How To Treat Hedgehog Itching And Dry Skin? Possible Causes

Hedgehog Itching

If you have a hedgehog itching and scratching uncontrollably, you need to find out what’s causing it. Then it must be eliminated from their environment before their scratching result in further health problems. The most common causes for hedgehog itching include parasites, spine retention, dry skin or bacteria. Once you establish the cause, you can then treat accordingly.

Hedgehog will often scratch themselves. However, if the scratching is constant, it can become a serious issue as they can scratch until they are raw.

In some cases, hedgehog itching needs to be treated with an antibiotic or a topical cream prescribed by a vet. However, there are some home remedies that can temporarily relieve your hedgehog’s itching.

Now… as already mentioned, the first step is to establish what’s causing the hedgehog itching.

Hedgehog Itching – Causes

It’s important to note that hedgehogs will occasionally itch and scratch. This should only be concerning, when the itching is excessive and it’s causing your hedgehog distress and making their skin raw and red.

Some of the common causes for hedgehog itching include:

  • Quilling period, also know as molting. This period lasts until the hedgehog grows adult spines
  • Poor nutrition
  • Excessive bathing
  • Allergies
  • Incorrect Bedding
  • Parasites

Some causes for hedgehog itching are more concerning than others. For instance, quilling is a normal process that hedgehogs go through and can present with some scratching and itching. However, if your hedgehog itching is because of parasite infestation, this must be taken seriously and treated quickly.

If parasites infestation such as mites are not treated quickly, it can cause your hedgehog a lot of pain and distress. It can result in quill loss and even death in some extreme cases.

Quilling Period

Hedgehog Quilling

Molting period is also known as quilling. Hedgehogs will have a few short quilling periods and a major one between 7 and 12 weeks of age. Normally, if your hedgehog is quilling, you will find a pile of quills where they sleep.

If you observe your hedgehog itching during quilling period, you shouldn’t worry as that’s normal behavior.

To establish if your hedgehog itching is actually due to quilling, you must check their body for areas without adult spines but instead small spines growing in their place.

Although, itching is normal for your hedgehog during this period, you can still help relive their symptoms using some home remedies such as olive oil or oatmeal baths. More on the home treatments at the end of this article.

Spine Retention

As already mentioned quilling is a normal process that hedgehogs go through. Unfortunately, if there are complications during that process, it can result in spine retention which subsequently can cause your hedgehog itching and infections.

Spine retention is one of the most common causes for hedgehog itching and scratching. Spine retention is when an infection develops in the base of the spine and it often presents with pus.

How To Fix It?

If your hedgehog itching is from spine retention, they will be itchy the most whilst the spines are healing. For the healing of the spines to go without further infection, it’s essential to keep the area clean and disinfected using antiseptic.

To help the healing process, you can get a vet prescription for topical and oral drugs that will relieve the itching and prevent any other complications in the spine retention area.

Poor Nutrition

Another possible cause for your hedgehog itching is poor nutrition. This is because poor nutrition can result in dry skin which subsequently will cause your hedgehog to itch and scratch.

For instance, if the food you’re feeding them lacks moisture, it can irritate your hedgehog’s skin.

How To Fix It?

If you think your hedgehog itching is because of poor nutrition, the solution is to ensure you’re feeding them a high quality diet.

It’s important to note that poor nutrition can lead to many other health problems, some even life threatening.

To provide your hedgehog with nutritious and well balanced diet, use the following guide:

  • High quality cat or hedgehog kibble food – 70%
  • Insects such as mealworms and waxworms – 10%
  • Fruit and vegetables – 10%
  • Cooked meat and eggs – 10%

Excessive Bathing

Hedgehog Itching

Bathing your hedgehog is normally a good thing. However, too much of anything can be harmful and bathing is no exception. Excessive bathing can result in dry skin and subsequently your hedgehog itching. This is because the water strips the skin off from its natural oils.

Another thing that can be harmful during bathing is using the wrong products. For instance, if you’re using shampoo, it can aggravate your hedgehog’s dry skin even further.

How To Fix It?

To avoid hedgehog itching caused by excessive bathing, you shouldn’t wash your hedgehog more than 2 times per month. However, this only refers to washing the whole hedgehog. Foot baths, on the other hand, can be done frequently as they help keep your hedgehog clean.

Allergies

Similar to people, hedgehogs can also suffer with allergies. If your hedgehog itching is because of allergies, dry and irritated skin will present mainly on the belly and their sides.

How To Fix It?

If your hedgehog itching is because of allergies, it’s important to establish what’s causing the allergies in the first place. If you don’t remove what’s triggering the allergy, you will only be treating the symptoms and the issue will keep persisting.

Common causes for allergies in hedgehogs include:

  • Contact allergies. This can be the laundry products that you use to wash their bedding or cleaning material you use to clean their enclosure. It’s recommended to wash their bedding and clean their cage by using vinegar and water only
  • Bedding material. In some cases, the bedding material can be causing your hedgehog to have an allergy reaction

Your first concern should always be to remove whatever is causing your hedgehog to have an allergic reaction. Although, it is extremely difficult to pin point the culprit allergen, the most recommended approach is the elimination method.

Incorrect Bedding

As we already mentioned in the previous paragraph, incorrect bedding can result in your hedgehog itching.

Incorrect bedding can cause hedgehog itching by:

  • Triggering an allergic rection
  • Reaction to the toxicity of the bedding material
  • If you’re using fleece – the material can be absorbing the natural oils from the hedgehog’s skin

How To Fix It?

If the hedgehog itching is caused by incorrect bedding, it’s simply fixed by providing your hedgehog with a safe and appropriate bedding.

The best beddings for your hedgehog include:

  • Shredded paper
  • Newspaper
  • Recycled pelleted/absorbable material
  • Wood shavings (such as aspen or pine)

On the other hand, beddings that you should avoid are made of wood shavings such as cedar shavings. These can be very dusty and cause a cough, skin and eye irritation.In addition, you should also avoid corncobs as bedding. To find out more about what else can cause hedgehog coughing, click here Hedgehog Coughing? 5 Possible Causes And Treatments

Parasites

Hedgehog Itching
Mites In Hedgehog

The most concerning cause for hedgehog itching is parasite infestation. This can be especially worrying as parasite infestation can also cause skin peeling, burning sensation and even loss of spines.

If you suspect that your hedgehog itching is because of parasites, the first thing you need to do is identify what parasite. Possible parasites that can affect your hedgehog include:

  • Mites – you’ll see dandruff aswell as itching and scratching
  • Fly strike – with this parasite maggots would normally be visible
  • Ringworms

It’s also important to establish what is the parasite source and eliminate it. Possible parasite sources include:

  • Kibbles/ Hedgehog’s food
  • Bedding
  • Other pets

Mites – Symptoms

If you think your hedgehog itching is caused by parasites, you should keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • Continuous itching and scratching
  • Dry and flaky skin
  • Crustiness around the eyes
  • Tattered ears
  • Quill loss focused in one area such as the hedgehog’s back
  • If it’s mites that are causing the problem, they can be visible, especially in severe cases
  • Patchy fur would indicate either ringworm or mites
Mites – How To Fix It?

As already mentioned, the most important thing is to first confirm if the hedgehog itching is because of a parasite infection. Once that’s done, the vet will then know what is the appropriate treatment.

With that said, if you suspect parasite infection, you should take your hedgehog to the vet where they will do skin scraping tests.

Although there aren’t specific mite drugs, your vet will give you a few options. Popular drugs for eradicating mites in hedgehogs include:

  • Revolution, also known as Selamectin). This drug would kill the mites withing 24 hours and the quills should regrow withing two weeks. In some cases, a second treatment might be needed. A single topical treatment of Revolution (Selamectin) will last a full 30 days and will outlast the life cycle of any mite
  • Topical yeast infections can be treated with Ketochlot Shampoo which can be prescribed by your vet

In addition to using the medicine, you will need to thoroughly clean your hedgehog’s enclosure and throw away any beddings, hides and accessories that can be harbouring the parasites or their eggs.

It’s important to note – do not treat parasite infestations with Ivermectin/Stromectol. This is because many hedgehogs would have a toxic reaction that can even result in death.

Ringworms – Symptoms

Ringowrms are also known as fungal infestation. These parasites can affect hedgehogs easier if their skin is already in a bad condition.

If your hedgehog itching is because of ringworms, you should also observe the following symptoms:

  • Skin lesions
  • Scabs
  • Peeling
  • Hyper pigmentation (darkening) of the skin
  • Bleeding from sores
  • Spine loss
Ringworms – How To Fix It?

The good news is – if your hedgehog itching is because of ringworm, it’s treatable. However, the treatment is long and you’ll have to constantly observe your hedgehog’s behavior.

Normally, the treatment is an anti fungal actives such as ketoconazole, prescribed by your vet. These are used topically, although an oral medicine might be administered, depending on the case.

Hedgehog Itching – Treatments

If you have a hedgehog itching and scratching, you want to help them feel better. To properly treat skin problems such as itching, it’s important to first identify the cause of the itching and remove the culprit from their environment.

In most cases, hedgehog itching is treated by topical and oral drugs prescribed by your vet. However, there are things you can do at home to relieve their itching.

Some of these home treatments include:

  • Oils such as flax seed oil, fish oil (likely to result in stinky poop), olive oil, etc
  • Oatmeal baths
  • Foot baths and nail clipping

Home Remedies – Oils

If you’re using oils to relive your hedgehog itching, it’s important to not overuse it. With that said, you should only add 1 to 2 drops to your hedgehog’s food every 2 to 3 days. If you notice you hedgehog’s poop becoming too runny, you should add one more day in between application.

The oils that can be used include:

  • Flax seed oil
  • Essential Fatty Oil (EFA3)
  • Olive oil
  • Vitamin E oil
  • Fractionated Coconut oil

It’s important to note that you should avoid mixing oils. Instead, stick to one oil and use it on your hedgehog for a week. This way you would also be able to observe if your hedgehog itching is improving. If no improvement is seen, you can move on to a different oil.

Another good use of the oils for relieving the itching is by mixing a couple drops of flax seed oil, wheat germ oil, or Vitamin E oil in the clean rinse water after you bathe them.

Don’t apply it directly to their skin because any oils can potentially clog the pores. Furthermore, you shouldn’t use olive oil or coconut oil in their rinse water.

Home Remedies – Oatmeal Bath

Hedgehog Itching

Another home remedy for hedgehog itching is oatmeal bath. You can place some oatmeal in a thin sock. Use it as a teabag and dip it in a bath for your hedgehog. This oatmeal-infused bath would relieve your hedgehog itching and calm their skin.

This is only a short term solution to relieving their symptoms and shouldn’t be done too often. Your main focus should always be on establishing the cause of the itching and eliminating it from their environment.

Home Remedies – Foot Baths And Nail Clipping

One way to relive your hedgehog itching is by giving them foot baths and clipping their nails. The foot baths would ensure they are kept clean and the bacteria levels are low. Whereas, the nail clipping would ensure they don’t scratch raw spots and cause further damage.

Final Thoughts

Hedgehog itching can be a normal occurrence when is observed from time to time. However, if your hedgehog scratches and itches constantly, it can be a concern. Not only that but your hedgehog itching can be a symptom of a serious health problem such as parasite infestation.

If your hedgehog is itching and scratching, the most important thing to do is establish what’s causing this behavior. Common causes for hedgehog itching that we have discussed in this article include quilling, spine retention, poor nutrition, excessive bathing, allergies and parasites.

Although, it can be difficult to establish the cause, you can do so by using the elimination method. It can also be helpful to keep a diary and write down what you remove from their environment and the changes in their behavior.

Some of the causes for hedgehog itching can be managed at home with foot baths, clipping their nails and using natural oils to relieve their symptoms. Whereas, other causes such as parasite infection will require a trip to the vet and prescribed medicine.

Related Topics Q&A

Hedgehog Quills Loss Causes?

Possible causes for hedgehog quill loss include:

  • Mites
  • Poor nutrition
  • Stress
  • Quilling period

If you suspect your hedgehog quills loss is due to mites infestation, it’s important to take them to vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

What Are Hedgehog Mites Symptoms?

If your hedgehog has mites, it’s important to act quickly. Mite infestation can lead to skin problems, quill loss and even death if left untreated.

With that said, keep an eye on the following hedgehog mites symptoms:

  • Loss of quills
  • Biting
  • Licking
  • Chewing
  • Scratching
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of energy
  • Dandruff
  • Flaky skin

References

https://www.rosecityhedgehogs.com/health_care

http://www.hedgehogwelfare.org/Hedgehog_FAQs.pdf

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