I’ve been meaning to talk more about Pancake’s story since I started this tumblr back up. After seeing Heather’s post about “share your animal caretaking accomplishments”, it reminded me & seemed like a good time to write this up. :)
Pancake came to my partner’s hedgehog rescue seriously overweight at 800g. She was renamed from Petunia because…well. She did this -
Granted, I’m small & have short legs, but she was just massive! Her previous owner had loved her a lot, but hadn’t had the time to be very hands-on with her.
We had a lot of trouble enticing her to eat and she started to lose weight. She was very picky about food and was pretty resistant to being changed to anything healthier for her. Unfortunately, this all came to a tipping point around Easter, while I was hedgie-sitting her. She stopped eating completely and needed an emergency vet visit on Easter for sub-q fluids, and to be checked for a URI.
I’d fallen in love with Pancake pretty much the night we met her. I asked my partner if I could keep her & adopt her, because I was in a better position to spend the money on vet bills. So, Pancake was my Easter present!
Unfortunately, the next two months ended up being pretty stressful for everyone. She ended up with a ringworm infection on her feet and in her toenails. She didn’t start eating on her own again & I had to regularly syringe-feed her. Further vet visits showed that her liver values were very high and something was going on there. Further tests were inconclusive - the options were either liver cancer or hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease or FLD). The vet suggested exploratory surgery and a biopsy to figure out which one it was, since there was no way to tell otherwise.
This was a later picture of her surgery incision, where it was getting more healed up! She came through surgery fine, though we had a rough first couple nights where she was having a little more trouble with pain than we’d expected. Lots of hedgie & hedgie-mama crying! She improved after that though and we waited for the biopsy results to come in. They confirmed that it was hepatic lipidosis, due to her not eating enough and losing weight too quickly.
At this point, I’d been syringe-feeding this little-big girl 3-4 times a day for over a month, I think. I was starting to think she was never going to eat on her own again. But just when the vet and I were discussing the feasibility of putting a feeding tube in a hedgehog…..
She decided that her syringe-feeding mix was the Best Thing Ever! She was climbing into the bowl to eat! I insisted on continuing to help some because she was better at getting the food all OVER her instead of inside her, but this was the point where we finally had hope for her again. The relief was overwhelming! And because it’s one of the cutest pictures I’ve taken of her, here she is waiting for Mom to get her for mealtime -
It took at least another month to wean her off of the syringe-feeding mix and find a commercial wet food that she could be convinced to eat. But things were uphill from there!
Just over a year later, she is still one of my proudest accomplishments (though she did most of the work!) and she makes me smile constantly. I will never get tired of seeing how much she loves to eat now - she’ll come out of her sleeping spot and be waiting impatiently for me if I’m late with their dinner! She’s still very picky, but I’ve found a number of extra treats she’ll eat, like mealworms, superworms, dubia roaches, and raw meat grinds.
With being a healthy weight and recovered from all of her major health issues, she’s become one of the most personable hedgies I’ve met. She loves to snuggle and sleep on me, totally out in the open.
We’d discovered during the months before her illness that she actually likes belly rubs and they’ll put her to sleep sometimes!
She still likes to dig in her food while she eats, and creates a horrible mess! So I gave up and just started giving her little fleece place mats that I can change out. And on the plus side, she also likes to clean her own paws, which is the cutest thing I’ve EVER seen. At some point, I’ll have to get a video of it uploaded! For now, here’s a still from one of the videos.
I hope you enjoyed Pancake’s story! :) I think she’s really special and I love her a lot. She’s currently about 3.5 years old and I hope I get to have her around for at least a couple more years! ♥