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Hedgehogs and Allergies

by Bryan Smith

While it's not as common as dog & cat allergies, it is very possible to be allergic to hedgehogs. Allergies can be to a hedgehog's saliva, urine, or to the animal itself. Hedgehogs DO have fur and do produce dander— people selling hedgehogs as hypoallergenic are lying!

There are, however, other things to watch for. If you have an allergy to a hedgehog's bedding material, to other animals, or other allergens, this can also cause problems since a hedgehog's quills will push the offending substances just below the surface skin on your hands and create a reaction that wouldn't otherwise occur.

As an example, if I pet a cat I have to be sure not to touch my nose or eyes, but otherwise I suffer no serious symptoms unless the room is full of cat dander. However, if I first touch a cat and THEN pick up a hedgehog, the hedgehog quills push the cat dander into my hand and my hands swell up, covered with ugly red welts.

It's also not possible to tell if you're allergic to a hedgehog just by visiting a pet store or breeder and handling hedgehogs there. While this could show an allergy right away, many people develop allergies after bringing a hedgehog home & having it for several months, or even longer than a year. These allergies tend to start small – rashes and hives after handling the hedgehog or cleaning the cage. But they can progress to being very dangerous, causing respiratory issues and other serious reactions. Hedgehog allergies should not be taken lightly. Unfortunately, sometimes it is necessary to re-home the hedgehog due to allergic reactions. While re-homing an animal is never fun, particularly for such shy animals as hedgehogs, your health comes first. You cannot very well enjoy your pet if you can't even go near them without gasping for breath! The Hedgehog Welfare Society can assist people needing to re-home their hedgehog due to allergies, and have rescues that can take a hedgehog to find a new forever home if the situation is bad enough that immediate intervention is necessary.

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