I was recently asked by several people who were researching hedgehogs what disorders were commonly experienced in our prickly friends. Below I have listed a few of them. Please note I am not a veterinarian. The information below is provided as a possible cause to problems. If you feel your hedgehog may be ill, please seek veterinary assistance for diagnosis. Please note that hedgehogs mask illness extremely well. The best method to help ensure your pet stays healthy is to give the hedgehog a daily check (for lumps, injury, etc) and to monitor his weight for a sudden gain or loss.
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If your hedgie seems a bit constipated, try putting him in a couple inches of warm water for quick relief. This will almost always do the trick. Following this, try feeding him a little canned pumpkin (unseasoned brand). Pumpkin almost always works well for constipation. If condition persists, see your Vet.
Cold to the touch, Lethargy, Wobbliness
These symptoms are normally due to your hedgehog becoming too cold. Immediately warm your hedgehog up. Place the hedgehog on a heating pad set on low, under your shirt, or on towels that have been warmed in a dryer. Once your hedgehog is warm, either increase the temperature in the room and make sure there are no drafts. To test for drafts take a candle and hold it next to your hedgehogs cage, if the flame flickers, your hedgehogs cage is in a draft. Adding a Snuggle Safe Disc (see our Housing ideas page) to your hedgehogs cage will also help him stay warm.
Dry skin can be caused by mites, fungus, dietary issues, or even just the time of year. When winter comes, lots of hedgehogs seem to get dry skin. Once mites or fungus have been ruled out, I have had great success with adding a couple of drops of Vitamin E oil on the shoulders, back and rump of the hedgehog. Others suggest bathing the hedgehog in Aveeno or other oatmeal based soap or adding olive oil to the bath water. If you suspect a dietary issue, try adding a pinch of Missing Link supplement to your hedgehogs food nightly. This product contains Omega fatty acids.
Green stools can be caused by a wide variety of things. Stress, change in diet or water, or illness can cause abnormal stools. If your hedgehog's stools have become green and you have changed their diet, moved them recently, give them a day or two and their stools should return to a normal color. If your hedgehog quits eating, drinking, or the stool continues to remain green and loose, seek veterinary assistance.
Mites are very commons, Symptoms include quill loss, scratching, dry flaky skin, and tattered ears. Mite infestations can lead to red inflamed skin, open sores, blindness, ear infections and death. See your vet for mite treatments. Wash and disinfect cages, wheels, etc. Remove any wood products (hidey logs, etc) from the hedgehogs cage, these products are nearly impossible to disinfect, and can harbor mites and their eggs. One method to help determine if there are mites present, place your hedgehog on a black cloth and gently rub its quills. Next place the cloth under a bright light and look for white dots that are moving about. If you see movement then your hedgehog has mites.
Obesity can be indicated by yellowing under the armpits. This problem can also lead to Fatty Liver Disease, which is a very serious and fatal disease if not treated. To help get your hedgehog back into shape, reduce the fat and calories of its diet. Also try to encourage your hedgehog's exercise, if you don't have a wheel, add a wheel to his cage.
Quills can be lost for a couple of reasons. The most common cause for quill loss are mites. If you suspect mites, take your hedgehog to a vet. Also please note that hedgehogs who are 8 weeks to 6 months of age will begin to quill. Quilling is the time when a young hedgehog starts to shed their baby quills and replace them with their adult quills. Quilling normally lasts for about 4 weeks.
Tattered ears can be caused by mites, fungus or dietary issues. A veterinarian will need to determine if your hedgehog has mites or fungus. Once these are ruled you can try rubbing a little cocoa butter or vitamin E cream to the ears a few times a week to help soften them. Many owners will also add Missing Link, cod liver oil, or Spectrum Essential Oil to the hedgehogs food. These products help add the Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids to your pets diet.
Hedgehog ears should look smooth and rounded around the edges, if your hedgehog has 'fingers' growing from his ears then he may have a fungus growing on his ears. This fungus is reported to be a common wood fungus that comes in on wood products (bedding, newspeper, etc). Under the finger like growths on your hedgehogs ears, this fungus is eating slowly away at the edge of the ears. Eventually, if left untreated, it will eat the ears away to nub.
Discharge from the ears
If your hedgehog has a discharge from his ears please take him to a vet. A discharge from the ears could possibly be mites or an ear infection.
Discharge, watery eyes
Watery eyes or a discharge from the eyes could result from infection, allergies, or an injury. Please see your vet for diagnosis.
Check for a broken nail or tiny cuts on the hedgehogs feet. Clean the area with warm water and determine where the blood came from and if it is still bleeding. Next try to determine what caused the problem. If your hedgehog has tiny cuts on the bottom of his feet, and you just recently added a wheel, it is possibly your quilly friend ran until his feet got hurt.
Lumps under skin, tumors, and cancer
Unfortunately tumors and cancer are very common in hedgehogs. Please see your vet to determine what the lump is and how to best treat it.