If you see a hedgehog out during the day it is most likely to be very unwell and in need of urgent medical attention. You might also see a hedgehog out at night that looks undernourished or unwell. In both cases the first thing to do is to contact your local hedgehog rescue or your vet so that they can check the hedgehog out and give advice.
Hedgehogs can present with a variety of symptoms and whether you are an official hedgehog fosterer with a rescue centre or someone that cares about hedgehogs and has them in or around your garden, it is important to have some idea of what the symptoms might mean.
If you find a sick or injured hedgehog do not feed it until you know what the problem is. A sick and hungry hedgehog’s body can’t always handle a sudden food intake and could die as a result. The hedgehog may be dehydrated and it is important to always rehydrate properly before feeding solid food.
The table below gives a list of some of the more common health issues if in doubt always seek expert advice
This is Nelson
He was rescued as he had been seen out during the day. He was missing one eye and had an old open infected wound on his stomach. He weighed 654g on admission and he is now 860g. It does now appear that he is totally blind so he will need to go to a secure garden when he is well. However he is a very strong little chap.
|SYMPTOM||LIKELY CAUSE||WHAT YOU CAN DO|
|SYMPTOM||LIKELY CAUSE||WHAT YOU CAN DO|
|Adult hedgehog crying or squealing.||This is usually the sign of an animal in severe pain or terrified.|
Seek help and medical attention immediately. Hedgehogs put up with a lot of pain before they start to scream.
|Baby or very young hedgehog crying or squealing.||This usually means cold, hungry or scared but can mean injury.|
Make sure the hedgehog is warm by bringing it indoors, placing it in a high sided box with a blanket and a shallow dish of water.
Check it carefully for injury and seek expert advice immediately from your local rescue centre or vet.
Under NO circumstances give them milk.
|Hedgehog looks wobbly on its feet and falls over.||It may be dehydrated or it may have an infection.|
Dehydrated hedgehogs need rehydration fluids immediately.
Contact your local rescue centre or vet.
Dehydration is life threatening as the internal organs are shutting down.
|Hedgehog is out and about during the day.||Sick, starving or dehydrated. It may also be a female with a nest of hoglets that has either been disturbed or it is having a break from the babies.|
Most hedgehogs found out during the day, other than early morning or late evening, are in trouble.
Check it over. If it's healthy you can return it to where you found it.
If in doubt contact your local hedgehog rescue or vet.
|Hedgehog appears hyperactive.||It could be dehydrated, in pain, stressed or it could have worms.|
Make sure the hedgehog is not in an overly noisy environment.
Make sure the hog is somewhere very quiet and covered so that it can feel secure.
If it continues to appear agitated take it to your local rescue centre or vet.
|Hedgehog appears to be sunbathing during the day.||Likely to be dehydrated or have hypothermia.||Make sure the hog is warm and then contact your local rescue centre or vet immediately.|
|Hedgehog has brown diarrhoea.||Incorrect diet or the hedgehog has drunk milk.|
Correct fluids are important as the diarrhoea will start to dehydrate the hedgehog.
If you are feeding the hedgehog give it very light easily digested food such as minced lightly boiled chicken.
If it doesn't clear up fairly quickly then a course of antibiotics may be needed so contact your local rescue centre or vet.
|Hedgehog is coughing with a chesty sounding cough.||This could be lungworm or pneumonia.||There are a number of different medications available, then you need to contact your local rescue centre or vet.|
|Hedgehog has a dry cough.||This may be related to the living conditions or something in the throat.|
Check the hedgehog to make sure it's clean. Overly dry environments can also lead to a dry cough.
If in doubt seek expert advice.
|Hedgehog is losing its spines.||This is quite common with young hedgehogs as juveniles shed their first spines and newer and thicker ones replace them. This is known as quilling.||If there are normal shaped spines on the floor of the cage but no other signs of skin problems such as fur loss or crusting then suspect quilling and leave well alone.|
|Spine and fur loss.||This could be a fungal infection such as ringworm or mange or an infestation of mites.|
Ringworm or mange require expert treatment.
You need to handle the hedgehog wearing gloves to avoid being infected yourself.
|You see round white or grey pea shaped lumps on the hedgehog.||This is most likely to be a tick.|
Ticks are blood suckers that attach themselves to hedgehogs, feed until they are full then drop off. One or two on a healthy hog won't cause any issues but a large number can. All ticks need to be removed as soon as possible and destroyed to prevent them from breeding.
Removal needs to be done by an expert so contact your local hedgehog rescue or vet.
|Black or deep red jumping insects on the hedgehog.||This is likely to be a flea infestation.|
Not all hedgehogs have fleas and if they do hedgehog fleas are hedgehog specific, they won't live on anything else.
Seek expert advice from your local rescue centre or vet.
|The hedgehog has tiny white 'grains of rice', in clumps or individual.||This is likely to be flystrike.|
These are fly eggs and can do enormous damage once they hatch into maggots. If the tiny specs are moving then they've already hatched. The eggs and any maggots need to be removed urgently.
Treatment for this is URGENT. Contact your local hedgehog rescue or vet.