ROUTINE WORMING OF WILD HEDGEHOGS by
Tim Partridge B.V.Sc., M.R.C.V.S
The sight of green poo from a hedgehog seems to cause panic amongst
some carers & they immediately reach for a cocktail of antibiotics, wormers
& more. This is often unnecessary & can potentially create problems in a previously healthy hedgehog.
• All wild hedgehogs carry worms
• Healthy hedgehogs 'develop' a resistance (or immunity) to these worms, which means that the hedgehog itself prevents the worm numbers building
up to the point at which they become a problem to the hedgehog (so that normally the hedgehog and its parasites will live in harmony)
However, if a hedgehogs immunity is reduced (by, for example, a bad injury, disease, starvation or even the stress of hospitalisation) the worms can then multiply unchecked; this will then result in them getting to such high
numbers inside the hedgehog that they DO now cause a problem.
• There is no evidence to suggest that healthy, unstressed hedgehogs in
the wild need worming - they are doing a very good job for themselves in controlling their own worm burden.
• The stress experienced by a healthy hedgehog (or other wildlife) when brought into captivity is very well proven to reduce its immunity to the point where the natural host/parasite balance is tipped in favour of the parasite (hence why we often see worm egg and larvae numbers in faeces increasing during periods of hospitalisation).
So the act of captivity has just created a problem which didn't previously exist!......which is clearly not good medicine!
Please do not take hedgehogs into captivity purely for the purpose of
worming them - you will be doing them a huge disservice.