DCSIMG

Notes from St Tiggywinkles: The scandal of toxic flea spray

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  • by Les Stocker, founder of St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Haddenham
 

I usually talk of positive matters never mentioning most of the traumas I come across.

After all these are mostly accidental but then occasionally the avoidable happens especially by somebody who should know better. 
That hurts me. The horror happens and I cannot avoid mentioning it even if it is upsetting. 
Often instigated by professionals around the country in a blind panic when they meet their arch nemesis, the flea.

Thankfully not in our catchment area the ‘quick on the draw’ exponents reach for the aerosol of fipronil, to hell with the consequences. 
This particular very sad hedgehog had been sprayed and brought to us from a long way from Haddenham. 
We turned out to be the best resort but try as we might, even we could do nothing to help.

He was having seizures.

He couldn’t breathe.

He was shaky and hypersensitive as though he had been poisoned by slug pellets another poison scattered without a thought about the consequences. 
This hedgehog did not have much wrong with him until he was shown to a professional who without a ‘by-or-leave’ has reached for his tin of fipnonil, the content of a well-known brand of flea spray, that according to scientist, Toni Bunnell, in 2009 was no longer considered safe to use on hedgehogs.

Fipronil is highly toxic to rabbits so surely it warranted a thought as to its safety for other small animals. 
I know I am always going on that fleas are host specific not spreading to other species.

But a practice in Wales is currently advocating on its website that pet fleas come from hedgehogs, rabbits and foxes, which I have never known to have fleas.

It scares me that these chemicals are still being used on animals.

In fact I have just bought a flea collar, for cats and kittens, containing permethrim that is toxic to cats.

Please, please check on the internet before using any insecticides. 
Incidentally the hedgehog died.

 

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