Finding a hedgehog with breathing difficulties.
Shortness of breath, a lung rattle or persistent cough,
seeing a hedgehog which is not moving at all,
these are all signs that a hedgehog is quite ill.
The causes may be different, from parasites to infections.
Hedgehog Lung Parasites
The most common lung parasites are Crenosoma striatum and Capillaria aerophila, and both are known to cause lungworm in hedgehogs.
Lungworm is the common name given to describe an infestation of the lungs with parasitic worms.
Signs of lungworm in
hedgehogs may vary.
How the disease appears in hedgehogs depends on the number of parasites in the lungs, and also if there are any other bacterial infections.
How to recognise signs of
lungworm in hedgehogs.
The most obvious symptoms are lung rattle, nasal discharge, coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath (sometimes with wheezing), weakness, weight loss, lack of appetite, not moving at all, breathing with an open mouth and an uncertain or wobbly gait.
In severe cases, Lungworm can cause death.
Causes of Lungworm in hedgehogs.
The carriers of parasites are ground insects, snails and worms on which the hedgehogs feed. In spring, fresh insects are born.
Hedgehogs feed on these fresh insects which carry fewer parasites in the spring and summer.
In autumn and winter, hedgehogs eat what they can find, namely insects, worms, larvae and snails and these will have accumulated parasites from the ground.
This is the reason why almost all of the hedgehogs we find in autumn and winter are infected by parasites.
The hedgehog, in turn, through its own faeces, may become a carrier.
Even infants can become contaminated by drinking their mother's milk.
Hedgehog infections and pneumonia
These are common diseases in hedgehogs.
They can be caused by viruses, infections and decomposing lung parasites killed by the treatment.
Do-it-yourself parasite care may cause pneumonia as well.
The parasites killed by the therapeutic drugs may lead to infection unless an appropriate course of antibiotics is followed.
In all cases, only a vet or qualified centre should perform the tests and provide the course of therapy required.
The random use of generic pesticides as reported on the internet can only harm the already precarious health of the hedgehog.
In addition to a suitable antiparasitic therapy (each drug corresponds to a different parasite), the vet may decide to proceed further with a course of antibiotics and/or the use of an aerosol.