Mites in Hedgehogs

Mites are easily spread from one hedgehog to another. Fortunately, they’re easy to prevent and treat, and unlike some other external parasites like ticks and fleas, mites don’t bother humans.

What are mites?

Mites are small red or black spiders like spiders and ticks. They bite and cause irritation to the hedgehog’s skin, spines (thorns) and hair. You may or may not be able to see the actual mites on your pet hedgehog, but you may see the damage the mites cause to your pet.

Symptoms of Hedgehog Mites

Mites can cause irritation and can cause hair and spine shedding; while hedgehogs usually shed some spines, significant areas of spine shedding or hair loss are not normal and should indicate that hedgehogs may have mites. Other symptoms may include:

  • biting, licking, chewing, or scratching yourself
  • lose weight
  • low energy
  • Dandruff and very flaky skin

Your exotic veterinarian will perform a skin scraping to obtain skin and hair samples, and look at the mites under a microscope.A skin scratch is not a 100% accurate test, but if the mites are heavily burdened, it can usually detect their presence.

Causes of mites

Mites can be infected in a number of ways. New hedgehogs, bedding, and food are often the culprits of mite infestations. It is not uncommon for a hedgehog to be infected with mites, for example, if it lives in a pet store near rodents or birds. If you haven’t exposed your hedgehog to another hedgehog, and haven’t handled another hedgehog and then handled your own, the mite infestation may have originated in its kibble or litter. Natural items such as food and substrates often carry small mites, which can then be introduced into a hedgehog’s enclosure and cause an infestation.

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There is no specific anti-mite treatment for hedgehogs, but treatments for cats are generally safe. Your out-of-town veterinarian may prescribe medications such as ivermectin.Avoid using any medication without veterinary approval, as hedgehogs do not respond well to certain treatments for cats and dogs. In particular, avoid mite collars, permethrin sprays, or permethrin sprays, as these can be fatal to your pet.

Even if skin abrasions are negative, your veterinarian may still treat mites based on symptoms, as mites are fairly common in hedgehogs. If these mite treatments are ineffective and skin abrasions are negative, further testing, such as a skin biopsy, may be necessary to check for other disorders or allergies.

In addition to treating your hedgehog for mites, you will also need to treat their environment.Clean and wash the hedgehog’s entire cage, trunk, water bottle, any blankets or towels, toys, and wheels in the cage with mild dish soap, then rinse. Throw away all non-washable bedding, and any kibble already in the cage. Freeze leftover bedding and kibble for 24 hours to kill any mites that may be in them and prevent reinfestation. You will also need to separate the affected hedgehog from other pets for a week or so until you are sure the infection has been eradicated.

How to Prevent Mites

Thankfully, preventing mites is easy. Always wash your hands after handling any other hedgehogs at the arena, pet store, or at a friend’s house. If you bring home a new hedgehog, be sure to isolate them for a week to watch for signs of mites or other diseases before introducing them to your other hedgehogs.Also, make sure to wash your hands after handling new hedgehogs and before touching other hedgehogs. Freeze all bedding and packaged foods (excluding crickets or mealworms) for 24 hours after purchase before placing them in the cage with the hedgehog. These items are common suspects for mite infestations in pet hedgehogs when there are no other hedgehogs in contact with them. For extra protection, consider bathing your pet monthly in warm water with a few drops of olive oil; this can help keep mites from getting in, while also keeping your hedgehog’s skin from getting too dry.

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If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, be sure to consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s health history, and can give your pet the best advice.


Mites in Hedgehogs
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