Caring for a Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are generally healthy and overall easy pets to take care of—and to love of course. They tend to experience few problems and, being as small as they are, take up very little space. While a hedgehog is a simple pet when it comes to pet care, there are a few things to be cautious of while caring for one. Any sign of illness can become fatal in just a few days, so if you see any concerning symptoms, take your hedgehog to the vet immediately. However, it can be difficult to see symptoms since, as prey animals, hedgehogs have evolved to hide signs of illness or injury. To be prepared, let’s look at different ailments in different parts of the body so that pet owners know everything that could be ailing their furry friend.
A hedgehog’s eyes are vulnerable to various ailments, such as pokes, things being caught around the eyelids, and cataracts. If your hedgehog struggles with any of these, sign him or her up for a vet visit. On a luckier note, if a hedgehog goes blind, their primary and secondary senses are smelling and hearing, thereby keeping their quality of life up.
Hedgehogs’ ears usually have few problems other than becoming tattered. Overtime, the ears can become more fragile and more vulnerable to tears. If the hedgehog isn’t bothered, it should be fine. However, if you notice any signs of discomfort, ask your vet, especially if it might be an ear infection.
Watch for bubbles, excessive dripping, or sneezing, as these can be signs of respiratory trouble, including bacterial pneumonia. Luckily, to treat a condition like this, a vet can prescribe antibiotics, which will usually do the trick if caught early.
Hedgehogs can have issues with getting things caught in their mouths, especially in the roof of the mouth, with peanuts and sunflower seeds usually being the most problematic. There have been a few cases where pet owners have had to remove food from the upper jaw to prevent further injury. If your hedgehog is licking the roof of his or her mouth or eating less, then you may need to take the animal to the clinic. Abscesses can also be an issue and are indicated by the animal eating on one side of its mouth or avoiding hard food.
With hedgehogs, limping is often a sure sign of injury. If they are having trouble walking or favor one side for support, they may need medical attention, especially since a leg injury can also indicate internal issues. Also, avoid your hedgehog getting its leg wrapped with hair, string, or anything else because this can cut off circulation (and maybe cause the hedgehog to chew off its own foot).
Keep a close eye on the length of toenails as well. Hedgehogs’ nails can curl and dig into the animal’s foot pads if they aren’t trimmed. Hedgehogs may experience tears and even infections from this too.
If you observe wounds, bruising, or discomfort, take your hedgehog to the vet for treatment. Some pet owners have even included medical grade Manuka honey in their hedgehogs’ diets or as a temporary wound dressing in addition to medical treatment from the vet. Hedgehogs are vulnerable to bacteria and need their wounds cleaned consistently to avoid more health issues.
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