What is fly strike?
Hedgehog fly strike happens when flies lay eggs on hedgehogs. The eggs look like small grains of rice.
Fly strike can happen at any time of year although it is most common in the Summer. Flies will lay eggs on any open wound or hedgehog that is lying still/moving slowly or is otherwise vulnerable. Fly strike often means that a hedgehog is very sick and has been collapsed for some time, although flies can also target orphaned baby hedgehogs that cannot curl to protect themselves or wounded hedgehogs.
The risk is that fly eggs hatch into maggots. They can then cause huge damage to internal organs – entering via ears, eyes and other orifices.
Fly strike is most common around the eyes, face and skirt of the hedgehog.
Treating fly strike
All hedgehogs are checked on admission into the hedgehog hospital and the checks include looking carefully for fly strike and maggots. It is vital that all fly eggs and maggots are removed immediately. Every single egg needs to be removed. Sick hedgehogs need urgent warmth but this cannot be given until the eggs are removed or they will hatch faster.
Fly eggs and maggots are removed by flushing them out with saline and using tweezers or a small brush/old mascara wand. A small amount of F10 germicidal wound spray can also be used to help kill the eggs/maggots (it contains insecticide). Often an injection of Ivomec is given alongside to help kill any maggots.
Regular checks need to be made on a hedgehog with fly strike to ensure that no eggs have been left that have hatched into maggots, particularly as the hedgehog warms up on a heat pad or in a hedgehog incubator.
It is vital to get help for a sick hedgehog immediately, particularly when a hedgehog has fly strike. Put the hedgehog in a high sided box and keep it away from flies to prevent more ggs being laid. Here is how to find a hedgehog rescue.
Some hedgehog rescues have had success using suction pumps to remove fly strike but others continue to use the method of flushing with saline and using tweezers and small soft brushes.
I run a hedgehog rescue in York, England. You can read more about me and my work here. My work is entirely self-funded. If you have found this information useful, please consider helping to support my work. Thank you.