Menagerie Monday: Hedgehog Help

In these times of severe stress and unrest, it’s a pleasure to be able to bring you a true story of spectacular success. Almost exactly two months ago, when I went out to my workroom, aka my bloke shed, I noticed an unexpected lump of something in the grass at its front edge. It looked like a mud-encrusted rock with some spiky vegetable matter imbedded in the mud. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a hedgehog, but in a condition that I’d never seen before. I eased it into a cardboard box and immediately contacted my daughter Squiddy, confident that she knew some folks who would be able to help in such a situation. My confidence was promptly rewarded, as she made one phone call and an animal rehabilitation specialist came over and took it back to her facility within a matter of a couple of hours. The report came back that it had a severe case of mange (caused by parasitic mites), and that she was confident that it could be treated. I heard no more until this evening, when Squiddy appeared at our door with another cardboard box. I thought it might be another hedgehog in need of treatment, but it was the same one, completely cured and ready to be released. In my professional capacity, I have dealt with many cases of mange in dogs and cats, but I’ve never seen one that had advanced to this degree of severity. The main element of veterinary practice that I have missed since my retirement is the joy of helping an animal in desperate need to return to a state of health so that it can continue to live out a normal life. I released it back into the garden tonight, where I’d found it and it went right back under the shed. What a treat to be able to help another one!

About krikitarts

Welcome to Krikit Arts! I'm a veterinarian; photographer; finger-style guitarist, composer, instructor, and singer/songwriter; fisherman; and fly-tyer. Please enjoy--and please respect my full rights to all photos on this Website!
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23 Responses to Menagerie Monday: Hedgehog Help

  1. Mike Powell says:

    Thanks for sharing this good news story, Gary. It was a wonderful start to my Sunday morning to read this story of rescue and recovery.

  2. Platypus Man says:

    What an uplifting story, and don’t we need those in these difficult times! The first image is truly shocking, and I’m amazed the hog could be saved.

  3. Did you know that the disease called mange is the same as the first five letters in manger? Both are from the French verb manger, which means ‘to eat’. In the case of the disease, an animal gets ‘eaten up’ by parasitic mites; a manger is a trough from which livestock feed.

    • krikitarts says:

      Nope, I did not know that. I never studied French–just Latin, Spanish, and German, but I’ve been to France several times and tried to pick up as much of the language as I could in the small amount of time I had.

      • The French verb means etymologically ‘to chew,” from Latin manducare. You’ll recognize the same root in mandible.

        In ninth grad most of the academic kids in my high school took French but my father said it would be better to start with Latin, which I did, and which has stood me in good stead ever since. In tenth grade I continued with Latin and simultaneously began French.

  4. In the first image it looks flat and well beyond saving, so full kudos to everyone concerned for helping out this lovely little creature! :)

  5. That is a good news story! What a cute little thing.

    • krikitarts says:

      Yes, they certainly are cute. I tried to pick it up carefully with bare hands for the “after” photos but that was a mistake: It now weighs about a kilo and those spines are as sharp as needles and punctured me in at least places, hence the gloves.

  6. shoreacres says:

    I’m sending this off to a woman in England who rescues and rehabilitates hedgehogs on a regular basis. She’ll be thrilled to see the change, and happy to know it was able to be released. I must say, I’m surprised to know there are hedgehogs in NZ. Are they native there? This one certainly was lucky.

    • krikitarts says:

      To answer your question, I want to the NZ Dept. of Conservation’s website and found a lot of information that was new to me: “Hedgehogs were first brought to New Zealand by acclimatisation [sic] societies to remind settlers of their homeland, but were later introduced in greater numbers to control garden pests such as slugs, snails and grass grubs.” And, further, “the extent to which hedgehogs impact upon the New Zealand environment is only recently beginning to be understood in any detail.” Findings include predation on riverbed-breeding birds, the rare giant native centipede, rare insects, and lizards (particularly skinks). Sadly, it seems it’s yet another case of misguided and casual introduction of a non-native animal with unfortunate and unforeseen results. It looks like they are far more of a problem in lowland pastoral areas in the South Island than in urban settings like Auckland. I usually see one or two in our garden in a year’s time.

  7. Adrian Lewis says:

    Wonderful story and pictures, Gary. Strangely enough I had a close encounter with a hedgehog in the early morning a couple of days back; maybe it hadn’t heard me approaching, but it turned to look at me, and froze (well, who wouldn’t?). Eventually it scurried off – but very nice to see. :)

  8. bluebrightly says:

    Amazing photos! We need more stories like this one, these days. :-)

  9. Finn Holding says:

    Hats off to you and Squiddy and the rescue folks for giving this poor bedraggled creature a second chance. If NZ is anything like the UK hedgehogs need all the help they can get, so a hog success story is heartwarming. Nice work.

  10. That’s a great story with a happy outcome, Gary. Helping our fellow creatures is part of what we are here for. I hope you get to visit with your now healthy hedgehog again.

    • krikitarts says:

      Actually, I hope that it is happy enough to be back at large and healthy that I won’t see it again. But if I do, I’ll try to do a follow-up.

      • Oh, of course succeeding in the wild would be the ideal outcome. I just thought it might stop by and say hello and thanks. One of my other blogging friends does a lot of deer rehab and she does have some that come around to see her on occasion.

      • krikitarts says:

        If it does decide to come around for a thank you and a most careful pat on the back (and I hope it does!), rest assured that I’ll let you know.

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