Hedgehogs can come down with many sicknesses, but many are more common than others. Please remember, though, the information on this page is not a substitute for medical care. If your hedgehog is sick, please bring it to the vet.
On this page you will find information about some basic hedgehog sicknesses, along with how to help your hedgehog if it has one.
Mites: Mites are probably the most common hedgehog ailment. Many hedgehogs will have mites at least once during their lives. Mites are inexpensive to treat, but can become very serious if not dealt with.
How Did My Hedgehog Get Mites?
There are believed to be two main sources of mites.
1. Bedding. Wood bedding, such as aspen and pine, are the most common mite containing beddings. One way to prevent your hedgehog from getting mites that are in bedding is to freeze it for a few days before use.
2. Transference from other animals. It is possible for one hedgehog to get mites from another hedgehog, or even another animal. After handling a hedgehog that you believe has mites or that does have mites, thoroughly wash your hands to prevent the mites from spreading.
First of all, there are two different ways hedgehogs can be affected by mites. The mites can be on their skin, or on their ears. There are also other kinds of mites, but these are the only ones which affect hedgehogs.
Because war mites and skin mites are so different, I am doing to write about them separately, starting with ear mites.
It can be very difficult to tell if a hedgehog has ear mites. There is usually no scratching or lost quills. The best way to tell is if your hedgehog seems to constantly tilt its head to one side, or if your hog walks unsteadily. Being unusually grumpy can also be a sign, although this can be due to other things as well. If you suspect your hedgehog has ear mites, please take it to a vet immediately. The longer you wait, the sicker your hedgehog will become. I am not sure, but I believe that a vet will give you a medicine called Tresderm (if not, donít worry. This is an older medicine) Follow the vetís instructions on how and when to apply, and the mites should begin to clear up soon.
It is usually easy to tell if a hedgehog has skin mites. If your hedgehog scratches itself frequently, then it may have mites. (or its skin could be dry due to excessive bathing) A test (although not foolproof) to see if your hedgehog has mites is to take a black piece of paper, or a black shirt, or another black object, and gently rub your hedgehog while holding it on the object. If white specks come off and move around, your hedgehog has mites. Even if there is nothing, though, your hog may still have mites. The only way to know for sure is to bring your hedgehog to a vet and let them do a skin scraping. The vet will give you either Invermectin or Revolution. (try to get Revolution, it works much better) Follow the vetís instructions on how and when to apply, and the mites should begin to clear up soon.
No matter what kind of mites you hedgehog has/had, it is important to clean everything in the cage out. And I mean clean. Everything that is plastic should be thoroughly washed with hot water and soap. Make sure to clean all of the soap out when finished washing. The cage and everything else in it should also be cleaned. If the mites manage to survive in the cage, then your hog will get mites again and again.
What are the signs of a healthy hedgehog?
There are a few basic signs of a healthy hedgehog.
Quills/Fur: Quills should be relatively clean (but not necessarily spotless) Fur should be white and not matted.
Skin: Skin should be pink and clean. Dark, mottled skin is also okay (some hedgehogs have dark skin around their nose for example) Arm pits should not be yellow, as yellowness indicates liver problems. Also, the hedgehog should be able to roll into a ball. If not, the hedgehog bay be obese. If skin is dry the hedgehog may have mites. (Read the mites section and the dry skin section.
Eyes: Eyes should be clear, not crusty or swollen.
Feet: Nails should be clean and trimmed. Feet can be a little dirty, but should not be caked with excrement.
Stool Quality: After a hedgehog first gets to a new home or changes foods (for information on how to properly switch foods please read the Feeding page) it is likely that the hedgehog may have green stools. At times other than this, green stool can signify problems. Usually, healthy hedgehog's stools should be relatively firm and brownish in color.
Smell: Hedgehogs should not smell. If it does, something is wrong. It is possible that the cage is just dirty and needs to be cleaned. It can also mean an infection.
Overall: Overall, a healthy hedgehog should be clean, alert, and active.
A few weeks after you get your hedgehog, a vet visit is a good idea to make sure that your hedgehog is doing okay.
There are many more hedgehog sicknesses, common and uncommon, and I will write about more of them soon.