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Old 01-29-2014, 03:20 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Jan 2014
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Unhappy HELP! Hedgehog attempting to hibernate

When I went to check on my hedgie tonight, I noticed he didn't puff up when I went to grab him. He usually puffs up briefly then relaxes and uncurls in my hands. He used to have a room to himself, where I could make sure it was always warm and the window blinds were wide open. My uncle moved into this room, so I have to ask to go in the room just to check on him. I've noticed my uncle always has the cage all covered up and the window open. I live in the Bay Area. It gets cold at night, so it obviously hasn't been warm enough. I initially got Biggles when I lived in San Diego. My apartment was always ridiculously hot, so I never worried much about the temperature getting too cold. I'm pretty sure what happened tonight is an attempt at hibernation. He hadn't been eating or drinking as much these past two weeks, which I attributed to a new brand of food. I've had him on my lap under a blanket on a heating pad for the past 1.5 hours. He finally uncurled and is laying belly down on the heating pad. He's still pretty lethargic, but he poked his out and sniffled a bunch. He kept licking his nose, which I've read is a possible URI. I've found an exotic vet in San Francisco that I plan on taking him to first thing tomorrow morning. In the mean time, does anyone else have any suggestions for getting him through the night? I'll need to sleep at some point, although I'm much too scared to leave him alone.
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: The Northern Wastelands
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Welcome to the forum! I'm sorry it's under such stressful circumstances.

1. If he hasn't been eating or drinking, you might need to get more food and water into him. Try to temp him into eating more. If you have a syringe at home, use that to get more water into him, and grind up some of his kibble to mix with water & syringe-feed, too. If he's been eating, but not much, it's probably less urgent to syringe-feed tonight!

2. Keep him warm tonight. Can you keep him in your room so you can check on him a few times? Wrap the cage with a blanket to keep in warmth. Leaving the heating pad on overnight might be a fire-risk (or a hedgehog-burn risk) depending on the setup, so use your best judgement on that. Heat pads also only heat the ground, not the air, which can cause problems. Can you crank up the ambient heat any other way? A space heater or home heating? Keep the cage on an inside-wall (not a window/exterior wall) for a bit more heat. Check on him again as soon as you wake up (or even in the middle of the night each time you wake up fretting!), and warm him back up if necessary. Tomorrow during the day, keep the room-light on and his cage uncovered so he gets proper light/dark cycles.

3. Buy a thermostat, a CHE (ceramic heat emitter, produces heat but not light), a light/lamp, and a timer tomorrow. Use the thermostat and CHE to keep him warm, and the light & timer to give him regular light cycles. You'll need to bump the temperature up for the next while to prevent a reoccurrence. If your uncle is not willing to accommodate this, can you move your hedgehog into your room?

4. Is the nose-licking accompanied by any sneezing? Yes, it can be a sign of a URI, and yes, URIs are a common opportunistic infection in the wake of a hibernation attempt. URIs can progress into pneumonia if untreated (which can be fatal), so going to a vet is probably a good idea.

5. A URI is easily treated, but requires going to a vet. Given that hedgehogs are illegal in California, it may be difficult to find a vet with the appropriate experience. From the archives, it looks like Baytril or Clavamox are fairly popular prescribed antibiotics that are hedgehog-safe. You want them in liquid-form that is dosed by hedgehog-weight. Some hedgehogs hate the taste, so you might need to pick up some tasty liquid-treat (meat babyfoods are frequently popular) to stack in the syringe to hide the antibiotic taste.

Once things calm down a bit more, this is a really lovely care guide for hedgehogs.
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Old 01-29-2014, 04:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for your response! He was already on his wheel last night. I moved him into my room even though that leaves me with barely any standing space. I'm just happy he's doing better. I kept a space heater on all night on low heat, a few feet away from his cage. I saw him drink yesterday, but I'm not sure if he ate. I assume he did because his food bowl had been moved around. I attempted to give him a kingworm last night, but he had trouble eating it for some odd reason. I'll try again today. As for the nose-licking, I didn't hear or notice any sneezing, but I'll continue to monitor that behavior.

I have a few questions about lighting/heating. While the space heater was good last night, I was pretty much sweating in my sleep. I'd like to get him a CHE. Is this something I can find at my local pet shop? I have a basking light for my bearded dragon, not sure if it's the same thing though. I was also wondering if it was safe to rest the heating lamp on his cage, or if I need some sort of hanging fixture. This is the kind of cage he has: As for the light/lamp, is natural window light not enough? Any suggestions on a light/lamp to buy?

Again, thanks so much for your help!
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Old 01-29-2014, 10:53 PM   #4 (permalink)
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: The Northern Wastelands
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I'm glad he made it through the night!

He needs to eat. Are you feeding him kibble? If so, count the pieces so you know if he's eaten some. If you're feeding something else, you can use a kitchen-scale to weigh his food before/after to get an idea of how much he ate.

If he's not eating on his own, use a syringe to get him to start eating. Sometimes our tiny friends need reminding to start eating again if they haven't been! You can get a syringe from most vets or pharmacies (you want one without a needle!). You can syringe feed babyfood for a short period of time, but it's not nutritionally complete enough to work for very long. You could also use crushed kibble mixed with water, or wet food mixed with water until it is runny enough to go through the syringe.

Yes, you can find CHEs in a normal pet shop, or you can order them online. They need special lamps (anything with a ceramic socket; probably same idea as the heat lamp). The bulb is opaque so doesn't give off any light. I find it trickier to find a thermostat to automatically turn the CHE on and off as-needed (to keep temperature from fluctuating), but you might be able to find one in a pet store that caters to reptile-owners. Yes, you can rest it directly on top of that style of cage.

Daylight is variable, and with San Francisco's fog, may not be intense enough. Any ordinary lamp will do (or your room lights), just make sure he gets full, bright light for 12-14 hours a day, and full, real dark for 10-12 hours (even covering his cage if you have room-lights on, but careful of the CHE to avoid a fire hazard!). I have mine running through a timer (like the ones used for Christmas lights); they're about $5-$10 at hardware stores.
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