A Poor Start

We adopted Huff, a tiny bundle of spikes with a pretty face and a curious nature at the end of October 2003.

It soon became clear that something was wrong but we thought he just needed a couple of weeks to settle in so we were not too worried. However, at the beginning of December he had been poorly off and on for a month and was not well again. Samples were sent to the vet but there was no obvious cause and we were advised to keep him hydrated and see what happened. A few days later, he was okay but by the end of the week, he was ill again.

This state of affairs continued with Huff being sick and then seeming okay. He was a pitiful sight lying on a towel covered hot water bottle, occasionally lifting his head to take a drink of re-hydration fluids from a tiny syringe.

We checked everything we could think of to see if there was something in Huff's environment that was making him sick but we could not find anything. We were using the same food and bedding as he had been on at Orb's and the temperature was always between 22 and 25 degrees. We even tried using bottled water. Nothing seemed to make any difference.

Things seemed to settle down over Christmas but Huff was very run down and still not thriving we were still worried but hoped the worst was over. We noticed that Huff was scratching more than before and that he had lost a few quills but put this down to his general poor health. Then on 6th January we noticed large red sores all over his stomach.

Our vet, John Chitty of Strathmore Veterinary Clinic in Andover, (who kindly allowed us to use these pictures) immediately, diagnosed Mange. It would be nearly impossible to take skin scrapings without an anaesthetic and bearing this in mind Kate decided it would be kindest and less risky for Huff to have an anti-parasitic injection without this final confirmation. We have been unable to find out how Huff got Mange.

[Photo of Huff with Mange] [Photo of Huff with Mange]

The Mange sores cleared up quickly but Huff was still being sick over the next couple of weeks. We knew that he had to be run down for the Mange to take hold but we still had no idea why.

Mites may have been hiding in Huff's bedding for a couple of hours while he was at the vet so to prevent re-infection Huff's cage and all his toys needed to be wash and disinfected after each injection. On our visit to the vets for his second injection we were recommended a different type of bedding and decided to try it.

Over the next fortnight, Huff seemed to go from strength to strength. He stopped vomiting, gained weight, and grew dramatically. He became a curious happy and very friendly little chap. Quite by accident we had found out the cause of Huff's ongoing poor health - he is allergic to wood shavings bedding.

After three injections, Huff was declared Mange free (probably)

We have now found that allergies to bedding are quite common in African Pygmy Hedgehogs and although there are possible problems with the dust from the bedding we use it is the only thing that he has no obvious problems with.