Mites in Hedgehogs

hedgehogs-housing-1Hedgehogs living in the wild are often infested with ticks, fleas and mites, which are small insect parasites causing itchy, irritating skin issues. The same goes for pet hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs can get mites from other infested hedgehogs, which they may contact at the breeders, in pet stores, shelters or previously contaminated bedding.

It’s fairly easy to treat mites and you’ll want to do so because they can be quite serious if left untreated.

"Hedgehogs are often infested with mites."

How can I tell if mites are on my hedgehog?

First, know that mites affect hedgehogs of any age and sex.

If your hedgehog has mites, you may not notice any signs or symptoms if it’s early in early in the infestation because your hedgehog may or may not be itchy depending on his or her hypersensitivity to mite bites.

Eventually you might notice these signs in your hedgehog:

  • Losing quills
  • Biting, licking, chewing or scratching itself
  • Anorexia (weight loss)
  • Lethargy (lack of energy)
  • Seborrhea (dandruff) and very flaky skin.

If your hedgehog is examined regularly by a veterinarian (at least once a year), your doctor can identify the problem early and prescribe proper treatment.

Your veterinarian may run diagnostic tests to make sure there’s no other disease or problem causing the itching and scratching… and he or she will examine your hedgehog’s quills and skin for evidence of mites and other external parasites.

How does my veterinarian treat a hedgehog with mites?

Most mites are species-specific, which means they don’t like living on different animals. But if your hedgehog has been diagnosed with mites, you’ll want to have your veterinarian check your other animals such as dogs, cats and rabbits, just to be safe.

There are no hedgehog-specific drugs for managing mites in hedgehogs, so your veterinarian may suggest products used for dogs and cats (their use in hedgehogs is described as “off-label”). Topical cat medications, including Advantage™ and Revolution™, appear to be safe but should ONLY be used under the guidance of a veterinarian familiar with hedgehogs.

Your veterinarian may also recommend topical flea powders, premise sprays or even professional pest exterminators… but ONLY use them under your veterinarian’s care.

In addition, it’s VERY IMPORTANT to clean and treat your home and any other areas where the hedgehog may reside, play and visit, since mite eggs and adult mites can fall off the hedgehog into carpets etc., for short periods of time.

"Talk with a veterinarian who’s familiar with hedgehogs, so you’re sure to get the right advice regarding proper topical and environmental treatments."

Be sure you’re treating the areas long enough to get the adult from the last mite egg that hatches! Talk with a veterinarian who’s familiar with hedgehogs, so you’re sure to get the right advice regarding proper topical and environmental treatments.

CAUTION: Certain products should NEVER be used on hedgehogs. DO NOT use mite collars, organophosphates, straight permethrin sprays or permethrin spot-ons on your pet hedgehog. PLEASE ASK YOUR VETERINARIAN FOR GUIDANCE.

Will hedgehog mites bother me or my family?

No, you should not be concerned for your family, because hedgehog mites do not like living on humans.

This client information sheet is based on material written by: Dr. Rick Axelson, DVM

© Copyright 2013 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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Kimberly Crest Veterinary Hospital
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