Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) is a RARE disease that can occur in African Pygmy Hedgehogs. It is believed to be genetic, but the cause is unknown. WHS is progressive, degenerative and neurological. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for WHS.
The disease is similar to multiple sclerosis (MS) in humans. Most cases occur in hedgehogs between the ages 18-24 months but is known to happen at earlier and later ages as well. Hedgehogs will experience weight loss and eventually become completely paralyzed. Paralysis usually starts in the hind legs.
Hedgehogs must have a necropsy (animal autopsy), to look for lesions on the brain for an accurate diagnosis of WHS.
No breeder is immune from WHS. The hedgehog gene pool is very small, so its important to track linage to help reduce cases of WHS.
Symptoms of WHS:
WHS does not come on suddenly, it’s a slowly progressing disease. If your hedgehog has a sudden wobble, it’s likely from another illness or environmental factor.
Other ailments that can mimic symptoms of WHS:
Necropsy: How to
In the event that your hedgehog dies, and you suspect WHS or another genetic issue, it's important to have your hedgehog prepared and shipped for a proper necropsy. Your hedgehog should be shipped out the day it dies.
Step 1: Put your hedgehog in a large Ziploc bag and put in the refrigerator. DO NOT freeze. Freezing will kill cells. Write your name and number on the Ziploc.
Step 2: Ideally, you’ll want to get an insulated shipping box. If you don’t have an insulated shipping box on hand, line a small box with puppy pads. Use one puppy pad to wrap an ice pack. The absorbent side should be directly on the ice pack to absorb any condensation.
Step 3: Place your hedgehog on top of the wrapped ice pack. Cover with a few more training pads and tuck them in. Add packing material if needed to avoid shifting in the box.
Step 4: On the OSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory website you will need to print and fill out these forms:
On the biopsy/necropsy submission form, make sure you mark “necropsy & diagnostic work up”.
After forms are filled out, place them in a Ziploc and put them in the box with your hedgehog.
Step 5: Seal up the box and send overnight mail to the shipping address at the top of the necropsy submission form. OSU will email the results to you in about a week.
The OSU charges $82 for a full necropsy.
There is so much information to learn when it comes to owning and breeding hedgehogs! It is far more than a care page can hold!