Date & time: 3rd January 2014, 15:30hrs
Casualty first found: 31 December 2013 19:00hrs
Species and incident: Dog Attacked Hedgehog
Location of rescue: Bexhill, East Sussex
Rescuers: Chris & Jen
» Download the casualty form (PDF)
Initial phone call
After hearing their dog making a commotion in the garden, the finders went outside to find the dog pawing at a hedgehog and barking at the hedgehog which was now curled up in a ball on the grass. The finder took their dog inside and left the hedgehog out in the garden to wander off. The following day the dog discovered the hedgehog again and the finder moved the hedgehog to some bushes at the end of the garden. A couple of days later their dog again discovered the hedgehog but they noticed an odd smell and were unsure what to do so decided to call for help. The finder was asked to look over the hedgehog for any signs of blood or injury. The only observations the finder had was that there was some crusting on the back of the hedgehog which smelt. The finder was asked to carefully pick up the hedgehog using a towel or old t-shirt and place the hedgehog in a box or pet carrier and place somewhere dark and warm until the ambulance arrived.
An ambulance was dispatched from our Casualty Centre and arrived on site approximately 15:50hrs. On site, rescuers found the hedgehog had been placed in a cardboard box. Rescuer Chris checked the hedgehog over, parting the spines across the back to investigate the smell of infection present. A crusty wound was noticed which seemed to be origin of the infection smell. It was difficult with the dog barking to assess the hedgehog properly so it was taken out to the ambulance for a better assessment. The hedgehog was encouraged to uncurl but the guard hairs were sensitive to touch causing the hedgehogs to curl up quickly. The gum colour was difficult to assess as the hedgehog would not uncurl fully. The hedgehog's abdominal skin temperature seemed normal despite the outdoor temperature being only a few degrees above freezing. The hedgehog's breathing appeared normal and calm.
No there was no immediate threat to the hedgehogs life, so the casualty was taken to WRAS's Casualty Centre for a better assessment.
Assessment on admission
The hedgehog was assessed by the Casualty Centre Manager. At first the hedgehog was encouraged to uncurl on a towel placed across the examination table but was sensitive to touch so given time to calm and relax. Both eyes were open and prominent. The nose was moist and nostrils clear. The jaw seem aligned and the general head shape was normal and no obvious signs of swelling. Head carriage was normal too. The ears, skin, spines and fur across the head and face seemed normal with no signs of mange nor ringworm. The hedgehog was noticed moving both front legs normally and no visible injuries or swelling were seen. The rear legs were more difficult to see so with patience the hedgehog uncurled enough to walk across the examination table showing correct movement and control of both rear legs. The hedgehogs stomach was rounded and covered in a good covering of hair. It was noted that this hedgehog was male. No visible injuries were seen on the underside of the hedgehog. The hedgehog weighed 670 grams and generally rounded with no visible neck line or a concave waist line. The back of the hedgehog was checked thoroughly. An obvious crusted wound was found on the rear right quarter. No other obvious injuries could be seen.
Initial treatment and care
WRAS's vet was spoken to over the phone and under instruction Carprieve - an analgesic - was administered along with Noroclav - an antibiotic. Under instruction from WRAS's vet the spines around the wound were cut back to expose the wound, leading to the discovery of a second smaller puncture wound close by. The wound was flushed using a weak iodine wash. A loose scab was covering most of the wound and came off easily. The wound was infected, with substantial necrotic tissue around the edge of the wound. After further flushing and cleaning of the wound, some granulation tissue could be seen and some capillary bleeding started. It was noted that a hole appeared to be going under the skin tracking downwards to the skirt. There was concern as the iodine wash started appearing from around the skirt indicating possible further injuries. It was not possible to assess this possible third injury around the hedgehog's skirt, so WRAS's vet was contacted again and booked in for an assessment under anaesthetic.
Bedding the casualty down
The hedgehog was bedded down in Casualty Room 1, in a small animal veterinary cage. Newspaper was placed across the floor of the cage. A fresh and clean cardboard box was used to create a hedgehog house which was filled with hand torn newspaper. A shallow bowl was filled with a third of a tin of meat in jelly cat food (non-fish variety) as well as Ark Hedgehog Biscuits and a small sprinkling of Ark Hedgehog Mix, and a shallow dish of water.
The hedgehog was taken to Henley House Vets in Uckfield for an appointment within a couple of hours. Vet James was briefed on the history of the casualty, treatment given and potential cause. The wound was assessed and agreed that assessment under anaesthetic would be the most suitable way forward, so the hedgehog was left at the vets.
The Hedgehog was anaesthetised using a general anaesthetic. On assessment of the skirt of the hedgehog, an infected wound was found tucked under the skirt. Infection tracked between the three wounds. All three wounds were thoroughly cleaned whilst the hedgehog was under anaesthetic. Due to the location of the wounds it was not possible to cover the wounds with any bandage so an anti-biotic powder was applied along with intra-site gel to block any further infection. The hedgehog was bedded down in a recovery cage and arranged to be collected and returned to WRAS. WRAS were given instructions to continue the Noroclav antibiotic and to give two more days of Carprieve analgesic and to give the hedgehog weak iodine baths to help clean the wounds and to flush the wounds daily and to apply anti-robe antibiotic powder mixed with intra-site gel to the wounds.
Hospitalisation & general treatment
The hedgehog was returned to its cage within the hospital and for the first 7 days the hedgehog was given a bath in a weak iodine wash encouraging the hedgehog to walk through the wash to self clean the lower wound which was difficult to clean by hand, as well as flushing the open wounds on the hedgehogs back. On day 8 the hedgehog returned to the vets to be anaesthetised so the lower wound could be checked to ensure it was staying clean. For days 9 to 16 on a daily basis the hedgehog continued receiving baths and flushing the wounds. A 3cm wide section of dead tissue and spines finally came off on Day 12. The hedgehog was booked in to see the vet again on Day 17 and washing and cleaning of the wound were then reduced down. By Day 21 there had been a significant amount of healing to the wound so cleaning stopped completely. The vet undertook a final assessment of the wound on Day 23 and gave the 'OK' to proceed with rehabilitation with a view to returned him back to the wild. The hedgehog was micro-chipped to help with identification and post release monitoring.
Rehabilitation prior to release
As it was winter, the hedgehog was placed into WRAS's Cold Room to acclimatise to the colder temperatures prior to being groups up with four other male hedgehogs to see how well they interacted with each other. They were then as a group placed into one of WRAS's outside pens with hedgehogs houses for the rest of the winter. It was decided that because this hedgehog had been in for this length of time during the winter, it was possible it may no longer have anywhere suitable to sleep during the cold weather so a decision was taken to keep him in care till the threat of snow subsided or a suitably long enough spell of warm weather occurred.
At the beginning of April all the hedgehogs from this group were brought back to the Casualty Centre for an assessment and to check for injuries, infections, and disease especially ringworm, mange and ticks. They all had faecal analysis undertaken to ensure they were not carrying significant internal parasite burdens. They were all in good condition and weight. As this hedgehog was an adult when admitted it was taken back to the location where found and released in a neighbours garden and the original caller proofed his garden to ensure the hedgehogs and dog could not come into conflict in future. The neighbour was asked to keep an eye out for the hedgehog and will be given the opportunity to scan visiting hedgehogs later in the year to seek if any are ones which WRAS has released previously in the area.Follow us!