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Short answer: do hedgehogs have fleas?
Yes, hedgehogs can have fleas! They may carry fleas that are more specific to their own species. But they could get infected by fleas that used dogs, cats, or other animals as former hosts. Fortunately, there are remedies for flea infestation. You just have to make sure not to use products dangerous for hedgehogs.
Why do hedgehogs have fleas?
All animals may get external parasites. It’s the same with cats, dogs, and humans. Although, it’s not given that your pet hedgie gets any fleas for sure. There’s always a chance that they will get them from somewhere. But using enough caution and limiting the exposure to fleas can lower the risk.
BBC Radio claimed that hedgehogs would die without their fleas. Numerous bloggers and internet message boards were sent into an outrage. How could they say such a thing? In fact, this really is a completely false claim. Keep in mind that not all hedgehogs carry fleas in their fur.
Still, the radio host might have been right in one thing. As a whole species, hedgehogs could benefit from fleas. How come? Well, having fleas on your body definitely boosts the immune response. In turn, their immune system gets better with every passing generation.
However, it’s definitely not the same as saying that hedgehogs wouldn’t exist without fleas. They can live perfectly fine lives without being subject to a flea colony living between their quills.
Do hedgehogs have specific fleas?
Many hedgehog articles claim that there are fleas unique only to hedgehogs. That might be true only to a certain degree. While, yes, there’s a type of flea that links to hedgehogs, the same fleas may infect other animals as well. When you browse online, there are at least a couple of cases where people got fleas from their hedgehog. Although, note that this is a rare case. More on that later.
But I heard fleas hate hedgehogs…
As you can see, there is a lot of misinformation circling the sites online. Definitely, there is no such case as fleas ‘hating’ hedgehogs. Hedgehogs can easily get a flea infestation.
However, some types of fleas might not prefer African pygmy hedgehogs. That’s because these hedgies have a lower body temperature compared to other animals. But clearly this isn’t evidence that points to hedgehogs being immune to fleas.
How to tell if a hedgehog has fleas?
Since age, sex, and other variables aren’t important, you should always keep an eye out for a flea infestation.
- Quill loss due to fleas (need a veterinary’s confirmation)
- Frequent scratching, biting, and licking of their own body
- Flea feces on the hedgehog’s skin
- Anemia in young hedgehogs
- Tiny bite marks or red sores on the skin
- Bites acquiring a bacterial infection
Are there always signs?
No, your hedgehog could have fleas and there would be no signs or symptoms at all. Usually, this is the case in the early infestation period. And your hedgie might not get itchy from the fleas whatsoever. Some hedgies aren’t sensitive to fleas.
But when there are enough fleas on living on your hedgehog’s body, you should note the flea feces on the skin. Overall, it has a peppery look and the individual dropping is comma like. Seeing this on your hedgie’s skin is surely a sign to pay a visit to the vet.
Does my hedgehog have fleas or mites?
This is a common question hedgehog owners face. They aren’t sure if their hedgie has fleas or mites. Actually, these are different parasites. Mites, these little arachnids, cause a lot of discomfort for your hedgehog. Let’s take a look at some of the possible symptoms.
- Weight loss
- Flaky skin
- Low energy levels
These aren’t typical symptoms of fleas. However, some of these signs may well be any other disease. That’s why you need to visit a veterinarian for a diagnosis.
But you can be quite sure that mites won’t pick you or your other pets as the next hosts. The transfer of mites from hedgehogs to other animals is rare.
How do I treat my hedgehog for fleas?
This is a very important topic. When you use the wrong products, there’s an extremely high risk of endangering or killing your pet hedgehog. That’s because there aren’t any hedgehog-specific flea products out there.
How NOT to treat your hedgehog
First, let’s take a look at some products you should NOT use under any circumstances.
- Don’t use permethrin sprays!
- NO use of any other permethrin products!
- Don’t use flea collars!
- Don’t use organophosphate products!
Because these products are toxic or just hazardous to your hedgehog.
How to treat your hedgehog
Now, it’s always a good idea to consult with a veterinary before taking any further steps. Having fleas on a hedgie’s body is a medical condition. Hence, you are better off picking a route that’s paved with qualified knowledge and skills.
Still, we’ll take a look at some of the options that might be on the table. So far, we aren’t aware of any flea products that are specific to hedgehogs. When your veterinary prescribes a certain product against fleas, the chances are that it’s actually produced for cats or dogs. The effects when using these flea-destroying agents in hedgehogs aren’t tested for. Companies don’t hold responsibility for adverse reactions in hedgehogs.
Usually, your veterinarian would prescribe topical medications. These wouldn’t contain stuff dangerous to your hedgehog. But the topical powders or sprays are only a part of the wider solution. You need to take care of the environment surrounding your pet hedgie too. This means cleaning the carpets and any other porous surfaces, which could harbor flea eggs.
The thinking here is that flea eggs can fall off your hedgehog. These eggs take weeks to hatch. Once that happens, they are on the lookout for their first meal. Actually, this is another topic with your veterinarian who has prior experience with hedgehogs. You can go over some of the things in your home that could provide a safe haven for flea eggs.
Does bathing work against fleas?
Bathing your hedgehog is not enough to counter the flea issue. While bathing is good for general hygiene, it’s important to note that hedgies are clean animals. And you don’t want to bathe your hedgehog too often. If you do it more than once a month, you subject your hedgehog to a risk of skin conditions and diseases.
Should your hedgehog be exceptionally dirty, then you can bathe him in an oatmeal bath more frequently. Doing this ensures that more of the essential oils in their skin stay where they should. Although, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and give infrequent baths. This is important in the context of a flea infestation. Don’t conclude that a lot of bathing would do any good for your hedgie! It won’t help and will do more harm.
Can you get fleas from hedgehogs?
Yes, you can get fleas from your hedgehog. Some sites claim that hedgehog fleas only ‘like’ hedgehogs. When we looked deeper into this topic, it looks like this is definitely not the case.
When your hedgie has a serious infestation, these fleas could easily find their way on your skin and bite you as well. The symptoms include itchiness and red bite marks. Most of the time, it’s self-resolving after you eliminate the fleas from your home altogether.
Can dogs or cats get fleas from hedgehogs?
Yes, and vice-versa as well. Even if hedgehogs would have fleas that are only interested in their blood, there are other types of fleas looking for a host. Dog fleas rarely discriminate. They can infest cats, humans, and even hedgehogs.
When you hedgie has, for example, dog fleas, then you can be sure that these fleas may end up in any other pet. And these fleas can threaten humans too. Usually, these fleas are responsible for itching, redness, and swelling in the bite areas. In rare cases, dog fleas can bring about an allergic reaction. Severe allergic reactions are life-threatening.
And that’s not where all the concerns end. Since fleas carry blood from one host to another, infected blood can give rise to new diseases. The blood of a former host could have parasites or other nasties inside. This is why it’s so important to use preventative medicines on your cats and dogs. As a result, all of the animals living under one roof experience a safer environment.
The bottom line: do hedgehogs have fleas?
Yes, hedgehogs have the potential for flea infestations. There are numerous types of fleas that could infest your hedgehog. If you have many different animals in your home, it’s important to use preventive medicine for your cats and dogs.
Always consult with a qualified veterinarian. Also, they should know about hedgehogs in-depth before starting any treatment. Otherwise, you could use products that are dangerous for your prickly buddy.
And yes, even humans can get fleas from hedgehogs. But these cases tend to be self-limited after taking care of the root problem. Also, your hedgehog may give certain types of fleas to other animals, such as dogs.