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.

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 poisoning. The originator of any query receives comments as they come through.

Hedgehog Awareness Week
This year Hedgehog Awareness Week will run from 5th-11th May. If anyone would like an information pack please let me know.

The aims of the week are to highlight hedgehog dangers, particularly those in the garden, to encourage local carers to publicise their work and to fund raise. If you are going to organise an event please let me know as I often get enquires from the general public and the media.

Fussy Feeders
Question from a carer: What do other hedgehog carers do with fussy eaters and those who refuse everything including worms and insects?

I've got three out of my eight who are being particularly picky and eating relatively little even though they are given a vast choice of delicacies, from chicken, mince and egg to mealworms, banana and ferret biscuits!

Suspected Poisonings
The following is a question from a member of the public together with some of the comments I have had back from carers.

“Up to 1999 we had nightly visitations from hedgehogs and encouraged them with regular feeds of dog food. Our back garden adjoins a park, which also connects with a large allotment area so there was plenty of roaming area for them. We were pleased to regularly see babies appear each year and lost track of the number of times that we rescued some very small ones in winter and took them to St Tiggywinkles. However, they did not appear last year or this and I have suspected poison as the cause.

There is a golf course very close to the park and I wondered if any of the chemicals that they use to improve the condition of the grass in general or the greens in particular could be a cause. Have you any experience of this from any other member or any information. I am especially interested in whether any chemicals to keep worms from making casts on greens, either by deterring their presence or killing them, could be poisonous to animals that may eat the affected worms.

Reply 1
I have had several conversations with other hedgehog carers who think that chemicals used on golf courses have caused problems. However there is a difference between suspicion and proof. Analysis of a dead hedgehog for chemicals can be quite costly especially if the chemical the lab is looking for is not known (the golf courses are not keen on providing information about the chemicals they use). If a number of wildlife corpses are found on a particular site there may be a chance that MAFF (Poisons Unit) will investigate - Freephone 0800 321600.

Reply 2
Pathclear - burning of the lips and mouth, animal had to be put to sleep. Person had made it up too strong and left it in puddles, during a very hot dry spell.

Also had a lot of problems with golf courses in the Doncaster area using poisons for moles, which the hogs were eating, but nothing proven, as it was a cocktail of different poisons they used for the moles. I just know it affected a lot of hogs two summers ago.

Reply 3
Two years ago I had an adult Hedgehog brought in by a very distraught lady. She fed the Hedgehogs in her garden and had at least two regulars every night. Her husband decided to 'weedkill' the grass lawn one afternoon during summer, next morning she found a hog laying motionless, but still breathing, on the garden path.

The hog could not move at all, seemed paralysed, I took it to the vet who confirmed poisoning and did not rate it chances. However he gave fluids and I hand fed fluid and gave a small dose of antibiotics for several days. The hog could only eat lying on its side, as muscle power was non-existent. It took three weeks before the hog could crawl, six weeks before it could stand and by eight weeks was wobbly but OK. Do not know what was in the weed killer as they had thrown out the carton, but just walking on the grass and perhaps eating a worm in one evening had this terrible effect.

Reply 4
This is typical of many letters I used to get. People don't see hedgehogs so they suspect poisoning. They even say no hedgehogs means the neighbours must have been using poison"! It's important to get actual substantiation otherwise we can't progress this sort of thing at all, there is too much woolly information to sort the wheat from chaff! The problem with golf course chemicals is that they might be harmless to hogs, but devastate their food supply. Another problem might be weed killers (like Paraquat*) that are assumed to kill only weeds but get on animals and are then ingested through grooming. Careful investigation is needed otherwise we don't know which way to turn, yet detailed quizzing of people is generally taken as indication scepticism and disbelief.

*Note – the Hedgehog Helpline sent a dead hedgehog for analysis some years ago and the post mortem result showed that it had a toxic amount of Paraquat in its body, sufficient to kill it.

Reply 5
As you may know my PhD study was centred around hedgehogs living on Asford Manor Golf Course (Ashford, Middx). Anyway, the ground staff did clearly use some kind of vermicide to keep the greens clear of worm casts but in 3 seasons of watching the hedgehogs in this area I NEVER saw a hedgehog walk on or try to forage on a green - no prey at all seemed to be present.

Even if the animal were to have walked across the green and got poisonous chemicals on (say) its feet, this would a) be a small dose, b) quickly wear off as it walked about c) hedgehogs do not really lick and groom themselves and are unlikely to ingest the stuff as a result. Self-anointing does not clean the spines and is not grooming.

As for other substances, fertilisers and so on - these are unlikely to have been applied to large areas of the golf course (cost etc.) perhaps just the tees and greens and maybe certain sections of fairway.

The lack of babies being observed in one year could also be due to a number of things: 1) chance
2) perhaps the people get out less at night than they used to so they are less likely to see the hedgehogs
3) a general population decline in the area because of increased night traffic, increased predators, increased
fragmentation of habitats (e.g. barriers preventing movement), change in land management (e.g. strimming undergrowth where day/breeding/hibernation nests might be).
4) increased fragmentation of habitats (e.g. new barriers preventing movement - such as new wall or fence)
5) a poor breeding year for some reason of food availability or weather
6) a disease outbreak

Possible causes 1, 5, & 6 will all mean that the absence may well be a temporary 'blip' - populations often fluctuate in natural systems.

Causes 2, 3, & 4 would result in a continued lack/reduction of observations.

Reply 6
Several years ago I had 4 or 5 hedgehogs in at the end of August, all about the same time and all found near golf courses, all with similar symptoms. They were covered in something sticky and colourless, their feet were sore and red/burnt on the soles. Hedgehogs have also been found in a local park where the keepers deny any chemicals have been used. However men in “Space suits” have been seen and warning noticed placed about keeping off the grass.

A problem with suspect slug pellet poisonings stopped once the grave being tended no longer had pellets spread over it “like glass chippings”. A post mortem on one suspected poisoning case found a blue substance in the stomach.

Autumn Juveniles
At this time of year one of the most common queries is about autumn juveniles. Is anyone having a good success rate with these small youngsters found out in the day?

Pus from eye (update)
Sadly the hedgehog in question was put to sleep, as despite 3 or 4 operations the problem did not clear.

Once again the Hedgehog Helpline has noticed a drop in the number of hedgehogs coming in with fleas. However in November I received a female hedgehog. She had been found collapsed in the middle of a field. She was cold and when examined was absolutely plastered in fleas. I can only guess the problem was so great that she had half woken from hibernation and was moving nest. There was no evidence that she had been dug out of the nest by a dog (debris on her prickles). After being treated for fleas and staying for about 10 days (to receive our worming treatment) she was released.

I have received the following query – “I've currently got several now over 600g and plan to put them out into hutches over the weekend to free up precious pet carriers and heat pads in the hedgehog shed! A friend says he's doing this successfully, putting in dry food and water in the outside hutches so they can eat when they want to and one of them now "sleeps" for 3 or 4 days at a time, then eats and drinks and carries on with the same cycle. I was wondering what experience that you or any other carers have had doing this. “

Here at the Hedgehog Helpline we do something similar. We put them out with their usual food and once they go into hibernation we provide just the dried food and water. Otherwise the tinned food has to be replaced and this is expensive if it is not being eaten. We have people with stables, large sheds and poly-tunnels who do this for us as it does free up space. It also gives the hedgehogs the choice on whether and when to hibernate. All our candidates are real fatties.

House Trained Hedgehogs

Another observation from a carer:
The other 2 larger hogs are also doing well. They both use a shallow plastic tray lined with newspaper at the far end of their cage as a toilet!! I put their food at the end near the sleeping box far away from the toilet area.... do you think all captive hogs would do this if they had enough space? My cages are 4 feet long. The hog with the eye also did this. Could you put this in the next Newsletter...I'd like to know if anyone else has come across house-trained hedgehogs!!!

Here at the Hedgehog Helpline we find that some of our hedgehogs are “tidy” in their toilet habits whilst others are dirty little sods.


Another observation from a carer:
I have noticed a lot of Ringworm this year...I treat mine with Tea Tree lotion (from your Newsletter), which I drip from the plastic bottle on the flaky white areas, and I also spray the whole hog with Garlic Juice. I repeat after a week.... the Garlic Juice kills the spores, which would otherwise re-infect the hedgehog.

I then check regularly. If the Ringworm is bad I change all the bedding in the bed box and spray the inside with Garlic Juice.

Note – it may be advisable to treat for mange at the same time. There is the suggestion that the mange mites might carry the ringworm fungi.

Carer’s skin problem
I have received the following from a carer. I did cover this subject some years ago but would be grateful for more up to date information.

I would like to ask for information about skin conditions that can affect humans from having contact with hedgehogs. I know and understand about ringworm, the skin condition I am asking about is not ringworm. I have the most appalling eczema type reaction on my left hand. It started with small blisters that amalgamated to form larger lumps. The itching is incredible and it also hurts as if I have been stung by a giant nettle. The skin then peels off. It covers the palm of the hand as well as the back and fingers. It started in November, and now fortunately I think it may be it is easing off a little. I was given steroid cream from the doctor to ease the discomfort. It has only affected my left hand. Why blame hedgehogs I hear you say. . . well, a neighbour happens to be suffering from exactly the same thing on her left hand. This neighbour brought me a small hedgehog in late summer. We are both right handed and would have held the little thing in our left hand. A small link maybe but it is the only thing I can think about, hence my request for further information. I also know of a wild animal carer who had a similar condition that she claims came from a hedgehog - in fact she was so upset about it, she stopped handling hedgehogs. I have looked in books, but have only seen ringworm mentioned. Incidentally, the hedgehog in question was a RTA and did not appear to have any skin problem, unfortunately I had to have her put to sleep - serious lung injury. I would appreciate any feedback.

Private Members’ Bills
On the 11th January the Animal Sanctuaries Licensing Bill was due to receive its second reading. However I have checked the House of Commons web site and it shows that this Bill was “Not Moved”. I understand it is likely that the Bill has been dropped because of the Government’s proposed Animal Welfare Bill.

A consultation letter has been sent to representative groups asking what they would like to see in this new Bill. One of the questions raised is “Should animal sanctuaries be licensed?”. The document can be seen on the DEFRA web site or I have a copy that I can e-mail to anyone interested. The document is about 4 x A4 sides with around a further 7 sides devoted to a list of those who have been consulted. If you would like me e-mail you a copy let me know whether you just want the text or the list as well. For those not on e-mail please send an SAE and I will copy just the text document to you.

3/p> McDonald’s McFlurry
You may have seen some of the recent publicity generated by the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Hedgehogs are getting stuck in the lids of the carton of the McDonald McFlurry Ice Cream. Yet another litter hazard for hedgehogs. If you are generating any publicity about litter this is another problem you might like to highlight.

Hedgehog Carers Day
Marion Horscroft from Spike's World Ltd and Carol Chittock from Diss Hedgehog Advisory Centre are hoping to organise a Carers Day sometime this year. The event will be aimed at practical issues involved in rescuing, treating and rehabilitating hedgehogs. They would like to judge the potential response and to hear suggestions for topics and format. Please contact them with your views and suggestions. Marion can be contacted on 01522 696467 e-mail Carol is on 01379 644988 e-mail They’re waiting for your call!!

Courses etc

Practical Workshop on Microscopy and Laboratory Techniques
Following the very successful workshop on radio tracking organised earlier in the year as a joint venture between the BWRC and Lower Moss Wood [a report of which will be published in the next edition of the Rehabilitator] it is hoped to arrange a similar event on 16- 17th February 2002. The workshop will be based at Petty Pool Centre close to Knutsford in Cheshire and will include tuition and practical sessions on microscopy and other laboratory techniques of value to those handling wildlife. Further details are available from: Mrs Anne Maskell, 20 Garlic Row, Cambridge CB5 8HW

The annual WildCare Conference is being held on the 1st and 2nd March at Glen Mhor Hotel, Inverness. Topics will include the problems with hedgehogs on the Uists. Contact Grace Yoxon 01471 822487 or e-mail for more information.

The 5th International Hedgehog Symposium of the European Hedgehog Research Group (EHRG) is being held on 5-6 April 2002. Venue: The venue will be Visitor Centre and Museum of the Natural Reserve of Onferno in Gemmano Commune. Italy. Local travel details will be included in the final programme release. Contact: Dino Scaravelli (symposium organiser) e-mail for more details.

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 2002.

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:
Jan 2002

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