Hedgehog Swollen Leg? Find Out The Cause And How To Treat

Hedgehog Swollen Leg

Hedgehogs are fragile animals that can suffer from various health problems. Often owners have to deal with hedgehog swollen limbs and more specifically – swollen leg. The main causes for hedgehog swollen leg include bacterial infection (abscess/cellulitis), soft tissue inflammation, fracture of the bone or cancer.

This article will help you establish the cause of your hedgehog swollen leg and what is the best course of treatment.

Hedgehog Swollen Leg – Symptoms

As hedgehogs are prey animals, they have learnt to hide their pain very well. Therefore, pain is not always easy to notice as a symptom. In this case, you want to look for other symptoms when dealing with hedgehog swollen leg.

To determine what’s the cause for your hedgehog swollen leg, first you must establish the other symptoms that are accompanying the swollen leg. To do this, you should be asking the following questions:

  • Is the hedgehog still walking or using the exercise wheel? – If the answer is no, it can mean that they are in too much pain to use the wheel
  • Are there any changes in their attitude and behavior?
  • Is the swollen limb discolored? – if yes, it means possibly injury
  • Does the hedgehog react in any way if you squeeze the swollen leg? If yes, it means pain is a symptom
  • Is the hedgehog still eating and drinking?
  • Does the swollen limb feel squishy (like they’re swelled with fluid) or does it feel like normal but just happens to be three times thicker? – if it feels like the swelling is fluid, it can be edema. On the other hand, if it’s hard – it can be tumor
  • Is there the leg hot to touch? – if yes, it can due to fever or arthritis

Hedgehog Swollen Leg – Causes

hedgehog swollen leg

Possible causes for hedgehog swollen leg or legs include:

  • Injury
  • Edema
  • Infection
  • Ingrown hair
  • Insect bite
  • Long toenails
  • Tumor


Hedgehogs have fragile limbs and are prone to injuries. Severe strains can cause swelling of the limb.

In the wild, some of these injuries can be the result of an animal attack, getting their feet trapped, getting caught in rat traps or road traffic accidents.

On the other hand, pet hedgehogs can also injure themselves as easily when living in an enclosure such as:

  • Getting their feet trapped in a wire mesh running wheel. You should avoid any mesh surfaces. They are not good for hedgehogs and can result in catching their nails or toes while running. It’s recommended to use solid-surface wheel for safety
  • Threads wrapping around their legs from a blanket used as a substrate. Some substrates are at risk of threading such as towels, fleece, canvas, even bed sheets.

All the situations above can result in hedgehog swollen leg.


Normally, hedgehog swollen leg because of break or a dislocation, will need a trip to the vet.

The vet will examine the hedgehog and place them in a splint if needed. In addition, antibiotics and pain killers will be prescribed.

It’s important to keep observing the hedgehog swollen leg. If it starts turning black, it might need amputation. If the leg doesn’t improve after 10 days, you should go back to the vet as the cause for the hedgehog swollen leg is probably something else.

Infections and Edema

Common cause for hedgehog swollen leg is infections such as bacterial infection (abscess/cellulitis) or soft tissue inflammation such as edema.

If your hedgehog swollen leg is the result of an infection in the tissue, it’s essential to treat it immediately to avoid affecting the bone.

It’s important to note that hedgehog swollen leg caused by edema would be affecting all the legs and not only a single limb.


The best way to treat hedgehog swollen leg as a result of either an infection or edema is with antibiotics, intravenous fluids, ointments and anti-inflammatories such as Metacam. Your vet will recommend the best treatment.

It’s recommended to use a combination of antibiotics for osteomyelitis and Arnica pills.

Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hair

Something that can result in hedgehog swollen leg, that many owners wouldn’t think of straight away, is an ingrown hair. This is usually a spine that has trouble coming out, the same as an ingrown hair.

If that’s the case, you should be able to see redness, swelling, or scabbing at the base of the quill.


These spines may need to be gently pulled and the area washed with a gentle cleansing solution. For instance, if there is redness, swelling, discharge, or scabbing where a new spine is attempting to emerge you might have to gently clean the area or assist the spine in coming through the skin by pulling on it.

Some ingrown spines can become infected if not cared for and your hedgehog may require antibiotics.

Insect Bite

In some rarer cases, hedgehog swollen leg can be the result of an insect bite. As hedgehogs are fragile animals, something small like an insect bite can cause significant swelling. If that’s the case, you should be able to see a central bite site.


The best way to treat this is to use ointments, anti-inflammatory medicine and to keep the bite site clean and disinfected.

Long Toenails

hedgehog swollen leg

Another common cause for hedgehog swollen leg is long toenails. If your hedgehog’s toenails become too long, their toes can get twisted sideways when they stand on their feet. This will then cause pain, inflammation and possibly swollen leg.


The treatment for the already swollen leg would be anti-inflammatory medicine or homemade foot baths with oats. However, to prevent this from happening again, you must trim your hedgie’s nails every 2 to 3 weeks with an appropriate nail clipper.


The worst possible cause for hedgehog swollen leg is cancer. Unfortunately, hedgehogs are prone to tumors. In some cases, the tumor growth can be non-cancerous bone growth which isn’t necessarily dangerous.

However, if the tumor is cancerous, the prognosis isn’t usually good for hedgehogs.


The issue with hedgehog swollen leg caused by cancerous tumors is that cancer becomes obviously symptomatic when it’s already too late.

Although, surgery is an option, once your hedgehog develops cancer in one part of the body, it usually means your hedgehog is prone to cancerous tumors and another one might develop shortly after.

In addition, if it’s the front leg that’s affected, hedgehogs cannot survive with an amputated front leg. It is also virtually impossible for a vet to pin these kind of leg breaks due to the way the hedgehog curls and particularly if the fracture is not fresh.

Read here more about cancer in hedgehogs and what are the treatment options Hedgehog Tumors – Symptoms, Treatment And Cost

Home Treatments For Hedgehog Swollen Leg

If you your little pet is suffering with hedgehog swollen leg, ideally you should take them to the vet immediately for treatment. However, that’s not always possible! These are some home treatments that might help temporarily:

  • Cleaning the affected area. You must ensure that the swollen leg is washed with antibacterial agent such as Hibiscrub mixed with saline solution
  • Soak the feet in a warm foot bath (you can add Epsom salts to relive the swelling)
  • Topical treatments can relieve some of the swelling
  • Warm compress for the leg. This can be made by filling up a sock with clean, uncooked white rice. Tie up the sock and place it in the microwave for approximately 1-1.5 min. Before use, ensure it’s not too hot and shake the sock to distribute the heat before using as a compress
  • Use a q-tip with peroxide and gently dab it on his feet for a day or two

Vet Costs

Vet costs can be quite expensive when treating exotic animals such as hedgehogs. Therefore, it’s always good to know what to expect. The following costs are an estimate and depend on the area you live:

  • X-ray would be one of the first things to be done to ensure that the leg looks normal internally. This will show any injury or abnormal growth – $400
  • Biopsy might be required if there is an abnormal growth – $100 to $400
  • Bloodwork – $150 to $200
  • Amputation would also require antibiotics to prevent infections afterwards – $700

It’s important to note that leg injuries are amongst the most expensive things to treat. This is because they require many weeks of drugs and wound treatment. Furthermore, if the infection has got deep into the bone, special antibiotics for osteomyelitis (bone infection) will be needed. However, that doesn’t guarantee that the leg will be saved.

If you need financial support as hedgehog vet costs can be hefty, there is Credit Care that you can take advantage of. Here is a link to all of the AEMV (Association of Exotic Mammal Veterinarians), just pick the state and click “get vets”: http://www.aemv.org/vetlist.cfm

Final Thoughts

Hedgehogs are known to often suffer with swollen limbs. In this article we looked at what causes hedgehog swollen leg and swollen feet. Some of the most common causes that are easily treated and, in most cases, preventable are ingrown hair and long toenails.

On the other hand, some more serious causes for hedgehog swollen leg or swollen feet include injury, infection, edema and the worst of all – cancerous tumor.

All the above can be treated besides cancerous tumour. In most cases, once cancer become symptomatic in hedgehogs, it only means it’s already too late. Even if there is an option for amputation or removal surgery, often another tumor will develop shortly after.

If your hedgehog has a swollen limb, you should take them to the vet for proper examination and treatment.

Related Topics Q&A

What Grooming Does Your Hedgehog Need?

Although, hedgehogs are overall clean pets, they still require some grooming such as:

  • Foot baths
  • Full baths – once a month
  • Toenail trim – every 3 to 4 weeks
  • Gentle clean of their quills with a toothbrush

What Can Cause Hedgehog Bloated Stomach?

The most common causes for bloated stomach in hedgehogs include:

  • Balloon syndrome
  • Constipation
  • Cancer
  • Allergic reaction
  • Pregnancy

Learn more about hedgehog bloated stomach here Full Guide On How To Treat Hedgehog Bloated Stomach




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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