Hedgehog Health Care

Hedgehog health care

Hedgehogs have special health care needs, but caring for them can be surprisingly straightforward if you are prepared. Most common hedgehog ailments such as obesity, quill loss, tattered ears, and foot injuries can be prevented through proper diet, exercise, and routine care. For some routine health care supplies, see our Shopping Guide.

However, some ailments or symptoms necessitate veterinary care. Before the need arises, identify a veterinarian in your area who has experience with hedgehogs. A yearly well-pet visit consisting of a normal physical exam, fecal analysis, skin scraping for mites, and dental exam is an excellent precaution. A good vet can catch many symptoms before they become true medical emergencies.

Hedgehogs also need routine care including nail trimmings and the occasional bath. While often daunting to the new owner, these activities can be made easier (and sometimes even fun!) with a little preparation.

Since hedgehogs are relatively new to the domestic market, information on their proper care is rapidly changing. We strongly recommend joining one of the hedgehog mailing lists, which are an excellent resource to share hedgehog symptoms and knowledge with others. This symptoms chart is meant as a guide only; when in doubt, speak to a veterinarian with good clinical knowledge about hedgehogs.

 

Common Symptoms

Cause(s)

Remedy

Yellowing under armpits Obesity; may lead to fatty liver disease, a very serious condition, if not treated. Increase exercise level through more playtime, wheel.  Switch to a hedgehog-appropriate diet and reduce caloric intake if applicable.
Quill loss Several.  Mites are the most common. See vet for skin scraping and mite treatment if applicable.
Tattered ears Dry skin. Apply cocoa butter to ears several times weekly until improved; maintain with once or twice weekly treatments.
Wobbliness and lethargy with cold underbelly  Attempted hibernation.  Immediately warm hedgehog.  Then identify source of chill: temperature? draft? and remedy.  Hibernation attempts by domesticated hedgehogs can be serious or fatal. 
Wobbliness without cold underbelly Several, all under debate.  Possibly a neurological disorder called Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) or a simple nutritional deficit. Try switching to a hedgehog-appropriate diet to see if the problem is related to nutrition.  Vitamin E and Selenium deficiencies have been known to cause similar symptoms in other animals.  See vet regardless of home treatment.
Green poop Stress, illness, infection, response to some medications If it persists beyond 2-3 bowel movements, see vet.
Lumps or masses under skin Several, some benign, some malignant, even possible pregnancy. See vet immediately.

 

You may find the following articles useful to learn more about your hedgehog’s special healthcare needs.

 

Concern or condition

Suggested article(s)

Cancer Diseases You Don’t Know About in African Hedgehogs by Lisa B. Done DVM
Dental health Hedgies have teeth too! by Marian Brown
General health issues Common Disorders and Care of Pet Hedgehogs from NetVet
Clinical Approach to the African Hedgehog
by Heidi L. Hoefer, DVM, ABVP
Common Disorders and Care of Pet (African) Hedgehogs. by Cathy Johnson-Delaney, DVM
Hedgehog Nutrition by Wendy Graffam, Ph.D., Wildlife Conservation Society
Lori Keller was kind enough to share x-rays from her hedgehog Angel’s vet visit.
Injury Hedgehog lameness by Teresa L. Lightfoot DVM
Obesity Hedgehog Hobby on Obesity
Pregnancy and hoglets Hedgehog Hobby on Hand Feeding Babies
Tig Means on advice on raising hoglets, deciding to breed
Veterinarians Tig Means on finding a vet and when to take your hedgehogs to the vet
Veterinary Care for your Hedgehog by Rita Bhatnagar, D.V.M. and Mary Beth Wajda, D.V.M.
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome Wobby Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) article by Laura Roberts

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