Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bailout Made It ... and so did Alfie

Forgot to post this as we've been busy with work and hedgehogs...

On the night of 22nd/23rd of March we had a lovely surprise - a hedgehog on the lawn feeder with a single spot on his back - Bailout, the small hedgehog which returned to the garden in late November last year for a couple of weeks, trying to make up weight before he hibernated.

At the last weighing, a few days before hibernation, he had made 600g, so we hoped he would be safe, and it was a relief to see that single white spot on his back. We picked him up to give him a check-up. He weighed 585g, curled up length 45cm breadth 38cm. We think he was probably 650g to 700g at hibernation. The bad news - lots of ticks on him, but fortunately most were small. Removed 13 in all, two large, one medium and the rest very small, hardly swollen at all. Possibly one or two more near his eyes, but couldn't get at them, since he wouldn't uncurl fully, the same problem we had last year.

Earlier in the evening we'd had an even bigger surprise - a little nose suddenly poked out of the straw in 9b bedroom - and we didn't even know we'd got a second lodger.

Checking back through the previous night's videos we saw the hedgehog arrive - in through the decking, a seven minute feed on the bowl by 9a, down on to the patio, and straight into 9b. We thought it must be Alfie, as he knew where he was going - back to the nest where he'd spent the whole of last year, and then end of the year before.

He seemed quite interested in 9a - lifting up to give it a sniff, but we were horrified to see his face shortly after as he came to feed on 9a bowl - there was a huge tick just above his eye, and there seemed to be several others.

So, when he came out we left him get up on to the lawn, and picked him up for a check-up. What we found was frightening. The poor chap was covered in ticks, virtually all of them swollen and full. In all, we removed 26 ticks. The hedgehog forums say that more than 10 ticks on a hedgehog can lead to anaemia, and more than thirty could be fatal. Not only that, he had a runny nose and terrible, wheezy, breathing, which indicates pneumonia. To top it all, he only weighed 790g (with ticks) and 780g (without ticks). We wondered if it really was Alfie, because we had thought Alfie looked rather overweight last year, and couldn't believe he weighed so little. However, the way he went straight into 9b, the way he ate hanging out of 9b doorway and the way he had a scratch when he got up convinced us it really is Alfie.

With the bad chest we decided to take him to the vet the next morning, so we kept him in overnight.

The next morning we took him to a vet. She was very kind, and agreed to treat him, even though wild hedgehogs are not their normal patient - they even had to enter him on the computer as a mouse, as they didn't have an entry for hedgehogs. After examining as best she could, she prescribed Baytril for his bad chest, and gave him an injection. She gave us enough Baytril for a course for a week, to give him the rest orally, twice a day.

We hope the little chap pulls through.

This makes hedgehogs five and six out of hibernation.

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