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Hedgehog Health

Emergency Care: Several emergencies may arise with your hedgehog. The first thing to do is plan ahead. Not only is it important to have a regular veterinarian, but also one who is available for after hour and weekend emergencies. When dealing with an injured or sick hedgehog, the less it is handled the better. Keep the hedgehog warm especially during transportation. In colder weather, warm the car ahead of time. A hot water bottle, a pre-heated heating pad, or chemical warmers placed under a towel can be used. Carefully place the hedgehog in a travel kennel or other appropriate container and cover the kennel with a towel. If the hedgehog is bleeding apply pressure to the area with a clean towel or gauze. For small wounds or nails that are bleeding, flour, cornstarch, or styptic powder may be applied. For vomiting and diarrhea, remove all food and offer small amounts of water or an oral electrolyte solution (Pedialyte). If the vomiting and diarrhea continue seek veterinary care immediately. When hedgehogs are exposed to low environmental temperatures they may become hypothermic. Try warming the hedgehog as mentioned previously, but if it does not return to normal activity in one to two hours seek medical attention.

The list below includes some common situations where people often have to decide whether or not to take the hedgehog to the vet. Hedgehogs often don't show signs of illness until they are quite sick, so fast action can often make quite a difference. Look for the following signs:

  • Acting funny: Behavioral changes are often an important clue. If an ordinarily friendly hedgehog suddenly becomes a grouch, or a hedgehog who is ordinarily quite huffy suddenly becomes passive, this is a sign that perhaps something major is going on. Schedule a vet appointment within 24 hours.
  • Collapsed and is limp: This, obviously, is never a good sign. Get the hedgehog to the vet as soon as possible. Make sure to keep him or her comfortable and sufficiently warm, but not overheated.
  • Hasn't eaten for 24 hours: This isn't necessarily a problem. Sometimes hedgehogs go on a hunger strike for as much as a day to three, then resume their business normally. If it persists longer than that or if there is notable weight loss, then you will want to schedule a vet visit right away. Also, if the hedgehog has not consumer water for 24 hours, you should schedule a vet visit, as water is quite critical.
  • Ingested household cleaner or other potentially toxic items: Get to the vet right away. Some substances that are potentially toxic can be counteracted if treated right away, but are fatal if you wait. Better safe than sorry.
  • Having seizures: Get to the vet right away. You may want to have the vet check the blood glucose level to rule in our out diabetes.
  • Unresponsive and cool to the touch: The first thing I do is try to warm up the hedgehog, either by placing it under your shirt or placing it on a heating pad set on low, with a blanket between it and the hedgehog. The hedgehog may be trying to hibernate. If this doesn't help within an hour, get to the vet right away.
  • Walking stiffly: This could be due to a wide variety of things- arthritis, injury, Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome, etc... It's good to get a vet's opinion right away so you know how to treat it.
  • Dry, flaky skin and/or is losing a lot of quills: Most likely, your hedgehog has mites or perhaps a fungal infection. A vet can easily diagnose and treat this.
  • Ruffly ears: Try putting a little lotion on the ears at least once a day for several days. If it doesn't clear up, you may want to have a vet check to rule out fungal infection rather than just dryness.
  • Appears to have a broken limb: Take the hedgehog to the vet right away. An unset limb may heal incorrectly, causing discomfort later.
  • Has a runny nose and/or discharge from the eyes: Your hedgehog may have an upper respiratory infection. These are quite easily treated by a vet, but may prove fatal if untreated.
  • Has an ingrown quill that looks infected: If it's gotten infected, it may need to be lanced and cleaned by a vet, and antibiotics may or may not be indicated. Better to get a vet's opinion.
  • Has an unusual lump or bump: hedgehogs are prone to cancer. We have also had some who developed cysts. The sooner a vet can diagnose and treat, the better off your hedgehog will be.
  • Has green poop: If it is sticky in consistency, get to the vet right away. This can often be a sign of serious internal problems. If it's loose, think about what the hedgehog has eaten in the last 24 hours. If they've had some new food, it may just be mild gastrointestinal distress. But if it persists for more than a day or two, then you will definitely want to have a vet check a stool sample. Green stool is a general symptom of a very wide variety of things, some quite benign and some very serious.