Wounded hedgehogs are some of the most common admissions to the hedgehog hospital. Infected wounds, particularly from dog attacks, are becoming more common.
This is Octavia, who was treated for a nasty facial wound. I’m sorry for the graphic nature of these wound pictures but this is the kind of reality that wildlife rescues face on a daily basis.
I wish hedgehogs could talk and that I knew the cause of the wound. This one is possibly a strimmer or bite wound. Sadly, the wound has got infected and the skin underneath is dying (necrotic). She has an abscess in the neck area on the same side that you can’t see in this picture.
Upon arrival, hedgehogs are checked to assess the nature of their wounds. They will also go through a range of other checks to assess their size, weight, general health and whether they have internal or external parasites.
Some hedgehogs will immediately be taken to a vet for treatment if the wound is very severe. Many will require x-ray to ascertain the extent of any damage and infection. With any wound, it is possible that an impact may have caused bones to break. Abscesses can also track deep into the bone. Many of these things are beyond the skills of a hedgehog rescue, who must always work closely with a vet. You can read more about abscesses here.
Depending on the nature of the wound, it may also require draining. This is done by a vet using a syringe/scalpel to draw out the infected pus. The hedgehog is usually ‘gassed down’ for this procedure.
I clean wounds using a mix of hibiscrub (an antibacterial fluid used in surgery) in a warm saline solution. This softens the scabs and aids their removal. It also cleans and sterilises the wound. Hedgehogs are obviously wild creatures and wounds may have picked up all kinds of dirt and debris.
The treatment for wounds like this takes a long time. This wound is being cleaned regularly to soften the scabs and to keep it sterile. I alternate the application of various different topical treatments to the area beneath the scabs. In this case, I am alternating between a wound gel (Intrasite gel) and veterinary grade manuka honey. These help to clear the infection and to promote healing. I also regularly use an antiseptic spray called Leucillin. This is safe even if it gets into the hedgehog’s eyes so it is great for facial injuries. It can also treat mild cases of ringworm.
Depending on the nature of the injury, pain relief may also be required as well as antibiotics. Octavia received special antibiotic that is very good at treating open wounds and abscesses. This is given for at least 7 days.
I am happy to say that Octavia survived her injuries and was released back to the wild. You can read more about her here. You can also read more about dog attacks, one of the most common causes of injuries, here.
I make handmade silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife to raise funds for my hedgehog hospital. You can visit my online jewellery shop here.
I am a member of many wild hedgehog rehabilitation forums and I also follow the Vale Wildlife Hospital protocols for treating hedgehogs. I don’t put detailed information on my pages about the treatments I use but, if you are a hedgehog rehabilitator and would like to know more or would like any help please contact me.