Last weekend several residents on my road in Bath alerted me to a young hedgehog that was running around on the road in daylight – usually a sign that hedgehog is unwell. I first moved the hedgehog to a patch of grass to monitor it and soon discovered several large ticks and that the fur was matted with hundreds of fly eggs. I have previously seen the damage that maggots can do to a living hedgehog and so took him in and promptly contacted Prickles Hedgehog Rescue for advice. They said that they were able to collect the hedgehog the following day, and gave me instructions on how to look after the hedgehog in the meantime.
First, I had to give it food and water, as being out in daylight indicated that it was likely to be hungry. Dog food is a suitable source of food for hedgehogs, as long as it doesn’t contain fish. At first I put a few chunks in the blender with a little water, and the hedgehog took to it readily. Next was to removed the parasites. I pulled out the ticks, making sure the heads were not left in, and then used a pair of tweezers to remove the fly eggs from the fur – a process that took about 2 hours. Fortunately the eggs had been recently laid and there were no maggots on the body. Flies tend to lay their eggs on sick or otherwise unhealthy hedgehogs and the maggots can result in death, so these were the biggest apparent threat to the hedgehog. After I had removed all of the eggs that I could find, I then gave the hedgehog a bath. He didn’t seem to mind getting wet, and seemed to perk up a bit afterwards. I gave him food and water several more times that night and put him to bed in a box with a towel, a dish of water and small amount of food.
In the morning he was still alive and very sleepy. He hadn’t touched the food I left for him and was not interested in taking any more. I examined him again for any more fly eggs and found several maggots, which I removed. Prickles Hedgehog Rescue phoned and recommended that I try to take him to a vet to be checked over and to have an injection of fluids. The vet was very happy to look at the hedgehog and didn’t charge as it was a wild animal. She commented that he seemed very healthy and that I did a good job of cleaning him up and removing parasites. He didn’t seem to mind the injection and was soon wide awake after being rehydrated. When I returned him to his box he wolfed down most of the food in there.
When Prickles Hedgehog Rescue came to pick him up, he was very active. He was taken to stay with a hedgehog carer, where he received anti-biotics and was to be fed until he was healthy enough to be released back into the wild. Whilst the initial signs were good, sadly the hedgehog was found to have liver fluke and despite our best efforts he passed away within 24 hours of being taken in.
Hedgehogs are a UK Biodiversity Action Plan Species and therefore a material consideration in respect to development. Ecosulis are able to advise on issues related to hedgehogs and development.
If you find a sick, injured or orphaned hedgehog, the best thing to do is to get the hedgehog to safety and contact a hedgehog rescuer as soon as possible. A list of contacts is available on the British Hedgehog Preservation Society Website http://www.britishhedgehogs.org.uk/carers.htm