Some prickly reflection with a hedgehog…

Hedgehog Surgery - British Wildlife Vets

Around 6 or so years ago I was lucky enough to spend some time at Vale Wildlife Hospital to get a first-hand practical education when it came to UK Wildlife. This was a great opportunity for me as I have always had a great love for wildlife since a young age, and was fortunate to spend most of my childhood outside.

The care shown for injured wildlife at Vale Wildlife Hospital is of the highest level and I have the greatest respect for everyone there. Vale along with their vet Tim have developed new treatments for hedgehogs and are the UK’s leading hedgehog rescue centre. This in addition to every other species they deal with – when I was there this included foxes, swans, deer, squirrels and loads of other birds.

During my time there I was fortunate enough to spend some time with their vet Tim Partridge and see my first ever surgery which was on a hedgehog that had wounds needing repairing. Today in practice we ended up with a hedgehog in that had been picked up by a member of the public.

Now hedgehogs are pretty cool, and their skin with their spikes is designed like a draw string bag which pulls their body into the bag as a special muscle that goes around the edge closes which pulls the hedgehog into a spikey ball. This is a great defense mechanism, however when it comes to needing to examine them it is impossible as they just tuck themselves up into a ball. The only way to really examine them is to give them a little bit of gas anaesthesia to relax them so that they can be examined.

This hedgehog once anaesthetised was inspected, and whilst we found a crazy amount of ticks and fleas, we found no other wounds or damage. So removing as many ticks as we could, we then gave a spot on to deal with any fleas. Next we gave antibiotics and fluids to help deal with any other problems that were there. Then it was time to wake the hedgehog up, so turning off the gas and keeping the hedgehog only on oxygen until it woke up and could go back into its box. This was then kennelled until the RSPCA could arrive to collect it and take it into their care.

Whilst I was doing the anaesthesia for this hedgehog it took me back to my time at Vale. It’s been over 5 years however I realised how lucky I was to have spent time there to give me the basis of the knowledge that I used today. In under a year I will be graduating as a vet – with a good grounding in UK wildlife which I am very grateful for. However it was the surgery side that popped to the front of my mind, it still amazes me every single time I step up to the operating table and I am able to help an animal.

5 years ago the first time I saw surgery was on a hedgehog that had been injured as a result of humans. Since then I’ve stepped up to a surgery table over 100 times to help an animal needing to be fixed – sometimes because of humans, and sometimes not. Each time I’ve felt the responsibility that my education, skill, knowledge and judgement is going affect that life in either positive or negative ways. However today I realised that I was privileged to have started my education with a hedgehog, British wildlife is precious and something that people often don’t think about when they consider surgery or vets. I think it is a reminder of how different every single patient is.

Vale are a charity and their running costs are over £25,000 each month – there are currently 411 animals in their care and so far in 2016 they have treated 2746 animals. If you can help them either by volunteering or by making a financial donation to their cost please visit their website at:

What happens when a dead animal bloats?

Zebra exploded by Leopard

So today in a quick break from revision I wanted to share this video that was sent to me earlier today as a bit of cheer.

When an animal dies, and is left in the sun the decomposition causes the release of gas within the body – especially from food that remains in the digestive tract. This can cause the body to swell whch is known as bloat.

I’ve seen it happen personally with a horse, it was very entertaining to see a friend get covered in crap but this video is from a zebra. And for it to be a hungry leopard that causes the explosion when it finds a zebra carcass in the Djuma Private Game Reserve in South Africa.

It was caught on camera too, so if you have the stomach to watch (it is bloody!) check it out here:

For anyone more curious, it takes a good few bites because the abdomen is pretty tough, there is a layer of skin, then muscle, then the peritonium as well. Muscles tend to solidify and get really touch on death because of rigor mortis. Also where the leopard was biting is around where the bladder is located so the jet could also be urine.

This vet student’s wild dream….

Starting my journey to Barcelona

Whilst TV can numb the mind, sometimes it inspires dreams, and for me it planted the seed that I did not want to work with just cats and dogs. I want the great variety that being a vet offers me, from the very small frogs to the very big elephants. What a dream that is ay?

Well something I truly believe is that if you really want something you can make it happen, so now with 2 years study left I am looking to kick start my dream. I am heading to Barcelona (I’ve never been to Spain before), to attend the European Association of Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians conference. Hopefully I will leave this conference with the lessons of the people that have done it already to help me avoid making the same mistakes. There is a strict social media ban on the content of the conference, however it includes the latest techniques and knowledge in this unique area of veterinary medicine. I am especially looking forward to the surgery sessions as this is where my great passion really is.

So is it worth going? I believe so as it is a small community, and getting to meet people will help me. However I am doing it for the least cost possible… Tonight I will be spending the night in Budapest airport to save on costs as my flight is early in the morning with the only train connection the one I am on as I write this. This saves me maybe 50 euros so yay… Then on the way back I am making the same connection by train which gives me a 6 hour wait in Budapest for the train connection…. Then public transport in Barcelona to the apartments (even though I have no clue where I am going) will help me keep costs lower… Still it is an expensive conference (the most expensive I have ever been) however I hope that it is an investment in my future and a few long journeys are a very small in relation….

Now I still have another couple of hours to spend on this train, and there are no power sockets so I am going leave today’s diary entry here. I will update you all as I get time!