Which hedgehog ailments & diseases should I be aware of?

Hedgehog ailments & diseases are quite peculiar. Whilst hedgies are generally happy and healthy, it is worth keeping an eye on their temperament for well being.

Veterinary specialists, like James W. Carpenter of College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University have produced comprehensive disease summaries based on their observations of hedgehogs.

Whilst the technical material on offer is quite complex and uses a lot of jargon – we attempt to simplify for the purpose of making it digestible for me and you 🙂


Heart and blood

Weakness of the heart muscle is a common problem experienced by hedgehogs. In particular, African hedgehogs (found in as many a 1-in-3 of this variety experience this problem.)

If you have one of these hogs above the age of 3 years, statistics would give it a 38% chance of having this ailment.

How do you know if your hog hedgehog has this problem?

General tiredness, slower, loss of weight etc.

Experts are unsure about the exact cause of the problem, but some think it is passed down from one generation to another.

The long term expectation of hedgehogs suffering such an issue is eventual heart failure.

Stomach and liver

Hedgehogs in the home can come across all sort of hazards which they otherwise would never encounter in the wild.

Materials such as rubber bands or manufactured fibres – even our hair – can end up becoming snack material for an unsuspecting hedgehog.

If eaten, such common household materials can result in a blocked stomach for a hedgehog. If this occurs, hedgehogs might suffer weight loss, tiredness among other types of problems as consequence. Note: vomiting may not always happen if this is the case.

At times, hedgehogs will experience a runny stomach (diarrhea), dehydration and tiredness. Common causes are Salmonella poisoning or bad reactions to commercial feed. Cow’s milk also has been known to produce such results in hedgehogs.


Mite infestation is a typical health complaint with hedgehogs.

Their quills provide a very suitable living environment for fleas, ticks and mites. If hedgehogs are neglected in upkeep, mites very rapidly move in.

Mites, however, being so small – they can be impossible to spot with our eyes.

The way in which we can tell if a hedgehog is overcome with mites is if the develop these obvious signs:

  • sore skin patches
  • lose quills (spines)
  • weeping sores
  • white or brown skin crusts

Vets will often treat mite infestations with ointments and creams – along with a recommendation to completely change all hedgehog bedding and houses/cages thoroughly cleaned out.

Are hedgehogs at danger of contracting cat or dog fleas?

Worried about your pet hedgie getting fleas from your dog or cat? This is VERY unlikely.

This is because the hedgehog has a much lower body temperature than your dog or cat, and as thus, their fleas don’t favour taking up residence there. Phew…

Muscle and bone

Hedgehogs, much like elderly people, can suffer from breakdown of the joints (arthritis) with age.

Also, hedgehogs can break bones from getting their limbs trapped when using one thing or another.


If hedgehogs experience extreme climate temperatures, either too much heat or cold, it can trigger within their body a ‘shut down’ process which leads to hibernation.

Hibernation is the bodily state that animals like hedgehogs enter into where they display the following:

  • lowered heart & breathing rate
  • won’t respond to stimulation

The state of hibernation can last for weeks at a time.

Wobbly hedgehog syndrome

There is a particularly odd ailment suffered by hedgehogs which is commonly known as wobbly hedgehog syndrome.

If suffered, hedgehogs can lose the use of their hind limbs in particular and can within months become completely paralysed. As for a cause, very little is known about its origin.


Hedgehogs that live in our homes are denied the natural challenges of the outdoors.

They are very prone to becoming heavily overweight (obese).

This is one of the most common health problems faced by hedgehogs in domestic settings.

The end result can be serious irreversible complications and even premature death.

The cure – lots of exercise for your hedgehog. Why not try one of these exercise accessories [Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]


By the nature of how they move about, hedgehogs are prone to eye injuries. If they suffer particularly heavy or sharp knocks to their eyes, they can lose a significant portion of their eyesight.

Even severely blind hedgehogs can still navigate their environments relatively easily without loss of mobility.

Teeth and mouth

Hedgehogs like any of us with teeth, need them kept clean.

If bacteria builds up, teeth can develop issues like plaque and calculus which can deteriorate the condition of teeth and become uncomfortable to hedgehogs.

How can you help your hedgehog keep its teeth clean?

Try charcoal teeth cleaning kits [Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.].

Also, be aware that particularly hard foods like, peanuts can lead to the wearing down of hedgehog teeth. Opt for soft foods instead for the preservation of their teeth.

Breathing, noses, throat and lungs

Hedgehogs catch colds too.

If they are exposed to cold temperatures, they can experience:

  • runny noses
  • rattling in their breathing
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

Keeping hedgehogs warm therefore is critical to staving off such compromises to health.

Try these heat pads for controlling your hedgehog house temperature [Please note: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.]


Hedgehogs are susceptible to contracting rabies or foot and mouth disease.

So, knowing the signs of these is key to being able to reacting speedily.

Are you worried about any particular hedgehog disease?

It is advisable that you contact your local vet. This post is purely for general awareness sake and not to suffice in any way for any type of professional recommendation.

Any comments?

Feel free to join the conversation below.

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