Signs & Symptoms
Bleeding

If your hedgehog has an injury that is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound using a clean towel or gauze.


Vomiting and diarrhoea

Take away all food from the cage and provide small quantities of water or an oral electrolyte solution. Should the vomiting and diarrhoea persist seek out veterinary treatment without delay.


Hypothermia

If hedgehogs experience low temperature conditions they could become hypothermic. You should try warming up the hedgehog using the methods mentioned above, however if it doesn’t resume normal activity in one or two hours get veterinarian help.

Signs that all might not be well

Outlined below are several typical situations you may find yourself in, when you will have to make a decision whether to take your hedgehog to the veterinarian or not. Often hedgies do not show any symptoms of sickness until they eventually become pretty ill, therefore a rapid response can very often  make a significant difference.

Watch out for the following indicators:


Behavioural changes: If your hedgie starts behaving differently from usual, for example he suddenly becomes unfriendly or overly passive, this could be a symptom that something isn’t right. Book an appointment with your vet within 24 hours.


Collapsed and inert: This, clearly, is most certainly not a very good sign. Take your hedgehog to the veterinarian as quickly as you can. Make sure that you always keep him adequately warm.


Doesn’t eat for for 24 hours: This does not always indicate that there is a problem. Occasionally hedgehogs stop eating for up to 3 days, and then start again as if nothing had happened. In the event that it continues longer than 3 days or there has been a significant decline in your hedgie’s weight, you should take him to the vet as soon as you can. Furthermore, if your hedgehog has not drunk any water for 24 hours, you should again take him to the vet as water is very important.


Hedgie eats any household products,  or any other potentially toxic substances: Take him to the vet immediately. The ingestion of many poisonous products  can be treated successfully if dealt with without delay. The same substances can be lethal should you wait. It is much better to be safe than sorry.


Seizures: Take your pet to the veterinarian immediately. You might want to get the veterinarian check out his blood sugar levels to make sure he hasn’t got diabetes.


Unresponsive and cold: This could be a sign that your hedgehog is going into hibernation. The very first thing to do is attempt to heat  your hedgehog up.  Put him beneath your shirt or on a heating pad, making sure there is a towel or a blanket between the pad and your hedgehog. If your hedgehog hasn’t responded after an hour, take him to the vet.


Walking stiffly: There could be a number of reasons for this, injury,  WHS (Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome) and  arthritis to name a few.  You should seek advice from your vet as soon as you can to find out how to treat it.


Skin problems: If your hedgehog has dry flaky skin and is losing a lot of his quills, he probably has a mite infestation or maybe a fungal infection.  These problems can easily be diagnosed and treated by a vet.


Broken limb: If it looks like your hedgehog may have broken a limb take him to the vet immediately. An untreated fracture will probably heal badly and cause your hedgehog a lot of discomfort.


Upper respiratory infection: An excessively runny nose or discharge from the eyes could be a sign that your pet hedgehog has an upper respiratory infection. This can be quite easily dealt with by your vet, but could kill your hedgehog if left untreated.


Lumps and bumps: Unfortunately hedgehogs are quite prone to cancer. They may also develop cysts. You should take your hedgehog to a vet as soon as possible.


Green poop: If the poop is sticky, take your hedgehog to the vet immediately.  Green poop is frequently an indicator of serious internal problems. Loose stools could be caused by a mild gastrointestinal problem due to change in diet or Stress etc. However if it continues for more than 3 days you need to get your vet to check your pet’s stools.  Green stool is often a general symptom of a very wide range of problems, some that may be quite benign and some can be very serious.

5 Common Hedgehog Diseases

By Adrienne Kruzer, RVT

Exotic Pets Expert


African Pygmy hedgehogs are more popular than you may think and they are more than just a caged pet. Hedgehogs are prone to several serious diseases, some of which can be avoided. While there isn't any hedgehog health census tracking every disease of every pet hedgehog these are some of the most prevalent diseases we see in our spiny friends, in no particular order.

1. Dental Disease

Hedgehogs have up to 44 teeth in their tiny, V-shaped mouths. These teeth are like miniature versions of our own teeth and are prone to similar dental issues. Fractured teeth, abscessed teeth, gingivitis, and tartar accumulation can all cause problems in our little hedgies. Preventing any sort of dental issue is of course ideal but not always practical in a pocket pet that likes to roll his body into a spiky, hissing ball. If you can get lucky enough to gain access to the mouth of your spiky friend then you might be a mealworm. No seriously, if you can get a Q-tip into your hedgie's mouth then brush away with water and work on keeping those chompers shiny. If brushing your hedgehog's teeth is futile then be prepared to have a dental cleaning with possible tooth extractions performed at some point in your hedgehog's little life.


2. Reproductive Diseases

Spaying female hedgehogs is something that should be done for more than just hedgehog population control. Uterine cancers, an infected uterus called pyometra, and mammary tumors can all result from your hedgehog hanging onto her reproductive organs. These diseases can all be prevented by having an ovariohysterectomy performed on your female hedgehog at about six to eight months of age. Neutering male hedgehogs is also key to preventing testicular cancer and can also be done around the same age as the females.


3. Ectoparasites

Hedgehogs will lose some of their quills as a part of their normal shedding but if your hedgie is itching and scratching and you are finding more quills on the bottom of the cage than your hedgehog he may have an ectoparasite. Mites are one type of commonly seen ectoparasites on hedgehogs and will cause your hog to be itchy. Quills will fall out, skin will dry out, and your hedgehog may be more irritable than normal. Mites can be diagnosed by your exotics vet (find one near you) by performing a skin scrape on your hedgehog and then looking for the tiny mites under a microscope. This test is not 100% fail proof though since only a small area of your hedgehog will be scraped so your vet may decide to treat for mites even if he doesn't seen any under the microscope. Mites can be brought into your hedgie's home by way of bedding and food therefore it is important to always freeze these items prior to putting them into the cage.


4. Neurological Diseases

Commonly referred to as "wobbly hedgehog syndrome," hedgehogs can develop a neurological disease that causes them to, well - wobble. Ataxia progresses to falling over, being unable to right themselves, seizures, and eventually paralysis with many other symptoms in between. It is a sad disease that no hedgehog should ever have to go through but reportedly affects about 1 in 10 hedgehogs. There is no known cause but a genetic predisposition is suspected and there is no cure. It is IMPORTANT TO NOTE, there ARE other ailments which mimic the symptoms of WHS, and WHS can only fully be diagnosed with a necropsy of the brain once the animal has expired.


5. Urinary Tract Diseases

The bladder holds urine (tiny anatomy lesson here) that is supposed to be clear to yellow in color. But sometimes hedgehogs develop a urinary tract infection or cystitis, both of which can cause the urine to be brown or bloody. Urolithiasis (bladder stones) can also cause hematuria (bloody urine) and may make it difficult for your hedgehog to urinate. A urinalysis, culture, radiographs, and a bladder ultrasound will all aid in diagnosing the urinary tract disease of your hedgehog. Kidney infections, bladder tumors and other diseases of the urinary system are also seen.

Many other diseases exist and can be diagnosed by your exotics vet. Ear infections, obesity, allergies, enteritis, osteoarthritis and other ailments can all occur in your hedgehog therefore an annual physical examination is recommended to keep your hog as healthy as possible for as long as possible.


Diseases of Hedgehogs

Last full review/revision January 2015 by James W. Carpenter, MS, DVM, DACZM; Dana Lindemann, DVM


Sick hedgehogs with a variety of illnesses, including acariasis, dental problems, pneumonia, gastric ulceration, neoplasia, and hepatic disease, often present with nonspecific clinical signs such as lethargy, weakness, and anorexia. This frequent presentation serves to emphasize the importance of diagnostic testing, even if anesthesia is required.


Cardiovascular and Hematologic Diseases

Dilated cardiomyopathy (see Cardiomyopathies) is a common postmortem finding, with an incidence of 38% in captive African hedgehogs. The etiology is not known; however, genetic and nutritional causes have been suggested. Affected hedgehogs are typically ≥ 3 yr old, although it may be seen in animals as young as 1 yr of age. Males are slightly overrepresented. Signs include dyspnea, decreased activity, weight loss, an auscultable murmur, ascites, and acute death. Radiographs typically demonstrate varying degrees of cardiac enlargement, pulmonary edema, pleural effusion, hepatic congestion, and abdominal fluid. Common gross necropsy findings associated with cardiovascular disease in hedgehogs include cardiomegaly, hepatomegaly, pulmonary edema and/or congestion, hydrothorax, ascites, and pulmonary or renal infarcts. Normal echocardiographic measurements have been published for the African pygmy hedgehog. These reference intervals, along with subjective evaluation of wall motion and chamber size, can be used to confirm the diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy. Hematologic and biochemical testing are useful to screen for concurrent problems and to monitor the effects of therapeutic agents. Therapy with furosemide, enalapril, and digoxin may be helpful. Alternatively, furosemide, pimobendan, and supplementation with oral carnitine have been used. The longterm prognosis for hedgehogs with congestive heart failure is poor. Saddle thrombus and pulmonary thromboemboli have been seen. Myocardial mineralization and splenic extramedullary hematopoiesis may exist in pet hedgehogs with concurrent diseases; the clinical significance of these lesions is unknown. Congenital erythropoietic porphyria was reported in a 6-mo-old male inbred pet African hedgehog.


Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Diseases

GI obstructions are most often caused by ingestion of rubber, hair, or carpet fibers. Signs include acute anorexia, lethargy, and collapse. Vomiting may be present but often is not. Diagnosis of obstruction is complicated by the fact that gaseous dilation of the GI tract can be a nonspecific finding in ill hedgehogs. A fatal intestinal mesenteric torsion has also been reported. Alimentary inflammation, including esophagitis, gastritis, enteritis, colitis, and gastric ulceration with perforation, has also been seen. Most of these hedgehogs had nonspecific signs such as decreased appetite and weight loss; vomiting and diarrhea were not seen. A case of gastroesophageal intussusception and megaesophagus has been reported in a hedgehog. This animal's clinical signs included dyspnea, vocalization, and salivation; vomiting ensued before death.

Enteritis may be caused by Salmonella or other bacteria. Salmonellosis in hedgehogs may be clinically silent or may cause diarrhea, weight loss, decreased appetite, dehydration, lethargy, and death. Diagnosis should be confirmed with fecal culture, using Salmonella-enriching medium. Although treatment is indicated in hedgehogs with clinical signs of disease, owners should be advised of the zoonotic potential and the risks of creating antibiotic resistance. Alimentary candidiasis (Candida albicans) and cryptosporidiosis are other reported infectious diseases. Although numerous species of nematodes, cestodes, and protozoa have been identified in wild hedgehogs, their significance in pets appears to be minimal.

Diarrhea also can be associated with some commercial diets or inappropriate foods such as milk. GI neoplasia, particularly lymphosarcoma, is relatively common. Other considerations for GI signs include dietary change, toxins, hepatic disease, and malnutrition. Hedgehog digestion does not rely on bacterial fermentation, and there is no evidence of antibiotic sensitivity as is seen in herbivorous mammals. Hematochezia should be clearly differentiated from urinary or vaginal bloody discharge.


Hepatic lipidosis is relatively common and may be a sequela of cardiomyopathy, neoplasia, starvation, obesity, toxicosis, pregnancy, or infectious disease. Signs may include lethargy, inappetence, icterus, diarrhea, and signs of hepatic encephalopathy. Diagnosis is supported by testing for hepatic enzymes, plasma bilirubin, and bile acids. Radiography and ultrasound-guided liver aspirates may also be performed. Treatment for hepatic lipidosis is similar to that in other species. Other important causes of liver failure include primary and metastatic hepatic neoplasia. Hepatic necrosis caused by human herpes simplex virus 1 was reported in a hedgehog that received dexamethasone.


Integumentary Diseases

Acariasis caused by Caparinia spp (psoroptic mite) is very common. Infestation with Notoedres spp (sarcoptic mite) has also been reported in hedgehogs. Signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, hyperkeratosis, seborrhea, quill loss, loose quills, and white or brownish crusts (mite droppings) at the base of the quills and around the eyes. Hedgehogs may scratch or rub themselves, but many individuals do not have obvious pruritus. Some animals have subclinical infestations. Diagnosis is confirmed by identifying mites and eggs (nits) via skin scraping. Treatment consists of ivermectin or a combination of ivermectin and amitraz. All bedding must be removed, and cage furnishings disinfected or discarded. During treatment, the cage is lined with paper that must be changed daily. All hedgehogs in the home should be treated concurrently.

Pet hedgehogs may be infested with fleas; however, cat and dog fleas generally do not infest African pygmy hedgehogs. This is likely because of the hedgehog's low body temperature. Treatment consists of topical or systemic flea control agents. Shampoo and powder products that are safe for kittens appear to be safe for hedgehogs. Tropical rat mites, Ornithonyssus bacoti, may also cause flaky skin and loss of spines; fipronil spray is an effective treatment.


Dermatophytosis is a common clinical disease in African pygmy hedgehogs; however, infection without significant clinical signs is also possible. Dermatophytes (Trichophyton erinacei, T mentagrophytes, Microsporum spp, and Arthroderma benhamiae) cause crusting dermatitis, especially around the face and pinnae. Quill loss may also be noted. Although some animals may scratch with the hindlimbs or rub against stationary objects, many individuals do not display signs of pruritus. Some infections are secondary to other dermatopathies, such as acariasis or trauma. Diagnosis is confirmed by culturing spines in dermatophyte test medium. Treatment consists of topical antifungal agents, with systemic griseofulvin or ketoconazole if needed. Lime-sulfur dips may also be used. Other hedgehogs in the home may be subclinically infected, and treatment of all animals is recommended.


Contact dermatitis may result from unsanitary bedding. Cellulitis has been linked to secondary myositis and sepsis; the primary cause in most of these cases was trauma. Staphylococcus simulans was reported to cause dermatitis characterized by a broad, well-circumscribed area of hyperkeratosis and alopecia on the back of a hedgehog. Allergic dermatitis has been anecdotally described; restricted antigen diets, antihistamines, and glucocorticoids may be helpful. Pruritus may be observed with development of new spines, as occurs in young hedgehogs. Pemphigus foliaceus has been reported; loss of spines, flaking skin, moist erythema, and epidermal collarettes were seen. Dexamethasone injections were reported to be an effective treatment.


Skin neoplasia is common. Squamous cell carcinoma, lymphosarcoma, and sebaceous gland carcinoma have been described. Papillomas of suspected viral etiology have been reported; recurrence in other sites after excision is common. Cutaneous and subcutaneous nodules may also be caused by abscesses, mycobacteriosis, and Cuterebra larvae.


Musculoskeletal Diseases

Myositis secondary to cellulitis has been reported. Osteoarthritis has also been seen. Bone cysts should be considered as a differential for mandibular masses, along with neoplasia and trauma. Fractures can occur when a limb becomes entrapped in a wire cage or exercise wheel. Splinting can be performed for distal limb fractures. Surgical correction may also be performed, but any fixation device must be able to withstand the hedgehog's strong rolling-up mechanism. Lameness may be caused by ingrown toenails, arthritis, nutritional deficiencies, pododermatitis, constriction of a foot or digit by fibrous material, neurologic disease, or neoplasia.


Neoplasia

Neoplasia in hedgehogs is very common in both sexes. A variety of tumor types affecting every body system has been reported. According to one survey, the body systems in which most tumors were found were the integumentary, hemolymphatic, alimentary, and endocrine systems. The most common tumors are mammary gland tumors, lymphosarcoma, and oral squamous cell carcinoma. The median age at time of diagnosis is 3.5 yr, although tumors may be seen in animals as young as 2 yr old. In one survey, > 80% of the tumors were malignant. Proliferative uterine tumors or polyps are common and are associated with vaginal bleeding, hematuria, and weight loss. Ovariohysterectomy allows prolonged survival of hedgehogs with uterine tumors. Some sarcomas have been associated with retroviral infection.


Signs depend on the location and severity of disease and may include palpable masses, weight loss, anorexia, lethargy, diarrhea, dyspnea, and ascites. Diagnosis is based on cytology or histopathology. Diagnostic imaging and blood testing may help determine the extent of the disease and establish a prognosis. Treatment generally includes surgical excision and supportive care, although other treatment modalities may be helpful. Not every mass in pet hedgehogs is neoplastic; for example, abscesses, bone cysts, papillomas, and uterine polyps are seen.


Neurologic Diseases

Neurologic signs (particularly ataxia) may be caused by torpor, hepatic encephalopathy, postpartum eclampsia, malnutrition, trauma, intervertebral disk disease, toxins, infarcts, infectious causes (eg, parasitic migration, rabies), otitis media, demyelination, polioencephalomalacia, or neoplasia.


Hedgehogs kept in cold (or sometimes excessively high) temperatures may enter a state of torpor or dormancy. In this state, the hedgehog has a greatly diminished response to stimulation, decreased heart and respiratory rates, and possibly increased susceptibility to infection. Dormancy can last for several weeks, during which the hedgehog may have periods of activity with ataxia.


Hypocalcemia may result from postpartum eclampsia, malnutrition, or for unknown reasons, and usually responds to calcium supplementation.


Intervertebral disk disease has been reported. Both cervical and lumbar lesions have been identified; multiple disks were affected in each of these hedgehogs. Radiographic findings included spondylosis, disc-space narrowing, and disk mineralization. Necropsy findings included degeneration of the nucleus pulposus and annulus fibrosus, dorsal extrusion of disk material, and mineralization of the nucleus pulposus. One case had evidence of fibrocartilaginous embolism. Temporary improvement with corticosteroids has been described in two cases of intervertebral disk disease.


Vestibular signs may be caused by otitis media/internal or central neurologic disease.


Demyelinating paralysis (wobbly hedgehog syndrome) occurs in as many as 10% of pet hedgehogs. Onset can occur at any age but is more common in animals <2 yr old. An early sign is the inability to close the hood. This progresses to mild, intermittent ataxia. The signs gradually increase in severity and include falling, tremors, exophthalmos, scoliosis, seizures, muscle atrophy, self-mutilation, and severe weight loss. The paralysis usually ascends from hindlimbs to forelimbs and usually leads to complete paralysis within 9–15 mo after the onset of signs. Death occurs within 18–25 mo. Appetite is usually normal until the terminal stages, when most hedgehogs become dysphagic. The diagnosis is confirmed at necropsy. Histopathologic lesions include vacuolization of white matter (cerebrum, cerebellum, brainstem, and spinal cord), axonal swelling, degeneration of spinal cord ventral tracts, and axonal and myelin degeneration in brain white matter. Peripheral nerves may also be involved. Inflammation of the CNS is not associated with wobbly hedgehog syndrome. The etiology is unknown, but a hereditary basis is suspected. Numerous treatments have been attempted without success. Euthanasia is warranted when the quality of life is compromised. A single case of pneumonia virus of mice in an African hedgehog with suspected wobbly hedgehog syndrome, resulting in nonsuppurative encephalitis with vacuolization of the white matter, has been reported.


Nutritional Disorders

Obesity is common. Healthy hedgehogs should be able to roll up completely, without any fat deposits protruding. Treatment includes reducing high-fat foods, rationing the main diet, and increasing exercise. Weight reduction should be gradual to prevent hepatic lipidosis, and owners should monitor their pet's weight. Nutritional excess or deficiency may occur with unbalanced diets; for example, calcium deficiency may result from a diet consisting mainly of invertebrates. Moist diets may predispose hedgehogs to periodontal disease. Other nutritional diseases are uncommon.


Ocular Diseases

Hedgehogs are prone to corneal ulcers and other ocular injuries. Diagnosis and treatment are as for other species, although administration of topical medication can be difficult. Blind hedgehogs navigate their captive environments with minimal detriment to their quality of life.


According to one report, ocular proptosis is relatively common and carries a poor prognosis for viability of the eye. Hedgehogs have a shallow orbit that may predispose them to proptosis, especially if excessive fat accumulation or orbital inflammation is present. Concurrent neurologic disease may result in ocular trauma.


Oral and Dental Diseases

Oral neoplasia, particularly squamous cell carcinoma, is common in hedgehogs. Dental disease, including calculus, gingivitis, and periodontitis, is also common. Periodontal disease is often associated with a bacterial component. The addition of abrasive items to the diet (eg, hard kibble, charcoal, or bone) and antibiotics are recommended for prevention and treatment of periodontal disease, respectively. Dental prophylaxis, periprocedural antibiotics, and tooth extraction may be necessary to treat severe dental disease. If advanced periodontal disease requires extraction of all the teeth, hedgehogs can be maintained on soft food. Tooth fractures and dental abscesses are also seen. Actinomyces infection has been reported; anaerobic culture and treatment should be considered for dental abscesses in hedgehogs.


Excessive tooth wear occurs in older hedgehogs, and hedgehogs with this condition should be fed a soft diet. Hedgehog teeth do not grow continuously and should not be trimmed. Hedgehogs are susceptible to wedging of hard items (eg, peanuts) against the palate. Stomatitis may occur in males that bite their mates; treatment is with soft food and antibiotics.


Otic Diseases

Pinnal dermatitis is common; skin crusts, accumulated secretions, and a ragged pinnal margin may be seen. Dermatophytes and acariasis are important causes; other possibilities include nutritional deficiencies, dry skin, seborrhea with hyperkeratosis, and extension of ear canal disease. Ear mites (Notoedres cati) are occasionally seen; signs, diagnosis, and treatment are as for cats (see Otodectic Mange). Bacterial or yeast otitis externa is also seen; these infections are often secondary to acariasis or another cause of chronic inflammation. Signs include purulent discharge, odor, and sensitivity of the face and ear. Otic cytology, skin scrapings, cleansing, and topical antimicrobial/anti-inflammatory therapy are used as for other species. Otitis media/interna can also be seen.


Reproductive Diseases

Posthitis may be caused by substrate entrapment in the prepuce. Hemorrhagic vulvar discharge is often caused by uterine neoplasia or endometrial polyps. Pyometra and metritis have been reported. Dystocia also is seen and treated as in other small mammals. Premature births occasionally occur; the prognosis for young without a suckling reflex is poor. Agalactia may be suspected if neonates lose condition within 72 hr after birth. Diagnosis may be confirmed by attempting to express the mammary glands; however, this usually requires anesthesia and may cause the dam to abandon or cannibalize her young. Causes of agalactia include malnutrition, stress, lack of oxytocin, inadequate mammary development in young females, and mastitis. Supportive care for weak neonates includes warming to normal body temperature over 1–3 hr, fluid support, and caloric support once normothermia has been achieved.


Respiratory Diseases

Predisposing factors for upper and lower respiratory tract infection are suboptimal environmental temperature; aromatic, dusty, or unsanitary bedding; concurrent disease causing immunocompromise; and aspiration of material from an oral infection. Signs include nasal discharge, increased respiratory noise, dyspnea, lethargy, inappetence, and sudden death. Radiographs, hematologic testing, and culture of tracheal or lung lobe aspirates are useful in diagnosis. Treatment includes antibiotics, nebulization, supportive care, and correction of underlying problems. Differential diagnoses for dyspnea are pulmonary neoplasia and cardiac disease.


A case of fatal corynebacterial bronchopneumonia has been reported in a pet African hedgehog. Pasteurella spp and Bordetella bronchiseptica can cause respiratory infections in European hedgehogs and are possibly important in Atelerix as well. Lungworms can also cause pneumonia, but this is unlikely in indoor pets. The existence of cytomegalovirus in African hedgehogs has been questioned; in any case, it is highly unlikely in domestically raised pets.


Urinary Diseases

Cystitis and urolithiasis cause changes in urine color, stranguria, pollakiuria, inappetence, and lethargy. Urinalysis with culture and radiographs should be obtained. Renal disease is also common (50% prevalence in a necropsy survey) and in many cases may be secondary to systemic disease. Genetic or dietary factors may contribute to the high prevalence. Nephritis, tubular necrosis, nephrocalcinosis, glomerulosclerosis, renal infarcts, polycystic kidneys, neoplasia, and various glomerulonephropathies have been identified. Signs associated with renal disease tend to be nonspecific, although polyuria and/or polydipsia may be noted. Diagnosis should be based on urinalysis and serum chemistry panels. Treatment consists of correcting the underlying cause, fluid therapy, and supportive care.


Zoonoses

Several strains of Salmonella are found in pet hedgehogs, including S tilene, S typhimurium, and S enteritidis. Many cases of transmission to people have been documented, particularly in young children. It should be assumed that all pet hedgehogs can carry and transmit Salmonella. Because infected animals may shed intermittently, a negative culture cannot exclude the carrier state. Treatment aimed at eliminating the carrier state is unlikely to be successful and may lead to antibiotic resistance.


Human dermatophytosis from pet hedgehogs is also well documented. African pygmy hedgehogs can be subclinical carriers of Trichophyton mentagrophytes var erinacei, Microsporum spp, and Arthroderma benhamiae. In addition, some people are extremely sensitive to contact with African hedgehog spines and develop transient, markedly pruritic urticaria after handling a hedgehog.


Wild African hedgehogs are susceptible to foot-and-mouth disease. To prevent introduction of this disease to the USA, importation of African hedgehogs was banned by the USDA in 1991.

Rabies has not been reported in wild or captive African hedgehogs, but the salivation that occurs during anting is occasionally mistaken as a sign of rabies. A single report of rabies in a wild European hedgehog exists.

Human herpes simplex virus 1 was recovered from the liver of a pet African hedgehog that died acutely after glucocorticoid treatment for intervertebral disk disease. Monkeypox virus DNA was recovered from an African hedgehog housed with many other exotic species at a pet distributor facility in Illinois. Candida infection of the footpads and intestine of the African pygmy hedgehog has been reported. Acute intestinal cryptosporidiosis has been reported. A single case of Chagas' disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) was reported in a captive African hedgehog housed outdoors in Texas.

African pygmy hedgehogs are considered susceptible to a variety of infectious agents, based on susceptibility observed in other hedgehog species. Possible bacterial zoonoses include Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, Y pestis, Mycobacterium marinum, M avium intracellulare, Coxiella burnetii (Q-fever), and Leptospira spp. Possible viral zoonoses include Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, arboviral tick-borne encephalitides, and paramyxoviruses of the Morbillivirus group. Chlamydophila psittaci and Toxoplasma gondii have been isolated from wild European hedgehogs.