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 Nose injuries and Orf. The originator of the query receives comments as they come through.

Hedgehog Awareness Week
I have already had a number of calls about HAW as some carers seem to have had such a good response in previous years and are receiving requests to attend or stage events again.

In 2001 Hedgehog Awareness Week will be from Sunday 6th May to Saturday 12th May. I shall try where possible to send the information packs by e-mail but those not on e-mail will get them through the post as usual. I hope to do this in February.

Anyone not on my mailing list, for the info pack, can get in touch with me and I can get a pack off to them.

Zoonoses - Orf
I have been asked if anyone has contracted orf from their hedgehogs.
Orf is a zoonose. It is a virus infection that it is known can be transmitted from sheep to man. There have also been cases of it being passed from seals to man. In this case the problem is on the carer's hands. The vet and the doctor both think it is orf and tests for fungal infections have proved negative. I understand that the BHPS and St Tiggywinkles have not heard of this before. These are the responses I received:
1. We have sheep that in the past had orf, but I have never had a hedgehog with it. I have caught ringworm a number of times and other nurses here have too!

2. From a "wildlife" vet:
Recently I contacted most of the vets I could think of who regularly handle wildlife as a 'straw poll' on their actual experiences of zoonoses. The commonest zoonosis they had encountered was ringworm from hedgehogs; there was no mention of orf.

'Common things are common' and some cases of ringworm can be difficult to confirm with laboratory tests and difficult to treat.

3 Both Paul and I have had this infection you call orf, we didn't know what it was and the doctors first treated it as ringworm, but one doctor remembered he had seen cases in farmers with sheep, and gave us something to rub in, and a course of antibiotics, and it worked! Paul's was worse than mine, his hands came up with large lumps that itch uncontrollably, the areas weep then become dry and hard like dead skin, and peel off like blisters. Mine was on one area of the hands, but the cream "Fucidine 2%" by Leo laboratories seems to clear it. I'm so glad it has been recognised, I have had it twice, it is unbearable itching, like nothing I've had before, but we both handle the hogs without gloves, and it is usually on the palm of the hand, although Paul's was all over both sides.

4. From a vet at a wildlife hospital. Seals and squirrels both get parapox similar to orf, and I believe there are instances of zoonotic spread from both of these species. However, we have not (yet-I'm tempting fate and touching wood hard now!) experienced this.

5. I have had ringworm on my hands (too) many times over the years. It starts as a little itchy raised lump and lots of little lumps appear around it. Doctors have diagnosed eczema, impetigo, allergy, orf etc but I only catch it after handling hogs with ringworm that respond to Grisovin. Some vets have never seen hog ringworm - it doesn't fluoresce under a Woods lamp - and prescribe Ivomec jab and Antibiotics. I take hog back after 10 days and get given Grisovin as they believe me then! So, in answer to your question, I have been diagnosed as having orf but I believe it was ringworm.

PS I once painted creosote on my finger and bandaged it up - cured the ringworm but all the skin sloughed off, not recommended!

Blind hedgehogs
Note from a reader:
I've been talking to Keith Hall and, like me, he has noticed an increase in the number of hedgehogs coming in that are blind in one or both eyes. We don't think that it is just us being more acute about it, but an increase in those born blind and an increase in those blinded by disease.

Note: Many of the blind hedgehogs received at Hedgehog Helpline seem to have had a trauma to the head and we believe this has caused the loss of vision.

Spinal/Pelvic injuries
I have had a few calls about hedgehogs with pelvic injuries and would like to mention a few points that may help with these sorts of injuries.

It is very important to monitor the waste output of these casualties. In some cases they may not be able to pass water and this can be very serious and will need immediate veterinary intervention. Watch how they pass their motions - does it just empty from the rectum with no effort or does the hedgehog strain (as per normal) to pass the motion. If it just empties it may mean that there is some paralysis and it is the back up of waste from further up the system that pushes out the motion. These are useful symptoms to mention to your vet when he examines the patient and will help him judge the extent of the injury.

The other thing to mention is bedding. We normally use paper on the floor of the pens and towel bedding. However the paper can be slippery especially if the hedgehog has a leg injury and is not walking very well. To help we put towel bedding on the floor (over or in place of the paper) so the hedgehog has a rough surface to walk on and does not slip when walking.

Nose Injury
The following is a request for help followed by e-mailed responses to that request.

"I hope you can help with a problem that I have with a hedgehog that I have had in for a few weeks? When he came in to us he had lacerations to his face and rear, all the wounds have healed well apart from an injury that he has to his nose. The end of the nose has been sliced off, with this being wet most of the time it is not getting chance to heal over. Have you any suggestions to what may be done to encourage the healing process. He has been on antibiotics and there is no infection to the injury."

1 Try bathing the nose in Chamomile tea, dry the nose carefully with soft paper (Kleenex). When it is good dry, put on a little St. John's wort oil on the nose. You could try this ... once a day for 10 days. I think you will find St. John's worth makes wonders.

2. Try "Weeleda Calendula" cream. It is available at most chemist and only costs about 3. I have found it very effective.

3. In my opinion you will never be able to dry it up, as it is always dripping naturally. It could never be released and would continually get infections from eating. This is one occasion when I would advise having the Hedgehog put down. Because of the fact its nose will always drip, it will never heal, and it is deprived of its main sense. We have come across this in the past, and unfortunately the only solution seems to be to have it put down.

4. This is definitely one for a vet! Only two things cross my mind, a) if there is not too much of the nose tip missing, could it not be stitched over? b) If a lot of the tip were missing, would a small skin graft to seal the open portion be out of the question? Obviously the cosmetic result would be poor but functionally it would be no worse than scar tissue.

5. Many years ago I sliced the top of my thumb and was given "Flamazine" cream to apply to it while healing as no stitching could be done. We have used it several times for wildlife in similar circumstances where there is no edge to a wound that will pull together. It aids regrowth of tissue and may be very useful in the case of the hedgehog with the sliced nose.

6. Last summer we had 3 hoggies with bad bite injuries. One had half her face damaged - including losing her top and lower lips - and her sister had nearly lost her nose. The vet told us to bathe the wounds with Providone - Iodine Surgical Scrub then apply Intra-Site gel, 3 times a day. Within a few days both had runny noses and were wheezing and the hoglet with the face injury also got conjunctivitis in the eye near the wound. We were worried that the surgical scrub was causing the problems so stopped using it. Instead we bathed the wounds with warm water 4 times a day then alternated drops of Tincture of Propolis with the Intra-Site gel. So, am used Intra-Site gel, noon used Propolis, pm used Intra-Site gel and last thing at night used Propolis. The wounds took over 8 weeks. No antibiotics were needed and the injuries didn't affect their appetites!

Both are now hibernating in hedgehog houses in the garden. The Propolis was the syrupy kind, used neat. Propolis can be ingested so we were not worried about the hogs swallowing it and, unlike the surgical scrub, they didn't mind the taste -although it did initially cause a lot of self-salivating!
We purchased the Tincture of Propolis by post from Tina Drakes, Beelief Apitherapy, Trefere Bella Penparc, Cardigan SA43 1RN. Tel: 01239-810301.

7. I too have had that problem, they don't heal at all well, in one of my cases the slice was through the nostrils, and every time it healed over, the nostrils stuck together too, so he couldn't breathe! I had to keep opening the wound to let him breathe, in the end he had to be put to sleep I'm afraid.
It all seems to depend on where the slice is. If the nostrils are clear, it may well heal, but as the area is always wet it may be some time.

8. The problem with the nose is that it is damp and is used a lot. It is like an amputated leg - if the stump is left it is used and becomes sore and won't heal. In that case you amputate further so the stump is not used. Obviously this is not something that can be done with a nose. Depending on the injury we may well put the hedgehog to sleep without treatment (this is based on previous unsuccessful treatments of such injuries). This is because the nose is such a sensitive organ, the problems with non-healing and the possibly that it may not be releasable. 9. I manage to clear up wounds with Calendular Lotion. It is a very powerful healer. Also comes in cream and ointment, but is quite expensive.

It was recommended to me by a homeopathic vet some years ago, he used it a lot on bad superficial wounds. I am never without it now. I have a Hedgehog here that had its back ripped off by a dog. Had nearly 30 stitches, the wound went smelly and became infected. Calendula has healed it up well. The Hedgehog is doing well, gaining weight and you can hardly see the wound.

10. A possibility would be the very careful application of 'Veterinary wound powder' I have used it to try and dry up a weeping wound before with some success, although application to the nose would have to be done possibly with a small paint brush rather than the puffer bottle it comes in.

Feeding Suggestion
I have asked a reader in the US for more information about Iams and this is her response:
You asked about the discussion and problems over Iams food for hedgehogs. The problem is really with the Iams kitten food. The high protein and high fats that are easily metabolised by young felines tends to cause fatty liver disease in hedgehogs that don't need that high a percentage of those ingredients in their diets.

The adult Iams is just fine, as is Eukanuba, also made by the same company here in the US. It's the kitten food that's so nasty. I happen to use a mix of Iams with my hedgies. I try to balance out the selenium and thiamine as well as fats and proteins by mixing premium cat foods with commercially available hedgehog food.

Feeding Tips 2
When I have very thin hedgehogs very nervous and when they do not eat themselves. I give 4 times a day Esbilac or baby human food, just before giving food I give "pancrex vet powder" and I have a good results.

A cloth bag full of wheat grains can be microwaved and used as a "hot water bottle". It will keep its heat a lot longer than a water bottle.

Hairless Hedgehogs
The following was received about 2 small hedgehogs that had no hair although they did have prickles:
The two hairless hedgehogs were taken into the vet and put under anaesthetic for tests on possible skin problems. No skin problems were apparent and so it is thought that they are mutations. Their body hair is now starting to grow - although very slowly and unusually dark (almost black). I am quite keen to hold onto them, as I am interested in how they will turn out!! Has anyone experienced anything similar ie that was not caused by mites?

Note - the hair all grew back and they developed into standard sized hedgehogs.

Odd Babies
From a reader on a similar theme to the above. This relates to some youngsters rescued in August - "We have 2 babies now who are very odd. They have teeth, their eyes are very small and Jill has examined one and there is no reaction to light. Their faces are still round, their feet and toes are very small/short and the fingers on their hands are not the right length. The fur on the ruff is very long in comparison to the spines, so that must be the right length! The first one took a long time to eat for herself, the second one has only just come in, from the same people in the same area, so let's hope it IS just one litter. Jill wondered if it was toxins affecting the mother. If they do make it, perhaps we should check they do/don't have the full reproductive kit and remove it if they have (they are both female) if we are going to release them.

Our expert theories!! I think they look like, mild spina bifida cases, dumpy, back legs not working properly. Phil thinks they have Turner's Syndrome, which is where everything is small. Any other offers?"

Note from a reader - We find our magnifying lamp very useful for hedgehogs with maggots it's great because you can see better and also the warmth from the bulb brings the maggots out.

I have received the following comments about mealworms:
1. Re: mealworms - not sure about the phosphorus but the fat content is very high so don't overdo them. They are only about 57% water a good 10% less than casters (blowfly pupae). As a proportion of dry weight, mealworms are 45% fat and 44% protein but low in digestible carbohydrates.

2. The following was included in a copy of Bat Care News but I thought it would be of interest to readers who use mealworms to feed their hedgehogs. "Earlier in the year Ginni Little had a sudden problem with long time captives becoming ill, showing extreme symptoms and sadly going downhill very quickly. Because the bats had been captive and well for a long time, and now more than one was affected it seemed likely that something had changed in the care routine or the housing environment that was causing problems. The symptoms suggested poisoning might be a cause, so I left a message for Livefoods Direct (used to be called the Mealworm Company) to ask if they had changed the way they reared or packed mealworms. Ginni also rang them and I think they were quite concerned that they may have a bad batch. However there had been no change in the production routine, and Ginni thought she may have found the cause when I spoke to her last.

Nevertheless, since then several people have spoken to me about the amount of newspaper that mealworms eat during their journey from Livefoods Direct, because of the amount of ink that is ingested. The concern is that printing inks may contain heavy metals, which are stored in body fats and accumulate. This probably only affects bat workers that order large amounts of mealworms, I'm not sure if it affects bat workers that buy only an ounce or so and receive them in cartons. So I wrote to Livefoods Direct explaining the concerns and sent them a well-nibbled sheet of newsprint. They rang me on receipt of the letter are setting up a trial with me to see if they can deliver mealworms to me packed with plain, not printed paper, and if the system works, they are prepared to do this for anyone feeding bats. Their difficulty will be that they supply people by name, and often do not know what the mealworms are used for. If you would like your mealworms packed in plain paper, not printed newsprint, please let the company know when you order, that you are feeding bats. It may take a little time to set up, so please don't get mad with them if it doesn't happen yet, at least they will know that you are feeding bats. There will be more in the next issue."

Courses etc
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 April.

Radiotracking in Practice - a weekend course is being held on the 9th-11th February 2001. The cost for the full weekend is 60 (D, B& B for 2 nights) which includes a social on Friday, various subjects including methods, equipment, ethics, public relations, map reading on Saturday followed by a Hot Pot Supper and then a Skills Test on the Sunday morning. Reductions are available for those not wishing to stay overnight for either or both nights. Ray Jackson is running the course at Petty Pool Outdoor Centre, Nr Northwich, Cheshire. For more details contact Ray on 01565 755082 or by e-mail Spaces may be limited.

Wild Care Conference - the Skye Environmental Centre is holding its 10th conference. It is on the 9th/10th March in Inverness. The programme will include, Raptor vision and Rehabilitation, Homoeopathy, Post-release monitoring of foxes and an update on marine rescue. The cost is 30 for the day or there are packages for those wishing to stay overnight. Contact Grace Yoxon 01471 822487 or e-mail for more information.

A one-day conference will be held at Hadlow College, nr Tonbridge, Kent on 24th February 2001. The conference is about the re-introduction of native species. The opening address will be given by Lee Durrell (Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust). Tickets cost 26 for individuals and 39.50 for professionals. All refreshments and a buffet lunch are included in the price. Telephone 020 7498 4533 for further details and tickets.

Please send any comments or contributions for the next newsletter to:

Kay Bullen, 5 Foreland Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff CF14 7AR tel 029 20623985. e-mail: web site at:

Jan 2001

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