Hedgehog Stress Symptoms – How To Prevent Hedgehog Stress
Hedgehogs are sensitvite animals that can suffer with stress. Knowing what the hedgehog stress symptoms look like can help their well-being.
Not only you should know what hedgehog stress symptoms look like but you should also know what to do to avoid stressful situations for your hedgie.
Hedgehogs are fragile, little creatures that require extra care when it comes to providing them with stress free life. Some of the common stress factors that can affect a hedgehog’s life include:
Why Are Hedgehogs Sensitive
As a rule, small animals are highly prone to stress as in the animal kingdom hierarchy, they are prey. Subsequently, as prey, small animals will naturally experience more stress and anxiety when having to assess if their environment is safe or checking for potential threats.
As prey animals, hedgehogs can experience stress when environmental and social settings are not set to their natural needs. Furthermore, even the slightest feeling of threat can result in hedgehogs stress symptoms.
Some species of animals such as hedgehog can’t adapt to human environments as quickly. Unlike other species, hedgehogs in captivity are more likely to be negatively affected by certain stressors. That is why, they require extra care to help them settle in their new environment.
Furthermore, small animals that are not well-socialized to people from a young age, can develop stress, anxiety and struggle to get accustomed to life in captivity. In some cases, this sensitivity can become worse if you as a pet owner don’t know what your hedgehog needs in terms of their environment and diet.
On the other hand, hedgehogs, especially if you bring them to your home as adults, tend to stress more and have a tough time to connect with their human.
As each hedgehog has a different personality, they will have different reaction to environmental stressors. This is the reason why it’s important to know what causes hedgehog stress, so you can avoid it and provide your hedgehog with a healthy and long life.
Stress In Hedgehogs – Causes
As hedgehogs’ natural instincts are to constantly be on the lookout for threats and predators, they get stressed easily for various reasons.
Some of the causes for hedgehog stress are the following:
- Something as small as a change in their diet routine can affect their stress levels
- Moving to a new home environment or any changes to their habitat can result in hedgehog stress symptoms to start appearing
- Any noises such as loud speech, children running around, TV/radio or similar can disrupt their peace.
- You should be especially careful during holidays as there are fireworks that can cause distress to your hedgehog. Furthermore, during fireworks, you should place your hedgehog into a darkened room that they are used to avoid feeling anxious.
It’s imperative to get the basics right to avoid hedgehog stress symptoms. Those basics include the following:
- Environment – Keep your hedgehog in a cozy, quiet space away from noise. Often loud noises will prevent hedgehogs from coming out of there small hut and they will consequently not come out to exercise or eat causing obvious problems
- Daily routine – This includes the diet not being correct – overfeeding, not fed at the correct times, foods lacking nutrients or the incorrect balance of nutrients.
Read more about hedgehog’s routine and how to care for a pet hedgehog by clicking here The Ultimate Guide On African Pygmy Hedgehog Care
In addition to the basics, below there is a list of other common causes of stress in small pets such as hedgehogs:
- Other pets in the household
- Lack of enrichment (no exercise to use up energy)
- Incorrect temperature. Hedgehogs need a slightly warmer room temperature than most people keep their homes at, around 72ºF (22.2ºC) to 80ºF (26.6ºC).
Anything cooler and the hedgehog will likely attempt to hibernate, which can be deadly as it can result in pneumonia. On the other hand hotter temperatures, can lead to heat stress.
It’s essential to provide your hedgehog with the correct housing environment to avoid causing your little spiky pet unnecessary stress.
To avoid hedgehog stress symptoms, you should have the following housing for your hedgehog:
- Cage or enclosure. Guinea pig cages are appropriate
- Avoid wire grate cage bottom
- The bedding can either be a fleece liner or shredded paper bedding commonly found in pet stores. NEVER use pine aspen chips for bedding because it can cause respiratory problems in hedgehogs
- Small huts with pieces of fleece or old fleece hats allow the hedgehog to stay warm and feel secure while it sleeps
- Include toys and exercise wheel for enrichment
- Cages/pens should be disinfected at least once a week
Hedgehog Stress Symptoms
When it comes to hedgehog stress symptoms, a lot of the time hedgehogs will either hide their symptoms or the signs would be very subtle. The reason for that is as prey animals they keep their weaknesses hidden in order to keep safe.
As a hedgehog owner, you might not always be able to tell when your hedgehog is stressed or anxious. That’s why it’s important to know your hedgehogs’ normal behaviour and routine, so when they are acting out of character, you’d be able to tell.
Stress can have a really negative impact on your hedgehog’s health. Therefore, you must always keep an eye on the following hedgehog stress symptoms:
- Hiding and not coming out
- Trying to wriggle their way out of being handled
- Healthy hedgehog should appear bright and alert. If your hedgehog is not thriving, that might be a symptom of stress related issues
- Pacing or yawning
- Not moving when you come closer
- Decreased activity and exercise
- Loss of appetite
- Overgrooming or not grooming at all
- Signs of aggression
- Tiredness or excessive sleeping during the evening (their normal time to sleep is during the day)
- If stressed, hedgehogs might exhibit stress symptoms such as jumping, hissing or snorting
- Twitching or shaking its head nervously
- Spines and fur falling out
In addition to the list mentioned above, species of animals, such as hedgehogs, have one of a king stress-related behaviours. Those behaviours are the following:
- Their natural defence mechanism which is rolling up in a ball. Read below on how to undo a stressed hedgehogs when balled up
- Anointing – This type of behaviour is displayed by hedgehogs when they try to deal with stress. In addition, self-anointing can also be normal behaviour when hedgehogs come in contact with a new and unfamiliar smell
Coccidia – Can Infection Result In Hedgehog Stress
Isospora rastegaivae are small, round oocysts that are common in hedgehogs, also known as Coccidia. This infection leads to dark green and bloody droppings in hedgehogs of all ages. Small, round oocysts can be seen under the microscope.
Being infected with Coccidia can lead to hedgehog stress symptoms and restlessness.
In addition, spines and fur may also fall out as result of this infection. In the cases when this is left untreated, it can result in diarrhoea and possibly death.
Hedgehog Stress – Treatment
Some natural remedies that you can use to de-stress your hedgehog are Aromatherapy oils, such as Lavender, Rosemary, Chamomile. In addition, this can be used on their bedding.
In cases when your hedgehog is cold and stressed, you can warm it up by putting the hedgie under your shirt and using your body heat to warm it.
Stress In Hedgehogs – Prevention
The best treatment is prevention for almost every disease and disorder. With that said, to avoid hedgehog stress symptoms, you should take your hedgie for regular vet check-ups and advise.
In addition to that, it’s recommended to do the following to avoid stress and anxiety:
- Make sure your hedgie is on the correct diet plan. They should be fed high-quality food and only in the evenings. Their diet should consist of 30%-35% protein and up to 15% of fats
- Hedgehogs should have the correct cage or enclosure
- Bedding should be warm, so they can feel safe and cosy
- Build them a hideout
- Keep them away from loud noises. Hedgehogs need a calm and peaceful environment
- Hedgehogs need a warmer room temperature around 72ºF (22.2ºC) to 80ºF (26.6ºC)
- Proper handling – decrease handling of more easily stressed species
- Provide an outside of their cage habitat that’s safe for them to be active
How To Undo A Stressed Hedgehogs When Balled UP
When stressed out or even when injured, hedgehogs ball up. In some cases, they need to be undone for a vet examination or other reasons.
You should follow these steps to unroll a hedgehog in a safe way:
- Place a heat pad near your hedgehog and wait for it to unroll naturally
- Carefully stroke its back but in the direction of the tips of the spikes to get it to flatten out
- Leave it on a flat surface and wait
- Carefully rock it from side to side