Common Diseases of Pet Hedgehogs

January 16, 2024

Common Diseases of Pet Hedgehogs. A Quick and Friendly Guide

Pet hedgehogs have become increasingly popular as companions for animal lovers across the globe. Known for their adorable appearance and unique behaviours, these small animals can bring a lot of joy into your life. However, it's essential for any hedgehog owner to be aware of common diseases that can affect their spiky friends and to look out for the signs of these illnesses.

Like any pets, hedgehogs can suffer from various health conditions. Some of the most frequently encountered diseases include oral and dental problems, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory issues, and obesity. Identifying these issues early on can make all the difference in ensuring your pet’s continued health and happiness. It is crucial to be vigilant for vague symptoms, such as lethargy and appetite loss, as they may indicate an underlying issue.

To maintain your hedgehog's wellbeing, it’s important to engage in preventative care, such as a balanced diet, exercise, and regular check-ups with a qualified veterinarian. Keep in mind that early detection and proper treatment are key for the successful management of many hedgehog health issues, so be sure to consult a professional if you suspect any problems.

Hedge hogs are common to woodland areas and Gardens in Cities such as London and are not regarded as pests but can be effected by pests

Key Takeaways

  • Be aware of common hedgehog diseases and their associated signs
  • Prioritise preventative care, including proper nutrition and regular vet check-ups
  • Seek professional help for early detection and treatment of illnesses

Identifying Common Diseases

Hedge hog diseases

As a hedgehog owner, it's essential for you to identify common diseases that might affect your pet. In this section, we'll discuss three main categories of health issues: Skin ConditionsRespiratory Infections, and Gastrointestinal Issues. By familiarising yourself with these common problems, you'll be better equipped to spot the signs and ensure your hedgehog receives the appropriate care.

Skin Conditions

Various skin conditions can affect hedgehogs, including:

  • Acariasis: This is caused by mites, and symptoms include itchiness, hair loss, and scab formation.
  • Ringworm: A fungal infection that causes hair loss and scaly, itchy patches on the skin.

To check for skin issues, gently examine your hedgehog's skin for any irregularities, redness, or signs of hair loss.

Respiratory Infections

Respiratory infections are another common issue in hedgehogs. The most notable among them is pneumonia, which can be caused by bacteria or viruses. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nasal discharge
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sneezing

If you notice any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult your veterinarian as soon as possible for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Hedgehogs can also develop gastrointestinal diseases. Some common ones you should be aware of are:

  • Internal parasites: Symptoms include decreased appetite, weight loss, and diarrhoea.
  • Salmonellosis: Hedgehogs can contract salmonella infection, which presents as diarrhoea, dehydration, and weight loss.

Always monitor your hedgehog's appetite, weight, and bowel movements. If you observe any changes, consult your veterinarian for advice and treatment options.

With a better understanding of these common diseases, you can provide the best care for your hedgehog and ensure they remain healthy and happy.

Preventative Care and Management

Diet and Nutrition

A balanced diet is crucial for your hedgehog's overall health. Providing a varied and nutritious diet helps keep them healthy and happy. High-quality, insect-based commercial foods are an excellent starting point, but supplementing with fresh fruits, vegetables, and insects is also important. Make sure to avoid food items high in fat or sugar, such as certain fruits, nuts, and seeds. Remember, moderation is key. Additionally, always provide fresh water for your hedgehog to stay well-hydrated.

Environmental Factors

Creating a safe and comfortable living environment for your hedgehog is essential for good health. Proper temperature, humidity, and sanitation contribute to their well-being:

  • Temperature: Maintain the enclosure temperature between 23°C - 27°C to prevent your pet from experiencing distress due to temperature fluctuations.
  • Humidity: Keep humidity levels around 40% - 60% to reduce the risk of respiratory issues and support a healthy skin.
  • Sanitation: Clean the enclosure regularly to prevent the build-up of bacteria and keep your hedgehog fresh. Remove any soiled bedding daily and perform a thorough clean on a weekly basis.

Additionally, provide your hedgehog with opportunities for physical activity and mental stimulation through exercise wheels, toys, and hiding spaces.

Regular Health Check-Ups

Finally, remember that early detection of potential health issues is paramount for successful treatment. Scheduling regular veterinary check-ups is an excellent way to monitor your hedgehog's health and detect any signs of diseases before they become severe. Keep an eye out for symptoms such as changes in weight, appetite, or activity levels, and reach out to your vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

Professional Care and Treatments

As a hedgehog owner, it's essential to know when professional care is necessary. You may encounter situations where your pet hedgehog requires professional treatments such as veterinary diagnostics, medication and recovery, or even surgical interventions.

Veterinary Diagnostics

When you notice any changes in your hedgehog's behaviour or appearance, it's crucial to seek help from a specialised veterinarian. Common diagnostic procedures for hedgehogs may include blood tests, X-rays, and ultrasonography. Early diagnosis can significantly improve the outcome and allow for timely treatment of diseases like cardiomyopathy, obesity, ringworm, and respiratory infections1.

Medication and Recovery

Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian might prescribe various medications to help your hedgehog recover. For example, if your pet has internal or external parasites, an appropriate antiparasitic drug will be given to combat these invaders2. If your hedgehog suffers from a respiratory infection, the vet may prescribe antibiotics to fight off the infection. It's important to follow the exact dosage and administration instructions provided by the veterinarian to ensure a speedy and full recovery.

During the recovery period, here are some helpful tips for caring for your hedgehog:

  • Keep their environment clean, warm, and quiet.
  • Ensure fresh water and appropriate food are always available.
  • Monitor your hedgehog's weight and behaviour.
  • Encourage regular exercise, but avoid overexertion.

Surgical Interventions

In some cases, medical treatments may not be sufficient, and surgical intervention becomes necessary. For conditions like cancer, tumour removal may be the best course of action3. Be sure to handle post-operative care with the utmost attention, as your hedgehog will require diligent monitoring of their progress. Follow your veterinarian's guidance during this time, and don't hesitate to seek professional help if you have any concerns after the procedure.

Overall, ensuring that your hedgehog has access to professional care and treatments can make a significant difference in their health and happiness. Remain proactive and attentive in monitoring their well-being, and you'll be able to give them the best chance at a long, healthy life.


  1. Common Diseases of Hedgehogs - Veterinary Partner 
  2. Hedgehogs - Diseases | VCA Animal Hospitals
  3. Diseases and treatment of pet hedgehogs (Proceedings)

Frequently Asked Questions

What symptoms indicate that my hedgehog might be unwell?

If your hedgehog is experiencing symptoms such as lethargy, weakness, anorexia (loss of appetite), or lack of activity, it could be a sign they're unwell. Many of these symptoms can be vague, so it's essential to monitor your hedgehog closely and seek veterinary advice if you're concerned.

How can I treat skin conditions in hedgehogs responsibly?

Skin conditions in hedgehogs, such as parasites or ringworm, can cause discomfort for your pet. It's best to consult your vet to identify the cause and recommend a suitable treatment. Keep your hedgehog's environment clean and free of parasites. Never use human medication without veterinary guidance, as it might harm your hedgehog.

What's the scoop on Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome and how can I manage it?

Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) is a degenerative neurological condition in hedgehogs that causes progressive weakness and lack of coordination. There is no known cure, but maintaining a stable environment and providing proper nutrition can help manage symptoms. Consult a veterinarian experienced with hedgehogs for guidance on managing WHS.

Can you tell me how to address diarrhoea in my spiky pal?

Diarrhoea can be caused by multiple factors, such as gastrointestinal infections or unsuitable food. Make sure your hedgehog's diet is balanced and monitor its intake. Keep their environment clean and provide fresh water. If diarrhoea persists, it's important to visit your vet to identify the cause and recommend appropriate treatment.

Are there any illnesses that hedgehogs can transfer to humans, and how can I prevent them?

Some zoonotic diseases, such as ringworm and salmonella, can potentially transfer from hedgehogs to humans. To reduce the risk, always wash your hands thoroughly after handling your hedgehog or cleaning its environment. Ensure that your hedgehog's living space is clean and properly maintained to minimise the risk of infections.

In general, how prone are hedgehogs to falling ill, and what can I do to keep them healthy?

Hedgehogs, like any pet, can fall ill. To keep your hedgehog healthy, provide them with a proper diet, maintain a clean environment, and schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian experienced in hedgehog care. Early detection of any health issues is crucial, so develop a good relationship with your vet and monitor your hedgehog closely for any changes in behaviour or appearance.

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