Spud was found wandering in a garden and taken to Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Aylesbury, Bucks, last August. Experts are baffled by his condition, which has caused his skin to dry and his spines to fall out. The hospital is asking practitioners of alternative medicine to suggest possible remedies.
The bald animal was christened Spud by hospital staff because, when curled up into a ball, he resembles a potato. He cannot be released back into the wild because hedgehogs are defenceless without their spines and he has no insulation against the cold. Every day, he has a warm bath and a massage with baby oil to keep his skin soft.
Les Stocker, founder of Tiggywinkles, said: “He’s part of the family here and very much a character, but we would love to help his condition and release him. When he was brought in he seemed pretty cheesed off with life, but now he’s a normal hedgehog in everything but appearance. I don’t think he realises he hasn’t got any spines.”
Spud is one of more than 500 hedgehogs currently receiving treatment at the animal hospital, which also cares for badgers, foxes and injured birds.
Mr Stocker added: ‘We think he’s at least three years old, but we don’t know if he was born like this or it was a problem that developed later in life. ‘The fear is that in winter it would get too cold for him, so we can’t risk releasing him.
‘Funnily enough we’ve got a bald squirrel in too. ‘We call him Smoothie, and we don’t know what his problem is either.’
Staff believe he is still able to grow spines after one was found under the skin – but had to be removed. Hedgehogs rely on their spines, hollow hairs made stiff with keratin, for insulation and protection as they are the only animals in Britain immune to most predator attacks. When under extreme stress or during sickness, they can sometimes lose spines and the ability to roll into a tight ball is compromised. – dailymail
Ah, I thought they were saying Spud had no back bone. What makes hedgehog spines fall out? Mange, for one thing. Why wouldn’t vets at a Wildlife Hospital know about this?
Mange may affect the prickles of the hedgehog, making some or all of their prickles fall out. The hedgehog could look “balding on one half or simply “patchy” all over (but it does not look right as the prickles are unevenly distributed). And/or mange can also make their “soft fur” fall out. Their soft fur is on their face and on their underside.
To treat mange use oil (baby oil or any vege oil) with a few drops of ti tree or Manuka oil in it (a natural antiseptic) on the affected area, once a day and keep an eye on progress. This treatment softens the crust of the mange and also suffocates the mite that causes mange. A paint brush would not apply enough oil – the idea is to soak the crusty bits and cover the rest of the body, so use a dropper or simply pour it on in small amounts until covered.
If mange is bad, get to a vet as soon as possible. Mange cannot be transferred to human but strict hand washing rules always apply when handling any unwell animals. Use the oil as first aid until you can get to the vet for more help. It does take a while for the prickles to regrow (about a month), however with care, mange IS NOT a death sentence for hedgehogs. –petson