Fractures in Hedgehogs

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Summary Information
Diseases / List of Physical / Traumatic Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names See also:
Disease Agents
  • Physical force, including road traffic accidents (RTA).
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s)
General Description
  • Fractures are commonly seen in hedgehog casualties, particularly associate with road traffic accidents. (B151, B284.6.w6)
  • Multiple fractures to the limbs and head are not uncommon. (B156.7.w7)
  • Fractures are commonly infected at the time of presentation. (B156.7.w7, B284.6.w6)

Leg Fractures:

(J15.21.w1, B284.6.w6)

Crushed feet:

  • These involve multiple compound fractures, generally highly infected and unsalvageable by the time of presentation. (B151, B284.6.w6)
  • See: Crushing

Pelvic Fractures

  • May be seen following a road traffic accident (RTA). (B337.3.w3)
  • These require radiography to confirm the diagnosis. (B284.6.w6)
  • Individuals with pelvic fractures often have associated sciatic nerve damage. (B284.6.w6)
  • Female hedgehogs in which pelvic fracture has caused any reduction in the diameter of the pelvic canal must not be released; they may be euthanased (see: Euthanasia of Hedgehogs)or maintained in permanent captivity away from male hedgehogs so that pregnancy does not occur (see: Long Term Care of Hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus)), since dystocia is likely (see: Dystocia in Hedgehogs). (B284.6.w6)

Jaw fractures:

  • May affect the upper or lower jaw or both. (D107, B151)
  • May be seen following a road traffic accident (RTA). (B337.3.w3)
  • Maxillary fractures, often just caudal to the incisors, are not uncommon (J15.21.w1)

Nasal fractures:

  • Fractured turbinate bones may cause a permanent reduction in the ability to smell; this would compromise the hedgehogs ability to forage in the wild.(J15.21.w1, D107)
  • Traumatic palatine injuries carry a guarded prognosis. (J15.21.w1)
  • Note: Damage to the snout can result in serious respiratory distress as hedgehogs are reluctant to mouth-breathe. (J15.21.w1)

Spinal fractures:

  • For example due to road traffic accidents (RTA)
  • Often detected by inability of the spines to erect caudal to the fracture site.(J15.21.w1, B151, B284.6.w6, D107)
  • Hind legs may protrude when the hedgehog rolls up. (J15.21.w1, B151, B284.6.w6, D107)
  • There will be no reaction (flinching) if the toes are pinched (a reaction should be seen in hedgehogs with Hedgehog Pop-off Syndrome this is an important , highly treatable, differential diagnosis).
  • Require radiography to confirm the diagnosis. (J15.21.w1, B151, B284.6.w6, D107)
Further Information
  • Old fractures may be present in hedgehogs presented for other reasons, sometimes with distortion of the leg due to malunion (misalignment of the bones at healing). (B284.6.w6)

Fracture management should be performed by a veterinarian or under veterinary direction.

  • An early decision should be made as to the required treatment, considering the type of fracture, any associated infection, whether limb salvage is possible or amputation will be required and whether a return to the wild is likely or if long-term care will be required (e.g. following amputation). (V.w5, V.w6)
  • Details of facilities and extra care required for amputees may be found in Erinaceus europaeus - West European Hedgehog Long Term Care

Fixation must be undertaken with the hedgehog anaesthetised. (B151)

More detailed information on management of fractures in hedgehogs is provided in:

Analgesia in fracture management:

Associated Techniques
Host taxa groups /species

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