Hedgehogs are noiseless, odorless, solitary animals. They are nocturnal by nature and live on a diet of insects, earthworms, slugs, snails and grubs. This insect-based diet is high in protein, high in fiber and low in fat. They are small in size and have a spiny coat. Just about all pet hedgehogs are African hedgehogs and require an enclosure kept in a warm temperature range of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Healthy hedgehogs are very active at night, so as large an enclosure as possible is recommended. A hiding area such as a box, flowerpot or polyvinyl (PVC) pipe is an important part of the cage; it allows the hedgehog to hide during the day. In the wild hedgehogs may travel several miles each night looking for food, so an exercise wheel is highly recommended. Likewise, hedgehogs should be fed at night when they are most active. A limited amount of food should be provided each night to prevent obesity.
Cancer seems to be a very common problem for pet hedgehogs. Other common problems include dental disease, obesity, skin mites, heart disease and eye trauma.
I recently had a hedgehog case. This hedgehog had a rather large growth on the right cheek area. Due to the location being close to the lips and right eye, this tumor was difficult to remove. Fortunately the tumor was removed without any complications, and the hedgehog healed up just fine.
I also had another interesting case involving a pet mouse. This little guy had a bald spot on the top of the back and neck. The mouse was scratching at the bald spot and there was some self trauma and infection to the skin as a result of this scratching.
Skin problems are the most common problem in pet mice. Skin problems in mice are typically from mite infestation, behavioral problems, husbandry-related problems or from unknown conditions.
This mouse appeared to suffer from mites; however, no mites were seen on the skin scraping. Behavioral problems and husbandry-related problems seemed unlikely based on the pet’s history, so he was treated for skin mites and the bacterial infection from the excessive scratching. Fortunately this therapy solved the problem.