Do Hedgehogs Itch and Scratch a Lot? (Detailed)


Typically, Hedgehogs are small animals that are native to the African and European wild. However, with the recent domestication of hedgehogs in many states, owners find it hard to understand whether these animals naturally itch and scratch. We sought to find this out.

So, do hedgehogs itch and scratch a lot? Naturally, hedgehogs have dry skin and tend to itch and scratch only on occasion. Therefore, a pet owner should not stress over the first signs of an itchy hedgehog. However, when a hedgehog itches and scratches a lot, this might be caused by numerous factors such as new quills breaking through the skin for a younger hedgehog to a possible mite infestation.

While itching and scratching is a natural occurrence in hedgehogs, extreme quill loss due to over scratching and itching should be taken seriously. If you’re worried that your hedgehog is itching and scratching a lot, read on to find out possible causes and how to stop the itching effectively.

Can You Tell If Your Hedgehog Has Mites?

Since hedgehogs are adapted to living in the wild, they are susceptible to mite infestation. Whenever a pet hedgehog has been infested with mites, it can manifest as dandruff and cause a lot of itching. It’s worth noting that because the hedgehog will be uncomfortable and scratch its skin a lot, the itching can lead to skin irritation, peeling, red skin, burning skin, and loss of spines.

All these (if not managed early) will often lead to secondary bacterial infestation. The good news is that these mites can easily be eradicated using selamectin upon prescription by the vet.

Undeniably spiky and cute, the hedgehog is not only a bright and responsive animal but a terrific one, as well. Like other animals, hedgehogs can scratch and itch due to many reasons.

So, what makes hedgehogs itch and scratch a lot? First, hedgehogs will naturally itch and scratch during the molting period. Also known as quilling, the molting period is when hedgehogs grow their species, and it’s a phenomenon that continues throughout the hedgehog life until it acquires adult spines.

During this period, it’s natural for the hedgehog to be restless with itchy skin. To know whether the cause of the itching is due to quilling, a pet owner should be able to see areas in the hedgehog’s body without spines with tiny spines growing in place of the shed ones.

Generally, hedgehogs are subtle animals and will always scratch on occasion due to their wild ancestry. However, excessive scratching due to itching should be a cause for alarm for any hedgehog owner. While quilling may not be the prime cause of itching in hedgehogs, mite infestation should be taken seriously by any owner.

How do You Get Rid of Mites in Hedgehogs?

Just like any other pet animal, hedgehogs can contract mites in so many ways. Hedgehogs can contract mites through food and beddings or from other pets in the house. At the same time, it’s not surprising for a hedgehog to be infested by mites if it has been living near a pet store or near birds or rodents.

So, how do you get rid of Mites in Hedgehogs? Considering there are different ways of eradicating mites in hedgehog, the best way of getting rid of mites in your hedgehog is to seek the help of a veterinarian. Although there are no mite specific drugs for eradicating mites in hedgehogs, your vet will give you optional ways to get your hedgehog off mites. Additionally, you will want to ensure that your hedgehog’s cage is thoroughly clean.

Although mite transmission is standard, a pet owner’s chances of transmitting mites to a hedgehog are also common. For instance, a pet owner can handle another pet infested with mites and unknowingly transfer them to his pet hedgehog. While the chances of this happening are minimal, it’s worth noting it is a formidable way of transmitting mites into a pet hedgehog.

It’s of utmost importance for a hedgehog pet owner to identify the cause of mite infestation on a pet hedgehog. This can easily be achieved through elimination. If, for instance, a pet owner is sure not to have handled another hedgehog, then the chances are that the mites might have originated either from the beddings or kibble. Regardless, identifying and treating mite infestation in a hedgehog will go a long way in minimizing the itching and scratching of a hedgehog.

Other Reasons Why Your Hedgehog Is Itchy and Scratching

While squealing is the main reason for itching and scratching in hedgehogs, there are many other reasons that make a hedgehog uncomfortable. From environmental factors to health issues, the list is unending. However, here are two main other reasons that may cause your hedgehog to be itchy and scratchy. 

Dry Skin in Hedgehogs

Due to their spiky body, hedgehogs often have dry skin. Due to the dry skin, they often itch and scratch. It can be maddening for a pet owner to see their hedgehog itch and scratch until they are raw. Although dry skin in hedgehogs is pretty much perceived to be natural, there are instances where the dry skin makes the hedgehog itch and scratch a lot.

Many things make hedgehog skin dry. Apart from bacteria, parasites, and fungus, there are myriad other possibilities that make a hedgehog’s skin dry and itchy. To help a hedgehog get rid of the itchy feeling, it’s of paramount importance to get to the root of what’s causing the dry skin to begin with.

Although this is easier said than done, many hedgehog owners will be surprised to learn that nutrition plays a significant role in a hedgehog’s dry skin condition. Ideally, whenever a hedgehog is fed food that is low on moisture, the food tends to aggravate the dry skin condition that would otherwise be normal in a hedgehog’s natural setting.

The good news is that food issues that cause hedgehog dry skin can be resolved with ease. By feeding a hedgehog high-quality food while supplementing with feeder insects, then the dry skin condition can be eliminated with ease. Apart from providing nutritious hedgehog food, it’s also essential to ensure that the hedgehog takes a lot of water to hydrate its skin. Water is also instrumental in hydrating a hedgehog living in a hot environmental location.

Spine Retention in Hedgehogs

Spine retention is one of the leading causes of hedgehog itching and scratching. Since molting is a process that takes place for a certain period, it’s no surprise spine retention occurs in hedgehog, causing an infection at the base of the spine, which can be manifested with an accumulation of pus.

Since abscess accumulation directly leads to the normal healing process, the hedgehog will often feel an itchy sensation in the surrounding area. To keep the hedgehog comfortable, the place where spine retention has occurred must be kept clean and disinfected using antiseptic.

Keep in mind that poor hygiene around the area of spine retention can lead to severe bacterial infestation due to scratching. Veterinary care will come in handy in prescribing topical and oral drugs that will ease the itchy sensation and prevent further irritation in the spine retention area.

What Should I Do When My Hedgehog Is Scratching?

Naturally, hedgehogs often scratch due to their physiological build. However, many reasons make a hedgehog itch and scratch severely. While some of these reasons are mild and can be rectified, others pose a significant danger and lead to severe bacterial infections.

So, what should I do when my hedgehog is scratching? First, it’s of utmost importance to identify the underlying cause. Check for any signs of malnutrition, parasites such as mites, and dry skin. After identifying the underlying cause, you will be better positioned to determine the best way to mitigate the scratching. If, for instance, your hedgehog is itching and scratching due to mites, it’s essential to narrow down the mites’ source.

Diagnosing the cause of itching and scratching isn’t an easy task. Therefore, to ensure that everything is done in order, it’s highly recommended for hedgehog owners to take their vets to a vet whenever they experience severe itching and scratching.

Hedgehogs Itch and Scratch Periodically

Due to the nature of their body, hedgehogs will often scratch from time to time. However, when a hedgehog scratches a lot, the most likely causes are dry skin, mite infestation, quilling, and poor nutrition. While some of these causes can be managed at home, some will require a vet’s help. Either way, it’s vital first to understand how your hedgehog behaves before determining whether the itching and scratching are severe.

Bal Kang

Hi I'm Bal together with my daughter Jinnee, we've created this website about hedgehogs. We've learnt a lot looking after our hedgehog Hynee and share our knowledge, tips and tricks.

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