What is Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS)

WHS an introduction

Photo by Yoppy via Flickr

Wobbly hedgehog syndrome is a neurodegenerative disease which affects the brain and spinal cord of African pygmy and European hedgehogs.It has been reported that the disease may affect up to 10% of African Pygmy Hedgehogs in the USA. Research has shown that patterns occurr in defined family lines, thereby suggesting this disease is heritable. The first signs of Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome can appear between the ages of 1 to 36 months. The average age of onset is 18 months and it affects both males and females without bias. Within 18 months of the first signs of the disease, most hedgehogs are paralysed and can no longer move. To date all treatments have proved to be unsucessful in curing this disease or even slowing down its progress.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome may include:

  • falling consistently to one side
  • tremors
  • exopthalmos (bulging eye)
  • scoliosis (abnormal spine curvature)
  • seizures
  • muscle atrophy (muscle wasting)
  • dysphagia (problem with swallowing)
  • wasting
  • ascending paresis (slight or partial paralysis)
  • tetraparesis (paralysis in all four limbs)
  • self-mutilation (rare).

These signs and symptoms are not unique to WHS. They may also be signs of other common hedgehog diseases such degenerative disc disease, brain tumor, or septic meningoencephalitis.

WHS and MS (Multiple Sclerosis)

WHS affects hedgehogs in the same way that MS affects humans, in that it slowly degrades muscle control. The first signs of Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome is a “wobble” when the hedgehog tries to stand still. In time the animal will lose control of all its muscles from the rear to the front of its body. There is no cure for Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome. Some treatments for MS in humans have had similar results in hedgehogs. These have included high vitamin E diets. Vitamin E conceals the effects of WHS (as it does MS) but does not slow it down. Over time the hedgehog will form a resistance to vitamin E and the effects of the disease will continue.

The cause or causes of both WHS and MS are unknown.

9 Comments on "What is Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS)"

  1. My hedgehog is acting unusual simmilar to the WHS but it’s not all the time or even every day it’s every couple days, weeks or even months. Is that normal with WHS?

  2. Bridgette | 28/07/2010 at 3:15 pm |

    My hedgehog Pumpkin bulges his eyes. Well i dont know if his eyess are ok or not. Can he have WHS?
    From,
    Bridgette
    11 year old

  3. Im looking into getting a hedehog and all your articles have been so helpful!! I will be sure to ask the breeder about whs in the lines!

  4. My hedgehog isnt consitantly wobbly. He’ll be wobbly at one point in the day and fine the next. This has happened every other week. At times he won’t be able to walk or hell be shaking and falling over. Is it wobbly hegehog syndrome?

  5. When my hedgehog digs he slides out his rear legs. Is it WHS? I only saw this when I replaced the bedding to sheets instead of pellets.

  6. Eiyu yaohan | 14/09/2013 at 4:57 am |

    it is because the bedding/something slips your hedgehog.try to walk with a piece of cloth in a slippery ceramic floor.

  7. My hedgehog is wobbling she also sneezes and was shaking in the bath this morning, the water was warm but she still shaked

  8. Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 nihcp

  9. Danielle | 02/01/2018 at 4:29 pm |

    So I have a hedgehog that is only 7 months old. Her back legs seemed to stop working overnight and her behavior changed as well. She was more angry and didn’t want any attention. At 1st I was helping by picking her up and bringing her to her food dish and helping her with water. I looked up wobbly leg syndrome and everything else, I was terrified. Now I am on low income and I couldn’t afford a vet and I know that some people are going to be angry with me because if I can’t afford a vet then I should have her, but she is my son’s baby and I couldn’t just give her away. I went to school for vet tech so I wasn’t about to give up. I wanted to see if I could help her on my own, so I decided to try something. I started feeding her a high protein wet cat food in small amounts through out the day to start bring her weight up and giving her water as much as I could to make sure she was hydrated. I then started bringing her into the bathroom which the funny part was the water sound actually calmed her down. I would put her in the oatmeal bath so her skin wouldn’t dry out and I started working her legs in the water. I would move them in a kicking motion for about 20 minutes every other day so she could have a break in between to rest. I know hedgehogs are only suppose to have baths once or twice a month, but without her legs moving she was always lying in her poop and pee. After I gave her a bath I dried her and put her on my lap and would take her leg and do bicycle exercise forward and backwards for about a half hour. She didn’t really like the physical therapy all to much, but after the 1st few times she was fine and just stared at me. I did this for about a month and her legs got stronger. She started walking slowly by dragging them and now she is running on her wheel and walking again. I recorded her progress from the 1st week to the last, I was so happy to see her walking and running and my son cried. Even though she is back to normal I still exercise her legs every so often so that she doesn’t fall back to what happened just incase. I don’t know what she was experiencing, but what ever I did seemed to work. Also before every thing and I don’t want you to think I was mean for doing it. I took each of her paw paws on her back feet and pressed down to see if she had any sensation at all. I didn’t press extremely hard, I just pressed down until I got a reaction. When she went to bite me I said, well you defiantly felt that. So I hope this gives someone hope and don’t give up on your hedgehog. Thanks for reading my story.

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