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. Due to my stay on the Uist Islands in April there was no newsletter for that quarter so if you realise that you did not have one that is why.

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.

Feeding Tips

I have received the following suggestions:
For hoglets (a slop for weaning) - soak Eukanuba puppy food (small breed) and mash in Esbilac. For picky feeders - Berry Treats (for birds) by Goodman.

The following was in a newsletter issued by the Jersey Hedgehog Preservation Group. Has anyone else associated feeding peanuts with brittle bones?

"In the two gardens where they were released, four tagged hogs have reappeared this quarter. Two were suffering from brittle bones, their front legs had fractured in several places, as they had been crawling around on their elbows, the one whose legs had become very infected was put to sleep, the other is still in care, but may not recover. Their injuries may have been caused by them picking out the peanuts which were in the food mixture provided for them, as we know that peanuts can deplete calcium in the body."

Requests for information
The originators of these questions have already received these comments but I am now sharing them with other readers:

Original question: There is a painkiller you can get over the counter at the chemist called Buscopan. I know this can be used on some animals, can it be used on hedgehogs and if so do you know the dose?

Reply 1 - we use it for pain in guts and diarrhoea. I give small hogs under 200g 0.05ml and larger ones 0.1ml, its not often that an adult has such dreadful diarrhoea, you can give it every 8 hours if it is really bad or every 12hrs or just once a day, depending on the hog. I didn't realise it was available from the chemist; this must be in another form, not injectable. I use vet/injectable so this may not answer the query.

Reply 2 - is primarily for stomach pain - perhaps an infant colic remedy would be safer?

E coli:

Original question - Has any carer had experience of E coli affecting the nasal passage?

Snuffles, an adult hedgehog, came to me in late August with what the vet diagnosed as pneumonia. After a course of antibiotic he was breathing well but sneezing repeatedly and producing a lot of mucus.

More antibiotic improved this condition to a great extent but still left him with the problem of the mucus. Eventually my vet suggested an x-ray of the lungs and swab samples from the nasal passage. The x-ray thankfully showed the lungs were clear but the diagnosis from the swabs showed there was an E coli infection in the nose.

Apart from the runny nose Snuffles appears in good health with an excellent appetite. I am now trying various homeopathic remedies but with no success so far.

If anyone has any suggestions or information on this condition, please help!!

Reply 1 - e.coli can go anywhere if any animal licks its bottom. This happens a lot with dogs. Marbofloxin (trade name: marbocil) is often effective for e.coli.

Non healing wound

Original question - "I got Jim Hedgehog on 12th September from another carer who went on holiday. He weighed 830 gms and had been in her care since June with an injury on his back (left dorsal-thoracic region approximately over his scapula.) Carer had no idea how he got this wound. It would not heal and every time he curled up, the scabs cracked and bled. Initially I cleaned the wound with saline and then commenced treating it daily with a mixture of olive oil to which had been added a few drops of lavender oil. It did not look or smell infected and he had received previous antibiotics from the carer's vet, who had also suggested applying betadine spray daily. By the end of September there was no real progress. The wound would appear to scab over and a few days later crack and bleed again. I was a little concerned that Jim wasn't eating very much and wondered if he may be depressed from being penned up for so long. I decided to release him into our enclosed garden and he certainly did seem happier, but despite continuing to treat the wound regularly (over the weeks I tried calendula cream, tea tree antiseptic lotion and intra-site gel), there was no real change in appearance. In fact by the end of November I thought the injured area had enlarged and become 'wetter' and took Jim to my own vets. The vet remarked that the scabs looked unhealthy, even queried the possibility of a skin tumour and decided to try cleaning and debriding the area under a GA to try and encourage granulation. This was done on 2.12.02. A substantial area of prickles were cut back to healthy skin and scabs removed. The vet commented that the wounded area was bigger than it appeared once prickles were removed/ cut. Jim was given Baytril for 5 days and I kept him in an indoor run with clean bedding to reduce the risk of infecting an open wound. On your advice I applied olive oil with few drops of tea-tree oil every day. (The vet also suggested I might try applying honey to try and promote healing.) After 5 days all bleeding stopped and the wound started to scab and heal nicely. Healing seemed to progress, albeit very, very slowly. Six weeks on I was still using olive oil and tea tree oil daily. Then the central scab seemed to start cracking again and oozing haemo-serous fluid, and as a consequence enlarged. At no point were there any sign of new prickles growing. By the time I e-mailed you again on Monday evening I thought the wound was getting worse again, and it almost seemed that we were back to square one!! That day as it had turned mild, I decided to put Jim outside again into the enclosed garden as I felt so sorry for him being penned up inside for over 6 weeks. Actually what has happened in the last two days is that all of the central scab has gradually now come off, leaving an granulating area which is oozing a little with some fresh smaller scabs forming.

It looks clean and I am not treating it at the moment, rather letting the air get to the wound and watching it carefully. I also might add that since undergoing surgery, I have been giving Jim a high protein diet (mainly scrambled egg and chicken with added vitamins) to help the healing process.

I also took the opportunity to worm him. Sorry this is so long but I hope you now have got the full picture. The attachment is of a photo taken of Jim on 22.10.02, which is mainly to illustrate where exactly the wound is. Obviously now the area is much enlarged and more accessible to treat with many of the surrounding prickles removed. This is my first experience of treating a wound like this and I would be grateful for any suggestions or help. I know that wounds in hedgehogs can take a long time to heal, but this has been going on for approximately 7 months and I really want him to get better so I can release him in the spring (so far he has not hibernated.)"

Reply 1 - the only 2 things that Iris does not mention having tried are Aloe Vera gel or Dermisol cream. Aloe is meant to be very good at healing all sorts of things, I use the thick gel on nasty wounds when the infection has cleared up and I have stopped using Intrasite, maybe it could help??

Reply 2 - We had a 'hog which had been badly burned. Our vet operated and cut away all necrotic tissue right back to healthy skin..... it was a very large wound. His advice was NOT to let it scab over as because of the position of any scabs curling up would cause them to break open so not letting the wound heal properly. We sluiced the wound once or twice daily and smothered it in Intrasite gel to keep the wound 'maliable'. This was kept up for several months and the wound decreased in size over that time, until complete healing had taken place. During this time we gave her Bach's rescue remedy which helped. She was successfully released back to the wild. Two years later we got her back after another fight with a car! She was re-released later. If skin gets very dry we have found that sprinkling evening primrose oil over it once a week helps keep it supple and healthy.

Reply 3 - I once had a hog with a wound that would not heal and I eventually spoke to a homeopathic vet, he advised calendula lotion (not cream) undiluted to start, then diluted as per bottle instructions. This worked so well and dried the wound up. Not a quick process I hasten to add. The vet told me he had a horse that had injured its leg and it wept for a long time until he was consulted and he treated it with calendula and it was cured. I have since used calendula on myself for cuts etc and it works well. Remember that homeopathic treatments such as tea tree etc, which I also use a lot, take quite a while before they work, perhaps they are trying too many too quickly.

Reply 4 - Re the skin disease on Jim the hedgehog. I hate giving advice on cases I have not actually seen [and you know I have little experience of hedgehogs] but a wet, dermatitis that does not respond to usual treatment in other species [domestic and human] are often associated with fungal infections and it might be useful to exclude these with laboratory tests [microscopy and cultures of scrapings].

Reply 5 - could there be a foreign body in the wound.

Reply 6 - Re your letter from Iris Davison. I'm delighted to hear that her vet suggested treating the wound with honey. I know of a similar wound on a hedgehog (treated at Burford Blue Cross centre) that would not heal but which did respond to honey. It is also used to treat longstanding leg ulcers in humans.

Reply 7 - It would be good to get a sterile skin biopsy for culture for acid fast bacteria (e.g. Tuberculosis) and one for a histopathological examination. Both can be harvested without anaesthesia if the vet is careful and the results should give a definitive diagnosis and a treatment (if one is possible).

Reply 8 - I would suggest, swabbing the site for culture and obtaining a biopsy. Don't know if the budget will stretch that. Otherwise, perhaps Levamisole will work (immune stimulant) or topical interferon.

Reply 9 - we had good results by putting a sterile gauze with Bétadine (iodine) into the wound, and change every 48 hours. We give Marbocyl for 10 days.

Reply 10 - This is very similar to the healing process which Bernie my bonfire babe went through, every time I thought she was healed oozing fluid started again. I used previdine from the vet to bathe the wound/scabby area and aloe vera gel from health shop. I also gave her several courses of antirobe. It took from February last year until December. but thankfully she is now regrowing spines. Unfortunately because of the nerve/muscle damage because of the burns and scaring she cannot hackle her spines it the large affected area, so she will have to stay in an enclosed garden. Best of luck to you and Jim,

Reply 11 - I suggest that the carer tries a different approach. I had a problem clearing up a wet scab on the scalp of my 6-year-old grandson. I used Tea tree lotion, as I thought it would cover fungus, bacteria and virus...we didn't know the cause. Like Jim, the area enlarged and got worse. We tried antibacterial cream, hypercal etc....I rang an old friend and she suggested DAKTARIN powder as she knew it was good for fungus AND bacteria...she has 2 friends who cannot use deodorants and they both find that Daktarin powder works to kill bacteria. I used it on my grandson's head and within a few days I saw an improvement....soon the scab fell off and hair began to grow later...but I continued using the powder for a week after it looked clear. You must buy Daktarin powder in a small round tub with holes in the top like a salt pot. Don't get Daktarin in a taller tub which is for Athletes Foot....this is mixed with talc.

I wonder if the carer used Hypericum ...I have some in bees wax. This is good for inflammation but it's another 'wet' treatment.

I have great sympathy with the carer's problem of release because I had a hedgehog with a bad eye and I also tried everything, knowing I couldn't let him go until I had cleared it up. I persevered for 6 months and sadly I had to admit defeat and ask the vet to put him to sleep. I was very upset.

Additionally - Further to my last email re Jim I went to my small Health shop yesterday and described Jim's problem to a very experienced older lady. She suggested the following:

Put about 3 or 4 drops of Echinacea (I buy Bioforce) in Jim's water every day for a month then leave off for 2 weeks and repeat until the summer or until Jim is O.K. Echinacea is good for healing and the immune system. I use it to boost my immune system after an infection...and it works! This can be used with other treatments.

Also if my first suggestion of Daktarin powder doesn't work (always allow time for anything to have an least 2 weeks of treatment) the lady suggested using MANUKA honey. This has great healing power.... it comes in a jar like ordinary honey or in a tube. Apply it to the wound area and it can be eaten...perhaps you could smear some on Jim's mouth or add to food once a day. She also gave me a web site for this; and tel: 89614410

Reply 12 - With regard to your query regarding the hedgehog I would suggest that you stop using the olive oil on the wound (This would keep it too moist). Clean the wound initially with diluted pevodine. After this initial clean use Dermisol solution to bathe the wound once daily. The medication of choice would be Ceporex administered either orally or in tablet form. Synulox tablets could also be given and this can also be administered either orally or by injection. Speak to your vet when using drugs.

Reply 13 - I think it would be worth trying to irrigate the wound with hydrogen peroxide. If the wound is infected with anerobic organisms the peroxide may be of some help. It could 'fizz' rather a lot!!

Reply 14 - this case is very similar to my Honeysuckle who had basel cell carcinoma especially the parts where the wound would not heal and the wound weeping I also tried everything to make it heal with no success in the end it is not so much the confinement that isn't fair but the continuing pain and discomfort that it is having for so long which is why I made the decision to euthanase.


This newsletter is intended as a way to share information. I have included the following as it relates to treating hedgehogs. However this has been sent by a reader in Denmark and it may be that there could be legal implications if used in the UK ie relating to the treatments carried out - it may be that such cases should be treated by a veterinary surgeon. However I have included it and comments received from others who have received the information direct. It may start some debate - we shall see.

For the last few years we (our rescuers) have tried to find ways to make it easier to examine and treat hedgehogs. All carers know how hard it sometimes can be to make a hedgehog cooperate. Sometimes the easiest way would be to anaesthetize them, but this might give complications even when done by a vet. We found an easy way to (almost) anaesthetize hedgehogs. The method might seem odd to many, and many people might not like the use of it, but it has been very useful since we started it. No complications have shown until now, where we have used it on more than 400 hedgehogs. (Doesn't this sound too good to be true?)

We give them some alcohol (syringe feeding). In the beginning we used red wine, 20-25 cc per 1000 gr. hedgehog. Now we use Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Genever or whatever 40% drink we have available. 6-8 cc per 1000 gr. hedgehog. 5-10 minutes after the drink was fed, the hedgehog is totally relaxed and almost seems to be dead. We do not know how far we can go (cutting / surgery) but they do not react when we treat wounds or eyes, or sew their skin. It seems that the alcohol is out of their system after 3-6 hours, where they have returned to normal behaviour. I do not know anything about hangovers :-) It's no problem to feed them the 40% stuff - they love it!

Note - care would need to be taken to ensure the hedgehog did not become cold during the procedure and during "recovery".

Comments from other recipients:

One thing that I thought about was this stuff about using alcohol as a substitute for anaesthesia. Paul (from Denmark) sent this idea over and on the face of it is sounds promising. However, I think that we should get a good vet (or even a human anaesthetist) to comment on this idea for the hedgehog newsletter - for example it might incapacitate the hedgehogs but they still feel the pain. I know that the action of anaesthetics is still not really understood and that some of them are pretty toxic but I am still worried that the effects of alcohol may be hard to judge. I know that anaesthetics seem to work by affecting cell membranes and thus block nerve signal transmission - they are generally soluble in lipids and that is presumably how they get into the lipid layers of cell membranes. Once incorporated into the membrane they must do something that blocks neurotransmitters. They also have unwanted side effects that upset other cells. I imagine that alcohol does something a bit similar - we all know that before more effective anaesthetics were found, people used to use it to dull the pain of amputations etc. - but I wonder how good it was? Anyway - I know nothing useful about this field and I guess most carers are not physiologists either - so do you know anyone who could consider this in a more expert way? It would be a shame to let the alcohol idea get around if it is going to turn out to be a bad thing.

Hedgehog Awareness Week

Hedgehog Awareness Week is now the responsibility of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. It will run the same as before but any information packs etc will be distributed by the BHPS. The 2004 week runs from 2nd-8th May.

Uist Hedgehogs

Uist Hedgehog Rescue is made up of a number of organisations including the BHPS, Advocates for Animal, Hessilhead Wildlife Trust, International Animal Rescue and St Tiggywinkles. UHR arrived on the Uist Islands in late March 2003 and left in early June (after SNH had stopped for the year). During this time over 150 hedgehogs were captured and the majority were able to be released on the mainland. Scottish Natural Heritage also captured 50-60 hedgehogs and these were killed.

UHR is in contact with SNH and is trying to encourage them to pass any hedgehogs they capture in future years over to UHR for relocation. SNH have stopped catching in 2003 but will resume in 2004. UHR will also be back in 2004 to capture and relocate more hedgehogs.

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 October 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:

July 2003

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