Originating from Europe, Asia, and Africa, hedgehogs are solitary animals who can also be intriguing household pets. Your prickly pal gets his name because in his native habitat, he scavenges through hedges in search of small insects that make up his diet. Having this wild animal means you need to know the signs of an under-the-weather hedgehog.
Look for signs of lethargy and a tired, dull expression in your hedgehog's eyes. A healthy hedgehog will have bright eyes and a sense of alertness. A sick hedgehog won't be in the mood to move around his environment very much. Hedgehogs are known for being active scavengers, always searching for small insects and making small "grunt-like" noises, much like a hog. A sick hedgehog may have discharge in his eyes and nose. A healthy hedgehog's nose may be a bit moist, but there will be no discharge.
Stool and Appetite
Check to see what your hedgehog's stool looks like. Healthy hedgehogs will have firm stool, while sick hedgehogs will often have loose, runny stool. If your little buddy isn't feeling well, he probably won't have much of an appetite. Note his food intake. Report his food intake and his "stool status" to his veterinarian.
Pick up your hedgehog and gently place him on his back in your hand. A healthy hedgehog will almost immediately roll into that cute little round ball that just melts your heart. A sick hedgehog will position himself into an oblong-shaped ball. The oblong shape can also indicate dehydration. He won't be as round as he would be on one of his better days. A healthy hedgehog will display spines that stick up in all their glory while a sick hedgehog's spines will lay flat and lifeless.
Observe how your hedgehog is breathing. A panting hedgehog can indicate respiratory or cardiovascular problems. Look for labored breathing and note any sounds, such as wheezing or raspy noises. A healthy hedgehog will breathe quietly. If you believe your hedgehog is sick, lower his stress level as much as possible until he can be seen by an exotic animal veterinarian. Place your hedgehog in a quiet, dark room that is free of draftiness. Room temperature should be kept around 75 degrees. Your hedgehog should be temporarily separated from other hedgehogs until he has made a full recovery.
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Pamela Miller has been writing for health, beauty and animal health/welfare publications for seven years. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Communication from MTSU.