Last Sunday we became the parents of a baby hedgehog when the people who found our little Tyler delivered him to us. And from that moment on we have been like new parents with a baby, doing feeds every two hours, toileting and cuddling him. Poor little mite was found out wandering during the day and on his own. No mother or other babies around. Luckily the man that found him picked him up and took him home. Then the lady gave me a call to see if we could take him in. I am so sorry he has lost his mum and siblings, but so happy to have him in our lives. A hedgehog no matter what age found out during the daylight hours has a problem and needs immediate attention. So please pick them up and get them help, by contacting the BHPS , or one of their carers, The Epping Hedgehog Rescue also has a searchable carers list so you can find one in your area or take it to a vet or wildlife hospital. Once a nest is moved or disturbed a mother hog will usually abandon them or she could even return and kill the babies. So best not to mess with the nests and keep an eye on the little ones. If mum doesn't return in a days time get them help Quick!!!!!
Tyler was starving. The Hedgehog forum I belong to along with the BHPS have guides for taking care of hoglets and have some guides to judge the age of the babies and what they should be eating and how much at certain ages. After chatting with my mentor Derek, we reckon Tyler to be about 3 to 4 weeks old, but his weight put him at the 2 week stage. So the poor little guy was just about finished. I used my judgement and the guides and made up a formula to feed him. One of the girls on the forum mentioned something about the poor starving people of the prisoner of war camps of Auschwitz and how when freed they were given lots of food. And a doctor came in and took it all away from them. The body shuts down certain functions when starving occurs and as such a glut of food would do even more damage. So having all this in mind I started little Tyler out on a special formula that consisted of "Rehydration" fluid (1/2 litre boiled water mixed with 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tablespoon sugar) some Esbilac( a puppy milk replacement) and just a tiny amount of Orade (an electrolyte type of fluid from an online pet supply). The first feed was mainly water and then the milk replacement was added in stronger amounts. Brian kindly went to the shops with a grocery list in hand and picked up a few more items for me to try him on.... like baby vitamins, rusks, baby food, kitten food...etc. So we are pretty well stocked up for the moment on things for this little one. I even went online and ordered him some more milk and some special cat food to help him grow big and strong.
At every feeding we are noticing a difference. He is getting stronger and less wobbly. He is gaining weight. 72 grams when he arrived to at the time of this writing 86 grams so a 14 gram gain in just 3 and a bit days.
He went to the vets yesterday and was a little star. They all fell totally in love with him like we have here. They kept saying how lovely he was, because all they have ever dealt with before were big hogs that kept rolled up in a ball so made it difficult for them to examine. They were impressed with the way I have done my homework and even took a photo copy of some sheets I had printed off from Derek's website. So thanks Derek. :) We are spreading the word.
The reason I took him in was he must have had a bit of dust or grit in one eye and I was afraid it might have got infected. I did wash it out with water and it is doing loads better. Also his poo, was an odd colour. More of a lime green colour that sort of indicates an infection, so he needed some antibiotics to help clear that up. He had a shot and the vet was well impressed as he didn't make a sound or curl up.
He is developing a character all his own and I think he is going to be a lovely little hedgehog when he grows up. He has a routine, which in this household we seem to lack. He wakes up, stretches and yawns a few times and then is placed into his clear shoe box on top of his sheet of kitchen paper. Then he has a bit of a wander around the box. In go his toys.... a baby stuffed toy hedgehog. Not much bigger than him, A cardboard tube and a sprig of lavender that he chases around and pounces on and bites. This is while his formula of milk replacement and special cat food and rusks are warming up. He has a few scratches and goes in and out of the tube a few times. And when I open the jar (I use mini jam jars) of his food he comes to the side of the box and sniffs. The warm food is then placed inside the box and he eats his fill of this soup. I know when he has finished as he then starts to wander around the inside of the box having a good scratch here and there and tracking food all over the place. So at this point he has a little bath of water with a drop of baby oil and a few lavender buds. And then dried off and back into a tidied up shoe box again to have a little more play time. The scratching persists, Brian and I think he does this just before he toilets. Then he does a poo...... and then he splays out his little back legs and does a wee.... Back in the bath again and another tidy up of his playpen. A little more play until he starts to get tired and then it is cuddle time.
He likes to cuddle both Brian and I in his little fleece blankets. I think because he can feel and hear my heart beat, breathing and movement he feels more secure. It could be as he was left alone and that frightened him, as he immediately settles and goes to sleep.
This is one of his first jam jar feeds. Before we were syringe feeding him. You put the liquid food in the syringe and then gently push the food out. Not directly into his mouth but to the side where he can lap it up.
Babies and sick or injured hedgehogs need heat. He is laying on one of those microwave heated water bottles and it is really comforting for him. He is getting used to hearing the microwave being used now and doesn't jump every time the door is shut. I put this in his bed(the cat box) and he will be wrapped up inside some fleece blankets on top of the bottle. There is plenty of room for him to get off it if he gets too warm.
And here he is being a big boy and eating on his own. As of the last feed today he had a go at some kitten biscuits. They are a bit tough for him though he did love having a go at them. Tomorrow I will be trying him out on some kitten food with less milk mixed in. I will let you all know how we get on.