HEDGEHOG NEWSLETTER - NUMBER 54
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. 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
A note from a hedgehog rehabilitator:
I recently invested in having some leaflets printed and dropped them off into local vets and pet stores. They have yielded far more than I could have wished for. From them I have given numerous presentations (which I have been paid thus for covering food costs etc). And two perhaps three (still in discussions with number three) fosterers who now take “easy to care for” hogs, thus freeing me up to look after the hogs that need more attention. Fostering out also takes some of the financial burden as the fosterers although set up with a hutch have to provide food and bedding whilst they re in their care.
Well worth the £80.00 investment!
Mothers with Hoglets
From a hedgehog rehabilitator in Norfolk:
This year has been a busy year with more mums WITH babies coming in, mum injured etc., and the whole litter being brought to us.
Our policy on this is to check the mum, sort out any injures and then leave well alone for at least 10-14 days. We have units that have separate nesting area to feeding and only the feeding area is cleaned out. Mum and babies then left well alone.
This year we have had some quite 'friendly' mums (with babies) and they have been out more, feeding their young so we could observe. One of our ladies thought "why are the poo's on these tiny babies (fed by mum) a lot browner than those that I am rearing by hand".
So curiosity called for closer observation and a very patient rescuer, and it was seen that the babies were licking (through the mums teeth) a substance in the mothers mouth, presumably regurgitated food. (This happened with two mums).
We think the babies were around 10-14 days old, difficult one this as the babies were not handled in case the mum ate them!! The feeding from ?regurgitated food seemed to go until they were weaned.
This was not a one off as two different mums with litters did this, but as they were in an un-natural situation, it is difficult to prove if they do this in the wild.
Could this be the breakthrough on hoglet survival when brought up in captivity? I would like to know if anyone has observed this before, what are they licking and could this be helpful to know this substance for hoglet rearing?
From Yvonne Cox a hedgehog rehabilitator in Bristol:
I am trying to get stories and/or photos of hedgehogs (other animals too) stuck or trapped in litter. I am trying to get the 4-ring plastic can holders banned but Ben Bradshaw M.P. isn't being to co-operative and the litter operative in S Gloucestershire wants evidence. I have a petition for people to sign and can forward that onto anyone who wishes to help. Yvonne can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
From another hedgehog rehabilitator:
I have discovered that Isopropyl Alcohol removes unhatched flies' eggs from fur. I had a young hedgehog in with flies' eggs in its eyes and ears so cleaned them out with cotton buds and warm water but its stomach was smothered. I knew from a previous job that Isopropyl Alcohol has an amazing effect on adhesives so I tried it and it just allowed me to brush off the eggs with a toothbrush whilst evaporating immediately. Much quicker than removing eggs with tweezers. Sorry again if you have known that for years but I was delighted AND he's recovered so much that tonight
he's tucking in to some wet chicken (munching away as I type).
Thorny Headed Worms
A student in Germany (Jasmin Skuballa) is studying biology and will be doing a thesis on hedgehog parasites (mainly acanthocephalan – thorny headed worm). If you are able to collect any she would be very grateful. Apparently in Germany it is a little bit complicated to get acanthocephalans, because not many carers look for them. I have only heard of them on Jersey (where at present they are not being found) and in Anglia.
Put the acanthocephalan over night in water (ca. 12h) and then in alcohol, (70%).
Contact Jasmin, if you are able to help, on either her e-mail Jidy@gmx.de or at the Institute where she works:
Zoologisches Institut I der Universität Karlsruhe (TH)
Abt. Ökologie/ Parasitologie
z. Hd. Jasmin Skuballa
A question from a rehabilitation unit in Ipswich:
Has anyone noticed possible signs of inbreeding in hogs that are more or less confined to areas such as housing estates? I've had a couple of baby hogs that had signs of incomplete bowels and found it hard to pass any faeces. They subsequently died.Other hogs have shown certain deformities, noses, jaws and feet. This is over several years but it now comes to notice.
Reply 1 - My thoughts are that it may be chemicals or pesticides. After all, look what
exposure to electricity pylons and such like can do to humans.
Reply 2 - if anyone was going to get inbreeding you would think it would be us (Channel Islands) wouldn’t you?? We have had the odd congenital deformity but not so many as to get worried about, more just the odd weird one, we had one once with squashed up intestines and internal organs as if the bottom half of its body didn’t grow enough to make room for them. Why can’t these hogs get out of the housing estates and find new mates?
Reply 3 – one undershot jaw.
Reply 4 - haven't noticed anything that drastic. But late last year I did get two hogs come in, different ages but from the same back garden (perhaps one from first litter then second from autumn litter). They both had the odd very long prickles. Perhaps one in fifty was twice as long as the rest. They were also very pale in colour. The couple who brought the hogs in after a day or so phoned to say that a larger hog (perhaps mother to the two younger ones bought in) had been spotted eating form the cats bowl and had been looked at under a flash light. Although I didn't see him/her they told me this hog also had the strange extra long spikes. Apart from that all was well health wise - the two hogs came in because they were not big enough to hibernate.
My thoughts – in many cases we never know why the orphans we receive have been abandoned. In many cases the single hoglets may be the strongest from the litter that has struggled out and been found. However in some cases the hoglet will have been abandoned by its mother because there is something wrong with it. It may be that it is just a runt and weakly but in some cases the mother may recognise a problem that we are unable to detect or in some cases the problem will be more obvious to us. It is likely therefore that as a rehabilitator we will see a higher proportion of these deformed hoglets – because they are more likely to be abandoned. It should not be assumed that in the wild the proportion born healthy and the proportion born with defects will be the same proportion as those received into care.
It is important that any genetically deformed hoglets that do survive are not put back into the wild or indeed allowed to breed in captivity as whilst offspring may look normal they could still carry the defective genes.
Many carers are still reporting drops in the number of hedgehogs admitted. They are also commenting about the lack of fleas on hedgehogs.
Obtaining needles and syringes
A question from a hedgehog rehabilitator:
A question I have been asked lately is about the supply of needles and syringes. Do you know what the law is regarding this? We have a very understanding vet who allows us to buy them in reasonable amounts but people have said that their vet only allows them 1 or 2 at a time. Can we buy them wholesale or from a chemist (a local chemist has refused to sell them to a carer), or are they a restricted item ?
Any guidance would be appreciated.
Reply 1 - One of our hedgehog helpers is married to a pharmacist so I had a word with him. He says there is no legal reason why syringes and needles cannot be bought across the counter. Someone can refuse to serve you or sell the item to you just as a grocer can refuse to sell you a tin of baked beans if he so chooses. In many cases if the needle is to be used to inject a hedgehog then the hedgehog should in theory have been seen by a vet and the vet would provide the needles and the drugs. Another concern might be the disposal of sharps ie the contaminated needle when it is discarded – see below.
Reply 2 - I asked the local drugs project about whether or not you could legally purchase syringes over the counter and they said yes, although it depends on the attitude of the local pharmacy. Under the safe needles project anybody can walk in and collect a bag of needles.
Reply from a veterinary surgeon - As far as I am aware there is no restriction on the sale or possession of syringes and hypodermic needles. There are of course restrictions on their safe disposal.
I would have no problems with rehabilitators having needles and syringes [especially for subcutaneous injections of fluids] SO LONG AS THEY HAVE RECEIVED INSTRUCTION ON THEIR CORRECT USE BY THEIR ATTENDING VETERINARY PRACTICE.
Note - Replies have suggested that some pet shops and also electrical and electronic spares suppliers may supply them over the counter. Farm shops that sell things like wormers for horses etc may also sell syringes and needles.
Disposal of 'Sharps'
The following appeared in a recent issue of “Rehabilitator” the newsletter of the British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council:
Items, such as hypodermic needles and scalpel blades, used in medical and veterinary practice are usually referred to as 'sharps' and their safe disposal is an important matter of public safety. The Health and Safety Executive regard these items as 'clinical waste' and, hence, those involved in their use have a duty of care to ensure their safe disposal.
Under the supervision of their attending veterinary practices, the staff of many rehabilitation units administer medication by injection to animals within their care. Those who have care of any legally held wildlife casualty are regarded in law as the temporary owners of that animal and are therefore entitled to perform acts of 'minor veterinary surgery' on these charges, and this, in most circumstances, would include subcutaneous and intramuscular injections.
The duty of care for the responsible disposal of these sharps falls both on the veterinary practice supplying the materials and on the rehabilitation unit that is using them. Used sharps should be disposed of by placing in specially constructed Sharps containers, which are available from the veterinary practice supplying the sharp materials and to whom the containers should be returned for safe disposal.
For more information visit:
27 November 2004 Lowermoss Wood Wildlife Hospital Annual Symposium – This year will be Ray’s 10th Symposium and he has promised to make it extra special. It will be covering all wildlife not just Hedgehogs and will be held at Reaseheath College, Nantwich, Cheshire, UK. For more information contact Anne Maskell, email@example.com or write to her at 20 Garlic Row, Cambridge. CB5 8HW.
19th March 2005 Hedgehog Welfare and Weirfield Wildlife Hospital are joining together to put on a Hedgehog Course. Certificate of attendance will be given. This course will be held in the Lincoln Area.UK Further information from Janet Peto of Hedgehog Welfare from Hedgehog Welfare, PO
Box 6513, Caunton, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG23 6TX or firstname.lastname@example.org
7-8 April 2006 - The EHRG (European Hedgehog Research Group) next Meeting will be in 2006 at
Nottingham University 7-8 April 2006. Further details of the event or membership from Janet Peto, EHRG, PO Box 6513, Caunton, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG23 6TX or email@example.com
For more information, on the above, as it becomes available please write to Janet Peto the EHRG Membership Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Janet Peto, EHRG, PO Box 6513, Caunton, Newark, NG23 6TX
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 January 2005.
Please send any comments or contributions for the next newsletter to:
Kay Bullen, 5 Foreland Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 7AR tel 029 20623985.
web site at: http://www.hedgehg.dircon.co.uk/hedgehogs
mon adresse email