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Epping Forest Hedgehog Rescue

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Medical Conditions & First Aid


All the information below is basic advice to help you until you can get help. Always seek advice from a vet, experienced hedgehog  carer or wildlife rescue centre.

You can ask for advice or help at any time via our online help forum

An updated list of drugs commonly used in hedgehog treatment and suggested doses is HERE

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Problem Description Advice
General Care Weak, run down, underweight or poorly hedgehogs All need to be Wormed, given antibiotics and B12 Injection

Ask your vet for a subcutaneous injection of Vitamin B12 (Vitbee 250) give 0.2 to 0.3ml per kg bodyweight once a week for 3 weeks

Fleas  cartoon Hedgehog with fleas Small brownish-red insects walking or jumping through spines. Dust lightly with Johnson's Rid Mite™ ( now often found as Johnson's small animal insecticidal powder) (or other powder, containing pyrethrums specifically for cage birds) - available at pet shops.

Do not use any flea spray or powders for cats and dogs especially Frontline™ from a vet, these will either kill the hedgehog or make it very ill (read below under ticks for reasons)

Hedgehog Fleas only live on hedgehogs, rarely jump onto cats/dogs or other pets, and almost never bite humans So DON'T panic.

Fly eggs Tiny clumps of yellow/white eggs like grains of rice, mainly in ears, round skirt, eyes, neck and belly or on open wounds or sores Remove as many as possible with tweezers and a soft toothbrush from open areas. Flush out ears with pet ear drops or warm salt water. Flush eyes with plain warm water. If a bad infestation wash hedgehog in a bowl of warm water with Savlon, paying particular attention to the belly fur and the skirt. Wrap the hedgehog in a towel and keep warm until dry. Take to the vet for injection of IVOMECTIN 0.02ml per KG bodyweight
Maggots White or creamy wriggling worm like creatures, seen on hedgehogs with wounds or that are cold and have grown from the fly eggs  Once fly eggs have hatched into maggots, it is often too late for the hedgehog and it will need VERY URGENT Veterinary attention. You can use the same basic treatment as for fly eggs but get to a VET or Wildlife Rescue centre IMMEDIATELY
Ticks White/grey beads with brown legs, head buried in skin sucking blood.
Often found around the ears, Skirt and on the tail, but can be anywhere on the body. More than 10 or 12 ticks on a hedgehog will cause anaemia and will weaken a hedgehog severely. More than 30  ticks and the hedgehog has a poor chance of surviving

See Pictures here of a hedgehog with over 100 ticks on it

Be very careful using Frontline™ Flea spray from vets. Never spray it onto the hedgehog Even though the substance is safe for hedgehogs the alcohol in the pump causes severe breathing problems when absorbed through the skin or breathed in and kills hedgehogs. We find the safest way to use it is:  spray into a small medicine cup about ml to 1 ml, depending on how many ticks to remove and then use a pipette or a cotton wool bud to drop or wipe a tiny drop directly onto each of the ticks avoiding the hedgehogs skin.
This prevents the hog inhaling the alcohol from the spray and reduces the danger of causing problems. We only use Frontline in "severe" cases  when there are too many ticks to safely remove using tweezers or a tick remover. They need to be twisted out carefully in an anticlockwise direction. If you are not sure don't try yourself, contact a vet, experienced carer or wildlife rescue centre for help and advice

Do not try to pull off with tweezers, frequently  the head of the tick is left behind and causes an infection

Dry  flaky skin   Hedgehogs often get dry flaky skin. A light oiling helps. Use baby oil, cooking oil, mild olive oil, almond oil ( no oils with strong smells). ONLY on the back, NEVER on the belly because this is where the sweat glands are. Apply sparingly and don't smother them. Check for mites and ringworm ( see below)
Mites Tiny white or brown dots moving on body or fur, they cause MANGE. The hog's spines and fur fall out, starting on the face. Crusty lumps form on the skin, skin flakes, spines look pussy at base and bent, may have bleeding scabs. The traditional treatment is to take to the vet for three or four IVOMECTIN injections, one week apart. They need 0.02ml per KG bodyweight. You can now buy Ivermectin drops that are safe and easy to use
Brush off loose skin with toothbrush and oil lightly as above.
We find that in mild to medium cases Tea Tree cream from a good health food shop or chemist works as well, if not better than traditional veterinary remedies. (see Hedgehog Research Pages for details)
Ringworm Very similar symptoms to Mange. The hog's spines and fur fall out, starting on the face. Crusty lumps form on the skin, skin flakes, spines look pussy at base and bent, may have bleeding scabs This is a quick rundown of the basic treatment, for an in depth view please look here

Soften scabs with oil, use almond oil, baby oil, cooking oil, mild olive oil ( No oils with strong smells). Brush off loose skin with toothbrush. Bathe in IMAVEROL solution every 3 or 4 days, for 4 baths.
Also use one of the following over the counter anti fungals on the affected areas daily, Daktarin, Canestan, Tinaderm or Scholl athletes foot cream.
We find that in many cases Tea Tree cream from a good health food shop or chemist works as well, if not better than traditional veterinary remedies. (see Hedgehog Research Pages for details)

Using TEA TREE CREAM or an antifungal cream on face and ears is better for the hog than trying to wash it with Imaverol.

We have found that using tea tree cream on the ears and face on alternate days, then dripping Imaverol onto the infected sites works as well as a full bath.

Almost all hogs with severe mite infestation will have ringworm. It is always wise to treat for both.

See here for some pictures of hedgehogs with mites/ringworm being treated

Dehydration Animal lying on its side in hot weather, sunken eyes, grey to white gums, panting, pads pale, when skin is pinched it 'tents'. If walking sometimes wobbles violently, has 'neck' that looks thin with narrow hindquarters, sits hunched with dull eyes. Give LECTADE (from vet) or rehydrating fluid immediately, 6-15 ml every hour until recovery. Give Hartmanns by sub-cutaneous injection every 12 hours (from Vet). DO NOT GIVE HARTMANNS TO COLD HEDGEHOGS. Keep quiet and warm. This is the main cause of death to hedgehogs in summer when little water is available. Give Lectade to any hedgehog suffering from shock, enteritis or diarrhoea.
Hypothermia Hog lies uncurled in cold weather, pads pale, eyes closed, barely breathing, stomach very cold, gums pale. Put on heat source immediately. Hot water bottle or heat pad (a warm room or near a radiator is NOT ENOUGH). Let it warm up for half an hour then give Lectade until it shows an interest. KEEP WARM and quiet. Feed light diet as soon as awake and recovering, keep on Lectade for two days.
Pneumonia Hog breathes heavily with wheezing and bubbly cough, runny nose, may lie on side or flat on stomach. Keep warm with direct heat source. Do not let air around the hog get too hot or dry (i.e. don't keep the hog in a hot kitchen). Take to the vet immediately for antibiotic treatment. We normally use Baytril given for a minimum of 10 days at a dose of 0.8ml per KG body weight twice daily either orally or by subcutaneous injection. If no improvement after the first couple of days then change to Synulox.
Give BISOLVON expectorate on food, if eating, or in fluids if not eating.
Give Lectade as above if not eating but do not give too much at once as it may choke, let it breathe between sips. A drop of OLBAS oil (chemist) on a cloth near the nose may help breathing, do not rub on the hog.

One of the primary causes of Pneumonia is Lungworms (see below)
Lungworm Hog develops 'smokers cough' often heard at night or when hog is sleeping. Fails to put on weight despite eating well. Cough sometimes starts after a few days in the warmth. Some species of lungworm are resistant to Panacur. We find Telmin (Mebendazole) is an efficient safe wormer for lungworms and we give Telmin daily for 5 days. break for 14 days and repeat for a further 5 days. The hedgehog also needs Antibiotics at the same time and that is normally Baytril 2.5% given for a minimum of 10 days at a dose of 0.8ml per KG body weight twice daily either oral or by subcutaneous injection

Warning: Many vets suggest using Levamisole injection for lungworms.  We have found that in many cases this extremely strong substance kills the hedgehog at the same time (It kills all the worms so quickly that a weak or poorly hedgehog cannot cope with the toxins resulting from the dead worms). Levamisole is used very safely by many vets & rescue centres on stronger hogs, be cautious with weak ones.

Worms Fails to put on weight despite eating. No external signs of worms but general debility; hog looks thin and rangy, sometimes blood in droppings. We always worm all hedgehogs as soon as they come in with PANACUR ( Fenbendazole). Our regular regime is to give Panacur for 5 days. Nothing for 2 days, Then give Telmin(Mebendazole) for 5 days  2 weeks later repeat the entire course.
We are at present trying a slightly different routine with Panacur on day 1, Telmin on day 2 and continue to alternate for 10 days. Repeat in 2 weeks
Always give Antibiotics when initially worming hedgehogs. The usual antibiotic is Baytril 2.5% at a dose of  0.8ml per KG bodyweight given twice daily. (oral or by subcutaneous injection)
Worms in Hedgehogs are a direct result of its diet. They are transmitted to the hedgehog from earthworms, slugs and snails. You can cut down on the risk by supplementing its food in your garden (see Diet page)

Some Vets suggest Ivermectin by injection for worms. This doesn't work on the species of worms that normally infest hedgehogs but does no harm to try

Diarrhoea Droppings become jellified or very loose, greenish, putty coloured or dark sometimes with streaks of blood. Rehydrate immediately with Lectade 6-15ml. Keep warm, give light diet; scrambled egg or chicken. NEVER GIVE COWS MILK TO HOGS.
May be caused by incorrect diet or infection, or by worms. If change of diet or de-worming doesn't clear it up quickly, then get to vet as soon as possible for treatment. Antibiotics can sometimes make diarrhoea worse, but also can help tremendously.
We always use a probiotic supplement in the hog's food or water, to replenish the hog's natural intestinal flora, which helps it digest food properly.
Injuries If animal is screaming or crying - get it to the vet IMMEDIATELY without treating it yourself.
Otherwise you may want to start treatment yourself if they are very minor injuries

WARNING: ALL INJURIES must go to a vet for antibiotic treatment and full examination.

 First get your equipment ready. A clean sheet to place the hog on, a good light, a bowl of water with antiseptic in, a bowl of plain water for eyes, cotton wool balls, cotton buds, tweezers, nail scissors, wound powder and antiseptic cream.

We find that brushing a hog on the back with a soft toothbrush frequently encourages them to uncurl enough to be examined and treated.

If these methods don't work, then you have no alternative apart from going to the vet where he can be given a light anaesthetic, however anaesthesia should be avoided as much as possible in hedgehogs, they do not respond well to most anaesthetics.

Swab with antiseptic any wounds, breaks or fractures as gently as possible. Only cut any spines or hair to expose wounds on the body if absolutely necessary. Spines take a long time to regrow and the hog is very vulnerable during this time.

Swab with cotton wool balls and flush out if necessary with a syringe. Remove all maggots and fly eggs at this stage 

Try to pick off any grass, dirt etc that has entered the wound. Once you think the wound is completely clean, shake wound powder into it.

If there are any injuries to the eyes (e.g. by strimmers) use only plain warm water and syringe gently.

Injured hogs are nearly always suffering from shock and a course of Lectade is advisable for a couple of days. Some may need Hartmanns solution injected.

If in any doubt please phone for help immediately..

Antibiotics   Antibiotics frequently used for hedgehogs are:

Baytril 2.5% at a dose of  0.8ml per KG bodyweight given twice daily. (oral or by subcutaneous injection)

Synulox drops orally daily at a dose of 2ml per KG bodyweight
By injection once daily, 0.7ml per KG bodyweight. ( A hedgehog of 500 grams weight will need 0.4ml of Synulox injection)

Cindamycin ( Antirobe) can be used on infected open wounds to speed healing. Break open a capsule & sprinkle a small amount  into the wound daily. Be careful with Antirobe as it is absorbed into the system and should be used very sparingly as it suppresses appetite.

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Hedgehog Research Pages

British Hedgehog Preservation Society
St Tiggywinkles
Wildlife Hospital
South Essex Wildlife Hospital
01375 893893
Covers Essex, North Kent & East London areas
Prickly Ball Farm Hedgehog Hospital
Spike's Site
Jan a good resource for colouring pictures of hedgehogs. is a good source of colouring pictures of hedgehogs and has other good educational aids.