Hedgehogs out in the day are normally sick and, like with handling any sick wildlife, you need to take precautions. Sick hedgehogs can carry a number of parasites and bacteria that can pass to humans. Please don’t let this prevent you from helping a sick hedgehog but just make sure you take care.
I always wear thick protective gloves whenever I am handling a hedgehog. The spines of an adult hedgehog are needle sharp. I wear thick rubber gloves (with latex under gloves) when handling the sick hedgehogs. These provide me with protection and can also be kept sterile. This is vital when looking after multiple creatures because infections can quickly spread between animals in a hospital as well as between animals and humans.
If you are in an emergency situation and don’t have gloves with you, use something like a jumper or a coat to pick the hedgehog up in. You can always wash it later.
I use antibacterial spray on my gloves between handling different hedgehogs. I also spray down and surfaces I may have touched. I use different cloths for cleaning out each hedgehog cage. These are then disinfected and washed daily. You can read more about a day in the life of a hedgehog rescue.
Not all hedgehogs will carry diseases and not all diseases can pass on to humans but they can carry E.Coli and Salmonella, amongst other bacteria. They can also carry ringworm, which can pass to humans. Sick hedgehogs may also be infested with ticks and there is a risk that a tick could bite and infect a human.
Despite always taking precautions, I got cellulitis in my finger, likely from a hedgehog spine that made its way through my gloves. I’ve yet to find a pair of completely spine-proof gloves! It’s a higher risk for someone like me, handling hedgehogs every day, although this is the first time it has happened in six years. It’s important not to get complacent and to get yourself to hospital urgently if you see any sign of swelling like in my finger.
Not many of you reading this will end up running a hedgehog rescue but hygiene is still important in your garden. Maintaining careful hygiene around hedgehog feeding stations can prevent parasites and bacteria being passed on between hedgehogs in the wild. You can read more about feeding station hygiene here and also the kind of poo to look out for that may mean a visiting hedgehog has a problem.
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