Longevity | Hibernation & Estivation | Quilling | Signs of Good Health | Veterinary Care

Veterinary Care

A good veterinarian is your best ally to assist you in keeping your hedgehog healthy so that it may live a long and full life.  We strongly encourage you to develop a relationship with your veterinarian long before a medical emergency arises.  New-Pet Veterinary Visits

  • We encourage our customers to take their pet hedgehog in for a new-pet visit two to four weeks after bringing their pet home.  Your new hedgehog should be well adjusted to you and easy to handle.    
  • This visit introduces you to your vet and your vet to your new pet.  Few veterinarians have specific training on hedgehogs so it is important to find a veterinarian that has experience or is comfortable learning about the challenges a prickly client may present.
  • Your dog and cat vet may be fantastic with your hedgehogs or you may find that an experienced exotic vet may be more helpful.
  • Your new pet should be growing and progressing through the quilling process.  Your vet will be able to compare your hedgehog when it is healthy and in good condition to changes that may occur during a time of illness.  It may be a good idea to take a picture of your hedgehog for its file.
  • This is a good time to learn about the clinic and their policies.  Who you should contact in an emergency and the prices of their services.
Annual Well-Pet Visits
  • Annual well-pet visits are also strongly recommended.  The general rule of thumb when treating any medical condition is that it is easier and safer to treat the beginning of a problem than a problem that has had time to grow or spread.
  • Hedgehogs, like many other small animals, naturally hide illnesses or problems for as long as possible.  Sick or injured animals are the easiest prey and so small animals have become quite adapt at camouflaging their weaknesses.
  • Your veterinarian should first do a visual inspection of your pet as described in our Monitoring Hedgehog Health guide.
  • Some veterinarians do standard fecal testing and others check stool samples only if a problem is indicated.  Many pets of all types can harbor some parasites without ever showing any signs or symptoms.  Parasites can be picked up from the outdoors, insects, or other pets and can be considered harmless in a healthy pet in small amounts.
  •  A skin scraping may be done on dry or flaky skin to look for mites.
  • Hedgehogs should have their teeth checked for tarter build up, decay, or other signs of wear or missing teeth.  Diet changes may be prescribed depending on dental health.
  • The veterinarian should gently palpate all areas of the hedgehog’s body to identify swellings, lumps, or any other abnormalities.
  • Hedgehogs that are not comfortable with the veterinarian’s handling may require a gentle sedation to allow the exam.
  • Aging hedgehogs or hedgehogs that have suspected problems may require an X-Ray to complete a thorough assessment of the hedgehog’s health.
Shots, Vaccinations, or Worming
  • Hedgehogs do not need annual shots or vaccinations as do cats, dogs, and some other animals. Hedgehogs are not known to carry diseases such as distemper or rabies that they should be vaccinated against.
  • Hedgehogs that play outdoors or eat insects that were wild caught should be treated for parasites.  You will need to talk to your vet about a prevention or treatment plan just as you would your other pets that spend time outdoors.
  • Most hedgehogs will have to be treated for mites at least once in their lifetime.  Mites can be found in bedding, food, and other animals.  Some mites may live in low numbers undetected on you pet until another stressor weakens the hedgehog’s immune system and the mites then become a problem.
How to Find an Exotic Veterinarian
  • Not all veterinarians are experienced with hedgehogs or will accept them as clients.
  • Several internet websites are dedicated to listing qualified veterinarians and Google searches will often help to identify exotic veterinarians in your area.
  • Referrals from other veterinarians are also excellent ways to track down an exotic vet in your area.