Hedgehog Eye Bulging Infection: How To Treat And Prevent

Hedgehogs as any animal are prone to certain health conditions. These conditions include hedgehog eye bulging and hedgehog eye infection. However, this is rarely life threatening.

These small, fragile mammals are prone to illnesses such as hedgehog eye infection and hedgehog eye bulging condition. Don’t panic as in most cases this is not fatal but it can be costly.

Keep reading to find out what symptoms to look out for and most importantly how to prevent hedgehog eye infection from happening.

What Causes Hedgehog Eye Bulging

There a few probable causes for hedgehog eye infection and hedgehog eye bulging. As hedgehogs have shallow eye sockets, their eyes tend to stick out.

Therefore, they are prone to damage and infection. Once infected or injured the eye tend to pop out and bulge out of the socket.

Some of the causes for eye irritation are the following:

  • Dust or other foreign objects
  • A scratch or an eye infection
  • Get something in their eyes
  • Brain tumour
  • Run into things and damage their eyes in that way

If you notice hedgehog eye bulging, you must take your pet to a vet who specialises in exotic animals. It’s important that your vet diagnoses the problem.

It’s not uncommon for hedgehog’s to develop eye infection and possibly lose one of their eyes. Furthermore, hedgehogs being small mammals are more prone to eye injuries and corneal ulcers.

Symptoms Of Hedgehog Eye Bulging

It’s extremely important to keep an eye on your hedgehog, so you can notice if there is any change to their usual behaviour as that can be an indicator to illnesses.

Since hedgehogs have eyes that stick out of the pockets, they are more likely to get injured or infected. Specifically look out for the following signs:

  • Eye shut closed
  • Eye tearing up
  • Curling into a ball and hiding face
  • Eye appearing cloudy, swollen or bulging
  • Not eating or drinking.
  • Blood on quills

In some cases, your hedgehog’s eye can be visibly bulging but at the same time, the vet might not discover any signs of infection.

Since their eyes are so sensitive, they can pop out from simply running into something. In those cases, the vet might need to push it back in and prescribe antibiotics and painkillers as a precaution.

Treatments And Outcomes

Although, hedgehog eye bulging and hedgehog eye infection is very common, it’s still very important to have the correct treatment and to act quickly. Furthermore, it could be something serious such as a brain tumour or it could be nothing.

Once you notice any signs of eye infection, you should take your hedgehog to a specialised vet for a check-up. Here are some of the treatments and possible outcomes for hedgehog eye infection and hedgehog eye bulging condition.

Medication Treatment

The vet can give you eye drops to help the bulging eye get back into its socket such as oral medications, painkillers and antibiotics. There are two possible outcomes of the treatment.

  • The first outcome can result in treating the infection and the eye retracting back into its socket
  • The second outcome – the hedgehog’s bulging eye might shrivel

Once that happens, the hedgehog will dig it out. Since this will leave the eye socket empty, you can either get it stitched up by the vet or let it heal on its own.

It’s recommended to get it stitched up if you are worried about a secondary infection, although from my research hedgehogs do just fine letting it heal on its own.

The vet can clean up the eye and any scabs. Followed by warm compresses and special salve administered at home to treat the infection.

Surgery For Hedgehog Eye Bulging

The other treatment option is surgery to remove the bulging eye. This is to avoid the hedgehog either scratching it off or the eye exploding. In some cases, the hedgehog might not be able to have surgery due to their age either being too old or too young.

After doing extensive research , many hedgehog owners have gone through this process and as long as there isn’t a tumour, the hedgehog should be able to get through this on their own without the need of surgery and do just fine with one eye.

Possible Outcomes

If it gets to the point where your hedgehog can’t close their eye, they will scratch it out.

In the case of the hedgehog digging out their eye because of a tumour pressing on it, euthanasia may be the best option. Usually, those types of tumours are deep in the head and surgery to remove the tumour can be too much for those small animals to handle.

Also, surgery doesn’t guarantee that they would be able to remove the tumours successfully.

On the other hand, if the hedgehog is not euthanized, the tumour can start pressing on the other side and result in the other eye bulging. As a result, your hedgie can suffer a slow and painful death.

How To Administer Oral Medication

Usually, there are several ways you can administer the oral medication such as antibiotics and painkillers to your hedgehog. Some might work better than others. The following options have been successfully used by hedgehog owners:

  • Use frozen dried mealworm and inject the medication in it. Usually, hedgehogs love mealworms, so this approach should work most times. If you haven’t fed mealworms to your hedgehog before, make sure you try to feed it without the medicine in case it doesn’t like it
  • By the use of syringe. This can be done two ways. One – you can scruff and administer the medication from the side of the mouth. Second – you can mix food with the medication in the syringe such as veggie baby puree or canned pumpkin puree
  • You can bury the medicine in harder food such as small portion of egg or banana slice, so your hedgie is more likely to eat it

The success of the methods mentioned above, will depend on your hedgehog’s personality.

Prevention Of Hedgehog Eye Bulging

Since hedgehogs are prone to eye infections and eye bulging conditions, it’s very important for us as owners to try and minimise the chance of this happening in the first place. You can prevent this by simply doing the following:

  • Keep your hedgehog’s cage clean and free of sharp objects that may scratch their eyes
  • Having soft bedding for you hedgehog instead of aspen or wooden chips that can hurt their eyes

Vet Expenses

Owning a pet that’s considered an exotic animal, would require a vet that specialises in that area. As we all know, vet bills are already expensive and they can be more expensive in emergencies. That is why is important to always have savings for pet emergencies.

You should expect to pay roughly $880 when treating your hedgehog for eye bulging or eye infection. Some of the vet costs are the following:

  • Emergency check up – $40 – $80
  • Anaesthesia if needed to check out the eye – $80
  • Antibiotics and Painkillers (eye shrivels and he scratches it out) – $60
  • Surgery – $600

It’s possible for the initial bill to go up to $1200 and more. To avoid paying unnecessary charges, you should ask your vet questions regarding each item on that bill as some can be removed to reduce the overall cost and are not mandatory. Some of the treatments that can be removed are the following:

  • Biopsy for tumour
  • Blood work regarding health


Although, seeing your pet suffering with hedgehog eye bulging condition can be stressful and they are likely to lose one of their eyes. The good news is that due to their heightened sense of hearing and smell, hedgehogs live just fine with only one eye.

From the extensive research I’ve done, my findings are that hedgehog owners observe their pet bounce back quickly from surgery or from scratching their eye out and seem generally “unbothered” by it.

Usually, the hedgehog will be able to run on their wheel, eat drink and poop quite quickly after the ordeal.

In some cases, they might experience weakness, weight loss and struggle to eat in the first few days.

To help your hedgehog during this time do the following:

  • You should be crushing the kibbles, so it’s easy for it to eat
  • Feed it with the use of syringe
  • You can mix powdered food with water that can be given with syringe. In addition to that water can also be given with syringe if the hedgehog is not drinking.

Final Thoughts

Since hedgehogs are prone to eye infections and bulging eye condition, it’s important to be informed on what you must do.

  • Prevention is key. Keep your hedgehog’s cage clean and free from objects that can hurt their eyes. Use soft bedding and avoid using aspen or wooden chips
  • Once you’ve notice the hedgehog eye bulging condition, you must take it to a specialised vet
  • Until the hedgehog’s bulging eye or eye infection is properly checked out by a vet, you should avoid using any medications at home. Furthermore, some medications such as the ones meant for people can be toxic and life threatening to small animals
  • The vet will either try to treat the infection and hope for the eye to retract back into its socket, perform a surgery to remove the eye and stich it up or prescribe antibiotics and painkillers that can lead to the eye shrivelling up and falling out
  • If nothing done to treat the infection, your hedgehog would most likely scratch the eye out of its socket
  • Usually, hedgehogs will do just fine living with one eye. Unfortunately, on some occasions the reason for the hedgehog eye infection and eye bulging is a tumour. If the reason for the eye building is a tumour – euthanasia is your best option to prevent any further pain and suffering
  • When you take your hedgehog to the vet, you must ensure the vet examines the hedgehog’s mouth also for any indications of a tumour

If you want to know more about how to look after your pet hedgehog click here The Ultimate Guide On African Pygmy Hedgehog Care


My name is Iliyana and I'm a passionate animal lover and pet owner. As there is significantly less information online about unusual and exotic pets, I decided to found this website and recruit expert writers to help pet owners.

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