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"H" - Young Hedgehog with Amputated Leg

Photo of "H", still anesthetised showing where his leg was removed

Immediately post-op

Photo of "H" tucking in to a plate of food
Tucking in a couple of hours later

Hedgehogs are one of only a few British animals which truly hibernate over the winter. Unable to sustain their bulk with sufficient insects over the cold winter period they must resort to the dangerous metabolic feat of prolonged periods of unconsciousness.

Around this time and throughout the following 2-3 months these mammals will be particularly vulnerable. Any hedgehogs weighing less than 1and 1/2 lb are unlikely to have the fat reserves to survive. Additionally, they are vulnerable to attack from larger predators such as dogs and foxes.

One such victim was brought to our surgery at the beginning of the week from the staff at Mount Grace High School.

A young piglet, born this year he was well underweight to survive the harsh winter we have all been promised by the forecasters. Sadly he had also been savaged by another animal with one of his rear legs so severely traumatised that it would require amputation.

Deciding whether to operate on wild animals can be very difficult for very few survive major surgery. However, "H" gave clear signals that he was not quite ready for the "nature reserve" in the sky!

Determined to form a tight ball despite the pain he was experiencing and showing distinct enthusiasm for the food he was offered I was persuaded by my nurses that he was worth the effort - and so it was that only a few hours after his major procedure he was tucking into his dinner like nothing had happened. This is one hedgehog that has booked his place somewhere warm this winter! Now where's that travel brochure?

Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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