Hedgehog Intestinal Nematode Infection

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Summary Information
Diseases / List of Parasitic Diseases / Disease description:

This disease page is currently predominantly used in Wildpro to link different data types and demonstrate inter-relationships. Whilst basic information is available, It does not contain detailed information.

Alternative Names
  • Hedgehog intestinal Capillaria infection
Disease Agents Nematodes:
  • Capillaria erinacei
  • Capillaria ovoreticulata
  • Capillaria spp.

(J15.21.w1, B228.9.w9, B291.12.w12, B337.3.w3)

Capillaria spp.: males 6-8mm, females 10mm, thin and hair-like. Adults live in the intestines, pre-patent period is presumed to be about three weeks. Eggs are passed in the faeces. Infective eggs may be consumed directly or by eating earthworms which have consumed the eggs. The eggs are very resistant and survive for a long time in the environment. (B291.12.w12)

Capillaria erinacei: Eggs from hedgehogs contained full-developed first-stage larvae after 40-50 days at 19-20C. Feeding such eggs to earthworms Eisenia rosea or Lumbricus terrestris (50 eggs per worm) resulted in larvae being found in the body cavity, mainly in the chloragogenous tissue, after five days. Larvae moulted on the 17th day and were then (2nd stage) infectious to hedgehogs. Hedgehogs fed infected earthworms develop infection, with mature worms after 25-26 days. (J210.17.w1)

Further information on Disease Agents has only been incorporated for agents recorded in species for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken). Only those agents with further information available are linked below:

Infectious Agent(s)
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s) --
General Description Clinical signs:
  • May be no clinical signs (B228.9.w9, B284.6.w6, B291.12.w12)
  • Watery diarrhoea and reduced weight gain may be seen with mild disease in hoglets. (B291.12.w12)
  • Green mucoid diarrhoea with severe infections. (B22.27.w3, B284.6.w6, J15.21.w1)
  • Diarrhoea; may be blood in the droppings. (B337.3.w3)
  • Weight loss and lethargy with severe infections. (B284.6.w6)
  • May be eating well but be thin and losing weight. (D94)
  • May have reduced appetite. (B337.3.w3)
  • Severe signs may be most common in young animals. (B228.9.w9, B291.12.w12)
  • Severe infections: Severe diarrhoea, lethargy, emaciation and death. (B228.9.w9); faeces soft and slimy, progressing to watery diarrhoea. Associated dehydration, lethargy and weight loss. May progress to anaemia, cachexia and death. (B291.12.w12)

Note: Often there may be an associated gastrointestinal bacterial infection. (D107) [See: Colibacillosis (with special reference to Waterfowl and Hedgehogs), Proteus Infection in Waterfowl and Hedgehogs, Salmonellosis (with special reference to Waterfowl and Hedgehogs)]

Further Information The infection rate with intestinal nematodes in hedgehogs appears to be highly variable. (B228.9.w9)


  • Bipolar eggs in faeces.
  • Difficult to differentiate eggs from those of respiratory worms Capillaria aerophila [see: Lungworm Infection of Hedgehogs].
  • (J15.21.w1)(B284.6.w6)
  • Eggs may be of two types: either 55-65 m, slim with parallel side walls, a polar cap on each end appearing sunken into a bottle neck and with a net like structure on its brown surface, or 50-60 m long, with slightly bulging sides, only slightly protruding polar caps and a smooth or fine-grained pale brown outer surface. B291.12.w12 
  • At post mortem examination: Scrapings from the intestinal mucosa should be mixed with warm physiological saline (0.9% NaCl) and examined against a black background for the presence of the worms. (B291.12.w12)


  • Levamisole
    • 27mg/kg (e.g. Levacine, Norbrook; Levadin 75, Vtoquinol, Nilverm Gold, Mallinckrodt Veterinary Ltd.), three subcutaneous injection, repeated twice at 24 hour intervals (J15.21.w1)
    • 10mg/kg subcutaneously, repeated after 48 hours (B156.7.w7)
    • 25 mg/kg subcutaneous repeated after seven days (V.w26); 
    • Note: Adverse reactions have been rarely observed following levamisole treatment therefore it has been suggested that hedgehogs should be discretely and intermittently monitored for a period of approx. 30 minutes following administration. Hyperaesthesia (“jumpy” with exaggerated reactions), twitching, dyspnoea/gasping, excess salivation and cyanosis have been described. Hedgehogs with adverse effects may be treated with steroid therapy (dexamethasone) and supplemental oxygen (oxygen cage).(V.w26)
  • Fenbendazole (e.g. Panacur, Intervet)
    • 100mg/kg orally, daily for five to seven days - may be given in food; (J15.21.w1); 
    • 5mg daily for five days or 25mg once, oral. (B228.11.w11); 
    • 100 mg/kg daily orally for five days, may be given in feed. (B284.6.w6); 
    • 1 ml of 10% liquid (Panacur 10% liquid Wormer for Cats and Dogs, Intervet) per kg bodyweight (100 mg/kg) orally in food daily for five days, repeated after seven days (this has been used in very young hedgehogs, e.g. 35g bodyweight). (D94)
  • Mebendazole (e.g. Telmin, Janssen Animal Health)
    • 100mg/kg orally, daily for five to seven days - may be given in food. (J15.21.w1, B156.7.w7)
    • 50-100 mg/kg daily for five days. (B284.6.w6)
    • 25mg twice daily for hedgehogs of less than 500 g bodyweight, 50 mg twice daily for hedgehogs greater than 500 g bodyweight, orally: administer for five days then repeat treatment after two to three weeks. (B22.27.w3)
  • Febantel (e.g. Bayverm, Bayer) orally, 50-100mg per kg bodyweight for five days. (B228.11.w11); 0.5ml of 10% solution per kg bodyweight daily for five days. (B156.7.w7)
  • Ivermectin (Ivomec, Merial Animal Health) orally or subcutaneously, 0.02mg per kg bodyweight (B228.11.w11).Ivermectin at 200 g/kg bodyweight (subcutaneously) was considered to be totally effective in removing Crenosoma infection (based on thirty days of faecal examination) but Capillaria sp. [lungworm or intestinal species not distinguished] eggs were still produced. (P5.29.w4)
  • Suggested therapy for associated bacterial infection: Potentiated sulphonamides (e.g. Tribrissen (Trimethoprim/ Sulphonamide) 24% (Schering-Plough Animal Health), 30 mg/kg once daily intramuscularly or subcutaneously, for five to eight days, or Zaquilan (Schering-Plough Animal Health) 20-40 mg/kg orally once daily), or Amoxycillin / Clavulanic acid (30-50 mg/kg twice daily orally, subcutaneously or intramuscularly) or Enrofloxacin (10 mg/kg twice daily subcutaneously, intramuscularly or orally). (D107)
    • Supportive therapy, as required: Fluid therapy if the hedgehog is not eating and drinking. Buscopan (Boehringer Ingelheim Limited) is recommended (0.1-0.2 ml/kg no more frequently than every eight hours, not for prolonged use) if squeals indicate that the hedgehog is suffering from intestinal cramping. Probiotics, digestive enzymes, vitamins and Kaolin may also be useful. (D107)

Treatments should be repeated if faecal examination shows the presence of eggs in the faeces 2-3 weeks after initial treatment. (B228.11.w11, V.w26)

Reports of infection:

  • Capillaria erinacei infection of the stomach and small intestine in 5/74, Capillaria erinacei infection of the intestine in 5/74 and other Capillaria spp. or unidentified nematodes in a further 7/74 hedgehogs at post mortem examination, July 1976 to November 1986, in the UK. (J3.128.w2)
  • Capillaria spp. in the intestine of Erinaceus europaeus. (B156.7.w7)
  • Capillaria erinacei and Capillaria ovoreticulata may occur in the intestine. (B284.6.w6)
  • In the small intestine of the central African hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris - Four-toed hedgehog) from Nairobi, Rictularia sp. in 8% of 48 individuals. (B228.9.w9)
  • Eggs of Capillaria spp. were found in  62% of faecal samples from 1849 hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus in Germany, 1974-1983 (J166.91.w1)
  • Eggs of Capillaria spp. were found in 48.8% of faecal samples from 1175 hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus in Germany, 1984-1991. (J166.100.w1)
  • Faecal samples (643 samples) from hedgehogs collected in three successive winters revealed parasitism in 55-79%, mainly Capillaria sp., Crenosoma striatum and Isospora rastegaivae); most heavily infected individuals were considered to be underweight. (J77.97.w1)
  • Capillaria spp, Brachylaemus erinacei and coccidia were found in 93% of 232 gastrointestinal tracts of hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus from Germany, winter 1980-81. (J162.28.w1)
  • Intestinal Capillaria erinacei and Capillaria ovoreticulata in 72.3% of hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus at Pfaffenhofen (Upper Bavaria), Germany. (Th5)
  • Capillaria sp. [not distinguished respiratory or intestinal] (also Crenosoma sp. and Phisaloptera sp.) in a European hedgehog. (P5.29.w4)


  • In the intestines Gongylonema neoplasticum, Trichinella spiralis, Trichosoma erinacei (?Capillaria erinacei, Capillaria exigua), Trichosoma (?Capillaria) putorii from European hedgehogs Erinaceus spp.. Also in Erinaceus europaeus intestines Rictularia aethenichini and Trichuris mettami. (J18.38.w1)
Techniques linked to this disease
Host taxa groups /species Further information on Host species has only been incorporated for species groups for which a full Wildpro "Health and Management" module has been completed (i.e. for which a comprehensive literature review has been undertaken).Host species with further information available are listed below:

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