Erinaceus europaeus - Gráinneog

Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is mainly in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • All wild animals can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance


FIRST try to call relevant contact number from the website contact page for further advice


  • Follow capture instructions below
  • Bring to a vet if possible, if not bring home temporarily
  • Follow husbandry advice for feeding and housing
  • Call relevant contact number from website contact page for further advice


  • Lay a blanket over the casualty for warmth
  • If the hedgehog is on the road, protect it from traffic if possible
  • IF safe to do so, lift hedgehog to a safe place on a coat/towel
  • Note exact location and call relevant person from our website contact page
  • Ideally stay with the casualty until someone comes to help

Blanket / thick gloves to protect yourself from spines
Sturdy cardboard box or alternative ventilated container e.g. pet carrier
Long-nosed pliers, scissors

Hedgehog capture

  • Use thick gloves / towel to lift into container
  • If wedged in tight space, use pliers to grasp as many spines, at their base, as possible and pull out of situation

Entanglement capture (e.g. caught in fencing)

  • DO NOT JUST CUT FREE AND IMMEDIATELY RELEASE (wounds may be more severe than they initially appear, and hedgehog may be dehydrated or malnourished if trapped for some time)
  • Cut fencing/netting so hedgehog can be rescued, along with any embedded fencing section
  • Container must be large enough to fit hedgehog and fencing /netting
  • Hedgehog lifted into container

Cardboard box or similar container, with ventilation holes
Newspaper/towel on bottom of box
Use deep box or close lid to prevent escape

Use gloves/towel to protect hands from spines
Do not handle unnecessarily
Once captured do not try to calm animal by talking to it
Keep other domestic animals away/out of sight

See Supplies page for food and equipment mentioned below


House in quiet area away from domestic animals and children
Line container with newspaper
Provide a small towel for hedgehog to hide under

  • cardboard box
  • cat carrier
  • hamster cage
  • rabbit hutch

A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel can be used.
The hedgehog should feel warm to the touch.
Beware overheating can also kill so give enough space that the hedgehog can crawl away from the heat if necessary.
If the hedgehog is cold it will be unwilling to feed

DO NOT feed milk and bread, bad for digestion
First 12 hours – offer bowl of rehydration solution – “1 pinch of sugar and 1 pinch of salt in 1 cup of warm water”
Then offer human liquid nutrition e.g. ‘Ensure’
Finally offer tinned dog or cat food, or dry cat food with bowl of drinking water

Leave one of the above fluid solutions in a bowl at all times
Roughly up to one third of a tin of dog/cat food per day.

BABY HEDGEHOG – ‘Urchin’or ‘Hoglet’

Step by Step:

  • Weigh
  • Warm up
  • Stimulate to urinate/defecate
  • Provide fluids

Cardboard box, cat carrier, hamster cage
Cover floor with newspaper then soft towel. Provide another light towel/fleece for hoglet to hide in.
Keep indoors, in a quiet, darkened and WARM place, away from children and domestic animals.
Allow to rest between feeds, only handle for feeding.

A hoglet under 100g should be kept very warm, ideally roughly 30 degrees C.
A hot water bottle wrapped in a towel should be put into container with hoglet.
The container could be placed in the airing cupboard
The hoglet should feel warm to the touch.
Beware, overheating can also kill so don’t forget about him!
A hoglet 100 – 200g needs just to be kept in a warm room inside the house



Rehydration solution

  • Rehydration solution – “1 pinch of sugar and 1 pinch of salt in 1 cup of warm water”
  • Canine milk replacement e.g. Esbilac OR goats’ milk

(24hrs of rehydration solution feeds is fine if milk replacement difficult to obtain)
Allow to rest between feeds, only handle for feeding (for frequency see below).

If the hedgehog is cold it will be unwilling to feed. Warm up slowly with warm towels.

Preventative measures:

  • Use rehydration solution for the first few feeds while you and the hoglet get used to feeding.
  • Hold the hoglet vertically and leaning slightly forward, or on all four feet, whilst feeding.
  • Always feed patiently, slowly and gently
  • Try to get the hoglet to lick/suck the fluids slowly rather than guzzling

Take to vet for antibiotics and other respiratory drugs if hoglet inhales fluids and starts coughing for any long period of time, breathing heavily or breathing with mouth open.

Introducing ‘milk’
1st feed – rehydration solution
2nd feed –rehydration solution
3rd feed – ½ rehydration solution, ½ milk replacement
4th feed – milk replacement


  • 1ml syringe if very small e.g. still blind, but be aware of aspiration pneumonia (mentioned above) and feed very slowly watching to check that the hoglet swallows as you feed.
  • Ear dropper
  • Tiny paintbrush could be tried


  • Hold the hoglet vertically and leaning slightly forward, or on all four feet, whilst feeding.
  • Always feed patiently, slowly and gently
  • Try to get the hoglet to lick/suck the fluids slowly rather than guzzling

Quantity & Frequency
Hoglets can be fed up to 25% of their bodyweight per day, split into multiple feeds
A 25g newborn hoglet, blind and deaf, will need roughly 1ml every 2-3 hours day and night
At 2 weeks of age, 50 – 100g, with eyes open, feed roughly 3ml every 3-4 hours, 8hr gap overnight
Watch for a rounded or taut belly, the hoglet will have had enough at this stage.
If it is unwilling to wake up and feed, extend the gap between feeds by ½ hour
Do NOT overfeed, stop if seems reluctant to feed
Never feed an animal so much fluid that its tummy becomes hard and distended.

Keep feeding utensils in a deep bowl of sterilising solution e.g. Milton, then rinse in warm water before use.
Use clean feeding utensils for each feed.
After use, dismantle feeding equipment and clean thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse, then replace in the sterilising bowl.

Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is mainly in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • All wild animals can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance

Sufficient area to exercise, hamster cage size only sufficient temporarily.
Mainly solitary animals – group housing of adults is not advised due to risks of fighting and disease transmission

  • If group housing is unavoidable, monitor carefully for signs of fighting and weigh individuals once -twice weekly as weight loss is an early sign of underlying disease

Rabbit hutch with outdoor exercise area attached
Big leafy branches and logs for hiding, enrichment, and to reduce stress.
Dry box area filled with hay for them to sleep in (beware hay forming ligature around legs)
Be aware they can dig and climb.
Beware – even sick hedgehogs are very good escape artists, so ensure housing is totally secure

Tinned dog or cat food, mixed with dry cat food, or Spike’s hedgehog  food.

  • Lower calorie diets are preferred for long-term feeding to avoid obesity which is relatively common in captivity

Feed in the evening – nocturnal.
Feed a portion size that is nearly all eaten by morning.

  • Start with 1/3 of 400g tin. Adjust as necessary

Occasional supplementary food – fresh or dried mealworms and crickets
Water should be available at all times.

If reluctant to eat/drink, entice, or if sick, syringe feed, with human ‘Ensure’ liquid nutrition

Extra info for long term husbandry

Weigh same time each day.
Weight loss or static weight is an early indicator of underlying problems

Under 60g – An incubator is ideal for tiny hoglets
Under 100g – heat pad/heat lamp over part of their container to provide a minimum of 25 degrees C.
100g – supplementary heat can be removed but hoglet must stay indoors
350g – if summer, put in outbuilding to acclimatise pre release
500g – in winter, put in outbuilding to acclimatise pre release

Description Weight Approximate age Quantity per feed Frequency
Bald, small pink pimples along back, umbilical remnant, eyes & ears closed 8 – 25g newborn 0.5 – 2ml 2-3hrly including overnight
Brown spines start to grow 30 – 50g 1 week 1 -2.5ml 3-4hrly, 7hr gap overnight
Eyes open 50 – 100g 2 weeks 2.5 – 4ml 4 – 5hrly, 8hr gap overnight
Deciduous teeth erupt, start leaving the nest and foraging. Begin weaning 100–200g 3 weeks 5 – 10ml 4 times daily

1ml syringe with vacutainer rubber tip or pastettes. Larger syringes as required

Rehydration solution – Lectade or equivalent
Canine milk replacement e.g. Esbilac

First 2 days 50% Esbilac, 50% colostrum (Kitten colostrum substitute)
Then 75% Esbilac, 25% colostrum until they are 3wks
Only Esbilac after that until weaned
Alternatively if colostrum is not available, Esbilac alone may be used successfully

Encourage to drink from bowl, once hoglet learns, always keep fresh water available. At roughly 3 wks of age. When able to walk around and deciduous teeth have come through.
Wean with mix of:
Tinned Puppy food/kitten food (not fish flavour)
Multivitamin/mineral supplement e.g. Nutri-plus
Dried insects
Pancrex enzyme

Milton for bottles, feeding bowls etc

Routine records should be maintained of weight, times of each feed, quantities of food consumed, urine/faeces production and general condition/demeanour.

Good – soft and brown
On milk formula, faeces will be pale green/brown and soft. This is NORMAL for milk diet.

Bad – pale/black, runny, watery
If faeces become bad, initially try withdrawing food for 24hrs and give only rehydration fluids
Sterilise all feeding equipment, once faeces looks normal again, slowly reintroduce milk formula or try alternative milk formula.
If faeces remain bad after 24hrs, seek veterinary attention

Potentially prevents release. Keep human contact minimal.

Always seek advice from specialist organisations with knowledge of suitable release sites/habitat.

Careful assessment and appropriate health checks should be carried out prior to release, as to the risks of released animals introducing new diseases into the wild population/environment.

Release criteria/considerations
Need to be wild – wary/scared of humans, domestic animals and any other natural predators
Must be physically fit, mentally sound, maintaining body weight
Should not be released if underweight, unable to recognise/eat normal diet etc
Must be of an appropriate weight for the age, sex, and time of year for the species
Do not release in winter unless it has sufficient body weight to cope with the cold
Ideally return to original location unless dangerous or unsuitable
Release away from roads, species specific predators (e.g. badgers), areas where they could cause damage
Consider natural history of the animal and the location of local wild groups of these animals
Release during a period of favourable weather.
Ideally identify animal in some way e.g. glue on spine tags, for post release monitoring/identification

Preferred habitat
Gardens that join onto each other – large enough foraging area
Gardens with shrubs, or bordering dense vegetation
Area already frequented by hedgehogs – indicates suitability
Not territorial so can be released in any suitable habitat
Moist deciduous woodland, Pastureland or urban area with access to 10 or more gardens.
Needs to be suitable nesting materials and potential nesting sites e.g. hedges, brambles
Release back to habitat type that it was found in e.g. suburban/rural

HARD RELEASE (direct release)

Hard release technique
The animal is simply allowed to exit a transport container with no further care or feed provision.

Hard release candidates
The hard release technique is only suitable if the animal is rescued as an adult and only if in captivity for a short period of time, and only if to be released were originally found.

Release timing
Preferably release in summer, minimum release weight 450g
October- November, min release weight 600g
Any hedgehogs that don’t attain these weights before the end of November must be fattened up and released once optimum weight has been reached and weather conditions are favourable
Warm, slightly damp weather in summer enables better foraging (e.g. earthworms in the soft ground)
In the south of Ireland, it has been suggested, that it may be possible to release year-round if the weather is mild enough.

Species-specific considerations
Do not release near badger setts, dogs, main roads, ponds/deep water
Avoid land with ground-nesting birds – hedgehogs may eat the eggs
If feasible release lactating female within 24hrs, in the same location, if hoglets are to survive.
If pregnancy is suspected (normally between April and October), the hedgehog should be released as soon as possible to prevent potential cannibalism of hoglets born in captivity.
Essential that they are able to curl up fully for defence

Ideally, return to the exact location where the animal was rescued from.
Open the carrying cage and let the animal leave in its own time.
Release at dusk, under a hedge or with nest box/nesting material e.g. hay bale, for shelter.

SOFT RELEASE (gentle or gradual release)
Hoglets (sometimes adults)

Soft release technique
Soft release aims to slowly reintroduce the animal to the wild while still in a comfort zone e.g. cage it was reared in, and allow the animal to leave the cage once confident and independent.
It involves continuing to care for animals at the release site, and aims to compensate for difficulties of newly released animals finding food and shelter in a new environment.

Soft release candidates
Essential release method for hand reared animals.
If more than one young animal in care, if practicable, try to form a release group.
Release group – try to have mixed genders, appropriately matched age group.
Also suitable for adults that have been in care for a long period of time, or animals that cannot be released back to where they were found and so have to establish a new territory.

Release timing
Preferably release in summer, minimum release weight 450g
October- November, min release weight 600g
Any hedgehogs that don’t attain these weights before November must be fattened up and released once the optimum weight has been reached and weather conditions are favourable
Warm, slightly damp weather in summer enables better foraging (e.g. earthworms in the soft ground)

Species-specific considerations
Do not release near badger setts, dogs, main roads, ponds/deep water
Avoid land with ground-nesting birds – hedgehogs may eat the eggs or waterlogged areas
If pregnancy is suspected (normally between April and October), the hedgehog should be released as soon as possible to prevent potential cannibalism of hoglets born in captivity.
If a lactating female is rescued, release where found as soon as possible i.e. within 24hrs so the female can return to her litter
Essential that they are able to curl up fully and have a full coat of prickles for defence
Must be over eight weeks of age

Temporary cage placed in release location.
Cage fully enclosed and containing nest box/nesting material e.g. hay bale, for shelter, natural cover, food and water.

Animal fed only natural foods it will come across in the wild
Cage opened and left in-situ for the animal to come and go until it feels confident enough not to return.
Food provided, decreasing in quantity, until the animal no longer returns
Soft release may take days – months.
Open the cage at dusk or just after dark

*Compulsory licence details at end of document*

Let us not waste time complaining about the excessive bureaucratic legislation covering wildlife today. The intent was to provide protection for wildlife and the data is valuable.

If we don’t want to be legislated upon, or don’t like current legislation, we must offer legislative solutions. Apply for your licences but also email  your ideas for a more practicable solution for ‘policing wildlife rehabilitation’ in Ireland, to info@irishwildlifematters.ie


Irish Wildlife Act 1976 and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000 – strictly protected species
Berne Convention, Appendix 3 – requires protection
Irish Red Data book – least concern
N.I Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 – protected species

The Minister may grant a licence to capture or kill for educational, scientific or other purposes

May not be hunted or killed or their breeding places disturbed.

Rescue and Rehabilitation
Due to their status as a protected species, a *licence MUST be applied for to the NPWS ‘to possess/retain an injured or disabled wild bird/animal’

Subject to the conditions set out in the licence provided for the possession/retention of a wild bird/animal

Report suspicious activities or equipment to the NPWS Conservation Ranger (see CONTACTS page) 

* For a licence application form for the possession/ retention of a wild animal – click HERE

Post to the address below OR email to wildlifelicence@chg.gov.ie

Wildlife Licence Unit
National Parks and Wildlife Service
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
90 King Street North
Dublin 7
D07 N7CV

Phone: (064) 662 7300
Email: wildlifelicence@chg.gov.ie


Clinical Signs – out during the day, unable to curl fully, swollen footpads, nervous signs – circling, in-coordination, anorexia, hind limb paresis/paralysis. Occasionally blindness
Diagnosis – suspected on clinical signs, virus isolation from faecal sample, usually post-mortem diagnosis (appears similar to canine distemper)
Treatment –fluids, antibiotics, vitamin B has been used
Comments – not commonly seen. Prognosis poor. Also healthy carriers

Salmonellosis – (Salmonella enteriditis)

Clinical Signs – sudden onset green mucoid diarrhoea, depression, loss of appetite, wasting
Diagnosis – faecal culture (although may be difficult to culture), often post-mortem diagnosis
Treatment – fluids, warmth, kaolin, antibiotics (ideally based on culture and sensitivity, but use with caution as may promote carrier status)
Comments – Relatively common.  Zoonotic – wear gloves and barrier nurse. Common at weaning of hand-reared hoglets. Can be healthy carriers. Poor prognosis

Neonatal enteritis – (often E. coli, can be other infections)

Clinical Signs –pale green sticky mucoid diarrhoea, occasionally streaked with blood or containing lumps of bright green jelly or pus. Can lead to dehydration and death
Diagnosis – faecal culture
Treatment – fluids, antibiotics (based on sensitivity), strict hygiene, isolation, sterilisation of equipment
Comments – mainly hoglets

Respiratory infections

Clinical Signs – nasal discharge, decreased or no appetite, difficulty breathing, increased breathing sounds, weakness
Diagnosis – clinical signs, radiography
Treatment – Antibiotics which have been used include enrofloxacin, amoxicillin-clavulanate, cefalexin. Also consider supportive treatment with bronchodilators (eg. clenbuterol, etamiphylline) and mucolytics (bromhexidine). Additional oxygen therapy and nebulisation may be useful.
Comments – Often due to Bordetella bronchiseptica. Can be associated with cold, poor diet, dirty environment, and heavy parasite burdens. Brinsea Intensive Care Unit ideal for respiratory condition treatment – warmth, oxygen and nebuliser

Ringworm – (Trichophyton erinacei)

Clinical Signs – flaky skin, debris at base of spines, cracked crusty lesions, hair loss – face and head. Thick crusty ears.
Diagnosis –fungal culture, skin biopsy, does not fluoresce under Wood’s lamp
Treatment – diluted enilconazole applied topically daily, miconazole spray daily, clotrimazole cream daily, terbinafine tablets daily, prolonged course of treatment normally necessary

Road Traffic Accident

Clinical Signs –  in-coordination, disorientation, temporary blindness
Diagnosis – examination and radiographs.
Treatment – treat for shock. Analgesia. Temporary splint if any fractures. Surgery once stabilised
Comments – mainly killed outright.

Bite wounds

Clinical Signs –deep puncture wounds or lacerations to body and snout. Old wounds are sometimes filled with maggots. Hindlimbs often fractured or severely traumatised.
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – Removal of maggots. Treat as skin wounds (below) but more likely to be infected, so antibiotics critical to prevent septicaemia
Comments – Mainly dog attacks or sometimes foxes or other hedgehogs

Skin wounds

Clinical Signs –lacerations to body and snout. May have exposed muscle and bone
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history – strimmer, dog, RTA
Treatment – Fluids, antibiotics analgesia. Clip and clean wound. If fresh, may be sutured under GA. If old contaminated wound –debride, allow to heal by second intention, Intrasite gel can be useful in early stages to promote granulation, Dermisol cream can be useful to help removal of necrotic debris.
Comments – even massive skin wounds can make good recovery if managed well

Entanglement  injuries

Clinical Signs – injury to the limb, underlying tissue damage
Diagnosis – ligature marks, netting or garden string attached
Treatment –remove netting under GA. Analgesics and antibiotics. Clean wound daily .Dermisol may be useful to help remove any necrotic debris. Aggressive fluid therapy. Amputation of affected limb may be necessary
Comments – If no obvious injury keep for at least 7 days to monitor for pressure necrosis or self mutilation.


Clinical Signs – charred spines, skin burns, respiratory problems if concurrent smoke inhalation
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – clean, silver sulfadiazine cream, antibiotics, fluids, oxygen if necessary
Comments – skin may slough a few days later


Clinical Signs – mainly compound and infected.
Diagnosis – clinical signs, radiography
Treatment – analgesics used – NSAIDs, buprenorphine. Cleaning, IntraSite Gel. Antibiotics. Surgical repair or amputation*(see below) may be necessary.
Simple leg fractures – tibia, radius, ulna, metatarsal/metacarpal – Plaster of Paris cast
humerus, femur – internal splints (hypodermic needles)
Compound fractures – external fixation
Jaw – wiring, palate can be sutured
Spine – not to be confused with ‘pop-off syndrome’. Euthanasia .
Comments – Remove any surgical implants before release

Crushed foot

Clinical Signs –bones crushed  often just in one foot, usually infected
Diagnosis – radiography
Treatment – culture exudates to treat infection, amputation may be necessary
Comments – Often results in a solid foot or amputation necessitating subsequent captivity

Eye problems

Clinical Signs – variety of problems seen including retinal dysplasia, cataracts, lesions, corneal ulcers, prolapse
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment –  Depends on cause. If prolapsed; enucleation is required under GA.
Comments – Prolapse very common in hedgehogs, presumably due to collision. Blind or partially sighted hedgehogs should not be released, and although some may manage well in semi-captivity, their quality of life should be carefully assessed.

Orbicularis muscle prolapse / Pop-off syndrome

Clinical Signs – unable to curl, appears paraplegic. Hindlimbs and pelvis protruding, spined skin twisted over back.
Diagnosis – orbicularis muscle slipped over pelvis. Radiography to rule out fractured spine
Treatment – Pull muscle back over pelvis under GA. Analgesia post surgery
Comments – shouldn’t recur. Often as a result of struggling to escape from entanglement

Dental disease

Clinical Signs – inflamed, bleeding gums, mouth pain, emaciation, bad breath, drooling
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – Dental scale, polish and extractions if necessary. Pre and post treatment antibiotics e.g. metronidazole and spiramycin, or clindamycin
Comments – all animals’ mouths should routinely be checked. Consider euthanasia if dental disease severe, as likely to be ongoing problem which may result in starvation and death post-release

Spondylosis deformans

Clinical Signs – reluctance to use back legs, appear paralysed
Diagnosis – clinical signs, radiographs
Treatment – anti-inflammatories
Comments – usually in older hogs, changes irreversible so euthanasia required if condition severe

Subcutaneous emphysema/ Balloon syndrome

Clinical Signs – skin becomes stretched ‘inflated’ to twice normal size. Feet cannot touch the ground
Diagnosis – clinical signs, radiography
Treatment – incision over the back or aspiration via three way tap, possibly repeatedly. Antibiotics
Comments –air enters the subcutaneous cavity, possibly following a gas-producing infection from wound or damaged respiratory system, may be seen after RTA


Mixed opinions regarding quality of life.
Each case to be carefully considered bearing in mind decreased grooming ability, increased susceptibility to external parasites, and possibility of other secondary problems.
Would need soft release into semi-captivity (see release section) and require post-op monitoring.

Myiasis – maggot infestation

Clinical signs – visual infestation in open wounds or any moist areas e.g. eyes, ears, armpits
Diagnosis – clinical signs. Eggs look like rice grains
Treatment – Remove with forceps, flush out, brush off with stiff brush/toothbrush.
Chloramphenicol ointment to smother any remaining maggots if eyes affected, GAC ear drops in ears if maggots. Check mouth. Ivermectin for any undiscovered maggots.
Antibiotics for secondary bacterial infection and NSAID eg. flunixin for it’s antitioxin, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Only clean thoroughly once stabilised.
Comments – monitor progress of American nitenpyram tablet trials

Fleas – (Archaeopsylla erinacei)

Clinical Signs – fleas visible, +/- anaemia, skin irritation
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – Pyrethrum based flea powders, fipronil (used to be thought to be toxic, many use it safely and effectively)
Comments – Host specific. Only heavy burdens need treating

Ear mites (Otodectes cynotis)

Clinical Signs – powdery deposits
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – Topical application of antiparasitic ear drops or ivermectin
Comments – common. Can be resistant to ivermectin

Mange – (Caparinia tripilis)

Clinical Signs – scabby lesions, scaly skin, hair loss, powder-like deposit around ears and cheeks
Diagnosis – clinical signs, skin scrapes
Treatment – repeated ivermectin injections or topical application
Comments – may accompany ringworm

Ticks – (Ixodes hexagonus or I. ricinus)

Clinical Signs – grey/brown elongated body, mouth embedded in skin
Diagnosis – clinical signs
Treatment – ‘O’Tom Tick Twister’ or tweezer removal. Fipronil or ivermectin
Comments – destroy once removed, ensure mouth part removed

Intestinal flukes – (Brachylaemus erinacei)

Clinical Signs – green mucus-like faeces, hyperactivity, and anorexia
Diagnosis – faecal smears
Treatment – praziquantel
Comments – uncommon, transmission via slugs and snails

Lungworm – (Crenosoma striatum)

Clinical Signs – moist chesty cough, respiratory distress. Normal respiratory rate is 20-25breaths/min
Diagnosis – faecal smears
Treatment – wormer – repeated levamisole injections, antibiotics to cover secondary bacterial infection (often Bordetella), supportive treatment with bronchodilators and corticosteroids if severe parasite burden
Comments – very common, especially in autumn. Infected from birth. Prophylactic treatment recommended

Other endoparasites – Intestinal Capillaria, tapeworm Hymenolepis erinacei, thorny-headed worms Acanthocephala, Coccidiosis, Giardia

Clinical Signs – weight loss, diarrhoea, anorexia, lethargy
Diagnosis – faecal smears
Treatment – Appropriate wormer depending on parasite – eg. levamisole for Capillaria, praziquantel for tapeworms or thorny headed worms, sulphonamides for coccidiosis, fenbendazole for Giardia,
Comments – many asymptomatic carriers



Clinical Signs – hyperaesthesia – sensitivity to sound, blue faeces/vomit, tachycardia, ataxia, tremors
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history
Treatment – Diazepam, Hartmann’s fluids. Milk or sodium bicarbonate by stomach tube. Activated charcoal. Supportive treatment and warmth. Possibly oxygen and vitamin B12
Comments – Mainly fatal. Often from eating slug pellets, rather than the poisoned slugs


Clinical Signs – pallor, epistaxis, haemorrhagic diarrhoea
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history
Treatment – Vit K,  gentle handling and soft bedding to prevent further bleeding,
Comments – often fatal. Chronic ingestion more toxic than single dose


Clinical Signs – similar to severe lungworm; dyspnoea, foaming at mouth, cyanosis
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history; herbicide spraying
Treatment –doxapram, oxygen, multivitamins
Comments – often fatal.

Pesticides (organophosphates)

Clinical Signs – paralysis, salivation, seizures, vomiting, diarrhoea. Death from respiratory failure
Diagnosis – clinical signs, history
Treatment –atropine, oxygen, pralidoxime
Comments – often fatal.


Too underweight to hibernate

Clinical Signs – usually those born in late litters Aug-Oct, weighing less than 500g at end of November
Diagnosis –weight
Treatment – check for underlying disease. Keep indoors, feed up. Take outdoors to hibernate if reach 600g, leave food available in case they come out of hibernation. Otherwise keep warm (18-22C) to prevent them from hibernating, feed up and release in April/May depending on weather conditions
Comments –Usually hibernate between January and March.

Out during daylight hours

Clinical Signs – found walking around during the day
Diagnosis – history
Treatment – must be taken into care to discover cause.
Comments – strictly nocturnal. Possible causes – blind, hungry, sick, injured, orphan


Clinical Signs – masses may be visible externally or felt on palpation
Diagnosis –radiography, ultrasound, histopathology
Treatment – surgery if benign and can be fully excised, or euthanasia
Comments – Mainly associated with throat region and mammary glands

Zinc deficiency

Clinical Signs – spineless and hairless – bald
Diagnosis – clinical signs and response to treatment, rule out other causes of skin disease first, would need bloods and skin biopsy to confirm
Treatment – multivitamin and zinc supplement for at least 2-4 weeks
Comments – cause not fully understood, variable response to treatment


  • Those not responding to supportive treatment within 48 hours
  • Those which willl have no quality of life when recovered
  • Amputation of more than one leg necessary
  • Fractured spine


  • Pentobarbital sodium


  • General anaesthetic then intrahepatic or intracardiac injection

Drugs & Dosages
SC between spines over back and flank, or along the dorsum ‘skirt’
IM orbicularis muscle, deep in skirt, gluteal mass of hind limb if anaesthetised
IO proximal end of femur, if animal unconscious or anaesthetised
IP to the right of the midline, level of the umbilicus (with animal in dorsal recumbency)
IV BLOOD SAMPLING via lateral or medial saphenous vein
PO in food
Temperature (°C) adult 35 hoglet 31.5 – 34 hibernation 2 – 5
Pulse rate
(beats per minute)
sleeping 147 awake 200 – 280 hibernation 2 – 12
Respiratory rate
(breaths per minute)
resting 25 exertion 50
hibernation: 56-150 minutes of apnoea followed by 40-50 rapid breaths

Techniques for examining hedgehogs:

  • Place on table (ideally transparent!) and wait, quietly, for it to unroll and start moving – provides visual examination only.
  • Holding in cupped hands and gently rocking/bouncing will sometimes encourage uncurling
  • Stroke firmly, with a glove/towel, the spines from head to rump
  • Hold facing downwards, above a table, wait as it uncurls to try to reach the table, then gently grasp the hind legs and keep suspended for the duration of the examination.

Once stabilised, if necessary, a full examination/treatment can be carried out under sedation/ GA

  • Weigh
  • Warm up
  • If baby hedgehog (hoglet); stimulate to urinate/defecate
  • Fluids
  • Drugs

If sick/injured
Consider antibiotics and analgesia

If maggots present
Begin removal immediately, leave to rest after 30mins (see Myiasis on Common Conditions page for further information)

Ideally assess, stabilise, treat life-threatening injuries then LEAVE ALONE FOR UP TO 24 HOURS before attempting further treatment.

Isoflurane via mask or anaesthetic chamber (commonly used and very effective)
Medetomidine and ketamine (rarely used)