Posted: March 27, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: My son and I recently purchased two hedgehogs for pets. Since bringing them home, we have noticed a few things we aren't sure is quite good. First, my son's little boy has a real problem with dandruff and flaky, dry-looking skin. He also is quite overweight and has some kind of growths on his lower eyelids (not sure if they have eyelids, but these growths are at the lower part of the eyes). He and my little girl were both at a vet last week and put on Revolution mite medication, because the vet thought they both had mites. My little girl had a bloody ear and was scratching constantly. She seems to be getting better, but she is not eating her food and will not eat unless it is cooked, boneless chicken or beef baby food.
We were told to keep them both on what the breeder fed them, which was a specific brand of cat food. Dante (the little boy) eats his food with no problems, but Sophie hasn't touched it since moving here. I do cook for her, including carrots, peas and chicken. I also give her cottage cheese, but she doesn't like it and doesn't like yogurt either; she only eats the meats and veggies. Oh, and she loves apples cut up real tiny. Anyway, I hope you can give me advice. I am worried Dante has something wrong with his skin and eyes and Sophie is not getting the right diet. I would appreciate any help you can give us. We both have grown attached to these little hedgies and would hate to take them back to the breeder to exchange.
A: It does seem that there are two different problems here. First, mites are very common in hedgehogs. Mites can cause both skin and ear disease. It is important that all hedgehogs be treated even if there is only evidence of mites on one hedgehog. It may take days to a couple of weeks for the mites to disappear even when the proper treatment is used.
The gastrointestinal problems are a little bit more concerning. There are now some excellent commercial diets for hedgehogs available. And although homemade diets may have some wonderful merits, one needs to be very careful when using homemade diets, as they may be deficient in essential vitamins and minerals.
For your female hedgehog that is not eating, a visit back to the veterinarian would be the first thing to do; explain what you have been trying to feed and what she is not eating. A physical examination along with a microscopic examination of her stool will help to determine what could be the problem. There are various medications that we use to treat gastrointestinal disease in hedgehogs and your doctor will be able to better direct treatment once he or she knows exactly what is causing the problem.
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