Animals with a Limp

The advice below can be applied to most animals but, with hedgehogs, it's difficult to get a good look at their legs due to their physiology. Leg injuries in hedgehogs can quickly become infected so if you see a limping hedgehog please contain them and contact a wildlife rescue.

Leg injuries are very common in wildlife, especially at busy times of year such as breeding season. In most cases, the cause is a sprain or strain and the stress of bringing the animal into captivity outweighs the benefits to them. But a animal with a complete fracture or open wound may well need some help. The descriptions below are a general guide to help you to ascertain the type of injury and what the best course of action is. If in doubt, please contact a wildlife rescue for advice.

The four major types of injury are

 

Sprain/strain #

Usually animals with this sort of injury will hold the leg up or ‘hobble’ on it periodically. The leg will probably appear normal i.e. no visible wound, swelling, or deformity. In these cases, there is little that can be done in a wildlife rescue to help so we advise continuing to monitor and support the animal with food and water. Not having to work so hard to find food will help them to heal but, even so, it will likely take a few weeks to improve. You could add an injury remedy to their food – there is some anecdotal evidence of benefit and it certainly won’t hurt. Pet Perfection sell a remedy for foxes for which profits go to the Fox Project. It can be used for any species and can be purchased here – Homeopathic Injury Treatment for Foxes – Pet Perfection.

 

Closed fracture #

Depending on the location and severity of the fracture, this may appear much like a sprain. If the fracture is lower down the leg, it may just be held up or used less. In this case, the fracture is stable and will usually heal itself in a few weeks. However, if the leg below the fracture is hanging loose or swinging about, the animal will need to go to a wildlife rescue for treatment.

 

Wound or swelling #

This can happen with or without a fracture. You may see blood or exposed flesh and the leg may appear swollen. In warmer weather you may see flies buzzing round it. Here the animal is at risk of fly strike or severe infection and is in need of help.

 

Open fracture #

This is a combination of a break and a wound. The broken bones have pierced the animal’s skin and this leaves them at severe risk of infection. Usually you’ll see the leg hanging loosely as well as an open wound. This animal definitely needs help.

Finding Help #

You can find details of rescues in your area by searching our directory. If you're unsure whether to intervene or you have difficulty finding a rescue who can help, we have information about sources of bespoke help. We also have articles with detailed, practical advice about capturing an animal, providing short term care, contacting a wildlife rescue, and getting the animal to them.

Updated on May 28, 2024