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.

I am also using e-mails to get quick answers and views on carers’ problems. Topics can then be included in later newsletters. The originator of any query receives comments as they come through. My original intention with this newsletter was that we should share our ideas with each other and I am pleased to see it used in this way.

Thoughts so far are that Rearguard would only prevent maggots and not kill ones already present.

Xenex has been used on a 61gm hoglet and 1 drop killed the maggots in about 30 minutes on another hedgehog of 395gms 2 drops were used. Both seem to have survived the application with no side effects.

New Book – Hedgehog Rehabilitation

The British Hedgehog Preservation Society has just published a book Called “Hedgehog Rehabilitation”. The book is a guide to the rescue, rearing, nursing, care, diagnosis, treatment, welfare and release of the hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus). The book has around 135 pages of A4 text (with some black and white photos) covering, getting started, injuries, diagnostic aids and much more plus a formulary (list of drugs and dosages used on hedgehogs). The cost is £10 + £2 p&p (per book). Members of the BHPS get their first copy at the special price of £7 + £2 p&p (per book). The book can obtained by sending a cheque (payable to BHPS) to BHPS, Hedgehog House, Dhustone, Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 3PL.

Hedgehogs developing white spines

The following request for information has been received:

I have a male hedgehog, approximately eight weeks old, which is developing white spines.

He arrived at about 2 - 3 weeks old as part of a litter of three. He, and the rest of the family, had very dark, fine spines and just a few white baby spines. He is very "huffy" and has grown well to about 10 oz in weight.

At about 6 weeks old a few new, completely white spines appeared – thick adult type ones. Gradually more white spines have appeared until he now has approximately 50 per cent white spines, and still they continue to increase. His eyes and nose are not pink so he doesn't seem albino.

Have you any idea on the causes of this? Is it common? Are there likely to be any problems about his subsequent release, as he is becoming rather visible?

Reply 1 - Occasional white or creamy white spines are quite a common occurrence amongst the normal brown-banded ones. The number is highly variable, in some individuals there are many white/cream spines and the animal can look quite pale as a result. This is not a particularly unusual thing to find. Neither is it extraordinary to find pink noses and pink footpads on otherwise normally coloured hedgehogs.

You may have heard about the 'blonde' hedgehogs (published report by Alison Tutt and Pat Morris), which make up about a quarter of the Alderney hedgehog population. Barbara Head runs the rescue centre there. But blondes are not only found there - I have also seen a blonde hedgehog on the mainland UK and have a photo of a platinum blond one in Croydon (south London). These animals are not common but have normally coloured eyes and are not albinos although they do usually seem to have pink noses and footpads. The Alderney animals seem to be a result of a tiny founder population and a recessive trait is expressing itself in this rather small gene pool. Contrary to some statements I have heard, it is not a different species or race and three quarters of Alderney hedgehogs are normally coloured.

Reply 2 - Re. white spined 'hog, could it be he is semi-albino, a sort of pigment deficit? It may not be a good idea to release such a visible hedgehog-secure enclosed garden is probably best.

Reply 3 - These are very common in the Doncaster Area; they have some white (blonde) spines but the usual dark eyes, no problem about releasing. By the way I would be interested to know if it is a male, as all the ones I have had (about 26 to date) are all male (and bite).

Reply 4 - We have had a number of hedgehogs over the years that seem to develop this white spine syndrome maybe ending up 70/80% white spines. In all respects they have developed as fast and as strongly as their "normal" litter mates the only difference being the spines seem a little sharper than usual. We have released such hogs back into the wild and there appears to be no difference in their survival rate, remember in their natural state the hedgehog is a very dusty and often dirty animal therefore visibility would be not quite as stark as a hog in care! However should this particular hog develop 100% white spines maybe there is a deficiency of some sort or a genetic glitch in which case I would be tempted to release into a secure garden at least for a while to see how it copes just in case there is a weakness of some sort.

Reply 5 - Some of our young hogs have a few thick white spines, not as many as 50% though; it has never been a problem.

Reply 6 - May be off the wall suggestion - but did have a friend who after a bad shock suddenly grew white hair, which was slowly replaced with normal colour hair as and when the white fell out. Did these hogs have a bit of a rough time? We all deal with shock in different ways as I am sure do animals.

Reply 7 - It's relatively common. I don't see a problem. Visibility is not that much predator would probably use scent as much as eyesight for detection.

Wobbly Hedgehogs
Original Query - Do you have any info on "wobbly hedgehog syndrome." I have a hand-reared baby who is now adult but she has always had co-ordination problems from being tiny. She seems to be getting progressively worse, can hardly put one foot in front of the other now without falling over. Do you know of any treatments that might help her - and what about the long-term prognosis.

Reply 1 - I discuss just this in Italy with a German Carer and she had her hedgehog tested for Lymes Disease and it came out positive she treated the two hogs for three weeks with Rocephin medication recommended for neuro-borreliosis but the disease had progressed too far and the animals in the end had to be PTS.

Reply 2 - I had a kitten years ago (a feral from the hospital that I worked at) and she had a very ataxic gait. I asked my boss, Professor Bryan Matthews, probably THE top neurologist in the UK, and he came over diagnosed cerebellar ataxia. I tried all kinds of vitamin supplements to no avail though she didn't get worse and then one day she fell out of a second storey window and from that day onwards she was fine!! I think in the human condition there's no imminent cure and I think the cause for my kitten's problem remains unknown though it could perhaps be related to vitamin deficiency early on. Sorry to be negative.

Reply 3 - I have always been told by the vets that this problem is caused by either poisoning, dehydration or an inner ear infection. Discounting the other two has this hog had its ears checked?

Reply 4 - I had 2 female hogs from the same litter with this problem several years ago. They came in as babies & it soon became apparent all was not well, we called them swimmers as their legs seem wide set and the breast bone curved like the keel of a boat. They may have been abandoned by their mum because she realised they had a problem & would not survive. Unfortunately we found no cure & they were homed with a lady who let them have the run of the house, as outside they fell over and could not right themselves. This was not an ideal solution and with hindsight it may have been better to have them put to sleep. But after hand rearing babies this is a difficult decision to make.

Reply 5 - I have only known of two hogs with no co-ordination that kept on falling over, one was brain damaged (no cure) the other had suffered meningitis and was left 'wobbly'. Sadly, it also died.

Reply 6 - Presuming that the hoglet is not cold and dehydrated, which is my first instinct with the 'wobbles', I would start a course of antibiotic eardrops and a steroid injection.

I had a hog with similar 'wobbles' and it kept falling over, at one stage it laid on its side and pushed itself along. When the vet examined it, he found an inner ear infection, which may have been caused by ear mite. This hog ate normally all the time. Recovered after 2 weeks and was later released.

Reply 7 - The last hedgies I had like this had a form of meningitis, not too good an outlook, sorry.

Reply 8 - We have had experience of 2 wobbly hedgehogs reared from babies, both in different years so no relation to each other. They both appeared normal until about 4 weeks old when we noticed they were not as steady as the rest of the litter. They had severe co-ordination problems and could not stand properly to eat or move around without falling over. We hand fed them and as there was no improvement they were taken to the vets. The vet prescribed steroids (sorry I can't remember which one) and if there was no improvement after 10 days then there was no hope. The first hog improved and was released. The second made no improvement and was put to sleep, as it had no chance of survival in the wild or quality of life in captivity. Hope this helps.

Reply 9 - The only experience I have had with wobbly hogs is one a few years ago, her co-ordination deteriorated to the point of her going off her front legs. Treatment consisted of heat pad, vitamin B12 injection, Ceporex (antibiotic) daily for about 2 weeks. Lectade and syringe fed with AD (from vets). She gradually regained her ability to walk and was able to be released. Other hogs I have had in from time to time often display similar symptoms when in the first stages of pneumonia

Reply 10 - Sometimes a heavy worm infestation can manifest in neurological symptoms. I would recommend a thorough deworming - Fenbendazole at 50mg/kg for a week. In progressive cases, infection can't be ruled out. A course of antibiotics might help. The long-term prognosis sounds guarded though.

Reply 11 – I had a similar case 4 years ago that was diagnosed as peripheral nerve damage. It was kept in a small box so food, and bed were close together and it did not have to make much of an effort to reach them – it could hardly move. When it reached a good hibernation weight it was encouraged to hibernate. After hibernation it recovered about 90% of its mobility and is still alive in an enclosed garden.

Finally - The official web site for Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome is:

I also have another document obtained from the Internet that I can send as an attachment. Just e-mail me to ask for WHS3.

Contact details needed
Does anyone know of a carer in the Mottram/Hyde/Glossop area? George and Mary Wallace need to hear from someone in that area. Please either e-mail them at or telephone 01298 83830.

Uist Hedgehogs
In September I attended a meeting arranged by Scottish Natural Heritage to discuss the fate of the Uist hedgehogs. My impression was that they had already made up their minds to cull the hedgehogs – although this was denied at the meeting. I am getting various carers contacting me to know how they can best help the Uist hedgehogs and I would suggest you write to the following to record your opposition to the extermination policy. The Hedgehog Helpline wants the hedgehogs to be relocated although we must consider the welfare of the hedgehogs. In some cases hedgehogs will not be suitable for relocation due to injury or illness and these hedgehogs may well have to be put to sleep. However this is a different matter to all the healthy hedgehogs being culled.

John Markland CBE
Scottish Natural Heritage
12 Hope Terrace
Edinburgh EH9 2AS
SNH will be making recommendations as to whether the hedgehogs should be culled or relocated. They are concerned with the welfare issues and particularly the welfare of any pregnant females. These issues will be addressed in any relocation plans submitted to the SNH (by BHPS). They are also concerned for the mainland hedgehogs and again any relocation plans would address their concerns.

Superintendent Mike Flynn,
Operation Support
Braehead Mains
603 Queensferry Road
Edinburgh EH4 6EA
I understand that the SSPCA do not want the hedgehogs to suffer at all. The absolute minimum of suffering will be caused if all the hedgehogs are culled. Whilst this is true it should be borne in mind that this argument could imply that any injured wildlife and indeed any injured pet should be put to sleep to save it from any suffering. In the wild there is no escaping that some animals suffer and die but that happens every day and is part of a wild creatures lot. Relocation plans would be designed to cause the minimum of suffering to the hedgehogs being moved and relocated.

If you are a hedgehog carer in Scotland you might want to write to your MSP and ask him to write to SNH about your concerns.

Conclude your letter with either a question or “I look forward to receiving your comments” or similar as this should encourage a reply. The more letters sent the better so if any of your friends feel the same ask them to write as well.

If anyone would like to know more they can e-mail me with their questions.

Bonfire Night
If you do get a moment in between cleaning out, feeding and caring for your patients you might drop a line to your local newspaper about how dangerous bonfires can be to hedgehogs. Suggest bonfires should only be built on the day they are to be lit and even better and safer attend a local organised event.

Courses etc
Practical Workshop, Eccleshall, Stafford, Saturday 26th October.

A practical workshop will be held at Walton Hall, Eccleshall, Staffordshire on the weekend of 25th-27th October.

Following the previous workshop held in 2001, the aim will be to demonstrate procedures and techniques of value in the handling and first aid of wildlife casualties and, wherever appropriate, to give participants an opportunity to handle equipment and, using cadavers, practice techniques for themselves.

The workshop, which will take place on Saturday, 26th October, is designed to be of interest to anyone with an interest in the handling of wildlife casualties, whether a novice or an experienced rehabilitator. The tutors will all be experienced veterinary surgeons or rehabilitators and the demonstrations will be given to small groups and will allow plenty of time to practice techniques, discuss and ask questions.

The programme will include a special series of demonstrations of basic techniques aimed at those with little or no experience, a series of demonstrations and discussions on the first aid of problem injuries.

Accommodation will be available at Walton Hall for the Friday and Saturday nights.

The approximate costs will be: -
Workshop and lunch on 26th October £ 30.00 prior booking
Or £ 35.00 booking on the day
Bed and breakfast £ 25.00
Bed and breakfast, and evening meal £ 40.00

Further details and booking forms can be obtained from: -
Anne Maskell,
20 Garlic Row,
Cambridge. CB5 8HW.

Carers Training Day:
Carol and Marion are pleased to say that enough interest has been generated for them to hold a training day. It will be held on:

Sunday 27th October, 9am - 5pm. at the Marriott Hotel, Peterborough. The cost will be £25 for the day and will include a buffet lunch. The Marriott is just off the A1 and is well signposted, it also has easy access from both bus and rail stations.

The theme of the day is "Ring, ring - I've found this Hedgehog", and will be devoted to the rescue, care, treatment and release of sick, injured and orphaned Hedgehogs. Commencing with that first 'phone call.

Brochure and application forms are now available, to obtain them please ring either Marion (01522 688300) or Carol (01379 644988), early booking is advisable as numbers are restricted. (or e-mail on

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 2003.

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:
October 2002

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