In this very long, detailed post, we have the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of hedgie health problems we ourselves have encountered. This post is the result of hours of frustration scouring the internet for information which is confusing and/or contradicting. Sometimes our vet doesn’t even have the most current information. So below is information of MITES, RAGGEDY EARS, HOT SPOTS, PARALYSIS, and GIARDIA.
Due to the graphic nature of these issues, some of the pictures may be disturbing. But if you don’t know what to look for… well you won’t know what to look for!
Important Hedgie Know-how on Mites
In this Section you’ll find a brief description of mites and a collection of resources on Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention.
Visual Inspections are the first line of defense!
In most cases, mites are too small to see. We were lucky enough to catch an infestation on Malcolm very early and I saw the little buggers with my naked eye! Which makes my skin crawl just thinking about it!
What to look for:
Excessive itching and quill loss. Dry skin which is not mended with some coconut oil. Dry skin flakes that crawl on it’s own. Bumpy or orange peel looking skin which looks different than the surrounding skin. Sores may also accompany mites, but these are usually from the hedgehog itching the area.
Resource from Hedgehog Central
Mites are not the end of the world. Your vet will confirm the mite infestation and three doses of Revolution, NOT IVERMECTIN!!!!, and poof, they’re gone. An untreated infestation can lead to severe quill loss which can be permanent. Also, a skin infection can be a secondary side effect. Again, from the hedgehog itching the area.
Good hygiene, a clean cage, and a healthy hog will most-of-the-time not get mites. But it happens. Malcolm had a mini infestation out of nowhere. We were using “green” bedding at that time. Never again!
Important Hedgie Know-how on Raggedy Ears:
Raggedy Ear is a term that describes the physical appearance of an outer ear lobe issue. Hedgehog ears should be thin and slightly transparent, and the edges should be smooth. In certain cases, dead skin can accumulate or buildup on the edges of the ear lobes, creating a tattered or ragged edge. If this buildup is pulled off, bleeding will often occur. There are many possible causes for raggedy ears; mites, fungal infection, dry skin, or too much topical moisturizers applied too frequently.
If your hedgehog is experiencing multiple skin issues such as extremely dry skin, raggedy ears, frantic itching, or sore spots, your hedgehog needs to see a vet for a skin scraping to test for mites or fungal infection. If the ears are the only issue, you can massage bag balm, cocoa butter or shea butter onto the ear lobes to soften up the build-up and gently pull it off. I’ve had luck with Neosporin or Silvadene (Silver sulfadiazine) ointment for stubborn cases. BUT if the problem returns, scabbing develops, or the ear lobe thickens, schedule a vet visit.
In this section, you’ll find a brief description of hot spots or heat rash and a collection of resources on Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention.
What is a “Hot Spot”?
Technically called Acute Moist Dermatitis, or heat rash, or diaper rash if you happen to be a human infant.
Hot spots develop when an animal sweats or sits on wet bedding. They can develop anywhere but are mostly found in arm pits, behind ears, under chubby chins and the bottom. Ajax, our partially paralyzed rescue gets sores on his tail.
Hot spots bleed, are swollen, ooze pus, and are bad bad bad! Here is a hedgehog who has hot spots.
Obviously, any open wound can lead to an infection! If it gets to the point shown in the link above, got to the VET!!! IF you catch it in the early, red but not oozing stage, treat it the old fashioned way. Clean the area with Betadine, aka Providone Iodine (get the name brand, not the store brand) here . If you’ve ever had surgery, you’ll be familiar with this stuff. It stains the skin yellow and kills a broad spectrum of bacteria. It’s also great for dogs, cats, and husbands! To use on your hedgie, put some tap water in a glass container, add a few drops of the iodine until it is the color of black iced tea and dip a q-tip into the solution. Clean the affected area and surrounding tissue. Don’t rinse. Let dry. Next powder the area with pure corn starch. In 24 hrs you should see a difference. If you don’t. GO TO THE VET!!!
Important Hedgie Know-how on Giardia
In this post you’ll find a brief description of our battle with Giardia and a collection of resources on Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention.
Learning the hard way:
We adopted our sweet ‘Little Bug’ Katniss March 24, 2013, and little did we know, she was very sick. After exactly one month of owning her, she still had very soft, baby-food-consistancy poop. And it seemed like she was always pooping. It just oozed out of her.
At first, I believed it was because we had just adopted her. Many hedgie resources are very informative on how hedgie poop will almost always become soft and green under stress such as moving or a new food. Right after we adopted Mal, he had 2-3 days of green poop before we gave him some SOLID PACK PUMPKIN and that cleared it right up.
But here we are 2 weeks PAST the adjustment period and she still had horrible normal-colored but loose, stinky poop. And beyond that, dear Lord did it stink! We had eliminated all treats and meal worms from her diet. Every day we were having to clean her cage. We tried pumpkin and baby food squash. Nothing seemed to help. She was eating and playing normally. She was very active and didn’t seem uncomfortable at all. She didn’t have any other symptoms. Just poop.
I scoured the internet looking for some indication that something more than a sensitive tummy was the culprit and couldn’t find any more informative resources. One site said the mushy poop should only last 3 days but didn’t say what to do if it didn’t clear up. In the end, I concluded that our little poop machine was really sick.
So after 2 week of battling the poop, we gave up and took her to the vet. And she had Giardia.
On the Internets:
According to Wikipedia Giardia lives inside the intestines of infected humans or other animals. Individuals become infected through ingesting or coming into contact with contaminated food, soil, or water. The Giardia parasite originates from contaminated items and surfaces that have been tainted by the feces of an infected animal.
The symptoms of Giardia, which may begin to appear 2 days after infection, include violent diarrhea, excess gas, stomach or abdominal cramps, upset stomach, and nausea. Resulting dehydration and nutritional loss may need immediate treatment. After 2–4 days of diarrhea, the opposite occurs, constipation for 4–7 days, still with acute gas production. The typical infection within an individual can be slight, resolve without treatment, and last between 2–6 weeks, although sometimes longer and/or more severe. Coexistence with the parasite is possible, symptoms fade, but one can remain a carrier and transmit it to others.
Most likely, our little hedgie’s mom contracted Giardia at some point and the parasite was then transmitted to the babies sharing the same food and water source. She could have also caught it by eating food which was dirty. The Wiki article states that the immune system will eventually eradicate the pest on its own or the host’s system will become adjusted to sharing it’s intestine and although symptoms my dissipate, they will remain a carrier. Katniss is still a toddler in hedgie-years and she wasn’t strong enough to beat it on her own.
Giardia is one of the reasons it is extremely important to use a water bottle instead of a water dish. A clumsy poopy foot in a water dish is all it takes. It is also equally important to clean their food dish immediately if it becomes contaminated and weekly otherwise. If you have a hedgie who has Giardia, they must be quarantined away from the others until the anti-parasitic has run its course. Continue to clean the cage EVERY DAY and fully sterilize the cage after the first week and at the conclusion of using the medication. A dirty cage could lead to vomiting and further ailments, not to mention it’s just gross!
Schedule your hedgie for an appointment. They’ll need a stool sample so take some fresh, still moist poop with you. The vet will also want to do a quick physical to make sure everything else is alright as well as weigh the hedgie. Our Katniss weighed 30 oz. If Giardia is confirmed, they will prescribe a solution to administer. Our girl had to take .5 ml for 15 days. The pharmacy flavored the solution CHICKEN! And Katniss thought she was getting the best treat ever.
All in all our Giardia adventure has cost $100 and about 15 packs of baby wipes.
Important Hedgie Know-how on Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS)
Important Hedgie Know-how on Paralysis
This section is still in-progress as we are learning hands-on about paralysis and partial-paralysis in hedgehogs, it’s causes, treatment, and prevention. If you have a hedgehog suffering from paralysis or partial-paralysis, go to the vet immediately! I sat at their front door waiting for them to open the morning we found Ajax unable to move his legs.
This is so far the hardest health concern we have had to deal with. Every day has highs and lows and moments of triumph and moments of bitter sorrow. Especially with an unknown cause and thus an unknown treatment. Our Facebook page and our blog have all our current victories and setbacks in chronological order.
Please keep Ajax in prayer in this situation and if you’d like to help with his vet bills (and only his) please visit https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/3ana6