Have you every thought what it might be like as a hedgehog to have such prickly spines? Actually, as you can probably imagine hedgehogs are highly prone to dry skin complications.
Itches, rashes and mites are also common.
How do you know if a hedgehog has dry skin?
There are a few indicators of dry skin with hedgehogs that are relatively easy to spot:
- scratching (from irritable skin)
- redness in patches of skin under spines
- dusty, scaly, flakes covering areas of skin
With more acute episodes of skin dryness:
- loss of spines (* remember though, hedgehogs do naturally shed their spines at given intervals in their life, particularly in adolescence)
- loss of appetite (being put of their food by the ordeal)
A simple examination, with care (of course, to avoid being pricked with spines) can involve gentle parting the spines on the back and hind to reveal the skin.
When the skin is exposed, if you see a scaly covering over the skin or red sore-looking patches – then this would indicate that the hedgehog has dry skin.
What are common causes of dry skin with hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs can suffer particularly dry skin for a number of reasons, most frequent causes are listed below:
Hedgehogs need sufficient water intake like any other dependent animal for all associated bodily function – including keeping moist skin.
If you keep a domesticated hedgehog, you’ll want to ensure, as habit, that you leave out sufficient water for your hedgehog to lap up.
As for a wild hedgehog that you suspect has dry skin at closer inspection, perhaps leave out a hedgehog bowl filled with water to encourage them to drink (remembering their nocturnal habits, so it’s best to put it before night).
Dry air (for domesticated hedgehogs)
Artificially heated, indoor air can effectively strip out the body moisture of a hedgehog by evaporation through the skin.
Keeping hedgehogs as pets can lead them to face unnatural challenges that they otherwise wouldn’t have faced in the wild, where they are best suited.
Taking on that responsibility, we must carefully compensate for any losses.
To combat dry skin from dry air, try either using a humidifier, or applying a moistening drop or two of Olive oil perhaps, especially after bathing.
Bathing too frequently, not rinsing effectively
Bath time for domestic hedgehogs is clearly an unnatural occurrence, which their mates in the wild never experience.
With this in mind, it is advised that bathing hedgehogs doesn’t occur too regularly – otherwise there is a risk of drying out the skin.
Also, prolonged exposure to bath soaps and shampoo can cause irritation to skin, which can lead to scratching and further sensitizes skin.
This can become problematic and produce long standing, recurring episodes of skin flareups with hedgehogs.
Bathe hedgehogs less frequently, if you are in doubt.
Mites are another reason hedgehogs can incur irritable skin.
Mites are parasites which can quickly overwhelm the skin of a hedgehog. They feed off the blood supply of the hedgehog by biting.
This severely affects the hedgehog for the worse and can lead to loss of spines.
Giving the hedgehog a bath can relieve the itching from mites.