Wednesday, 25 May 2016

You Learn Something New...

Although I've been caring for hedgehogs for almost 25 years I'm always learning new things and so are the wonderful vets that provide their expertise. Yesterday was one such day. A hedgehog had been found in a garden, wandering around during the day screaming. Now if you ever hear a hedgehog scream it's not something you can quickly forget. Yes, hedgehogs do make noises but you know there is something seriously wrong when you hear this scream.

Thankfully the lady who found him contacted me and immediately took to a local vet. The hedgehog was then taken to Helen Pringle (A120, Little Hadham Medivet). On first examination all that could be found were two small bite wounds. The issue with bite wounds is you never know what damage they may have done inside, so Helen decided to X-ray. Sadly within a very short period of time the hedgehogs condition deteriorated rapidly, so it was decided the kindest action would be to euthanise.

Now in typical Helen fashion she decided to do an autopsy. It was discovered the hedgehog had a very large internal abscess and a lot of his muscle had died (photographs were taken but they are too graphic to put up). Helen then decided to check the X-rays again and this time also check them against the X-rays of a healthy hedgehog.

So here's what a healthy hedgehog looks like inside.

Side view of a healthy hedgehog

Top view of a healthy hedgehog

As Helen looked at the X-rays side by side she noticed a small difference, but one that will make a big difference toin helping her come to a more accurate diagnosis.

Very, very unwell hedgehog 

What is that small difference? 

Well you have to look really closely to see that there is a line running between the spine and the skin, this is the muscle that helps a hedgehog roll up. On the healthy hedgehog you can see this clearly and constantly around the entire body of hedgehog. However on the very, very unwell hedgehog you can see the line which then disappears (becomes fuzzy). Where it disappears was exactly where the abscess and the dead muscle was (see the close-up below). 

The muscle can clearly be seen just above the red line
then is becomes fuzzy and disappears  

Now Helen is aware of this indicator she can look out for it and can use it to help fathom out what is happening inside. It will also help us decide when it's best to fight and when it is best to do the kindest, but hardest thing.

A call to hedgehog carers:
Please do share this blog post with your vet. It would be great to have Helen's work shared, so the hedgehogs we all care for have a better chance of survival. 

1 comment:

  1. Well done Helen ! So glad and privileged to have you look after our cat Knirpsy when she is not well !