeks (or more). Mangey hedgehogs should always see the Vet for diagnosis and treatment unless in a recognised centre.
Ringworm - I heard someone suggest that the mange mite could be carrying ringworm and I have to say that most of my hedgehogs that come in with mange, develop ringworm but the ones with ringworm first do not go on to get mange so there could be something in that. Whatever, usually ringworm is first seen as crusty lumps on the nose. I use Mycozole spray from the Vet but treatments are improving all the time. If left untreated, the crusts spread and can cover the eyes so the hog cannot see.
Coughing - There are two types of cough, both mean worms but the really serious one is the chesty, smokers cough, which is lungworm and that kills. All coughing hedgehogs need vetinerary treatment.
Injuries - Hedgehogs can hide some nasty injuries by rolling up. Sometimes swelling starts after admission and a leg will not retract properly or there will be blood where it has been walking. Until you are confident and competant, all injuries should be seen by a Vet. Often where there is an injury, there are fly eggs. They can look like little grains of sand or flecks of sawdust. These hatch very quickly into maggots, which go inside the hedgehog causing internal damage and death. Always wash off eggs and first stage maggots with a Savlon bath, 1 part Savlon to 20 parts warm water. Dry hog as far as possible with a hair dryer then use XeneX Spot On according to the set dosage (Guinea Pigs and Rodents). You probably have to ask your Vet for this. Once maggots enter the hedgehog, euthanasia is the kindest thing...honestly!
New treatment is F10 wound spray to kill maggots, eggs and clean the wound
Wobbling - If your hedgehog is wobbling, it is very weak and very ill. It will probably even be too cold for the incubator or heat pad to warm it. In these cases I wrap them in a towel, put on a thick cardigan that I knitted and never liked and tuck them in it, letting my body heat warm them.
If it is wobbling but warm, is there an injury or does it have an ear infection? Ear infections make them giddy and they circle, wobble and fall. Another Vet job AND you need to take it on a hot water bottle.
DO YOU STILL WANT TO CARE FOR HEDGEHOGS? On top of all this over the first 24 hours, they are VERY messy creatures, will bite you and spike you and hiss and spit but despite all this, they are adorable. Just don't be fooled into thinking it is easy to look after them.
NEVER GIVE HEDGEHOGS MEDICINES PRESCRIBED FOR YOUR CAT, DOG OR OTHER ANIMALS. THEY ARE A DIFFERENT ANIMAL WITH DIFFERENT NEEDS. THE MEDICINE MAY BE RIGHT BUT THE WRONG STRENGTH AND THE DOSAGE TOO HIGH.
Looking after animals properly takes time, love and MONEY. It is kinder to pass them on to a centre that is properly equipped as quickly as possible. I do lose hedgehogs and get pretty upset sometimes because either the people have tried to look after it themselves or they have put it "somewhere safe" for 24 hours and it is too late.
FUNNY CARING STORY
Not sure if this is funny or disturbing. I have found that, if I become stressed and worry about the hedgehogs for any reason (usually wanting to go away), I sleepwalk. I have been known to move hedgehogs from cage to cage or even release them at night. It took a while to work out what was going on as I had no track record of sleep walking. I have fitted alarms to a couple of doors and tied an old bra to the bottom of my bad. If I feel "spikey" when I go to bed, I set the alarms and pop my foot through the bra strap so I will fall over if I try to get out.
THE SAD SIDE OF CARING
It has to be faced that hedgehogs die, just as any living being will eventually pass over. Some die within 24 - 48 hours of coming into care and it is obvious that they were too ill to be helped.
Some materialise symptoms after a few days and go down really fast. These usually have internal infections of some sort and cannot be helped. If you decide to care for hedgehogs, or any animal, you have to be prepared for this and try not to be too attached to the patients. It is not advisable to become attached anyway as they are going back to the wild so you should not talk to them or pet them to any extent but there are always some who reach in and touch your heart. The hardest to come to terms with (I think) are the ones you have had to keep for quite a long time and, just when you think you have won the battle, they keel over unexpectedly. Unless you have a kind, understanding Vet, you may never know why and this is painful.
These pictures are of Lloyd who was my blind hedgehog
and loved being cuddled and held. He died at 18 months
when his heart ruptured - a day I will never forget.