Hedgehogs itch and scratch periodically just like almost every other animal. However, if your pet hedgehog seems to scratch a lot then that is an obvious sign of trouble that needs to be looked into before things escalate.
This article answers the question “Do Hedgehogs Itch and Scratch a Lot?” by revealing when to know when a hedgehog’s scratching has gotten out of hand. We also uncover a few potent home remedies for the condition.
Do Hedgehogs Itch and Scratch A Lot?
Hedgehogs have naturally dry skin that causes scratching from time to time. However, excessive scratching is often a sign of quilling, mite infestations, ringworms, and uber dry skin. Additional signs like redness, flakiness, spine loss, and other signs of inflammation could be evidence of serious trouble that requires urgent treatment.
Hedgehogs have mastered the art of hiding illnesses but most skin irritations are difficult to conceal since they are forced to scratch to gain temporary relief even if it exacerbates skin irritations. Figuring out the underlying causes of the irritation can point you toward the right treatment.
Hedgehog Itching and Scratching From Mite Infestations
Mite infestations are a leading cause of itching and scratching in hedgehogs. These parasites may be transferred into the hedgehog’s body after contact with infested cage substrates like wood shavings or from an infested food source.
Hedgehog mites are found at the base of quills and the skin in minute white specks that could be easily overlooked. These tiny specks are also typically found on their bedding, sofas, and other areas where they spend time.
Signs of mite infestations include:
- Constant scratching and itching
- Skin redness
- Burning skin
- Spinal losses
Physical contact with an infected hedgehog is a common cause of mite infestations. Sometimes, hedgehogs may also have existing mites that spring into action when their immune system defenses are lowered due to stress or illness.
Studies have shown that mites thrive during cold weather which increases the risk of infestations. Seeking the help of an exotics vet is the best way forward for anyone that suspects mite infestations in captive hedgehogs.
However, make sure the underlying conditions for the infestation have been figured out. Also, do not forget to clean the cage and components like toys, hideouts, and food bowls with warm water and vinegar.
Changing substrates from wood shavings to fleece can minimize the threats of further mite breakouts in the near future.
Hedgehog Itching and Scratching During Quilling
Constant hedgehog itches are not always mite related because the natural molting process known as quilling may have similar effects on their skin. Old spines are shed in favor of new, stronger ones with enhanced defensive capabilities during the process.
Hedgehogs undergo the first round of quilling within 6-8 weeks old and could experience additional rounds during their first year of life.
Quilling typically comes with signs such as pain and itching that can make even the most friendly hedgehogs prefer isolation. Additional signs of molting in hedgehogs include:
- Bald patches
- Shed spines
- Tiny replacement spines growing on their skin
- Discomfort during physical contact
Since molting is a natural process, finding ways to provide soothing relief for the hedgehog should be the best way to go. After all, molting is not a medical problem that requires veterinary attention.
What Is The Best Treatment for Hedgehog Mite Infestations?
Hedgehog mite infestations require immediate consultation with an exotics vet for treatment. Vets typically prescribe Revolution (Selamectin) regarded as the most effective parasitic treatment in affected hedgehogs with minimal side effects.
The combination of the antiparasite medication coupled with sanitation practices like thorough cage cleaning and replacement of existing wood shavings with fleece should ensure mites are eradicated.
Hedgehog Mites Home Treatment
Several home treatments have proven effective for relieving pet hedgehogs from the symptoms of mite infestations and a few are listed below:
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Flaxseed Oil
- Humilac topical spray
These remedies should be added to their rinse water after bathing for a couple of days. The typical result is a considerable decrease in itching.
Ringworm-Induced Itching and Scratching In Hedgehogs
Fungal infections like ringworm could stimulate itching and scratch in hedgehogs. Ringworms are often picked up when the spiky little mammal is exposed to dirty cage environments.
Physical contact with infected hedgehogs may also lead to infestations in healthy animals. Proper identification of the hedgehog’s itching and scratching is the first step toward the long, arduous process of healing. Signs of ringworm in hedgehogs include:
- Consistent scratching
- Skin lesions
- Darker skin
- Redness and sometimes bleeding
- Spine shedding
How Are Hedgehog Ringworms Treated?
If any of the above signs are apparent in a pet hedgehog, immediate veterinary attention can be lifesaving. Vets may prescribe anti-fungal medications that require oral ingestion. Topical treatments like ketoconazole are also popular for treating the condition.
When Spine Retention Causes Itching and Scratching
Spine retention occurs via abnormal molting in hedgehogs resulting in the retention of some spines that triggers an infection at the base. Pus builds up in the infected spines leading to side effects like severe itching, scratching, and the formation of subcutaneous cysts on the hedgehog’s skin.
The cysts are what is known as spine retention and could be a significant source of discomfort in affected hedgehogs.
How Is Hedgehog Spine Retention Treated?
Spine retention requires veterinary attention so do not hesitate to book an appointment when the condition is suspected. Vets may prescribe antiseptic to clean the infection followed by antibiotics that could be taken orally or applied topically to the affected skin areas.
Scratching and Itching Due To Excessive Dry Skin in Hedgehogs
Excessive dryness during winter when atmospheric air becomes uncharacteristically dry can also stimulate scratching in hedgehogs. Signs of winter-induced excessive itching include:
- Dry flaky skin
- Low temperatures
- No sign of lesions, scabs, or ringworms
- No sign of mites
- Lack of spine retention or skin cysts
Hedgehogs may also suffer excessive dry skins due to a lack of access to nutritious staples like protein-rich and low-fat wet or dry cat food.
How Dry-Skin Induced Scratching Is Treated in Hedgehogs
The first step to treating dryness in hedgehogs is to ensure their cage temperature ranges between 72 to 80F regardless of what time of the year it is. Hedgehogs should be protected from cold drafts with additional sources of heat introduced into the cage.
Also, make sure hedgehogs gain access to highly nutritious diets comprising of 30-35 percent protein and 5-15 percent fats. Fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and hardboiled eggs should also supplement the staple diets.
What Can You Do For An Itchy Hedgehog
Itchy hedgehogs should be examined for signs of mite infestations, ringworm, or spine retentions to decide the next line of action. Vet treatments often come in the form of oral medications or topical treatments applied to their skin or added to the pet hedgehog’s bathing water.
The affected hedgehog should gain relief within a short period once the vet-recommended treatment is followed.
Wild Hedgehog Scratching A Lot
Wild hedgehogs visiting backyard gardens may be spotted scratching a lot during certain times of the year. Many property owners face the dilemma of whether to intervene to provide some relief for the scratching wild hedgehog.
We recommend picking up the hedgehog for transport to the nearest rescue center for a thorough checkup. The vets at the center will provide the right treatment after examination of the underlying problem.
The hedgehog is typically released back into the wild after treatment for the condition and any pre-existing health issues.
Can hedgehogs Get Fleas?
Flea infestation is possible but not common in pet hedgehogs, especially the African Pygmy hedgehog breeds. Fleas thrive in hosts with high body temperatures which is not typical in hedgehogs so that could explain the minimal number of infestation cases.
Conclusion: Do Hedgehogs Itch and Scratch a Lot?
Hedgehogs itch and scratch once in a while like all animals and even humans. But continuous occurrences are a typical sign of trouble that requires further investigations. Mite infestations, quilling, and spine retention are common causes of itch.
Ringworms and excessive dryness are additional triggers of scratching among pet hedgehogs. Vets often prescribe a cocktail of anti-parasite medications, antibiotics, and topical medicines for the treatment of the underlying conditions.
Sometimes, the discomfort from itching and scratching is eliminated by offering well-balanced diets and ensuring a cozy cage environment.