Do you think your hedgehog has mites? In this article you will learn everything you need to know. Mites can develope into a serious issue and the right treatment is important. That said, it is easy to get rid of mites as well. As long as you start the right treatment soon and don’t wait too long.
Hedgehogs are not more prone to mites than any other small pet. But it’s still likely that your hedgehog will get infested one or two times during his life. And this is for both genders. In the following sections, I’m going to write about symptoms, causes, treatment and prevention of mites.
Before I get started, note, that I’m not a veterinarian. If you have any uncertainties, don’t hesitate to ask an expert in your region.
By the way, you don’t have to afraid of hedgehog mites getting onto your body as they are tied to one species.
Most hedgehog parents get concerned about their pet when the hedgie starts losing quills. Indeed, mites are a common cause for quill loss but there are many other symptoms that might occur.
If you look closely you can often (but not in every case) see the white mites with your eyes. You can use a black t-shirt or towel to cuddle your hedgehog. After that look for white spots on it and wait till they start moving. A vet will usually use a microscope to make a diagnosis.
Even if the skin of hedgehogs is naturally more dry, red areas and very flaky skin with dandruff can be a sign of mites. Additionally affected pets often bite, lick and scratch themselves.
A change in behavior can as well go along with mites. If you notice that your hedgie isn’t that interested in his favorite activities anymore or if he stops eating, you should take a deeper look. But have in mind, that both of these symptoms can be an indicator for other illnesses as well.
A high stress level makes hedgehogs more prone to a mite infestation. That said, a transfer of mites from another infested hedgehog, or through contaminated bedding you bought at a pet store are most common.
There are some things you can do to prevent your little hedgie to get mites. The parasites are quite temperature sensitive so you should be more rigorous with prevention in the winter months. In warm temperatures, the life cycle of mites can be very short (10 to 12 days).
- Wash your hands after you handled another pet.
- Freeze new bedding for 24 to 48 hours to kill all mites and their eggs that might be in the bedding.
- Freeze new hedgehog food or cat food for 24 to 48 hours (except crickets and mealworms).
If you managed to get rid of the mites due to a special treatment, you have to ensure that there are no parasites and eggs left. Deep cleaning of the cage as well as your house is inevitable.
If you use a playpen or let your hedgehog roam freely through your rooms, these can be the place for a new infestation. Mite eggs may have fallen from your pet. Now the vermins might be hiding in the carpet waiting for their chance to get on your hedgie again.
Don’t be surprised if your veterinarian suggests the treatment with a product developed for dogs or cats. There is just no such drug specially designed for hedgehogs. Don’t go and chose a treatment yourself. Some are toxic to hedgies and can even be fatal.
Under no circumstances you should use mite collars and organophosphate or permethrin-based products.
Not all vets are aware of the dangers a treatment with Ivermectin comes with. While there are many cases where the treatment was successful, some hedgehogs can get a toxic reaction. The drug is very difficult to dose and there are sad stories of pet hedgehogs that died after the second or third treatment.
Many websites mention REVOLUTION® as an appropriate solution to the problem and think it can be a good treatment as well. But you can’t just buy it over the counter and will need a recipe from your vet.
Another option might be the treatment with home remedies. While these are most natural, I don’t think you can get rid of mites with them in the long term. I really don’t know anyone who successfully treated his hedgehog with home remedies only.
You should also have in mind, that a bath or the use of oil before visiting the vet can make identifying mites very difficult.