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Old 08-06-2013, 01:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Urgent Advice Needed for Sick and Injured Hedgehog

Yesterday I found a hedgehog while jogging in the park at 8am. The hedgehog was sitting out in the open, just beside a small tree. I noticed him and stopped. He was not moving, just sitting there. I could hear him breathing. It sounded like wheezing. At the time I did not know what that meant. I knew there was probably something wrong, so I lifted him up and put him in some high grass with trees, bushes etc, only a few meters from where I found him, and left him there.

After researching online when I got home, I found out that the wheezing noise probably meant that he has Lungworm.

Later on that evening, around 7pm, I went back to the park to check to see if he had moved off. I found him about a meter or two away from where I left him, where he was fairly visible. He looked like he was extremely tired. So I picked him up and brought him home.

When I brought him home I placed him on the floor and lay down in front of him, a few inches away. He walked over slowly and smelled my arm. From then on, he slept in the bedding we gave him. Until now, he just moves to change position, and then appears to go back asleep.

This morning, at about 11am, I noticed on his back, a cluster of yellowish worms, which I looked online and found out to be maggots. They were on top of a circular layer of eggs which appeared to be embedded in his skin. The layer was about 2.5-3cm in diameter. I also noticed that one side of his mouth was constantly open. His lower jaw was slanted to one side.

Just now (3pm), I was changing his bedding, and there is some blood stains on the old bedding. There was about 3, one inch wide, stains. And obviously some other scattered spots. And when I picked him up, I turned him around to look at his belly, and noticed maggots and eggs filling his penile sheath. It was filled to the top with eggs and about 20 or so tiny maggots on top of them. The rim of the penile sheath was a strong red color.

This morning I rang my vet to get the hedgehog help, who told me that they do not treat wild animals. I have since rang one other who only offered to put him down, regardless of his injuries/illness.

I have been in touch with a wildlife rescue group who have offered to treat him, but they are about 2 hours away. I am willing to take the trip, but I'd like it is worth the journey in everyone's opinion.

I know nothing about hedgehogs, except for what I have researched online since I found this little creature.

Thanks.
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Old 08-06-2013, 01:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'd drive him there. They could provide him with the care he needs. Nothing feels better then helping an animal in need.
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Old 08-06-2013, 01:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Yeah, I'd make the trip to the wildlife group. And kudos to you for being caring and thoughtful enough to stop and help a little animal in need.
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Old 08-06-2013, 01:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
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do make the trip... you'll sleep better knowing you did the best you could for him. thank you for helping the poor little guy.
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Old 08-06-2013, 02:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Please do drive him there. They may very well be able to remove the maggots, eggs, and treat his injuries - I know the wildlife rescue I volunteer with has been able to help bunnies and other animals that are infested with maggots in their injuries. It's worth a try...he deserves that chance. And thank you for stopping to pick him up...Hopefully they're able to help the poor baby.
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Old 08-06-2013, 03:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thank you for all your supportive posts.

I rang a few more vets in my area, and found one that said they would treat him, I even read online that this vet was an expert in exotic animals such as hedgehogs etc. The guy from the wildlife rescue even said that he heard that he was supposed to be pretty good and said I might as well try him before making a long trip out to the wildlife rescue.

When in the vets, he sprayed something on his back to kill the maggots on his back, and said he could give him an antibiotic to get rid of the lungworm. But when he seen the larvae/maggots in the penile sheath, he said that the penis itself, was more than likely eaten away, and that the maggots would go on to eat his internal organs. He told me there was nothing he could do, and recommended I put him down.

Now if you knew me, you would know how much I care about all animals. I am not the kind of person to get an animal put down just because they're sick or dying etc. I think it's not my right to decide. But at that time, all I could think about was how much pain the animal was in. I'm a guy myself, and as you can imagine any guy would find that sight hard to bare. So after 2 minutes of thinking, I decided to let him put him down.

After talking with other family members at home and researching online, I think I may have made the wrong decision. Maybe the organ was not eaten away, and something could've been done. The vet said even if he tried to treat that area, the hedgehog would keep balling up so he wouldn't be able to get to it. But a family member said he could've used an anesthetic. But again, all I could think of at the time was the pain the animal must have been feeling.

So I'm here asking since most of you are hedgehog owners and enthusiasts, if you've seen a case like this before, was there any chance for him? I don't want consolidation, I appreciate it, but I honestly need to know if I made the wrong choice.

There isn't anyone else to even give me an answer, as most vets won't disregard another one's opinion, so they're no use.

So I would really appreciate all of your opinions if you could.

Thanks
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Old 08-06-2013, 03:17 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The vet could have been telling you what was within his skill level. A botched surgery would have been more levels of pain.
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Old 08-06-2013, 03:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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hmm, that is a tricky question. Honestly, I would try asking the wildlife rehabber about it to get some closure since I'm sure they have dealt with similar cases (even if in other animals) before.
I can tell you that I have had two animals that when found had maggot larvae that crawled into their urethra and both died within hours despite us trying to treat them. That is my only personal experience. The one kitten I had rescued that was about 5 days old was covered in fly eggs and tiny larvae and the vet determined that she had died because the larvae had crawled into her urethra and done internal damage. Thank goodness her sibling, Gem survived- she was very lucky...I had flies ALL over my house for weeks. You could see that larvae had entered the one kittens urethra- it was damaged and almost stretched out whereas the others was normal. I would imagine that your vet could get a pretty good idea that they WERE in there..especially since from what I've seen maggots and other larvae will burrow into warm places like that whenever possible..but I could be wrong.
Anyway, IMO based on the information you knew you made the right decision. It really was the only decision to be made with what you had. Even if you had tried more your next choice probably would have been to get him to the wildlife rehab and that would have meant hours more of (possible) horrible pain and discomfort.
It's sad when we have to give up on an animal, and it's admirable to me when people do, as I would, everything they can to save an animal. But at the same time because of your actions and decisions you saved that poor hedgehog a long painful death and at least were able to give him a warm place to sleep in addition to someone caring about him which I'm sure he never had before.
Sorry to not give you a straight and definitive answer, but I think you made the same decision any animal lover put in a strange situation like that would, and regardless of whether there "might" have been something more to do, the fact is that now he is no longer in pain and I'm sure he is a happy hog up in hedgehog heaven.
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Old 08-06-2013, 03:33 PM   #9 (permalink)
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It can be really hard to tell, to be honest. It's true that it might be possible that the maggots hadn't done much damage, the vet could have killed the remaining maggots and eggs, and you could have gone on to treat the hedgie daily until he recovered. But it's also entirely possible that the maggots had already done some damage (which is pretty likely, just from their presence), it would have been difficult and stressful for a wild animal to be treated in such a sensitive, vulnerable location daily (possibly multiple times daily), and it likely would have been pretty painful for him to urinate until the area healed. There's also the chance that he may have done what some captive hedgehogs have done when something's caught in their penile sheath or they're in pain from a UTI - bitten and torn their penis to shreds. It hasn't been a common scenario, but I could see it happening in a situation like this. He may have had further infections come up or other issues that required him to be euthanized at a later time, after more pain and suffering. There's just no way to really be able to tell.

Honestly, I think it'd be best to focus on the positive. You did something for this hedgehog - you could have left him where he was to die a slow, painful death from infection and maggots, or to be grabbed by something and eaten if he was lucky. You chose to bring him, try to help him, and made the decision to end his pain. Whatever might have happened otherwise, right now he's no longer in pain. And I'm sure that he's somehow thanking you for that. I know that those of us here are thanking you on his behalf - you did what you could to the best of your abilities for the little guy, and that's all we can do. And personally, for what it's worth, I think you made the right decision for this little one.
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Old 08-06-2013, 04:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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so sorry it turned out this way.

You said the vet has a good reputation as someone working with exotics - I think you could put some confidence in that. You asked a qualified and respected professional for advice, and they gave you their best. That professional deals with these sorts of decisions daily and no doubt has far more experience in evaluating the situation, especially live, than we do by forum.

My sister was a vet who worked with exotics from time to time (not so many hedgehogs in Alaska) and she saw all kinds and degrees of injuries and infections and untended wounds. She would sometimes make heroic efforts on behalf of an animal, but she'd always have to consider the consequences for the animal in terms of pain and stress, as well as potential recovery.

Not that I haven't argued treatments with vets in the past, and sometimes been right, but their skill, training, and experience should be given appropriate credit.

Unless you've got some compelling reason not to trust this vet's opinion and honesty... I think I'd give credence to their opinion and consider that you saved the poor guy more suffering and a slow miserable death. Sadly in rescue situations we sometimes get to be the agent of the angel of death. When that's so, its best to be swift and merciful.

Bless you for trying.
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