HEDGEHOG NEWSLETTER - NUMBER 43
HEDGEHOG NEWSLETTER - NUMBER 43
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 any query receives comments as they come through.
Group name for hedgehogs
During the last year or so I have received a number of e-mails asking for the collective name for a group of hedgehogs. I know other carers have also had the same question e-mailed to them.
Looking through some old copies of BHPS newsletters (for something completely different) I find there are 2 official terms for a group of hedgehogs. Ivan Sparkes' Dictionary of Collective Nouns and Group Terms lists "Nest" and the Guiness Book of Answers gives the name "Array". Well I never knew that!
Perhaps we should ask for a donation (in advance) to provide the answer!
I was also recently telephoned and asked for the name of a baby hedgehog. I asked and was told this is a new quiz! So be ready with your answers.
NATIONAL HEDGEHOG SURVEY 2001
I received the following from Patrick Wilson at Mammals Trust UK. Although the survey starts in July he is anxious to hear from anyone willing to help even after this date. Those on e-mail would already have seen this message. The text from Patrick’s message is below:
“I am writing to all hedgehog groups for help in spreading the word about a major new survey of the nation's wild hedgehogs which will run from July through September.
We are seeking to involve several thousand people throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland in recording numbers of hedgehogs and other mammals (dead or alive) seen on the roads.
So far, we have received an enthusiastic response. If you feel that your readers or other contacts would be interested in taking part, please help us by publicising the survey and encouraging people to get in touch.
The survey is very easy to take part in. All participants will be sent a survey pack in mid June onwards, and completed forms can be returned at the end of the season.
To find out more, please do not hesitate to contact me on 020 7498 5262 or by email to this address. Thank you for taking the time to read this message and I hope you will be able to help.
People’s Trust for Endangered Species / Mammals Trust UK
CALLING ALL MOTORISTS --- BRITAIN'S HEDGEHOGS NEED YOU!
Are you planning to drive more than 20 miles this summer? If so, why not take part in the National Hedgehog Survey? Organised by Royal Holloway, University of London and Mammals Trust UK with the support of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, this will be the first-ever nationwide survey of one of our best-loved native mammals. If successful, the survey will help us answer the prickly problem of how many hedgehogs there are in Britain and could lead to the development of a national conservation strategy.
Why a National Hedgehog Survey is needed
Hedgehogs used to be very common throughout Britain, but like the farmland birds whose habitat they share, there is evidence that the species may be in decline. The rough pasture and hedgerow habitats on which hedgehogs depend are under increasing pressure in the modern countryside, and populations of their invertebrate prey have been hit by increased use of pesticides. Because they are nocturnal, secretive, and wide-ranging, hedgehogs are very difficult to monitor in the wild. Up to now, we have had no idea of hedgehog populations across Britain, and therefore no baseline to assess the impact of environmental change.
Wanted: several thousand observant drivers
Over the past few years, Dr Pat Morris of Royal Holloway has pioneered the development of a reliable method of estimating hedgehog numbers in the countryside based on road-kill data. By analysing the numbers of hedgehog corpses observed on the roads against different settlement density, land use, habitat types and other factors, the Royal Holloway team will be able to obtain an accurate index of hedgehog abundance across the country. The advantage of this method is that the data may be collected through the voluntary participation of road-users, and to be accurate, several thousand records covering the whole of Britain’s road network are needed – which means we need plenty of willing volunteers!
How you can get involved
To take part in the National Hedgehog Survey, all you need is a recording pack to keep in your glove compartment for those long summer drives. For any or all daytime journeys over 20 miles, you can record the locations of hedgehogs and other mammals seen on the road together with details of your route.
For more information or a survey pack, please call the Hedgehog Survey on 020 7498 5262 or email Hedgehog@mammalstrustuk.org.”
Discharge from Vulva
Yet another query. This concerns a white discharge coming from a female hedgehog's vulva. It could therefore be from the womb or the bladder. It has been seen in 2 hedgehogs both elderly females. In one case the hedgehog died within a few hours of admission but she was cold, very thin and almost dead on arrival. In the other case the hedgehog has been in care since November and the discharge has been seen twice. The discharge is like the ejaculation from a male hedgehog, it is white (not clear) with no sign of blood or pus. It seems to issue in one go and in the same amount as from a male hedgehog - it does not seem to be a general discharge rather a quick flood.
Has anyone seen this before, do you know what it might be? Could it be a normal thing or a sign of a problem? If you have seen it what was it diagnosed as or what were your thoughts.
The fact it has been seen in elderly females could just be a coincidence.
Reply 1 – vet
It could be a pyometra, consider taking a sample for analysis. It may be an idea to do an ultrasound as well.
Reply 2 - vet
Investigation of the nature of the discharge would be helpful/interesting, simple cytology [examination of air-dried smear, stained and examined under a microscope].
Reply 3 – academic
Finally, about the white discharge - the only ideas I have relate to the secretions talked about on page 178 of my book (Nigel Reeve – Hedgehogs). The discharge before death may have been related to muscle spasms etc. while the animal is near death. The discharge in a normal animal seen twice would fit the idea of this being a normal part of the reproductive cycle i.e. Deansley's view.
Whether or not there is a post-copulatory vaginal plug is something that needs to be resolved by more study. Maybe what some people have suspected to be a plug is in fact a normal female secretion which is discharged at a certain time in the cycle.
Reply 4 – vet nurse
I've seen it in female hamsters and in them it is a normal discharge indicating that they are in a fertile period. Are you sure it's not pus? Has it been examined under a microscope. If it is pus then it could be a womb infection, which is certainly very common in older dogs and could occur in older hedgehogs. A bit of the discharge on a sterile cotton bud, smeared on a slide and stained with "Diff Quik" would be a very revealing experiment.
Reply 5 – from a carer
I had a female die last year from a white vaginal discharge. She was put on antibiotics etc, but deteriorated quickly. Not feeding and listless, also seemed rather hot. After several days of trying to hand feed she died. I was gutted as she had been here for a couple of months and was doing fine.
Over a number of year’s pyometra has been found at post mortem to be the probable cause of a hedgehog’s illness and subsequent death. The recent e-mail query has prompted me to write about pyometra.
Pyometra is where the uterus (womb) fills with pus. It can be an open pyometra in which case a discharge of pus may be seen or a closed pyometra in which case the pus does not escape and there in no discharge.
Pyometra is often seen by veterinary surgeons in bitches. It usually occurs in elderly bitches or sometimes in ones that have had "morning after" injections to prevent a pregnancy. The bitch if off colour, drinks excessively and may be tender around its kidney area. The vet will have a case history with a bitch that is not available to a hedgehog carer. The hedgehog may drink a lot because it is dehydrated (especially if found outside on a hot day) and no other symptoms may be visible other than it is depressed. It is worth considering the possibility of pyometra if an elderly* female hedgehog is brought in and is in poor condition but with no other real symptoms other than being "depressed". In a bitch the only real solution is to perform a hysterectomy.
* an indication of age may be seen by checking the teeth - are the front teeth well worn, indeed are they and the back teeth there, or are the teeth very mucky ie is there a lot of tartar on them. Sometimes an elderly hedgehog's prickles will take on a ginger appearance or when closely examined the prickles will have ring like markings on them.
This is a more recent query that I have not e-mailed around – let me have your comments.
“I recently took in a mother with five babies (about one week old) - she had made her nest in some fibreglass wadding on a building site and had to be moved. Over the next couple of days I received three further little week old orphans (from a different area), and I put them with the mother of five, she accepted them. As I thought that eight was rather a lot to feed - I took four of the biggest away each day and fed them myself - returning them to Mum at night. They are all doing very well, and now eating solid food. Am I lucky to have found a very tolerant Mum? - I have since been informed that she could have killed the newcomers. I am now confused and wonder if I should risk this strategy again should the occasion ever arise in the future. What does everyone else think?”
A comment from a carer - Someone who has rescued hedgehogs in the past though not now has told me that sprinkling bi-carbonate of soda or talcum (presumably the non scented variety) makes it easier to remove fly eggs. I know someone who used talc to remove fly eggs from a kitten. I hesitated because others have told me not to use talc on baby humans, as it has been known to cause lung problems when inhaled. Has anybody tried this?
Note – I would guess the use of talc would dry the fly eggs and make them non-viable and easier to remove. I know talc has been used to absorb oil on hedgehogs prior to washing.
Has anyone had never-ending Ringworm? Have they cured it?
Retention of faeces and urine
The following was e-mailed around and includes your replies – are there any other suggestions.
The following is a case history of a hedgehog - has anyone had anything similar, what was the cause and how was it treated.
"Adult hog admitted 11th April underweight, wormed by St Tiggywinkle’s regime.
No injuries. Then on 4th May no faeces or urine in run. Bladder very full. X-ray showed large amount soft faeces. No obvious reason for blockage in gut or urethra. Catheterised and faeces removed. Urine showed very small amount blood and pus. OK for one day now the problem has returned. Treated with liquid.paraffin, peridale granules, senokot and ceporex.
Two other hogs showing similar symptoms. Food - cat food 20% prosecto."
Reply 1 – vet
Re. Double retention hedgehog. Sounds like a nervous problem affecting the bladder and rectum or a pain interfering with urination/defeacation. Nerve problem could be 1] spinal but maybe should be some other signs [either motor or sensory] with hind legs or 2] autonomic.
PPP drops [propaline] may help - works directly on the bladder smooth muscle.
Reply 2 – vet
Sounds like it could be neurological. Spinal lesion? Poisoning or diet? Need more details regarding other hogs.
Reply 3 – academic
As you know, I am no vet, so of course I do not know the answers. If there are others with the problem then it must be either infectious, diet or environmental.
It seems very odd that both the gut and urinary system are affected and it seems like the animals cannot 'go'. If they were suffering from something that resulted in some kind of blockage in the feedback loop of nerves/muscles that says - your gut/bladder is full, relax sphincters! So the result is that they never let go. The blood and pus in the urine could be a result of secondary infection setting in after urine being retained and resultant damage to the urinary tract.
So how about this short list of ideas?
'Poisoning' by some substance that affects either the nerves or muscles controlling defecation/urination.
Some imbalance in salts/ions in the diet that is affecting nerve or muscle function.
Both would cause other symptoms/dysfunction.
Reply 4 - from a carer in France
I have seen this before. I give baytril, spasmoglucinol, I give to him some water with a bottle and hartman fluid (injectable), I give paraffin and I make "lavements" (I am sorry but I don't know the name in english) with water paraffin oil and the faeces removed and he will be ok after, I make the same with a small baby since 3 days old.
I have never make lavement on a urine problem because I never meet urine blockage problem.
Note - Lavement may mean enema.
Reply 5 – from a carer
I have a blind male here who has been with me several years now. Periodically he goes off his food and of course passes no urine or faeces. He is just coming out of one of the periods now. Sometimes he goes a week without passing urine. I have given up worrying about him now, as whatever I do does not seem to help. I wonder if it a form of hibernation? These periods sometimes last for up to 3 months!
Several people have responded telling me that they have had healthy male hedgehogs die in care very quickly and for no apparent reason. It is possible the cause is prolonged captivity caused by the earlier foot and mouth restrictions.
Could you ask in your newsletter please if anyone has any good contacts for buying stock to sell for fund raising? I am talking about soft toys, tea towels, ornaments etc. We tend to check the local wholesalers but they are a bit unreliable, we have contacted the larger companies like EPL (Elgate Products Ltd). But they will not supply in quantities small enough for us. Any ideas would be most welcome.
Hedgehog Workshop – a day devoted entirely to hedgehogs is being organized by the Mammal Society and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. It is being held on 8th September 2001 in Birmingham – the cost is £25 (including lunch). For further details or to book a place contact the Mammal Society on 020 7498 4358.
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 October.
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