One of the biggest problems that I encountered when I first started taking in and rehabilitating wildlife in 1984, bearing in mind that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing at that time, was finding anyone with experience who was prepared to give me any advice. Nobody seemed willing to share their knowledge. Speaking to other people who have set up since then, this problem is still the same today. This attitude does nothing to encourage more people to take up this line of work and certainly does nothing to help the injured wildlife. If anyone new to wildlife rehabilitation needs any help or advice, we are happy to do our best to assist.
Caroline Gould, Vale Wildlife Hospital Founder
Most medications used for the treatment of hedgehogs are Prescription Only Medicines (POM) which must be prescribed
by a veterinary surgeon after first carrying out a physical examination of the animal. They are not available
Click on this link for advice on FEEDING WILD HEDGEHOGS
EXAMINING FAECAL SAMPLES (HEDGEHOGS ONLY)
We are happy to examine hedgehog faecal samples for carers – they can be sent in the post. To help towards our costs and to try to cut down on unnecessary sampling, we charge a fee of £5.00 per sample sent.
Please complete a form and make payment here before sending any samples.
You need to send a fresh, complete sample (as we need to take our slide sample from the outside of the faeces, the part that has been in contact with the bowel wall). It should be put in a small, airtight, non-crushable container. Royal Mail will no longer deliver samples to us that are not packed appropriately. This should then be put in a padded envelope along with a copy of the above form. Send this first class to our address (make sure you pay the correct postage as it will be either a ‘large letter’ or a ‘small packet’ – it will not just be an ordinary letter stamp).
If you would like help to work out the correct dosage of a particular medication, please click the link to see Hedgehog Bottom’s calculator here
Hedgehogs hibernating when in care – maximum weekly weight loss calculator. Link to Hedgehog Bottom’s page here to detailing acceptable weekly weight losses for hedgehogs hibernating in care.
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.
Over recent years we have seen an increase in the number of hedgehogs (especially juveniles) developing metabolic bone disease, a crippling disorder affecting the bones, often caused by an inappropriate diet. In the video below, our vet explains how it is caused and shows a juvenile hedgehog displaying signs of the disease.
When we started looking into where these hedgehogs were coming in from and what they were eating, we realised that they were all from urban gardens and local people were regularly feeding them.
Mealworms were being given in abundance, but so were other foods which can also contribute to MBD such as sunflower hearts and peanuts (see the table below which illustrates the calcium/phosphorus ratio of some commonly used foods. An ideal ratio should be 1:1 or 1:1.5).
At Vale Wildlife Hospital, we never give these foods to the hedgehogs in our care. This applies to both live and dried mealworms.
This video explains MBD and shows a hedgehog suffering from it. https://youtu.be/RBjUhQN4STc
A few years ago we trialled a new mixture for hand rearing baby birds such as blackbirds, thrushes, robins, tits, finches & starlings. The results were so impressive that we have now changed over to the new recipe permanently:
50gms raw, lean minced beef
25gms Kaytee Exact
13gms ground sunflower hearts
Pinch of vitamin/mineral supplement
All this is liquidised for 5-10 seconds & is fed using tweezers, dipping into Lectade before feeding. Refrigerate between feeds & throw away any unused mixture after 24 hours. The mixture can be frozen. Thanks to Lorraine from Middlebank for suggesting this mix.