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 newsletter are views on meningitis. The originator of the query receives comments as they come through.

Foot and Mouth
Unfortunately I was on holiday when the foot and mouth crisis started, however the BHPS and also St Tiggywinkles have issued some guidance notes for hedgehog rehabilitators. For those who have not received the latest update (23rd April) from the BHPS I have reproduced the text below: The following is the text from the BHPS’s letter of 23rd April 2001 to all the carers on its rehab list.
Foot & Mouth Update - Hedgehog Movement

After much chasing and help from the Worcester MAFF, we have been given the following statement from the MAFF Head Office at Page Street regarding taking in and releasing Hedgehogs:

1 Hedgehogs in care from prior to hibernation are unlikely to have picked up disease. They can be released into the wild but NOT onto Form A* premises.

2 Hedgehogs taken in since the start of foot & mouth may be released provided they did not come from Form A* premises, in which case they should have been slaughtered.

3 Newly injured Hedgehogs may be taken in so long as they have not come from Form A premises, in which case they should have been slaughtered.

*A Form A notice is served on any premises where an affected or suspected animal is found or where it is suspected that foot and mouth disease exists.

Page Street have also agreed to try to distribute this information nationally to all MAFF regional offices, as at present there is a vast discrepancy of information being given out by local offices.

If you do find that your local office is giving out the wrong information, please let us know and we will send you a copy of the fax from the MAFF head office.

Up-to-date information regarding affected areas and premises served with a Form A notice can be obtained from your local MAFF office or from the national helpline. Also the MAFF web site that is updated daily and an excellent source of information, can be found at

           BHPS                                  9-4.30 Weekdays              01584 890 801
           Anne Jenkins                          Evenings & Weekends          01584 810 725
           MAFF Foot & Mouth Helpline            24 hour                      0845 050 4141
           Lisa                                  St Tiggywinkles              01844 292 292
Male Deaths
Has anyone had any deaths in healthy males that could be attributed to the stress of being kept in captivity too long because of the foot and mouth. I am looking for examples of healthy over wintered males that went off colour and perhaps died quite quickly.

Hedgehog Awareness Week
Just a reminder that Hedgehog Awareness Week will be from Sunday 6th May to Saturday 12th May. Those on the mailing list should already have received details. The week will be rather low key this year because of the foot and mouth but there are still messages of garden dangers to be got across.

Dealing with ‘runts’ – notes from the Welsh Hedgehog Hospital

A ‘runt’ - small, stunted, smallest of litter.

As long as he/she is drinking and putting on weight all will be well. It is usually best to give antibiotics to runts anyway in case they are stunted due to infection. Wipe him around the toilet area after each feed and massage with cotton wool and warm water then apply baby oil. If he is inactive he will still need toileting. Calendula ointment or petroleum jelly are good for soreness. Also make sure he does not lie in his own urine or anything damp.

Be sure he has only small feeds and often as he is so much smaller than normal and it is very important he does not get a bloated tummy, if bloating occurs give gripe water (just a few mls).
We have had lots of runts and with a little extra care they easily grow to maturity and are just as healthy as other hedgehogs.

Editor’s Note: I had the largest weight difference I have ever seen in a litter with 3 siblings weighing 140gms each and the runt weighing in at 31gms. We got him up to 90 gms but then he stuck, faded and died. Could these runts and particularly the “miniature” hedgehogs have heart or some other problems/defects. Perhaps their heart and circulation can cope with a certain volume of blood but over this it is too much and the heart becomes weakened and they die. What do you think?

Ringworm and sarcoptic mange

The following article appeared in the Winter 2000 issue of “The Rehabilitator” the newsletter of the British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council:


The following is an article by Toni Bunnell from the School of Health, University of Hull, Yorkshire, based on the paper: Toni Bunnell (2000) Tea Tree Antiseptic Cream: A new treatment for ringworm and sarcoptic mange in the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus), Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Vol. 19, No. 2, pages 29 - 31.

As a researcher with a doctorate in polecat (Mustela putorius) behaviour, I have become very involved over the past four years with the rehabilitation of wild hedgehogs in the York area. I now take the majority of animals taken to the York RSPCA Animal Home by members of the public. In the current year (2000) this has amounted to over 70 animals to date, the situation being exacerbated by recent extensive flooding in York and the surrounding countryside, resulting in the evacuation of the animal home by the army and fire rescue services.

As I am solely responsible for the care of each hedgehog, from the day it arrives to the day it is released into the wild, I have a unique opportunity to collect detailed data without any break in continuity. The lack of opportunity to collect data on a daily basis inevitably occurs in animal homes when different staff are involved in day-to-day care. Over the past three years I have collected data on nearly 200 hedgehogs, including frequency of particular diseases and injuries found in animals presenting for treatment. Current success rates stand at 85%, nestlings being easier to progress to release status compared with juveniles.

Of the many types of ailments affecting hedgehogs, ringworm and sarcoptic mange were variously present, amongst young and adult animals alike. Ringworm is a fungal infection and is fairly common in hedgehogs where the immune system is compromised. Hedgehog ringworm (Trichophyton erinacei) often presents as crusting of the skin layer on the rim of the circular orbicularis muscle, the 'ring'of muscle that contracts enabling the hedgehog to curl up into a ball. Crusting is also often found on the face where it starts on the nose. Veterinary treatment typically consists of oral administration of grisovin (25-30 mglkg orally every 24 hours), which can be sprinkled onto food. The treatment is generally effective but slow to take effect, with accompanying increased susceptibility to pathogen invasion during this time.

Sarcoptic mange, a skin disease produced by the sarcoptid mite (also responsible for scabies in humans) presents as crusting and surface skin lesions as the mite tunnels into the skin. Some of the symptoms are similar to those seen with ringworm infestation. Mange can also result in heavy spine loss and subsequent increased vulnerability of the hedgehog to predators. Treatment typically consists of weekly subcutaneous injections of ivermectin (0.4 mg/kg) over a period of three weeks or more, in an attempt to eliminate all stages of the life cycle (mites, larvae and eggs). Both sarcoptic mange and ringworm may be accompanied by appetite loss, reduced food assimilation from the alimentary canal, and a general decrease in health status of the animal.

Tea Tree antiseptic cream is commonly used in Australia for the treatment of scabies in humans. As the same mite is responsible for both scabies and sarcoptic mange, I decided to try Tea Tree cream on affected hedgehogs. After dripping cream onto the affected areas, a noticeable improvement was evident within 24 hours, with new spines appearing on previously bald areas affected by mange, and new skin growing on areas previously covered by the lesions associated with ringworm. This treatment was repeated three or four times, depending on the severity of infestation. New spines continued to emerge and new skin to grow in hedgehogs affected by mange and ringworm respectively. This treatment has now been used successfully with eight hedgehogs. In each instance veterinary treatment for mange or ringworm was not necessary, weight gain increased, and no return of either skin disease occurred.

Tea Tree antiseptic cream is relatively cheap and easily obtainable from most health food shops. The use of the cream in these circumstances is preferable to standard treatment as it is more effective, and also less stressful to the hedgehog which does not require any injections.


I would like to express thanks to Keith Wamer, MRCVS, a veterinary surgeon at the Minster Veterinary Practice, York, and Dr Huw Griffiths, Department of Geography, University of Hull, for invaluable help and discussion of this work.

Author's address:

Toni Bunnell, Faculty of Health, University of Hull, Cottingham Road, Kingston-upon-Hull, HU6 7RX, UK. Email:


The British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council has issued guidelines for wildlife rehabilitators. If you do not have a copy I can e-mail the text of the guidelines to you.

I have been asked to find out if anyone has had any success with the treatment of a hedgehog with meningitis.

The hedgehog in question was treated some months ago. It was found out in the day in someone's garden. Following treatment it has been left with a weakness in its front legs and unable to eat solids - it is apparently doing well on pureed foods. However it is bright, alert and eating well. The symptoms in the case in question were prolonged fitting and glazed eyes. The diagnosis was made by a veterinary surgeon.

For future reference what treatments have been successful and how did the patients' recuperation go. Any suggestions on how this particular hedgehog's quality of life can be improved.

Notes: -itis means inflammation eg tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils, appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix so meningitis is inflammation of the meninges. The meninges are the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. These membranes carry the blood vessels which nourish the brain substance and inner layers of the skull. I understand this can be very difficult to diagnose in live hedgehogs (dead hedgehogs can have tissue samples taken). Symptoms can be very similar to head injuries – both however would probably need antibiotic cover.

The following are the replies I received:

1. had a hog with similar symptoms although it was not diagnosed as meningitis, I syringe fed for several weeks then fed from a spoon until the hog finally relearnt how to feed on its own. So basically it may be time, patience, and taking the hog through the weaning process again.

2 at the vet practice where I work we've treated meningitis in hamsters with steroid injections (dexadreson 0.05 sub cut) , antibiotics (baytril 2.5% 0.1 ml orally) and subcut fluids (duphalyte 2 mls per treatment ) I can't say we've had tremendous success and we haven't had any hedgehog patients but that is our protocol.

3. In many cases of animal meningitis steroids have been of great use in alleviating some of the symptoms of brain damage. I assume that an antibiotic capable of passing the blood/brain barrier was used as long term problems may be a sequel if all the bacteria in the brain have not been killed off.

4. I don't know if this is any help but we recently had an otter cub with a leg infection. She recovered from this but then started to have behavioural problems - she was unable to hold down the fish fillet to pull it apart and was chewing on the bowl. Various antibiotics were tried and we put her back on to milk substitute.

Unfortunately she died and the PM revealed meningoencephalitis. It appears that the infection had spread from the leg to the brain and the vet who carried out the PM felt that even if she had survived she would never have regained full central nervous function. I don't want to be negative but it could be the same with your hedgehog.

5. I have successfully treated a number of hedgehogs with meningitis, some developed it due to head injury others from infection. All received broad spectrum antibiotic and steroid injection, some also received Levamisol. Each showed considerable improvement after homeopathy. Symptoms included (along side classic meningitis symptoms) various degrees of paralysis, disorientation, fits, coma and lack of appetite. Often it took 2 weeks to a month for all symptoms or the paralysis to go and sometimes there was a complete relapse. All required constant nursing and monitoring, hand feeding liquidised food for weeks sometimes. Each was treated with different homeopathic treatments but these are the ones most commonly used- Belladona 200 sometimes 30, Opium 1M, Aconite 200 and 30 was used in the early stages with all of them. Crystals, purple plates and healing was also given.

6. With regard to the weakness in the limbs, I would try some water therapy. Fill a bowl with warm water deep enough so the hedgehog’s legs can't reach the bottom and add a few drops of lavender essential oil and a few drops of rosemary essential oil. Gently hold the hedgehog by supporting him underneath so he uses his legs in the water as he would if swimming. This will build up strength in the weak legs. Also if the hedgehog will co-operate, massage the legs with the same essential oils diluted in a base oil such as sweet almond.

Fund Raising

Do you know of any useful web sites for fund raising ideas or perhaps a scheme along the lines of the following that other readers may find useful. If so please share your ideas and contacts. Thank you Chris for the following:

Did you know that B&Q the DIY group have a scheme where they give between £50 and £500 worth of materials to groups or charities to help get a project up and running. You apply directly to the B&Q store in question to the "environmental champion", "diversity champion", or store manager, and have to be within 20 miles of that store. Discontinued products may also be donated. More details can be found from Tel. 023 8025 6256, Fax 023 8025 7480, e-mail Website [About B&Q] [Sustainability] [Neighbour grants].

The Green card charitable trust, gives grants up to £5000 for various things including wildlife conservation projects (direct action or research). The trustees prefer to fund smaller projects. Grants are not given for general running costs. The trustees meet once a year in May and applications have to be in writing and received by 30th April.

Applications should include why the funding is required, a full breakdown of costs, timescales (if relevant) and if applicable site plans or photographs. Write to: Caroline Murphy, Trust administrator, The Green Card Charitable Trust, 33 Blagrave Street, Reading, Berks, RG1 1PW. Tel. 0118 955 6314, Fax 0118 955 6335, e-mail: Although it is too late to apply this year you have plenty of time to prepare for next years grants.

A company called In Kind Direct is a charity that distributes donated supplies and equipment to voluntary organisations. There are all sorts of things listed that it distributes but it includes things like stationary and photocopiers. Registration entitles charities to choose from the 70 page 'Goods available list' each month, and orders are delivered direct to your door. Registration form from: Clare Joof, In Kind Direct, PO Box 140, 20 St Mary at Hill, London, EC3 8NA. Tel 020 7204 5174 Fax : 020 7204 5551 E-mail : web site at

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 July.

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:
April 2001

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