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Old 12-16-2019, 12:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Whs?

I know this is long... But I wanted to be thorough. I have videos, too... but they are really heart breaking to watch so I didn't want to post them straight away. I actually had a panic attack watching it the first time.

---

We adopted "Harvey" on June 3, 2017. He had been a friendly, extremely active (at night - running for hours on the wheel, darting around his cage, eating/drinking, etc.), regular good looking hedgehog. He has a large cage, fresh water and food (Purina One) every day, clean Carolina Storm wheel everyday, fleece liner and cuddle sacks and blankets, consistent temperature year round (heat lamp), etc.

(Several months ago, we noticed a "cute" habit in that Harvey would sit on his butt when he ate. He otherwise appeared to be OK. I only mention this now, because in hindsight, I'm wondering if that was a "cute" thing or early on-set of what we're seeing now.)

In early October, for a few nights we noticed that Harvey stopped pooping on his wheel and was only pooping in his litter. (Previously, 80% of the time he'd go on his wheel, 20% of the time he'd go in his litter.) We thought maybe he had finally potty trained himself! However, after a few nights of this I reviewed the camera footage (we have a camera in his cage recording 24x7). He actually wasn't running on his wheel much - he was favoring a hind leg.. He would walk and do a few jogs, stumble, and then give up. He also had a hard time getting up in the wheels. (It's the Carolina Storm Wheel). I did several things: I cut the wheel stand to lower it, I replaced the little pan with a baking sheet so it was significantly shorter so Harvey could get in easier. But he eventually gave up the wheel entirely. My wife says that she notices him sway/shake when he's standing up.

I took Harvey to 2 vets in late October and early November. Both did physical exams and didn't see anything visibly wrong. He was prescribed some anti-inflammatory medicine for 2 weeks (1 week from each vet) in the event that his issue was like a leg/muscle strain. Harvey didn't get any better. Their only next suggestion was a more intense exam with x-rays, labs, bloodwork, etc.

He's been eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping normally up until now.

Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago or so... While he could get around his cage, he often tipped over while standing still or while walking. He'd lay there for a few seconds, and then he'd be able to get himself and go about his business.

Fast forward to the past week and it gets progressively worse over the time... He tips over most any time he's standing up.. and has been REALLY struggling to get himself up - if he ever gets up at all. (Many times, we go in to lift him and put him under blanket or in his cuddle sack) Watching the cage videos of him flailing about trying to roll over/stand up - and/or then giving up and just laying there, is heartbreaking. All he can really do is slide himself around the cage on his back/side... and then he gives up and lays there... For hours. While laying on his side, I've seen his legs have, what I'd describe as, "tremors" where they shake rapidly. His back legs often stick out/up when he tips over.

He still "reacts" to being startled or the first "touch" we give him while picking him up (he can pop himself up from laying down to curling up - which is weird since he usually can't get himself up when he's not startled/touched. It's like the involuntary reaction of being startled tells his legs to move.) - he can still curl up and huff - though he's actually not quite as huffy - perhaps because he realizes that each time we touch him, he ends up being helped.

While we have him out, holding him, he used to try to scurry away and find a dark corner of our body. Now, he'll just sit there and curl up. It sounds sweet - but it's completely different from how he acted just a month or so ago.

He was 288G last night. Last weight I have written down for him was around 300G.

What do you guys think? I don't want him to be scared or suffering in his cage at night the way I would imagine he is now.
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"Harvey"
Born 4/19/17
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Old 12-19-2019, 12:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Did you have the more detailed work up done? Many things get diagnosed as WHS that are not WHS. Based on your hedgehog's age and it seems like the timing was rather quickly, this could be one of many other things. Some may be treatable, others may not be.

I've seen hedgehogs who have had strokes, or other neuropathic illnesses that cause them to lose balance, lose motor functions etc. Often very sick hedgehogs lose strength and tip/fall over and not be able to right themselves.


From just the hedgehogs I've cared for, here are a few examples:

slipped a disc in their back, a tumor putting pressure on their spine, severe arthritis in their back, one had their spine fusing together from it, severe/acute or chronic inner ear infections, stroke, etc. All had varying degrees of mobility issues and/or inability to right themselves when they fell over.

Basically there are many things that can cause them to lose balance, and not be able to right themselves. Trying to rule those out is often difficult, and quite often it takes a lot of time and communication with your veterinarian to figure out what the root cause is. If you want to post your video, please do. Add a warning to folks who are more sensitive to seeing health issues. We may be able to see something in the behavior that you can tell your vet, but ultimately you will need to work closely with your veterinarian to figure out what is going on and how to best care for your quilled friend.
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Old 12-19-2019, 03:33 PM   #3 (permalink)
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You can see a leg tremor at the 22 mins 45 seconds mark:

Here's just a longer example of sliding around:

We're very worried about Harvey's quality of life - and we don't want him to be suffering because we are heartbroken to let him go. He was always extremely active at night throughout his cage. I couldn't believe how fast their little legs could move on that wheel. But as you can see from that video, I can only imagine he his fearful as he's unable to get up consistently and doesn't eat. He's very cuddly in our hands like he always was... but that is only part of how his life was before... Most of his life was spent sleeping during the day, being held/cuddled for a few hours in the evening, and being active for 7 hours or so during the night...
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"Harvey"
Born 4/19/17

Last edited by HedgehogHarvey; 12-19-2019 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 12-19-2019, 04:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Watching him reminds me a lot of my boy who had the chronic inner ear infections. His balance was completely shot. He would turn and tilt/lay down. When you hold him, how strong do his legs feel? Does he want to walk but acts like he is drunk/woozy? If you steady him, does he want to stand on his legs or do they collapse under him? From some of the video it seemed like he was mostly leaning to one side, does he have a head tilt or seem to circle one way?

To help with quality of life, I used rolled up fleece to create passage ways in mine's cage. He was able to move around the cage while leaning against them, and could use them to help push himself upright. I provided him with one of those plastic igloos to help him move around in his sleeping area as getting into a sleeping bag was tough. I also moved necessary items like food and water closer and push obstacles next to his water that he could push himself on to ensure he didn't get stuck in his water.


Also try to help him walk around. Lay a blanket on the floor and steady him. If he can walk, its good to keep his legs strong and moving. If they start to lose mobility their legs stiffen and can become inmovable. You may also get a sense while doing these exercises of if he is losing strength or if he is feeling woozy.
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Old 12-19-2019, 05:02 PM   #5 (permalink)
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When we hold him, he does not want to walk away. When he was well, he would try to scurry out of our hands and find a dark corner.

He can walk a bit on his front paws if I hold him up and sort of push him along - or put him right in front of his cuddle sack - which he willingly will go into. He mostly sits his body on his back legs or slowly drags them to catch up. He can't really hold himself up - and slinks down to one side (either side).. or immediately tips over. His legs - definitely the hind - but also the fronts - are stiff/prone (vet described it as ataxia?) Although "cute", when we hold him in our hands with him on his back and his head open, his front paws seem to stick out more than they used to. He doesn't retract them down into his belly.

He's not eating his food at night.. maybe because he's flailing around and can't get to it/get up to eat it. However, he's mostly eating the Carnivore Care that we're feeding him with a syringe. He's drinking a good bit of water - we took the water dish out of the cage for fear of him sliding into it. He hold him over the water dish on a table and he laps it up.

In late October, I noticed he could not rotate at least one of his hind legs beyond his fur to scratch - whereas his other hind leg he could scratch/jab at his spines on his back like he always could do with both legs. This, along with not using his wheel, was one of the signs that caused me to take him to the vet in late October. At the time, I/we thought it may have only been 1 leg he was favoring.

He doesn't have any of the symptoms listed here: https://heavenlyhedgies.com/hedgehog-ear-infections/

However, looking at the photo example of a fungal infection on a hedgehogs ear, Harvey has a similar looking "something" on his back. (This is the photo example: https://heavenlyhedgies.com/wp-conte...-infection.jpg)

This is the spot on Harvey's back.. https://i.imgur.com/7FbPMAo.jpg. At first, the skin was raised with that "spot", but quickly reduced to just the "spot" without raised skin.
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"Harvey"
Born 4/19/17

Last edited by HedgehogHarvey; 12-19-2019 at 05:06 PM.
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