The Hedgehog With The Rubber Band

One evening one of my friends arrived with a large hedgehog held between her coat sleeves, she didn’t have gloves and their spines really hurt! Penny had seen the hedgehog in the car headlights by the side of the road and stopped to pick it up.

The hedgehog was an adult with one leg stuck out in front, this usually means that the leg is broken because it can`t be pulled back inside when they roll up. There was an ominous smell coming from it so that meant that there was an infection somewhere. If that was the case there would also be maggots present.

I have a spray that kills these horrible things and the eggs so I sprayed this on the back and asked my daughter to spray underneath as I held the hedgehog up. My daughter immediately exclaimed, my goodness there is a rubber band under her armpits, it was so tight that we hadn`t seen it over her back under the spines.

This was the reason that she couldn`t move her leg properly. With some difficulty Lindsay cut the band and I carefully removed it. We could then see that in trying to get herself free of this thing that was stopping her walking she had pulled the skin with the prickles away from her shoulder by about 2inches and that is where a whole lot of large maggots were. I sprayed that area well, it was a horrible wound. We then checked under her other front leg, it was also sore where the band had chaffed and there were more maggots although a lot smaller. Having treated everywhere with my spray, I then gave her a pain killing injection and put her on one of my heat pads. Once she was warm I then gave her an injection of fluid, she was very thin and dehydrated. Even though I thought her injuries were too bad for her to survive, I still did everything I could in case there was a chance. Carefully I took her out to my shed and put her in one of my hutches with a heat pad and a blanket. Just in case she also had some food and water. Later on I went out to check on her.

I was quite surprised to see that she had walked the length of the hutch and had eaten some food, but I was still quite sure that I would find her dead in the morning. The next day was Sunday, I went out to my shed and looked into the hutch, she had eaten more of her food and was lying on her heat pad and was still alive!

This hedgehog obviously had a will to live so I decided to do as much as I could to help her that day if she was going to see my vet on Monday. We began with another painkiller and regular injections of fluid also a little gentle worming. By Monday there was a definite improvement so I wrote down all that had happened and asked my vet if she thought that there was a chance to save her as she seemed to want to live.

Paula gave her an anaesthetic, cleaned out the wound and packed it full of Manuka honey agreeing with me that we should give her a chance. The hedgehog had to go to see Paula twice a week for the next two months to have the wound dressed, the worst part was the top of her elbow, the skin is thin there and the leg had to be bandaged to get it to heal. Maggots had been there as well. During all this time the hedgehog had put up with all this treatment amazingly well, she enjoyed her food and had put on a lot of weight.

Eventually the top of her leg healed, she was able to curl up completely and you would never have known that she had gone through so much. We released her in a garden in Lapworth, an area as safe as possible where a lot of the residents put out food for the hedgehogs that visit. This was an expensive hedgehog to cure, but I felt so sorry for her as this was not her fault, a human had dropped a rubber band on the ground and she while searching for food at night had walked into it and become tangled up. My vet does not charge for the operations but each time she does any procedure I give her a donation. I do not want to take advantage of her, as without her help we could not save as many hedgehogs as we do.

By Linda Clements

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