Hedgehogs and Amputation of Limbs

Hedgehogs are stoic creatures and often cope well with operations and the stress of being in a rescue. They can recover from invasive surgery and their true grit means they solider on. Our view is just because we can doesn’t always mean we should?

We are always mindful that hedgehogs are wild animals and our role in the rescue is to get them fully fit and back into the wild to thrive. The long term success of our soft release programs are paramount. It’s harsh out there and quick un-painful deaths are uncommon for our British wildlife.  An injured creature will often slowly starve and then often be eaten alive. We release only wildlife that is fully fit for the environment it is going into. Each animal is treated individually and our decisions are based on that. We do not believe a wild animal should be in captivity but are aware that many do survive and some thrive. 

We do not release back into the wild a hedgehog that has had a limb amputated.

Front leg amputation would prevent the hedgehog from digging for food and the ability to create access under fences and gates on its foraging route. It would hinder climbing and swimming.

The removal of a back leg prevents a hedgehog from scratching on one side. Hedgehogs love a scratch and need to be able to scratch to clean, groom and remove parasites. So much of their body is covered by inaccessible spines it’s essential they can reach all other areas. Their low slung body and resting sites means that they are in close contact with insects and it is essential they can remove them from their body by scratching.

Leg amputation affects a hedgehogs balance, it’s ability to climb and the speed they can run. Hedgehogs are good climbers and they need to be able to do this to get out of trouble if they fall into hole, the lost of a limb can prevents their ability to do this. They can use speed to get out the way of a predators and to flee an open space they need to cross. They often run for cover after period of balling if disturbed and removing a leg would slow them down considerably. 

They are strong swimmers and the lost of a limb hinders their ability to swim and climb out of pond. When swimming they get very tried due to stress and looking of ways to get our of the water  so all limbs are needed to pull themselves out to safety. While we know hedgehogs can survive in the wild with missing limbs we do not see them thrive.

In closed secure areas where we have monitored many three legged hedgehogs over a long period they have never been able to survive unsupported and have all needed ongoing treatment at some stage. Sores,infections and infestations being the most common issues and were directly attributed to the amputations. Therefore amputees have been shown to need our constant supervision. We currently have several three legged hedgehogs onsite that only continue to survive and thrive with our continued support. They will live out their natural lives with us. Our decisions to operate and our treatment plan is always based 100% on the individual animal, as with all our work.

We make the following statement based on our experiences. 

We would not release back into the wild a hedgehog that has had a limb amputated.

 

 

 

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