9 Hedgehog Dying Signs You Need To Know

The hedgehog dying signs in this article can help you to tell if your beloved pet is likely to pass away soon. No situation is more sad for a loving pet parent but the day it happens is inevitable. If your hedgehog is dying right now it is important to make it as comfortable for your pet as possible.

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Hedgehog dying signs

Several different signs can indicate that the life of your hedgehog ends soon. You know your pet best and even if one or more of them occur, that doesn’t mean that passing away is inevitable. Sometimes your hedgehog is just sick or has had a difficult and stressful time. However, the best choice is often to visit the vet.

The average lifespan of pet hedgehogs is between 5 and 6 years. [1] Even if some hedgies get much older, you should be prepared when yours reaches a high age. Apart from that hedgehogs are prone to different health issues which can be fatal, especially if not treated.

Hedgehog Dying Signs

If you notice one or more of these hedgehog dying signs, watch your pet closely.

#1 Sleeping At Night

Hedgehogs are nocturnal. After sleeping all day they usually get very active at night. A healthy hedgehog runs several miles a night. So, if you can’t hear the running wheel spinning, there might be something wrong.

Have in mind, that it’s totally normal that a baby hedgehog needs a few days to get familiar with his new home after you brought him to your place. Additionally, the journey was thrilling and exhausting for him. So don’t panic if he sleeps during the first one or two nights.

Hedgehogs need a dark place. Too much light at night is stressful and will encourage your hedgie to sleep. Make sure that you place the cage at the right place. It should be a quiet room where the light is switched off at night. Your living room with the tv running late in the evening might not be a good choice.

#2 Lethargy And Weakness

Pet hedgehogs are active and curious. They love to explore and try new toys. If nothing is interesting anymore you should be concerned. That said, sometimes it’s just normal behavior. Every hedgehog has its own character. [2] While some are real energy bundles, others love to relax more often.

Older hedgehogs tend to rest more than younger ones. Independent of its age, sometimes they are just tired. Give your pet a while to take a nap and look if it gets more active within the next day.

#3 Loss Of Sense Of Balance

The loss of sense of balance can be a sign of the wobbly hedgehog syndrome. Male and female hedgehogs are affected equally and the disease usually begins at an age of two or three years.

Sadly there is no treatment for it so far. Normally sick hedgehogs die within 12 and 24 months after you notice the first symptoms. [3

#4 Lack Of Appetite / Weight loss

The lack of appetite is a strong sign of a sick hedgehog. Especially when it’s lasting over a period of time and is tied to weight loss. I wrote a whole article about it and what you can do when your hedgehog is not eating.

Try to offer him his favorite treats and syringe feed if there is no other possibility. Sometimes it’s just your hedgehogs’ way to get more attention. If nothing helps don’t hesitate to visit the vet.

Especially if your hedgehog refuses to drink you should be concerned and hurry. Dehydration is serious with small animals and they won’t start drinking again if the situation is too far gone.

#5 Changes In Poop & Urine

Hedgehogs poop a lot and everywhere if not litter trained. The place where you will find most of your pets’ feces is around its wheel. That said, the color and structure of the poop are a good indicator of the health of the digestive system.

The stool should be brown, not too hard and in a good shape. Green or very dark feces are not normal but can occur temporarily if you changed the diet. That is as well for a loose or hard structure. A diet change should always be gradual by mixing the old and the new hedgehog food at first.

Blood in stool or urine is always a sign you should worry about. It can be an indicator for serious digestive inflammations or cancerous tumors. Visit the vet when you first notice it.

#6 Unable To Curl-up

Healthy hedgehogs can Curl-up. [4] If yours isn’t able, he is either too weak or it just hurts. While the first reason is likely a sign of a soon-to-come death, the latter can be an indicator for injuries or hurting tumors.

Take your pet to the vet and let him check if there are any broken bones.

#7 Respiratory Problems

Hedgehogs have a very sensitive respiratory system. Several things might cause irritations that can lead to serious problems. The first thing you should do is to check the bedding. Good hedgehog bedding options are dust-free and come along without chemicals such as scents and other additives.

Apart from that healthy hedgehogs are sniffing all the time no matter where they are. You should be concerned if can’t hear the cute noise. If you are sure that nothing in the habitat can cause this problem something must be really wrong.

#8 Eyes And Nose Discharge

As stated above, abnormal breathing is a thing to worry about. Nose discharge is a symptom that can come along with it. None the less you should visit the vet no matter if the discharge comes from the nose or eyes.

#9 Tumors

Tumors are quite often in older hedgehogs like in most small animals. [5] If discovered early the chance for curing is the highest. But be prepared for a long way of illness that often ends with the death of your beloved hedgehog.

Lumps are most likely a safe sign of tumors. These can occur everywhere in your hedgehogs’ body. But have in mind that some tumors will hide inside your little friends’ body.

Even if the veterinarian can remove the tumor successfully, it’s likely that new ones appear soon. It’s also possible that your hedgehog will never be the same again after the surgery.

How To Comfort A Dying Hedgehog

If you know that your hedgehog will die, you have to make a choice:

  • Euthanizing your hedgehog will prevent further suffering but is also heart-breaking for many pet parents.
  • Comforting your hedgehog will make passing away as smooth as possible without a difficult decision.

Many experts tend to vote for the first option but it’s fully understandable if you don’t want to go this way. Here is what you can do to make everything much easier for your prickly pal:

  • Take him into a dark room and let your hedgehog alone. You want to reduce any stressful moments to a minimum.
  • Make sure he stays hydrated. If he refuses to drink by himself you can use a syringe to give him some water. Eventually use a mixture of electrolytes.
  • Antibiotics often lower the pain.
  • If he is not eating anymore, you can use a syringe to feed him canned cat food. Another possibility is to soften cat food kibbles for this use as you might already have these at home.
  • You can raise the temperature slightly. Between 75 and 80° F are more comfortable for a weak hedgehog.

Don’t limit yourself to only one of these actions but do everything at once. If you feel bad about seeing your hedgehog suffering, you can always revise your decision and ask your vet for a euthanization.

Is My Hedgehog Dead Or Hibernating?

I understand that some people are afraid of conflating death with hibernation as this would be an unforgivable mistake. Luckily this is very unlikely to happen. Apart from that, pet hedgehogs are not meant to hibernate. You should be very concerned about your care if it happens to yours.

Hibernating hedgehogs are curled up into a ball and this is not the position you will find a dead hedgehog in. That said, it can be hard to detect a heartbeat in a hibernating hedgehog. Additionally, its body temperature will cool down and you most likely won’t notice a difference to a dead animal. [6]

Wrapping Things Up

The death of a pet hedgehog is the saddest time for sure. Watch for the mentioned signs if you think your little friend will pass away soon but don’t be too worried if you only observe one of them. Make sure that there is no other cause of the situation. Sometimes the problem can be solved by little care adjustments.