Hedgehog Care In Temporary Shelters
DIET: Feed a commercial hedgehog or omnivore pelleted diet, insects (6 mealworms or 2 crickets), and 1 teaspoon of vegetables and fruit. Give food in the evening.
Alternatively, offer dry or canned kitten or low fat dog or cat food as a last resort. Do not feed rabbit or rodent pellets, seeds, or dried fruits unless no other food is available. Water must be available at all times in both bottle and bowl, watch for clogging of tube.
HOUSING: Minimum temperature 70 degrees, maximum 85 degrees. Move to indoor climate controlled facility if needed to avoid cold.
Use original cage if possible to decrease stress. Use wire cages with maximum 1/2 bar spacing, aquariums with lids, or plastic totes at least 18 inches tall if there are no holes they can reach to chew and escape. Use bedding of newspaper, paper towels, or recycled or shredded paper. Do not use wood shavings, corn cob, cat litter, hay or straw as bedding. Provide a cardboard or commercial hiding box to decrease stress. Avoid bright lights and loud noises. Must be housed separately.
RESTRAINT: Avoid handling as they usually don’t like it, will panic if approached from above.
Work in a quiet, dimly lit space to prevent panic. Use soft leather gloves. Scoop from underneath, then use one hand over shoulders and one under hindquarters. Wrap in a towel like a burrito or place inside a small container like a cup. Gently stroke the spines down the back to help unroll the hedgehog if needed to examine. Grasp the rear legs and lift them, but leave the forelegs on the table. The hedgehog will remain stretched out in a “wheelbarrow” position.
COMMON MEDICAL PROBLEMS: Cancer is very common over 3 years of age.
Overgrown nails are common. Susceptible to Bordatella (kennel cough), do not house near dogs. Wet tail, or diarrhea with staining of the fur near the anus can indicate a life threatening illness. Can result from stress, overcrowding, shipping, diet change, or various diseases. Requires immediate attention from an experienced exotic mammal veterinarian. Never use antibiotics without consulting an experienced veterinarian to avoid toxicity.
OTHER: Chewing on plastic is dangerous, provide cardboard paper towel tubes for chewing.
Fruit tree branches (not sprayed with pesticides) are safe chew and climbing toys. Do not disturb female with babies, and do not place male with them. Foaming at the mouth and spitting out foam is normal and not necessarily a sign of dental disease.
Compiled by Julie Burge, DVM, Burge Bird Services and Burge Bird Rescue, August 2016
Immediate Intake Care of Small, Unusual & Exotic Pets by Critter Camp Exotic Pet Sanctuary
Exotic Companion Medicine Handbook for Veterinarians by Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM, Diplomat ABVP-Avian