Hedgehogs are small, spiny creatures that are native to Europe, Asia, and Africa. There are 17 different species of hedgehogs, but the African pygmy hedgehog is the most common species kept as a pet. Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals that have a lifespan of 4-6 years in the wild and up to 10 years in captivity.
Why Do People Keep Hedgehogs as Pets?
Hedgehogs make great pets because they are unique, low-maintenance, and fun to watch. They are also relatively small, making them a good choice for those living in apartments or small houses. Hedgehogs are solitary animals that don’t require a lot of social interaction, but they do enjoy being handled and can form a bond with their owner.
Common Diseases Hedgehogs Can Get
Despite being low-maintenance pets, hedgehogs can still get sick. Here are some of the most common diseases that hedgehogs can get:
Hedgehogs are prone to respiratory infections, which can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, as well as environmental factors like poor ventilation or high humidity levels. Symptoms of respiratory infections in hedgehogs include difficulty breathing, coughing, sneezing, and nasal discharge.
Hedgehogs are also prone to oral cancers, especially squamous cell carcinomas, which can develop in the mouth or on the face. These types of cancers are often caused by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, so it’s important to keep your hedgehog’s living space out of direct sunlight. Symptoms of oral cancers in hedgehogs include swelling, difficulty eating or drinking, and weight loss.
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) is a degenerative neurological disease that affects hedgehogs. The disease is characterized by progressive muscle weakness and ataxia, which can lead to difficulty walking and eventually paralysis. There is no known cure for WHS, and affected hedgehogs may need to be euthanized.
Mites and Parasites
Hedgehogs can also get mites and parasites, which can cause skin irritation and hair loss. Mites can be transmitted from other animals, so it’s important to quarantine any new hedgehogs before introducing them to your current pets. Symptoms of mites and parasites in hedgehogs include excessive scratching, redness, and scabs.
Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty Liver Disease (FLD) is a common condition in hedgehogs that is caused by a high-fat diet. FLD can lead to liver failure and death if left untreated. Symptoms of FLD in hedgehogs include lethargy, lack of appetite, and weight loss.
Hedgehogs are sensitive to temperature changes and can easily suffer from heat stroke if their living space gets too hot. Symptoms of heat stroke in hedgehogs include lethargy, panting, and difficulty breathing.
Prevention and Treatment
The best way to prevent your hedgehog from getting sick is to provide them with a clean living space, a healthy diet, and regular veterinary check-ups. Here are some tips for preventing and treating common hedgehog diseases:
Regular Vet Visits
It’s important to take your hedgehog to the vet for regular check-ups, even if they seem healthy. A vet can detect early signs of illness and provide treatment before the condition worsens.
Clean and Disinfect Your Hedgehog’s Living Space
Keeping your hedgehog’s living space clean and disinfected is essential for preventing the spread of disease. Use a pet-safe disinfectant to clean the cage and accessories regularly.
Proper Diet and Nutrition
Feeding your hedgehog a balanced diet that is low in fat and high in protein is essential for preventing FLD and other health issues. Avoid feeding your hedgehog foods that are high in sugar or carbohydrates.
Identifying Early Signs of Illness
It’s important to know the early signs of illness in hedgehogs so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible. Look for changes in behavior, appetite, and activity level.
If your hedgehog does get sick, your vet may prescribe medication to treat the condition. Be sure to follow the dosage instructions carefully and administer the medication as directed.
Do Hedgehogs Pee?
Yes, hedgehogs do pee. Hedgehogs have a urinary system just like any other mammal, and they eliminate waste in the form of urine and feces. Hedgehogs are also very clean animals and will often groom themselves after using the bathroom.
Hedgehogs are unique and low-maintenance pets, but they can still get sick. By providing your hedgehog with a clean living space, a healthy diet, and regular veterinary check-ups, you can help prevent common hedgehog diseases. If your hedgehog does get sick, seek treatment from a veterinarian as soon as possible. With proper care and attention, your hedgehog can live a long and healthy life.
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