Wobbly hedgehog syndrome

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Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) is a progressive, degenerative, neurological disease of African hedgehogs,[1][2] The cause is believed to be genetic,[1] and experts suggest that its high prevalence, (approaching 10%),[2] in pet populations of African Pygmy Hedgehogs is due to their limited bloodlines.[3]

Symptoms and treatment[edit]

There is no evidence that this disease manifests itself in the European wild population - Erinaceus Europaeus- and one must be very careful not to mistake wobbling in a wild hog for WHS. Wobbling in Erinaceus is usually due to being cold and ill. Placing the animal on a heat mat whilst waiting to get it checked by a vet or wildlife hospital will normally help.

The onset of symptoms in captive bred Atelerix in most cases occurs between the ages of 18 and 24 months, and slowly degrades the hedgehog's muscle control. This first appears as a wobble while the hedgehog is attempting to stand still. Over time, the hedgehog will lose control of all muscles from the rear of its body to the front. A tentative diagnosis can be based purely on the clinical signs, but definitive diagnosis is only possible from post-mortem examination of spinal cord and brain tissues.[1]

There is no known cure for WHS, which British veterinary surgeon Joe Inglis says has been compared to human multiple sclerosis.[4] Vitamin E hides the effects, but does not slow the disease and a resistance to vitamin E will form and the effects of the disease will continue. The hedgehog's health will deteriorate over the course of weeks or months, and in the advanced stages of this disease, they become completely immobilized, making euthanasia a recommended consideration.[1] Most animals die within two years of diagnosis.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome". VCA Animal Hospitals. Retrieved 5 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Donnasue Graesser; Terry R. Spraker; Priscilla Dressen; Michael M. Garner; James T. Raymond; Gordon Terwilliger; Jung Kim; Joseph A. Madri (January 2006). "Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome in African Pygmy Hedgehogs (Atelerix spp.)". Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine. Elsevier. 15 (1): 59–65. doi:10.1053/j.jepm.2005.11.010. Retrieved 11 June 2014. Acknowledgments. The authors would like to thank the International Hedgehog Registry (http://hedgehogregistry.org) for providing pedigree information. This project was funded in ... 
  3. ^ Warwick, Hugh (11 December 2009). "The craze for pet hedgehogs will be a disaster". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Inglis, Joe (16 May 2012). "What helps with wobbly hedgehog syndrome? Joe Inglis explains". Metro. London. Retrieved 15 June 2017. 

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