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. We are always mindful that hedgehogs are wild animals and our role is to get them fully fit and back into the wild to thrive. The long term survival of released hedgehogs is paramount. It’s harsh out there and quick non-painful deaths are uncommon for Britain’s wildlife. An injured creature will often slowly starve and suffer a long, painful death.
In our view a front leg amputation could prevent a hedgehog from digging for food and the ability to create access under fences and gates on its foraging route, therefore hogs with traumatic front leg amputations or severe leg injuries are euthanised. The removal of a back leg can also prevent 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. Every case is carefully considered, and a decision is made on a case by case basis.
Leg amputation can effect 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 or down steps etc. The loss 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 a period of balling if disturbed and removing a leg would slow them down considerably. They are strong swimmers and the loss 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 and keep their balance whilst swimming. While we know hedgehogs can survive in the wild with missing limbs we do not see them thrive, therefore, we only release in secure gardens. If you are interested in helping a disabled hedgehog and have a secure garden or an internal or walled gardens please let us know.