Last Updated: 10/29/06
The Weight Loss
More on my hedgehogs' story is below. I put the text into the past tense after Sonic and Prickles were gone.
On 11/19/02, Sonic and Prickles went to the vet for their last ivermectin injections. Skin scrapings showed no mites. Their weights had dropped a lot. Sonic was down to 500 g, a loss of 25 g in two weeks or 50 g in four weeks. Prickles had crashed from 400 g to just 275 g in two weeks. The vet and I hope it is just from the depression over the loss of her babies (she is the one that killed them but she does not see it that way). I managed to get the vet to give Prickles a Vitamin B injection as well. At home, she shoveled in 10 mealworms and a magic hedgie ball (see under meats under feeding) so she was hungry, she just did not want to eat the dozen some foods I offered normally! They are listed in the feeding section under what I was feeding. The next night, I put her on my lap but all she ate that day was mealworms.
As of 11/23/02, neither Sonic nor Prickles had eaten anything but live insects for over a week. I weighed them and their bowls when I refilled them and again when I dumped them. They were both eating about 5 g a day of live bugs or 1% of his body weight and 2% of her body weight. They were not eating anything else, including chicken and turkey baby foods or ground beef or any of their dozen kinds of special hedgehog foods that they used to eat. Both were losing about 2 g a day, and it seemed they were dying. I made an appointment for 11/29/02 (the soonest he could see me) at a vet with experience in hedgehogs. I starting holding them at night (one at a time). She just sat there. He drove around and peed on me the first time but then just sat there and seemed happy enough though. Being that he was much bigger to begin with, his 100 g loss was not at bad as her 150 g loss. I wished I could force feed them but it would never work.
By 11/26/02, things seemed a bit more clear. Sonic and Prickles had been fooling me! They lost weight since they no longer needed body fat since they were warm plus they were eating less fattening foods and exercising on their wheels. I did weigh their bowls and found they were eating nothing but the one or two live insects I put in there. Thus, I gave them more and more bugs until they were stuffed on them. They had fooled me into giving them so many bugs. I started to slowly cut them back and to see if they ate their regular foods. Once I did that, they started to eat more foods. They were eating about 10 g a night, mostly live bugs and finally baby food. I am so stupid! They had gotten just what they wanted!
During the week of their weight testing, I wrote this section on what I thought Prickles and Sonic must have been thinking.
An hour in the thoughts of Prickles and Sonic last night (November 2002).
What! Oh, no, the Big One (BO) is back. It's lifting me up! This pan is really cold and why am I bouncing up and down? This seems familiar. Does this mean? Yes, a bug. (Slurp/crunch) Yum! Give me more! Um, another bug! Oh, there's my bowl. I'm going to crawl in since it's on its side. Wow, it's full of bugs. (Crunch, slurp). I just wish all this crunchy stuff weren't in here so it would be easier to find the bugs. Hum, what's this slimy stuff. Tastes ok. (Slurp) BO is touching my back. Oh, well, I don't have the time to bother to spike her .Well, I can't find more bugs so I'll go to sleep. Hey, what is BO doing? Now I'm sitting out in the open! Oh, another bug, yum! What's that crunchy crud doing in front of me again. Another bug, another bug (crunch, spit it out). Huh, that's not alive! It's hard and crunchy! BO tricked me! Not fair! I'm not going to fall for that again. Another bug, yum, another bug. I'm going to curl up now. Hey, I was just dreaming about bugs when BO grabbed me again. I'm back in my home again so I'll go back to sleep. Tonight, I will run like mad on my wheel and hopefully find some bugs.
Hey! BO is trying to get me again. I will try to spike her. She's got me cornered! Hey! Not that cold thing again. I'm bouncing up and down. Ow, I fell off. BO keeps putting me back! Wee! This is fun! Ow, I fell off . I smell Prickles again. I know she's around here somewhere. BO has me on a white thing again. Oh, it gave me a bug. I guess I'll eat it. Have to keep up my energy to find Prickles. Oh, another bug, ok, I'll eat it. Another bug, it's getting away! BO brought it back to me (crunch). BO keeps touching me. Where is Prickles? Now BO is putting those hard yucky things in front of me. I used to eat them but now I'm too busy trying to find Prickles to bother with that crud. (Crunch, there goes a piece of L'Avian). Oh, no, I accidentally ate a piece of crunchy crud! Won't do that again. More bugs, ok, I'll eat those. Hum, maybe if I try to dig my way through this white thing, I'll find Prickles. I'm pooped. Going to sleep. Hey, BO is at it again! Can't it leave me alone? BO put me back in my home. I'm going to sleep and dream about Prickles. Then, I'll get up and run, run, run and maybe I'll find her! What did BO do with her?
The study was ended on 11/29/02. It showed an average of 299.1 g weight for Prickles and 489.4 for Sonic with insignificant changes (slightly up or down on any one day). On average, Prickles ate 9.2 g and Sonic 8.6 g per day which was 3.1 % of her body weight and only 1.8% of his body weight. Of the food they ate, on average 68.8% of hers and 85.8% of his food was bugs and baby food. Of the dry foods I offered, she ate 7% and he ate 10% of the quantity that I offered (about 20 g nightly). This study was driving me crazy and taking a lot of time so I ended it. As long as their weekly weight stayed constant, I would not worry. I continue to try to reduce the bug intake but they loved them so!
Sonic and Prickles finally went to the "expert" vet on 11/29/02. Both were sedated. Both had blood drawn, teeth checked, ears checked, and an exam. Prickles also had a fecal test, urinalysis, nail trim (Sonic's were already trimmed), ear cleaning, rectal temperature (normal, 96), and x-rays. On 12/3/02, I finally got the results of the blood and urinalysis. Sonic's was normal. They did not do urine on him (I wish they had as he drank so much but I did not know they had not until the sedation was over). Prickles white blood cell count was slightly elevated in her blood but the rest was normal. She also had a little blood in her urine (he said from expressing her bladder perhaps), a few skin cells (he said normal for new mothers), and a few white blood cells indicating she may have a mild infection (UTI or something else). Everything else was normal! The cost of my paranoia and piece of mind was $452! And I have been accused of taking poor care of these guys (by "allowing" them to breed even though I GOT her when she was already pregnant, killing their babies which was probably going to happen no matter what I did, etc.). At least we had baseline blood work for both and x-ray for Prickles (her liver looked good and no babies in there). She also finally got her nails done and had some wax in her ears removed.
The vet put Prickles on antibiotics for a week just in case she had an infection. He said her results were only slightly abnormal. She was taking Clavamox (50 mg per mL of amoxicillin trihydrate and 12.5 mg per mL of clavulanate potassium) which he said was better for UTI than Baytril (enrofloxacin) or Bactrim. Prickles got 0.1 mL twice a day. At first, I tried putting it on a live mealworm as that was the only food she would eat for sure. The liquid just ran off. So, I did it the obvious way. I just stuck the syringe in her mouth and squirted it in her mouth. I guess it did not taste too bad as I had done it twice already. My mother was afraid that antibiotics would make her worse since they would kill off the good bacteria. Most of the hedgehog foods have acidophilus but I had pills too.
While at the vet, I had a funny conversation with a woman who was leaving with her dog. She said to her dog, "Don't bother the kitties." I said, "They're hedgehogs." "What?" "Hedgehogs." "Oh, let me see." Now Sonic was in the cat carrier without a towel as I was hoping he'd pee in there (as he'd done with the previous 3 vet visits) which he did not, of course. Anyway, she had a clear view of him. "Do people have those as pets?" "Yes, but they require a lot of specialized care." "Really. I've only seen them dead on the side of the road." I get perplexed but say, "Um, they're from Africa. They're not native to here." "Huh, I've seen them on the road."
As of 2/8/03, Sonic was up to 542.7 g, and Prickles was at 300.3 g. This was their highest weights since I started weekly weighings on 12/7/02. So, Prickles was at least staying pretty steady (a low of 277 g on 12/21/02 for weights taken weekly between 12/7/02 and 2/8/03) while Sonic was becoming slightly rotund (a low of 477.3 g on 12/28/02 for weights taken weekly from 12/7/02 to 2/8/03). Since they almost starved to death, I did not mind if he was a little chubby (just not a lot!). He ran so much at night, I was sure he burned quite a few calories! Anyway, they wee both doing very well, I thought! They were very settled and as happy as I thought they could be. They loved their hedgie cotton bag and hedgie hat to cuddle under or on top of sometimes within their igloos. I thought they had even forgotten about each other somewhat. If Sonic was out of the igloo at night, and I was holding Prickles, I would put her near the side of the cage so they could say hello. When I did that, Sonic then always ran away! He had lost his hoggy desires it seemed.
I kept a weekly record of Sonic and Prickles' weights. I did this on my own. Then, someone posted that they had created an on-line table for weight records for hedgehogs. You can print out your own copy and start those records. The web site is http://zoey.ginaanderson.com/weightchart/.
So, in the end, Sonic and Prickles were then eating well, sleeping well, getting their nails trimmed monthly, and living apart 100% of the time. I did the best I could for them and that was better than 99.999% of people's best. I was blamed by a certain someone who shall remain nameless for breeding them (even though I separated them when I got them, and she was already pregnant, killing their babies by looking at them and leaving the wheel in (even though the mites or ivermectin alone would have resulted in her killing them as would being in a new situation so short a time as would her previously poor diet as would him probably being her brother...), making them lose weight (ok, I am ugly but looking at me would not effect a hedgehog; I gave them the best foods; it just took time for them to adjust), etc. but I spent over a thousand dollars, a hundred hours reading hedgehog books and web sites and corresponding with dozens of nice hedgehog people, and many hours a week caring for them on top of my other 18 animals, 3 aquariums, and 7 ponds (that I had at that time). I would give up my life for any of my animals in a heartbeat. Would you? So, accuse me of what you want, but do not ever accuse me of not doing my best. My cousin (who is not a bad person but a sweet girl who did care about them but had limited resources) who gave them to me did none of these things but no one accuses her of anything. I am the bad one. Go figure. I did not rescue them. I made their life worse. If that is true, send me to hell and the ignorant and cruel animal tormenters to heaven. I am providing this page so that perhaps someone reading this will learn something from my failures and successes. If this information saves one life, it is worth it. That is the only reason my web sites are up aside from my being able to keep a diary on all my animals. I never claim to be an expert. I am nobody but my animals are somebody. I am speaking for them. They deserve a voice.
Update: 9/10/03. Sonicy and Miss Prickness were doing well. Their weights were pretty constant since July. Sonic ranged between 648 and 660 g so he was a fatso! He would not run on his wheel anymore. He was a couch potato without a TV! Prickles ranged less than half that between 305 and 309 g. She was tiny but so cute. They were physically very different.
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