Are Hedgehogs Dangerous?

hedgehog in the woods as owner asks Are Hedgehogs Dangerous?

Hedgehogs can be amazing pets for many folks but that does not mean raising them is always a bed of roses. Like almost every other pet, numerous dangers are associated with caring for pet hedgehogs and detailed research could come in handy.

This article answers the question “Are Hedgehogs Dangerous?” by revealing potential hazards associated with raising hedgehogs at home or even rescuing wild breeds on your property. We also uncover potential signs of stress to watch out for because hedgehogs become dangerous when facing stressful situations.

Are Hedgehogs Dangerous?

Hedgehogs can pose danger to humans via poking with their sharp spines or transmission of zoonotic diseases and infections like salmonella, worms, and ticks. Hedgehogs may also bite humans when provoked or abruptly woken up from sleep. Besides, they could sink their teeth into the bodies of other household pets when threatened.

Hedgehogs are sweet little animals but raising them requires lots of care, especially as a first-timer with little experience. Their popularity is relatively low with care requirements that can be significantly different from others the majority of us may be used to.

Do Hedgehogs Pose Dangers To Humans?

Hedgehogs pose many dangers to humans although the probability of a hedgehog charging at and attacking humans for no reason is almost non-existent. Staying in confined settings limits the risk of hedgehogs running on a rampage and attacking humans they come into contact with like stray dogs.

Even wild hedgehogs are typically sleeping during the daytime and only come out at night unless they are in some form of distress. Sure, experts recommend trying to admire wild hedgehogs from a distance but even if you accidentally run into one, the probability of getting attacked is almost zero.

The hedgehogs are more likely to get spooked into looking for an escape route because humans are regarded as potential predators that must be avoided to safeguard their lives. Here are the most common sources of danger hedgehogs pose to humans.

1. Sharp, Poking Spines

hedgehog with spines on a ceramic surface

The presence of sharp spines is the main source of danger when raising these increasingly popular exotic pets at home. Adult hedgehogs have 5000 to 7,000 spines which serve as poking hazards during their handling.

There are several myths out there about the hedgehog’s spines including stories of shooting against humans and other household pets when agitated or annoyed. Many folks with previous interest in raising hedgehogs have been discouraged by such stories.

Handling a hedgehog is a skill that needs to be mastered to prevent the risk of getting poked by sharp quills. The learning curve may be steep in the beginning but the majority get a hang of it over time with constant practice.

However, allowing kids to handle hedgehogs is probably not the best idea because the risk of getting pricked by the quills can be greater. Unfortunately, the sharp nature of the quills enables poking through the skin resulting in bleeding and pain.

Since kids’ skins are even more delicate, the sustained injuries could be more painful resulting in increased pain from physical contact with hedgehogs.

2. Infections and Diseases

Even the sweetest-looking hedgehogs can be transmitters of deadly diseases to humans and other household pets. Hedgehogs carry hundreds of bacteria and although the majority may be harmless to humans, a few could be potentially disease-causing.

Salmonella is probably the most deadly infection to watch out for when handling domesticated breeds or rescued wild hedgehogs. Side effects of the bacteria include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hay fever
  • Stomach cramps

Quick treatment can be essential to prevent potentially life-threatening conditions. Assuming that all hedgehogs are salmonella bacteria carriers should prompt human handlers to take the necessary precautions without failure.

Ticks may be transmitted from pet hedgehogs to other popular household pets like puppies within a short period. The parasites stay on the skin of host animals and feed on their blood as a means of survival.

Tick infestations could lead to stunted growth, declined appetite, and immune system problems in many common household pets.

Worms are another common disease-causing organism hedgehogs can transmit to other pets at home. Lungworms and ringworms are easily spread via physical contact with infected hedgehogs and may require extensive treatment with antifungal creams and medication.

3. Hedgehog Bites

Hedgehogs are not exactly known for biting as a defense mechanism but they do bare their teeth when necessary. Hedgehogs are endowed with a full set of mammal teeth like humans comprising incisors, molars, premolars, and canines.

While hoglets are restricted to nipping on the skin, adult hedgehogs are capable of sinking their teeth into an adversary’s skin based on prevailing conditions. For instance, there have been many reports of sleeping hedgehogs biting their owners after being woken up abruptly during the daytime.

Owner bites are not always intentional because disorientation after abrupt wakeups is normal. Nevertheless, the pain from hedgehog bites can be enormous.

Are Hedgehogs Harmful to Dogs?

hedgehog and dog close as owner asks Are Hedgehogs Harmful to Dogs

Hedgehogs could pose harm to dogs by being a source of diseases and infections. The risk of hedgehogs biting dogs may be rare because they’re not exactly aggressive and do not have too much interest in other household pets.

Dogs are more likely to try to approach hedgehogs leading to quick rollups and resultant effects like painful pokes. Vets recommend thorough hand washing immediately after touching the hedgehog before physical contact with the dog and vice versa.

Dogs are known for making loud, unprovoked noises that can startle hedgehogs into balling up quickly. In other instances, they could even try to attack hedgehogs resulting in severe pain from getting pricked by the sharp spikes.

We recommend keeping hedgehogs away from dogs at all costs because the probability of trouble may be high especially when the dog is not trained to stay away from hedgehogs.

Are Hedgehogs Dangerous To Cats?

Hedgehogs could pose problems for cats when raised alongside each other in the same home. Many folks are interested in caring for hedgehogs and cats simultaneously especially since hedgehogs enjoy cat food. But is it even possible?

Technically, hedgehogs may be raised in the same household as cats as long as the necessary precautions are taken. Problems can arise from attempts by the cat to get too close to the hedgehog resulting in painful quill pokes.

Hedgehogs could also transmit salmonella and other disease-causing organisms to the household cat.

How To Eliminate The Dangers Associated With Hedgehogs

Here are tried and tested ways to minimize the dangers associated with raising pet hedgehogs and rescuing distressed wild breeds.

Proper Handling

hedgehog being handled by owner

Learning how to handle hedgehogs properly is vital to minimizing the risk of suffering painful pokes. While these pokes can be inevitable sometimes, confident handling over time may reduce the frequency to the barest minimum.

The most experienced hedgehog owners only get poked once in a while after learning how to handle their spiky little pets correctly. The first step typically involves mastering the art of scooping them up from the underbelly.

Proper Hand Washing

Consistent and proper hand washing could minimize the risk of transmitting various zoonotic diseases and infections from hedgehogs like salmonella. It is recommended that pet hedgehogs are handled with bare hands to speed up familiarity with the owner’s scents.

However, the hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds immediately after physical contact to kill off bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. Also, wash the hands immediately after handling any of the hedgehog’s cage components as well as items or surfaces the little guy may have made physical contact with.

No Waking Up Sleeping Hedgehogs

Waking up sleeping hedgehogs is a major cause of getting bitten. Not only does it increase the chance of aggression but it can also distort their sleep schedule.

Owners should rather stay up late when necessary to enjoy some playtime with pet hedgehogs instead of waking them up to suit their sleep schedule.

No Physical Contact Between Hedgehogs and Other Household Pets

hedgehog and cat play together

Eliminating physical contact between domesticated hedgehogs and other household pets may inhibit the transmission of bacteria and other disease-causing organisms. A good tip could be to elevate the hedgehog cage from the ground to make it unreachable for dogs and cats.

You can also put hedgehog cages in rooms where cats, dogs, and other pets have no access to eliminate the risk of physical contact.

Calm Down Stressed Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are more likely to lash out when stressed which is why finding ways to calm them down is always critical. Besides, stressed hedgehogs also roll up into balls more frequently which increases the risk of poking their owners and other household pets during physical contact.

Sometimes, stressed hedgehogs are best left alone, especially when displaying any of the signs below.

Going into Hiding: When hedgehogs hide each time the owner makes an approach, chances are they are stressed. Stay concealed in plastic igloo hideouts every time they hear evidence of their owner’s presence is another common characteristic.

Hiding hedgehogs should be left alone for later when their moods improve for physical re-engagement.

Nips and Bites: Stressed hedgehogs could nip and bite their owners when picked up after ignoring other warning signs. The higher the hedgehog’s level of stress, the deeper the bite and vice versa.

Green Stools: Hedgehog stools are typically black-colored but may appear green when the little guy is stressed. Even if all the above signs have been missed, dark-green colored poop should serve as an alert that all is not well in the hedgehog’s psychological health and urgent help is required. (Source)

Twitching: Twitching or head shaking is another common sign of stress in hedgehogs. The twitching rate often corresponds to the hedgehog’s stress level and experts recommend keeping your distance until the hedgehog stops the head movements.

Conclusion: Are Hedgehogs Dangerous?

Hedgehogs can be dangerous to humans and other household pets through quill pokes, bites, and disease transmission. Staying away when they exhibit signs of stress is recommended to avoid getting poked or suffering physical pain from their bites.

Experts recommend washing your hands with soap and clean water to eliminate the risk of disease and infection transmissions from pet hedgehogs and wild breeds rescued from your property.

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