A very old Hedgehog called Softy
He was originally a hand reared hedgehog who was released into a garden and given lots of food and shelter. The friends who hand reared him carried on looking after him for 6 years, then in 2003 when he woke from Hibernation in Spring they noticed that he was losing his spines and had lots of scabs and crusts on his ears and back.
He had caught ringworm and had a severe mite infection. He was soon treated for that and went back home but unfortunately in Spring 2004 when he woke up again it reoccurred and he came back to us for more treatment
The mites were soon treated and the ringworm cured but unfortunately almost all his spines fell out. When this happens with a young hedgehog they soon grow back but like old men who go bald so do old hedgehogs, so Softy's spines never grew back.
He now lives with us indoors because without his spines he would have no protection. He has his own pen and comfortable place to sleep and feed.
He has regular little walks in the garden but like most old animals and people hates much exercise and hates the cold and the wet.
He suffers from all the ailments that are typical to us in old age. He is almost blind, nearly deaf, is bald, has arthritis and is gradually loosing his teeth so he can't crunch biscuits any more and eats mainly mashed up dog food with a treat of a bit of strong cheddar and a few chopped nuts and raisins. He has trouble smelling his food now so it has to be warmed up to give off a strong smell.
He is happy to eat a nice meal twice daily, have a few minutes walk in the garden and given a clean up and a comfortable warm place to sleep. Every few days he gets a gentle skin rub using a good quality unperfumed skin lotion to help keep his skin supple and to remove all the skin flakes.
Update: May 2005
Towards the end of April 2005, Softy started to cough and have some breathing difficulties, especially after any sort of exercise. His chest sounded very rattly so he was given a course of antibiotics for 10 days and given Frusemide, an anti water retention tablet for 4 days.
After this course of treatment he has improved tremendously and has his Frusemide tablet every 4 or 5 days to eliminate the excess fluid build up that was putting pressure on his lungs.
Like all old people who take limited exercise due to arthritis and the general ailments of old age, he developed a mild pneumonia caused by fluid build up from not moving around.
He is being carefully monitored and as soon as we see any sign of any difficulties again he is given an increased dose of Frusemide.
Because hedgehogs are so small they need minute doses of the drugs and the smallest tablet of Frusemide is 20 mg so we have to crush the tablet and give about 1/10th of a tablet mixed in his food each time
Update: July 13th 2005
Softy has steadily got worse and finally gave up the struggle to live this afternoon. He had a good life and is now at peace.
He was very lucky to have found someone to look after him and give him good food and shelter for the last 7 years.
Most hedgehogs are very lucky to survive their 1st year and a 3 year old hedgehog is very rare, so it's almost unheard of for a hedgehog to survive to 6 or 7 years old in the wild.
Remember he wasn't a captive or pet hedgehog, but chose to stay in their garden where he had a warm safe dry shelter ( a wooden box) with plenty of fresh food and water daily.
You can keep the hedgehogs in your garden alive and healthy by providing a nice warm dry shelter and food and water for them. If you are lucky then your hedgehog will also live to be 7 or 8 years old.
A little bit of kindness and time from you will save a hedgehog. You will be one of the lucky ones to be honoured by having a resident hedgehog in your garden. Let them grow old along with you and please remember that most of them die before they are 6 months old because of lack of food, water and shelter.