HEDGEHOG NEWSLETTER - NUMBER 38
Please let me have any tips, comments, ideas, problems or information that I can pass on to other hedgehog rehabilitators by way of this newsletter. Do try to send any information that may be of interest to other carers and if you are a beginner then feel free to ask any questions. If you are anywhere other than in the UK please remember this newsletter is about the European Hedgehog and that drugs and legal implications may be different in other countries.
Please note that I receive comments from other rehabilitators so when I use the word "I" this is not necessarily referring to me personally but rather the original author.
I am also using e-mails to get quick answers and views on carers' problems. Topics can then be included in later newsletters - in this newsletters are views on Frontline, self-mutilation and poisoning. The originator of the query receives comments as they come through.
The Welsh Hedgehog Hospital's FAQ page can be found at http://www.whh.org/treatments/faq/
HEDGEHOG NEWSLETTER - NUMBER 38
Please let me have any tips, comments, ideas, problems or information whichI can pass on to other hedgehog rehabilitators by way of this newsletter. Do try to send anyinformation that may be of interest to other carers and if you are a beginner then feel free to ask anyquestions. If you are anywhere other than in the UK please remember this newsletter is about the European Hedgehog and that drugs and legal implications may be different in other countries.
Please note that I receive comments from other rehabilitators so when I usethe word "I" this is not necessarily referring to me personally but rather the original author.
The Hedgehog Helpline has e-mail facilities and a web site - details are at the end of this newsletter. Because I do not have to photocopy and provide envelopes and postage for newsletters that I e-mail those with e-mail facilities receive the newsletter free of charge.
Hedgehog Awareness Week
The week runs from 30th April to 6th May 2000. Everyone who has asked for an information pack
should have received theirs by now - if not let me know.
I still have copies of our booklet "Rearing Hoglets" available. The booklet is available on receipt of an SAE to hold an A5 booklet. A small donation eg a few second class stamps is appreciated (to cover printing costs).
I received another suggestion on circling hedgehogs - one carer had 5 circling hedgehogs admitted in 1999 and 3 of them had ear mites that were thought to be the cause of the problem. I have had a problem with one hedgehog a few years ago that had masses of ticks that were well grown in the ear and that seemed to be causing circling (it stopped once they were removed).
>From your comments I wonder whether these hedgehogs are having a problem before they hibernate. We have not had any of ours that are kept inside hibernate properly yet (as at Feb 2000) and some are over 2lbs. The wild hedgehog in our garden has been out since about 7th February.
Do you worm yours, have they needed any antibiotic treatments. I have to say again it sounds like there is a problem - they go cold (rather than hibernate) and die.
If I had a 1lb hedgehog trying to hibernate (especially with the problems you are having) I would put it on a heated pad. Although the room temperature is warm it may not be warm enough and they may need this sort of direct heat. Try this, I guess you have nothing to lose as they are likely to go the same way as the others. I would worm them and as our research last year showed that all the autumn juveniles (40 were tested) had multi bacterial infections, tests showed sensitivity to
Baytril plus a few other antibiotics.
We find that the hedgehogs more likely to hibernate early are adults that have hibernated in previous years. Even in a warm environment with plenty of food they still hibernate so it is not just food and temperature, it is far more complex than that.
I have to say that I am very surprised that a 12oz hedgehog survived hibernation - I would not have thought they had enough fat to survive. If it did I wonder why some even bigger than that are having problems. You mention some at 8-12oz are trying to hibernate - that really does not sound right.
Some of the little ones we have in have a very large worm burden - we have a quick look under the microscope to see (very roughly) worm egg numbers and now as a matter of routine always worm our autumn juveniles. We use Panacur.
Other carers' comments:
1. I find that whether they be hot or cold, in winter when my Hedgehogs reach over 1lb 12ozs, they begin to make nests and hustle around. Seems weight triggers it. Even with the heater on - I have two now, they weigh nearly 2lbs, that are fast asleep. I check them once a week. Dried food/water is available all the time. I am now getting ready to turn the heat off as even my smallest weighs 1lb 9ozs, but if last year is anything to go by, some will not go to sleep at all.
I am wondering if the lady who wrote to you is allowing them to go to sleep too small? I find to keep them fully awake, the temperature has to be around 70 degrees.
2. My first comment is that we would not release a hedgehog towards the end of the year that was under 1 1/2 lbs. (600 grams). We consider this to be the safe weight (bearing in mind that we live in the north where winters may be longer and colder than in the south). Any hedgehogs that we over winter would also have to be that weight before we would let them
hibernate. Also as I believe that any parasites living on or in the hedgehog will not hibernate then they are all wormed
and de-bugged as a matter of course.
3. We believe that many of the smaller hedgehogs that we get in during early spring have hibernated underweight and do not have the reserves to bring them back round and / or have hibernated with a body full of worms that have done damage during the winter. I would not expect any hedgehog that hibernates at 8 to 10 ounces to stand much chance of survival.
We have 2 hogs in our outside pens (separated) and although we have had some long frosty spells they both prefer to remain awake, last year we had one of our overwintering adults that hibernated in early March and didn't wake up until the end of April, mind you it was a female and you know how ladies like to sleep in after a late night.
I think the two tame hogs that died as soon as they "hibernated" may have died of a stress related complaint. As you will know some hogs don't take kindly to confinement and will go hyper to get out, normally walking on tip toe and hardly sleeping. In the early days we had ones that where very stressed at being kept in a pen and then stopped eating and died. Our vet
said that stress at being confined was enough to cause this. Now if we have one like that it is released if at all possible or if
it has to stay in it is put into a large out door run or sedated or both. Thankfully most hogs settle down when they realise they are getting 5 star treatment.
4. I have difficulty deciding if they want to hibernate or have Coccidia, the symptoms are the same, I would say, by the time they feel cool to the touch, you should have an idea if they are dying or not!
We have had several this year who are only small 450-500g and wont get any bigger, lose weight outside, are unhappy inside and dig and dig at the newspaper, even with sacks of hay for beds they don't eat or not much, sometimes have green droppings, and sometimes nice ones, and in all cases they just want to hibernate but perhaps because our weather is so mild, it is around 10'C inside and the TV says it is only 8-9 C outside, my thermometers usually register around 50F by the time I get up! We did go below freezing for a couple of nights and then everyone shut right off like someone had turned off the switch!! For us it is difficult to decide if they may still have fluke as well/or Coccidia, of course they often shed Coccidia and other parasites just before hibernation like they often cough a lot (sometimes with Crenosoma larvae and you only get one Levamisole jab in before they are asleep!) just before they go to sleep, like they are clearing everything out! I did have one last year who died in hibernation with blood from her nose, didn't post mortem as it was too disgusting - had been there several days, she had stirred a little before she died, but 1 had left her alone to wake up properly, she was on her own in a hutch. This year as 1 have so many (live) ones- unlike last year when I had a full freezer - I have set up 4' hutches in the garage which is actually like a cave into the side of the hill and in there the temperature is steady, around 50F or just below, when it was freezing outside it was warmer in there than in my "cold" end of the studio where the awake big ones are! but now it is a couple of degrees cooler in there again.
And with this steady temperature and no disturbance from people and dark all the time, except when I go in once a day
to check they are asleep and change water and any dirty newspaper, they do seem to stay asleep, whereas upstairs now it is warm in the day they have mostly woken up again.
Do you find adults settle down and go to sleep with no bother, like they know what to expect but these juveniles in their first winter seem sometimes to make a lot of fuss about it? I think it must feel very odd and they don't want to give in to it in case they don't wake up again. My last hand reared baby who is asleep now, the first time he did hibernate for one night came out the next afternoon and looked at me from his sack as if to say - what is happening to me? Is it all right?! So 1 said go to sleep and I'll still be here in Spring and so he did and now he just wakes up for a crap now and again like a proper piglet!!
Re letting them hibernate at heated room temperature I think is unwise, they will be using up energy trying to stay cold. I thought they didn't hibernate under 50F? Maybe there was something wrong with their brown fat storage mechanism? If they were only llb or 8-12ozes no wonder they didn't survive! 1 don't think you can use night storage heaters in hedgehog
rooms! I have one of those oil filled rads with a thermostat, it is on 24hrs a day when I have small or sick ones in, I try to
maintain a temp of 60F or 15C - not possible in sub-zero temps outside, but never below 50F in there! But then 1 am lucky as the studio has 2 rooms so I have a warm end(room) and a cold end(room) - door shut in between!! Incidentally the "cold" end is brilliant in summer as the floor is vinyl over concrete when it is really hot and if we get one with a bad heart who needs to be cool. If 1 had 8-12oz hogs in winter they would be in an ambient temp of 60F with a heat pad on Nol underneath them - well until about 350g-12oz. I don't understand how the climate outside affectsher hedgehogs inside when she is overwintering them.
Our hedgehogs vary so much with when they hibernate, but the mass go to sleep button didn't get switched on until well into January this year, then of course some had been asleep since early November.
I have had 450g hogs successfully hibernate and wake up, yes I have had some who will not eat even when on a heat pad, there are no parasites in the poo even if it is dark -green (not pale slime) and they nod off once you cool them down, they seem to lose remarkably little weight during hibernation and it seems to me that we may be letting our hogs get too fat as 650g hogs will sometimes lose a lot more weight during hibernation, 'The provision of food and water is no guarantee they will stay awake!!!
These 2 fatties she looked after - if they were too fat and then she reduced their food suddenly , could this have damaged their livers? Do you reduce the amount of food you put before hibernation? I leave it up to the hedgehog, they stop eating hemselves and often change their tastes and stop eating tinned food and nibble Iams for a bit until they stop completely. I have never been able to tell any hedgehog when to hibernate! I have them in exactly the same conditions with the same food available right next door to each other and one will be stuffing its face each night and the other will be sound asleep!! I think we understand so little about the processes of hibernation, we aren't qualified to tell them when to do it!!
[Note - at the Hedgehog Helpline we do not reduce the food to encourage hedgehogs to hibernate, we prefer to leave it up to them. Some of the bigger ones will be moved to a cooler area to encourage hibernation but food is always available in the usual quantities.]
Someone recently mentioned slug pellets and the dangers associated with them. I personally wish that people would not put down slug pellets as I feel that there are many deaths not put down to poisoning when they should be. Even "safe" pellets or slug pubs or salt used to control slugs will destroy the food chain and the creatures depending on eating slugs and snails have a shortage of food and may starve.
Reasons for Admissions
The following are the Cardiff Hedgehog Helpline's figures for the final 3 months of 1999:
4 dog attacks
2 old age
4 chest infections
2 caught in netting
1 caught in railings
3 head injuries
2 other injuries
9 dog attacks
2 fox attacks
1 chest infection
61 out in day
3 stuck down drains
1 stuck in hole
12 suffering from mange
3 cases involving 6 hoglets out in day
1 litter of 4 abandoned - possibly mum hibernated
I would suggest the RTAs and drowning are not true reflections of the numbers involved as most will have died and not be in need of rehabilitation!
Fish for Hedgehogs
1. You mention not giving fish - I have heard this but never seen a paper giving the reasons why not - do you know why foods with fish are not suggested for hedgehogs. We give a wide range of foods and if fishy foods are donated we mix them with the other flavours and seem to have no problems. I would not give a diet of just fish though. I would be really interested to know the paper or research that says why fish should not be fed - someone suggested it was in one of the European Wildlife Rehabilitation Newsletters.
2. I have heard people talk about not feeding hogs with fish but only because the hogs are not supposed to like it. When we get fish flavoured cat foods donated we try a bit with all the hogs and normally one or two will eat it and they have never come to any harm.
3. Yes what is all this about fish - I have never found anything in print?
I use fish Iams a lot as the shape is round and small and they love them, even small ones can eat them when chicken Iams are
too big and they are eating kitten Iams! Also I use Choosy Sardine or Arthur's Sardine and Pilchard for anyone who has breathing problems, it smells like mad and the poo stinks of course, but anything to get them eating!!
Our vet has recommended boiled fish as a light diet for stomach upsets or kidney problems, but I do find they wont eat straight boiled coley.
4. I was told by a professional rehabilitator that fish caused hedgehogs to develop ulcers. The Wildlife Hospital (St. Tiggywinkles) supports this statement and I was told by a nurse there that this conclusion was formed by observation.
A number of carers say they use smelly fish to tempt hedgehogs to start feeding - to excite the taste buds. This trick is often used for cats with bunged up noses.
I have heard from one carer that he found the oily tinned fish cat food gave his hedgehogs' diarrhea.
In the fish section above we mentioned fish for a light diet eg in cases of stomach upsets or kidney problems. The carer also suggested they prefer roast chicken rather than fish. She continues - I don't know if you can get it from any of your pet shops, but a friend put me in touch with a small pet shop and she orders specially large 20kg blue plastic bags of diced cooked hicken, it is meant to be fit for human consumption and is great for hogs and cats and you don't have to waste time cooking, boning etc, you just divide it up into portions and keep frozen until needed. It wasprobably expensive I cant remember!!
Question - My annual intake of hedgehogs is still small - only eight this year so I wondered just how common blindness is among them; whether they could survive in the wild at all without the sight in one or both eyes. I have two completely blind hogs and one with the sight of one eye gone out of a fourteen intake over 2 years.
Of the blind hedgehogs none was hurt in the head although there were ticks very near them. Both were very young and not coping at all. The one with vision on one eye also had ticks on the head but in future I'm going to note where the ticks are placed. Is it possible there could be a connection? None walked in circles or behaved strangely but all had initial difficulty in finding their Pedigree Chum puppy food. The blind ones had to be led to it with a loaded spoon. I was surprised that smell did not take them there without this help because I assumed that smell would be more important than sight of 2" length.
Do you release hogs with sight in one eye only or do you put them in a secure home with a top-up of natural food?
Can I have readers comments please.
1. I did, without success, apply to my local small grants Lotteries Charity Board. As I did realise that they would not look at animal charities, I based my application on myself, my work in education and the equipment I needed to carry on. I still got no joy. I had letters of recommendation, plans, newspaper cuttings etc etc, but I only received their standard refusal letter
back, as follows:
"I am sorry to have to tell you that the Board is unable to make a grant for the project you submitted. This is not a reflection on the merits of your project but simply because your organisation is not one that falls within the very strict eligibility criteria which the Board must by law follow. We are unable to offer grants to applicant organisations which are legally ineligible,
even if they are submitting good projects".
2. We did apply for a grant from the national lottery for a new computer but we were turned down. The application form was a nightmare.
1. I have successfully obtained money from our local council, Leisure Services Committee under their Talented Performers/Outstanding Individuals. They offered from £50 -
£250, depending on the warranty. I just got some people to write and tell them about the work I do, sent my own portfolio
and got maximum amount.
2. We are members of the "Teeside Council for Voluntary Service" which is a local branch of the national group "Voluntary Sector Services" (VSS). They produce mountains of briefings and newsletters mainly aimed at 'people' charities but there is normally a section on who is giving grants and for what. We find there are a few environmental ones that overlap with
our aims. Local libraries and councils should be able to supply details of local Voluntary Service groups.
1. I also applied to the David Shepherd Conservation Foundation, 61 Smithbrook Kilns, Cranleigh, Surrey, GU6 8JJ. They did not sent money, but sent me a DS print, which I could raffle. It was valued, I think, at £20. I managed to make far more than that, having it framed, then via a raffle.
2. Another carer wrote to the David Shepherd Foundation in 1999 and was refused because the Foundation concentrates on endangered species like, tigers, elephants and rhino.
1. "I have now successfully used Mycil athletes foot ointment, for clearing up the encrustation which grows on the nose of Hedgehogs with ringworm. It seems to have had no adverse effect on the Hedgehog and it does clear it up quickly. Costs just over £2 per tube.
I have found another carer nearby, here in Norfolk, that is also plagued with Ringworm. Thank goodness its not just me."
2. Tea tree oil: I can vouch for tea tree oil for athletes' foot on me and we know it is safe for hogs, I use the animal lotion and spray (for cats and dogs) quite often on them.
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome.
1. Although we seem to get quite a few of hogs with "Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome", and I think it would be true to say that most of them die, our vet is not at all keen on doing post mortems. Therefore we are not sure of the technicalities of why the animal died. We must make more of an effort this year and get some PM's done.
2. I understand that in the USA they have been trying extra Vitamin B1 (thiamine) in the diet and there has been an improvement seen in some hedgehogs.
I have a couple of hogs that are really rattly despite being wormed 3 times and various anti biotics.
My vet has prescribed an anti biotic called Ronaxan that has been used very successfully on respiratory problems in cats. My hogs have been on it for 5 days now and there is a definite improvement.
Old fashioned fly papers are quite effective and cheap too.
The date for the next symposium has been provisionally set for Saturday 28th October 2000. The venue is likely to be the London Zoo as per usual. More details will follow in the next newsletter.
If you are organising a course or know of one please let me know and I can include it in the next
newsletter, the next issue will be out towards the end of July.
Please send any comments or contributions for the next newsletter to:
Kay Bullen, 5 Foreland Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 7AR tel 029 20623985.
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