Recently, my pet hedgehog got injured and I had no idea how to treat him. There was no exotic vet in our area and I was confused what to do. While doing everything in my power to help the poor animal, I decided to research all about it so such things can never happen to me or any other person ever. Here is what I found.
How to help a hedgehog with a broken leg
To help a hedgehog with a broken leg, you should firstly self-examine the animal and then once you are confirmed, immediately rush him to a nearby exotic vet.
Here are some tips you use to better proceed with this process:
1) Sometimes, it could be a bit difficult to self-diagnose an injured Heggie if it has a broken leg –especially if it’s your first time keeping a hedgehog. However, if you notice her limping or dragging one of her feet when playing, it probably might have injured or broken the leg.
2) Note down everything that has been happening since the hedgey has been experiencing symptoms or acting weirdly. The doctor needs to have some basic information about your pet, like how long she’s been limping or since when she has not been able to use her legs correctly.
3) Before rushing your pet to the vet’s office, it is advisable to take the animal out of her cage and figure out if a bone is actually broken, you can literarily observe her on your kitchen table or in your garden -this way, you will be in a good position to tell the vet your observation and why you brought her over.
4) One self-examination you can carry out on your pet includes running your hands over her feet or scuffing her and observing her reaction. Also, you can set him up on a flat table to see if her feet are solid even with his weight when placed on a surface.
5) Sometimes the broken leg will be so obvious and the animal will need assistance to get up to walk or run from the side of her cage. Her unsteady feet will be noticeable and she might roll into a ball or hiss at every attempt to touch the affected leg.
6) Another good way to help a hedgehog with a broken leg is to put her in a clear glass container and lift the glass; when she unrolls, you can have a good look under her –if she has a break you will notice some swelling this way.
How to deal with an injured abandoned hedgehog
In case you have found an abandoned hedgehog and want to rescue him/her:
- Get a deep cardboard box with paper bedding. Where can you get it? There are tons of Amazon boxes. You can also use a deep cat basket to do so. But, be sure it is dark and warm.
- Scoop the hedgehog up and slowly place it in the box.
- Provide the tiny creature space and time to heal while sitting in your vehicle (or whatever mode you’re using to travel)
- Do not check up again and again. That hurts and creates panic in the mind of an already traumatized animal.
- Rush to the nearby vet or exotic/hedgehog rescue.
- Do not provide anything to eat if the vet’s place is nearby. Else, you can give some water to rehydrate.
You can check out a list of hedgehog rescue here.
How to tell if your hedgehog has a broken leg?
A hedgehog with a broken leg will not be able to stand at all, will limp, will hiss/huff when you touch the concerned area, will immediately turn into a ball due to pain on touching. etc.
Do note: Sometimes if the animal is able to walk and is still limping it could also be a minor injury but you have to be sure so a vet consultation would not be a bad idea.
Often, when you place your animal on a surface with nothing to lean on – the affected part will let out and she might flop one-sided.
And if you tried to steady her with your hands, you will still notice her flopping to one side to relieve herself from the pressure of the broken bone.
NOTE: Although this might also be a symptom of a stroke in some hedgies, many hedgies with broken legs tend to sway one-sided when suffering from a break.
If you have an exercise wheel in her cage, she probably also will avoid using the wheel as this will cause her more pain and therefore she will prefer to stay in one location of her cage, and sometimes you might find it so hard to get her to relax as she will become very uptight when you try to make her use the wheel.
So it’s advisable to take out the running wheel when you notice she’s keeping away from using it.
Also, when you self-examine your animal for a possible bone break, try and feel all her feet.
The moment you touched the broken part, she would instantly pull the leg away with all her strength. Of course, she might be able to move the leg but she will find it difficult to keep the leg down or put any weight on it.
So if you discover that your pet is dragging her leg behind or is not comfortable keeping it down, you should get a vet’s verdict as soon as possible as this might cause her to start walking/running unnaturally if not quickly attended to.
How do hedgehogs break their legs?
Hedgehogs can break their legs in several ways including by falling, by getting trapped and even by being bitten by other animals.
Most times, the rear leg is the most affected but if it’s noticed early, it can be rehabilitated and the leg set back correctly when it is taped.
However, if the injury is on the front leg these are far worse to handle as this will affect her full control of both front legs which will hinder her from foraging and thus discourage her from fending for herself during her active hours.
This is why it is important to keep the leg away from infection when you notice a break which is usually characterized by a strong smell and this will reduce their chances of survival dramatically.
Can a hedgehog survive with a broken leg?
Hedgehogs will have severe problems surviving with a broken leg. The injury could lead to infection and then to a painful death as happens mostly in the wild.
If you notice that your pet is limping or balling up every time you come close to her, then you need to invite the vet to take a closer look. The good news is that the broken leg can easily be corrected and healed if it is quickly discovered and taped.
The vet is in a good position to prescribe the right medication in case of a broken leg. In most cases, some doses of Metacam or Prednisone are all that is needed to heal the break.
Although both medications are anti-inflammatory, Prednisone is a much stronger steroid and is most commonly used as a chemotherapy agent when treating infected wounds.
While in some rare cases, the vet will need to perform small surgery like inserting a pin in the femur so that the bone heals properly.
Hopefully, your pet might not need the surgery but these medications are all you might need to help your Heggie regain the use of her leg in case it got broken.
Even if the leg got amputated it’s advisable to provide a safe environment to avoid future traps on the leg.
You will be amazed at how much these little pets can still do even when one of their legs is disabled.
What to do if a hedgehog has a broken leg?
If you discover that your hedgehog has a broken leg, the first step is to call a nearby vet and book an appointment. Till then, you need to avoid touching the hedgehog and leave them be.
When an experienced vet is involved with treating your pet, the chances of the pet surviving are very high.
A thorough x-ray will reveal where the injury occurred and so it’s quite easy to treat. Sometimes after the vet’s medication, you will still need to use ointment on the swollen/broken leg and also offer your Heggie some home therapy to rehab the leg.
This is the most important precaution when caring for your hedgehog with a broken leg. You don’t need to enter a panic mode as you will have to be responsible to follow what the doctor says as far as how to treat the problem.
One thing is clear about hedgehogs if they do not have the use of their front legs; it becomes very difficult to care for them compared to a back leg.
So to avoid amputation on any of the legs, it is advisable to take your animal to the vet the moment you confirm that it has a break. Have the vet do a thorough examination including looking at her mouth to examine her teeth for possible infection.
Where can I take an injured hedgehog?
There are lots of vets around the state to care for your animal. But in the case of your hedgehog, you need a certified veterinarian with a special interest in exotic pets like a Heggie.
A list of offline hedgehog vets can be found here.
In case you are in a hurry, you can get an appointment with an online vet here.
The vet should be able to offer you a firsthand examination and rule out guesses that are very common with general vets. By watching the hedgehog movements, behavior, and x-ray results, the vet should be able to offer the right diagnosis by ruling out items based on the result.
Sometimes, your Heggie might be in pain from a broken leg and will not show any outward sign. But if you run a self-examination and you still notice its unusual behavior, take the pet to the vet immediately and have her x-rayed for possible problems.
What can I feed an injured hedgehog?
Apart from medications, an injured hedgehog should be fed with a constant mushed diet of canned cat food and wet grinded kibble. An electrolyte solution is also a good idea to help with dehydration.
Adding some probiotics to the solution will also be helpful as the hedgey is taking a lot of medicines which are destroying the good bacteria in her stomach.
An injured hedgehog will not be able to grab his food and hence will not eat. A hedgehog without food will not be able to survive for more than 24 hours. Hence, it is your duty to feed him.
How to feed an injured hedgehog?
The best way to feed an injured hedgehog is to use the syringe feeding method. In this, you fill a syringe with mushed solution of food or water and then slowly push the content through the side of the hedgey’s mouth.
Beware not to feed anything hard or ‘comfy,’ as these are not the right choice when your hedgy is weak and needs instant help to cope up with the medications.
Also, do note that hedgehogs have a very tiny mouth. So, be very careful in where you are inserting the top of the syringe. Feeding from wrong spots can lead to asphyxiation and other problems.
How much would it cost to fix hedgehog’s injured leg?
The costs to fix a hedgehog’s injured leg can vary and can range between $250 to $500 depending on the scope of the the injury. If it’s a minor one, a single vet visit will suffice else you’ll have to take him there multiple times.
Here is the breakdown:
- Vet visit: Depending on the area it can range from $35 to $75
- X ray cost: On average that should be around $100
- Anesthesia: $10-$20
- Minor surgery: $50-100
- Major surgery: $250-$300
It’s better to hedgehog-proof your home and avoid injuries than to keep caring after every injury. You can nurture back a hedgy from an injury but that’s not the best way forward.
These are fragile animals and small incidents can be fatal.