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Old 05-02-2013, 12:31 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Post hibernation advice needed please.

Tonight my biggest worry became a reality. My 3 month old girl, Willow, attempted hibernation. I had her cage set-up situated in a spot over an air vent. We've had the heat on all winter (I thought the bit of warm air that blew into her cage would be beneficial). We recently switched over to A/C and the open vent slipped my mind. She usually sleeps in a snuggle bag or bundled up in her igloo, both of which are under heating elements. Last night she got under the liner behind her running disc. I didn't think much of it, I just assumed that she might have gotten too warm and wanted to get away from the heat. When I fed her this evening she didn't stir. She's never been late to dinner and just the smell of mealies gets her out and moving. I've had her since March and she either has a very independent personality, or she hasn't bonded with me just yet ( or combination of the two), so when she didn't hiss and pop at me with her usual gusto I knew something was seriously wrong. I immediately took her out and warmed up her travel heating pad. I still wasn't sure what was wrong, but figured hibernation was the most possible cause since everything else was normal (she ate all her food from the night before, her stool was normal, etc). I held her on my chest wrapped up with the heating pad below where she was sitting. After a few minutes she unballed and pressed herself up against my neck. Her tummy was ice cold. After about 40-45 minutes of warming she moved around a bit more, and after an hour she was back to hissing and popping at full strength. I set her on the ottoman and she tried to walk around and explore so I placed her back in her cage. Her tummy was as warm as usual again. She ran back and forth once then went straight for her food. When she was done she got on her running disc. About half an hour later she snuggled into her igloo. She usually wakes up, eats and goes back to sleep. Sometimes she runs, but mainly its when we're up late on the weekends or at night while we're asleep so she seems fine now.

Tl;Dr my hedgie attempted hibernation but I think I caught it just in time.

What do I do now? I know once they attempt hibernation they will try again 1-2 weeks after. Should I wake her up from time to time to make sure she's ok? I've moved the heating elements around so there's one over her igloo and one over her disc and the vent is blocked off. The cage is a rectangle and the heating elements are are placed at the top right and bottom left corners now. I moved the top right one to the left corner a few weeks ago since that's where her snuggle bag is. I was worried because she would sleep in it with no heat source. So my moving the element to prevent hibernation actually caused it instead.
Any advice or signs that she hasn't recovered are very much appreciated.
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Old 05-02-2013, 10:54 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Post hibernation advice needed please.

Do you have a thermometer to keep track of the cage temp? Whatever temperature it's at normally, I would make sure it stays at at least that, and maybe a degree or two warmer for the next week or so. With the heating elements (CHEs, I'm guessing?), it'd probably be fine to just put them in the middle of the cage - if they're strong enough to work for the cage, they should be able to keep the whole cage to the right temperature rather than trying to just focus them on specific locations. I doubt having it just above the sleeping bag caused the hibernation - that was almost definitely the cool draft from the A/C. I would definitely keep that vent closed (or moving her cage away from it entirely would probably be better) from now on. Even warm drafts aren't really a good idea, since the starting and stopping of the heat can cause enough of a temperature change to cause hibernation attempts too.

For other signs to watch out for - beginning signs of hibernation are wobbly walking and less activity than normal. This is before they get to the full on balled up & unresponsible stage. Their stomach will feel a bit cool too, not ice cold like hers was this time, but not warm either. Also keep an eye on her for signs of an URI - sneezing, sniffly or congested nose, lots of discharge from nose, and lack of appetite. Sometimes hibernation attempts can lead to those (or other illnesses, due to the immune system taking a little dive), but I don't know how common that is. Lily had quite a few hibernation attempts due to being pretty sensitive to temperature and she never had an URI after an attempt.

Sounds like it's ended well, and you did exactly what you should to help her, so good job! If she ever attempts hibernation again, I can't promise it won't still be nerve-wracking, but in my experience, you are a little less panicky about it after the first time.
~*~*~ Kelsey ~*~*~

RIP my sweet Lily ~ 6/12/08 - 1/20/12
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Old 05-03-2013, 12:29 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Post hibernation advice needed please.

Thank you for the advice. I do have a thermometer, but it's not a very sturdy one. I mainly use it to get a reading from time to time inside her sleeping areas. Especially if I'm rearranging her cage and elements. One is a CHE and the other is a nocturnal heating bulb. I had used a list of supplies from her breeder's site before I found all the info on hhc or I would have gotten 2 CHEs instead, but I had already bought the bulb (it doesn't seem to bother her so I'm using it until it burns out). There's still some info I've gotten from them that I question. I'll probably post tomorrow and see what others think about it.
After I posted last night she got up and ate, then ran for a bit. She seems to be just fine. We did notice that she might be moving a bit slower than normal, but I'm sure hibernation attempts take time to recover from.
She's a trooper though. The day I brought her home I was prepared for her to be stressed, but aside from wanting to run instead of sleep she was fine. I finally took her wheel away so she would sleep and not throw off her sleep schedule. Her stool stayed normal, and she ate all of her food, and she started using her litter box almost immediately. She's been great as my first hedgie. If only now we could get to a point to where she doesn't hiss and pop at me constantly. I'm sure I set our bonding back when she quilled. I didn't want to hurt her, and you could tell she was uncomfortable so I didn't handle her as much as I probably should have. Anyways, I'm rambling again lol.
Thanks again. We had planned on rearranging the living room and moving her cage this weekend before she tried to hibernate so that will be taken care of too.
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