Hedgehog with metabolic bone disease

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Meet Benjamin. He is very poorly.

Benjamin was admitted to my rescue at only 330g. He has been surviving by eating bird seed over the Winter.

Benjamin has metabolic bone disease. Basically, his bones are very thin due to calcium deficiency. This is why he has problems walking. He will be in a lot of pain – it is like a human who has rickets or osteoporosis.

He was fed on a mix of sunflower hearts, mealworms and hedgehog biscuits but he has been seen picking out his favourite bits and leaving the hedgehog biscuits. This means that he will not have got enough calcium in his diet. Mealworms actively strip bones of calcium and sunflower hearts also have a calcium/phosphorus ratio that is too high.

There is little natural food around at this time of year and so his diet will not have been enriched by natural foods, such as the exoskeletons of beetles, that hedgehogs eat in the summer.

hogpiechart

The wild hedgehog diet. They will get calcium from the exoskeletons of beetles

Benjamin is receiving calcium injections and a high calcium diet. He has to be handled very carefully because his bones are so brittle, they can break easily. The thinnest bone is on his front right leg and this is the one that he struggles most to walk on.

It will be a long road to recovery for Benjamin – for the nutrients to build up in his bones. He will also require extensive hydrotherapy to build the strength in his bones and muscles.

As well as metabolic bone disease, he also has a high burden of internal parasites – fluke and roundworm which he also needs to fight but his immunity will be low due to his poor nutrition.

To avoid problems like this, please feed wild hedgehogs only cat/kitten biscuits, meaty cat or dog food (not gravy or fish flavours) or specialist hedgehog food. This diet will contain all the nutrients they need to supplement wild food.

Benjamin’s problems were diagnosed by a vet following an x-ray. It is vital not to self-diagnose or give hedgehogs supplements without a professional diagnosis. Giving too much vitamin D or calcium can cause many problems in wild hedgehogs that do not have metabolic bone disease.

I will keep you posted on his progress.

You can support my hedgehog rescue work at www.littlesilverhedgehog.etsy.com

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11 thoughts on “Hedgehog with metabolic bone disease

  1. With the one we have I did what our friends who are official Hedgehog carers told me,which was a mix of meaty cat or dog food mashed up with some meaty cat biscuits and a few meal worms sprinkled on top not to many,but he/she would eat the lot.he/she is hibernating at the moment so I just leave a bowl of the cat biscuits small sprinkle of meal worms on top and a fresh bowl of water so he/has something to if he/she wakes up at all then the tinned stuff will be put down again.I check the bowl everyday to see if its been touch but so far it hasn’t. its good to know that I was given the right info on the food.its favorite seems to be the duck & chicken biscuits a and pate cat or dog food in duck,chicken and turkey flavours. I shall be happy when he/she wakes up so I know the hedgehog is going to be alright come Spring but I have to wait and see.Thank you for all that you do for these wonderful creatures,xx Rachel and Speedy

  2. Reblogged this on Ye Olde Rectory and commented:
    Please read this blog about hedgehogs and their diet and calcium deficiency, to give you some insight on feeding wild hedgehogs that come into your garden. And please click the link on the right of my blog page, to visit a wonderful and interesting site on hedgehogs. Thanks.

  3. So sorry about the devastating loss of Benjamin that I have only read about now. I hope it brings some comfort to know that you gave him the best care possible and that under his sad circumstances your brave decision was an act of kindness. Thinking of you and the ongoing work you do and wishing you strength.

  4. Yvonne Moore

    I am doing a meta analysis of hedgehog rescue

    What I cannot find any evidence for is why ‘no fish’ and ‘no gravy’

    The no fish aspect has been retracted by people like Gill Lucraft but no one knows or can explain why no gravy

    I have been in contact with the vets at Pedigree foods and they are at a loss to explain this cascaded advice and BHPS have been also at a loss to find out the origins of this other than one carer said gravy causes sickness but had no science to back this up

    We have tried many different foods with our hogs and find wilko value chicken cat food loaf type is accepted by all hogs and they thrive on it plus go cat kitten biscuits

    We have tried all the special hedgehog foods and have had diahorrea in several hogs from various brands

    This is a personal project I have been working on for some time when I get a chance and not a criticism of any other research

    I am a BSc who loves to find answers!

    Any thoughts would be very welcome

    • Hi Yvonne, I’m afraid that I have taken that advice about no gravy at face value being that it was made by larger and more experienced rescues. I’m not a scientist but would be interested to hear about any findings. I find that some hedgehogs prefer certain brands to others and have not been able to find one liked by all consistently. There are many factors that can cause diarrhoea in a rescue hedgehog including bacterial infection so it would make it hard to ascertain a particular cause unless comparing well hedgehogs I would presume? I have never fed gravy based food due to the wider advice so cannot comment on that in either unwell or (probably well) wild hedgehogs….

      • Yvonne Moore

        Have got a first draft of my hedgehog nutrition paper

        Can I send it for your thoughts/ comments/ suggestions?

        Many thanks

        Yvonne

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

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