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Hedgehog Diseases/Parasitic

External Parasites: The most common skin disease in hedgehogs is mange. This condition can be caused by either sarcoptic or psoroptic skin mites. Clinical signs include heavy dandruff, quill and/or hair loss, crusty thickened skin, thickening of ear margins, easy plugs in ear canals, and overall itchiness. Diagnosis is made by skin scraping and microscopic examination of the mites. The most effective treatment is subcutaneous injections of ivermectin at two week intervals for two to three doses. A drop of ivermectin may be applied topically to affected ear margins. Other external parasites seen in hedgehogs include fleas and ticks. Ticks may be carefully removed manually while fleas may be treated with topical flea powders. With the occurrence of any skin parasite, the environment should be thoroughly cleaned and all animals in the area should be treated.

Ear Disease: The normal ear should be thin, clean, and have smooth edges. The most common problems are due to external parasites. The ears become thickened, ragged, and flaky. Superficial fungal or bacterial infections are also common. Yeast or bacteria cause internal ear infections. Symptoms include a foul odor and an increase or change in normal wax production. Severe infections may cause a head tilt. Ear diseases are treated topically and/or with oral or inject able medications.

Fungal dermatitis (ringworm): occurs less frequently but should be considered particularly in cases of skin disease that is unresponsive to ivermectin therapy. Signs include dry and cracked skin, especially of the face and ragged, crusty ear margins. The hedgehog is usually not itchy and many animals may be asymptomatic carriers. Diagnosis is made with a fungal culture and treatment includes topical antifunals (creams or lime/sulfur dips) and oral griseofulvin.