Common Disorders Of The African Pygmy Hedgehog
Copyright © 1999 - Laura Mowrey - All Rights Reserved
Many different problems can affect our prickly friends. The trick is to pay close attention to your pet and don't delay in taking it to the Vet.
MITES: Very common. Symptoms include frequent scratching, dry, flaky skin, quill loss, tattered ears, and in advanced infestations; inflammed skin, and the appearance of open sores. A severe infestation of mites can cause blindness, severe ear infection, and even death of the animal. See your Vet immediately if you suspect mites, and throughly wash and disenfect the cage and everything in it, as well as the surrounding area.
GREEN STOOLS: A stool of this color can indicate that there is an excessive amount of bile in the digestive tract, and it is also a sign that food is not being properly digested. Green stools can be caused by stress, change in diet or water, or from an infectionary process. Keep an eye on your hedgie if you notice abnormal stools (take note of how much it is eating and drinking), do not feed anything new during this time, keep the diet bland and if the problem persists for more then a few days, take your hedgie and a stool sample in to your Vet.
DIARRHEA: Diarrhea can be a very temporary problem, but it can also actually be life-threatening. If you notice this in your hedgie, make sure he/she is drinking enough water so as not to dehydrate and keep the diet bland. Take note of whether or not you have changed anything lately; are you feeding your hedgie something new? Is his water coming from a different source? If the diarrhea lasts for more then a couple days, see your Vet and bring a fresh stool sample with you. Diarrhea can be caused by much of the same things as green stools are, but could also be a sign of illness or infection, allergies, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, internal parasites or other internal problems. You can give yor hedgie a drop or two of Imodium AD, this will usually stop the diarrhea, but do not be fooled into thinking your hedgie is back to normal if it does, for this medication is just a temporary "fix" and does not address what is causing the diarrhea in the first place.
CONSTIPATION: If your hedgie seems a bit constipated, try putting him in a couple inches of warm water for quick relief. This will almost always do the trick. Following this, try feeding him a little canned pumpkin (unseasoned brand). Pumpkin almost always works well for constipation. If condition persists, see your Vet.
TATTERED EARS, DRY SKIN: Possible mites, fungus or dietary issues. If mites and fungus infection are ruled out, apply cocoa butter to ears several times weekly to soften them, and bathe hedgie in a fragrance-free oatmeal based soap such as Aveeno, or put a drop of baby oil in the bath water.
Adding 1 drop of Spectrum Essential Oil to your hedgies food each night really helps dry skin and is healthful for your hedgie as well, as it contains Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids.
CRUSTY FEET: Occasionally I see a hedgehog with a crust-like formation on it's feet. One particular hedgehog I had with this was diagnosed with a fungal infection. Please see your Vet for proper treatment.
LETHARGY, WOBBLINESS, COLD TO TOUCH: Immediately warm your hedgie up by placing him under your shirt. Once he is warmed sufficiently, increase room temperatures and provide some additional source of heat in the cage such as a Snuggle Safe Disc, or a heating pad under the cage. Keep an eye on your pet to make sure he isn't trying to seek out the cooler end of the cage to try and hibernate again. If this problem persists, see your Vet as it may be an indication of illness.
WOBBLINESS OR PARALYSIS, WITH GRADUAL ONSET:
Several possible causes, among them a neurological disorder called; Degenerative Myelopathy (WHS) Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome. See your Vet immediately. Refer to the following website:
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome
WOBBLINESS OR PARALYSIS, RAPID ONSET: Possible stroke. See your Vet immediately.
LUMPS OR MASSES UNDER SKIN: Possible cysts, tumors, or even pregnancy. See your Vet!
YELLOWING UNDER ARMPITS: Cause; obesity, which could lead to FLD: fatty liver disease,
a very serious and often fatal disease, if not treated. Increase your hedgehogs activity (does he have a running wheel?). Allow supervised free-roaming. Put your hedgehog on a low fat diet and reduce it's daily caloric intake.
QUILL LOSS: Several possible causes; mites are the most common cause, followed by dietary issues, allergies, illness and or hormonal issues. **It is important to note that baby hedgies go through a "quilling" process whereby they lose their baby quills and adult quills grow in to take their place. During this time, it is common to find several quills dropping every day, and your hedgehog at this time will usually be quite irritable.
LOSS OF APPETITE: Can be brought on by many causes, but if problem persists, see your Vet right away. Have your Vet check the teeth to rule out any problems there. **It is important to note that sometimes a new hedgie will not want to eat when you first get it. Make sure you find out what that hedgie has been eating prior to your acquiring him and offer him what he is used to. If the diet he is on is less then satisfactory, slowly wean him off of it and onto the new.
Pay attention at this time to whether or not the hedgie is drinking adequate water. A hedgie who isn't drinking, will usually not eat either. Dehydration can set in rapidly and can be fatal. Was he used to drinking out of a bottle or a bowl before you got him?
DISCHARGE FROM EARS: See your Vet. Possible ear infection, mites, or head injury.
WHEEZING, NASAL DISCHARGE: See your Vet! Possible upper and or lower respiratory infection. Keep your hedgie warm and dry till you get to the Vet.
EYES; WATERY, DISCHARGE, INFLAMMED: See your Vet immediately. Possibly resulting from an injury and or infection process, allergies.
OPEN SORES: See your Vet!
SWOLLEN JAW, INFLAMMED GUMS: Dental disease. Have your Vet do a through dental exam, and give the appropriate treatment.
**A swollen jaw can indicate a more serious condition, such as cancer.Hedgies Have Teeth Too! By: Marion Brown.
CANCER: Various forms of cancer are, unfortunately, very common in hedgehogs. Feeding the best diet, void of chemical preservatives, artificial colors and flavors can help, but there are many other factors which influence this disease:
Heather Johnson's webpages on cancer in hedgehogs. Excellant site!
What You Don't Know About Hedgehog Diseases, by Lisa B. Done
OTHER USEFUL LINKS:
Clinical Approach To The African Hedgehog. By: Heidi L. Hoefer DVM, ABVP
Hedgehog Lameness. By: Teresa L. Lightfoot, DVM
Common Disorders of the African Pygmy Hedgehog. By: Cathy Johnson-Delaney
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