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xCrazyFlyinAcesx 03-15-2019 08:15 AM

3 y/o Quill Loss
I am growing very concerned for my soon-to-be 3 year old hedgehog (his birthday is in April!). For the last couple of weeks he has been losing quills, and I only noticed them when I cleaned his cage or took him out to play. It is not normal for him to regularly drop quills - the last time he did so was when he quilled on his first birthday. . Not an excessive amount was lost at first, a fairly regular 5 quills a week, but enough after 3 weeks of this to take him to the vet to check for mites.

The mite test came back as negative and the vet recommended increasing the humidity in his room to help with dry skin - which makes sense, as the winter months can be rather dry. Followed their instructions and now, about a week later, he has lost 25 quills. 25 quills in 1 week compared to the earlier 5 per week. I am at a loss.

Some notes:

- The quills have the little bulb folicles on the ends. They also don’t seem centric to one spot on his body, as he has yet to show any balding spots.

- The only aspect of his environment that has changed was moving in early Jan. He uses the same type of fleece, wheel, food, heating source, and I use the same type of cleaning products to clean his cage regularly (a vinegar solution rinsed off after with water). He seems to enjoy the new apt, tho, as he is not afraid to take the opportunity to explore and annoint when I have him out. Can a change that happened 3 months ago impact him now?

- His activity is all the same. He eats about the same, sleeps about the same, activity level, love of the wheel, exploring time outside of the cage, all of that is the same. I can’t say whether he has grown grumpier, as he was always a bit of a grump.

- I have no other animals, he has never gone outside beyond travel and I freeze his food before giving it to him, so even with the negative test for mites I think that it is HIGHLY unlikely that it’s some sort of parasite.

My best hope is that this is another quilling phase. My vet said that he’s not too old for such a phase, but didn’t confirm that this was what it was. I thought hedgehogs generally didn’t quill after they were a year old? I’ve seen a couple of 2 y/o cases on the forum in my search for an answer, but would 3 be too old?

xCrazyFlyinAcesx 03-15-2019 08:18 AM


Also tried a bit of flax see oil to help with the vet’s dry skin diagnosis as I have seen in researching the forum that it might be effective. I have dropped a little into his food every two or three nights just to see his reaction and he seems to love it. Could the quill loss be a result of an allergy to the oil? I will stop it for a week and see what that does to the loss.

Yukidama's mama 03-16-2019 08:02 AM

My boy is also losing quills. It started around his 2nd birthday in late October but has continued and gotten worse, now dropping 4-6 per a week. I’m going to take him to the vets on Monday for a preventive mite treatment (2 doses of revolution, 2 weeks apart). I recommend you discuss doing the same with your vet. It is not harmful for them to have a preventative treatment as often it is hard to see them, unless it is a serious infestation. Yuki last had a preventive treatment at the beginning of last year and it seemed to help (hes lost more quills this time around).

I have a pet cam for Yuki since Christmas and I see him scratching throughout the night the night. Do you see or hear your boy scratching a lot? Most the time the quills have bulbs but sometimes they don’t or they have a piece of flakey skin attached. Even if they have bulbs they can still have mites. My vet previously told me that there is normal for them to have some mites, it is only when their immune system is compromised that it can get out of control and become an issue for them.

I live in Japan and the winters are also super dry here. I have a humidifier in the room so the level is correct (60% humidity) but the hygrometer reader on the digital thermometer inside his viv often reads onlymid 40s. I don’t know how I can get this higher ><

I’m going to try switch up his kibble too. Has your boy always had the same food, what do you feed? When I first got Yuki, the pet store had him on Mazuri and his skin was dry and he had bald patches back then (again was same time of year so maybe the dry winter didn’t help). I switched him over to good quality cat food including one salmon base one and his skin and quills got better! I had to switch these up a few months to a year later as he gained a lot of weight (original was tiny and verging underweight). So that’s when I introduced blue buffalo weight management last June and only kept one original food as part of his mix). He started losing fur and quills last Fall but only these last couple of months it has increased to 4-5 a week and he has a few sparse looking areas. So now it’s a bit warmer I’m going to take him to the vets for a wellness check and revolution treatment. Hes been having issues with vomitting lately as well so I’m not sure if it’s all connected. Our poor boys! :(

All I can suggest is to have a preventative mites treatment anyways and see if it helps. Consider changing his diet, research the ingredients and consider doing an intolerance test (I’m also looking into this now) and consider feeding a raw diet, as it’s a cleaner food (less chance of food allergies. I’m also going to introduce this.

As far as I’m aware, they don’t go through any more quillings after their first birthday. It’s normal to lose some quills and shed a little but it shouldnt be multiples in a day. But since Yuki is losing for a few months now and it’s slowly getting worse I don’t think it’s normal and 25 in one week isn’t normal either. Perhaps the stress of going to the vets made your boy lose more quills or if the humidity changed drastically perhaps it aggravated his skin of the flaxseed oil?

Also you didn’t mention about baths, how often do you bathe him and with what? It most likely not the cause but best to clarify just in case it’s making it worse etc. A new environment can be stressful but I think he would have green poops and his appetite effected as well. Has the new place been recently refurbished, freshly painted etc? Is the interior wooden in the room which could be irritating him (wooden floors, beams etc).

Re the oil, if the sudden excessive quill lost happened after giving the flaxseed oil I would stop it for now and see if it continues or improves. Maybe just use once a week. I also wouldn’t use any oil on his quills until the vet has ruled out a skin issue (bacteria, fungal or mites), just in case you are. I know the mite test was negative but often they come back negative, the mites might be in particular area etc, using oil on the skin can block pores, increase mites or make a skin condition worse.

Hoping he improves soon! Keep us posted!

CharlieCrowley 03-19-2019 04:26 AM

I hope your baby gets better soon and you figure out what is wrong with him. Can you please post what you find out? My Charlie is also 3 and has been losing quills like crazy. There is no change in husbandry and he seems happy and lively. He runs so hard on his wheel all night it wakes me up sometimes. He has excellent energy. I checked him for mites and it was negative. I’m bringing him in soon to see the vet again to do bloodwork. I am freaking out.

Yukidama's mama 03-19-2019 11:57 PM

Sorry to hear Charlie is going through a similar thing :/

I’d have them do a preventative mites treatment just in case. It’s almost impossible to see them yourself unless there’s a severe infestation. Does he have bald patches? You could have the vet do a skin culture and check for a skin infection (bacteria or fungal).

I took Yuki to the vet on Sunday mainly because of his vomitting but I’m also concerned about his quill loss as it’s been going on several months and I’m worried it will continue to increase like Crazyflyinaces hedgehog has now experienced. The vet said Yuki’s skin looked healthy and he wasn’t too concerned but I was(!) so he gave him a topical revolution treatment (do not let them use Ivermectin! It can be easily overdosed if injected and can be fatal on the second dose). I have only found one quill since so that’s an improvement already.

Other things to consider is his diet, what brands do you feed?
Also what do you use to bath him with (what kind of soap, shampoo or a wash?) and how often do you give baths? How many quills is he losing per a week and when did it start. It’s good for us to all compare and see any patterns. It could be something simple likes mites, husbandry, diet to environmental issues or an underlying internal health issue.

Hope he improves soon, let us know how it goes at the vets too.

xCrazyFlyinAcesx 03-21-2019 03:41 AM

Thank you for the well wishes!

We saw the vet for the second time for this problem and she did administer a preventative round of the Revolution mite treatment. We also made an appointment in a couple of weeks when we can check to see if the treatment is helping. If it is, the vet may do another round and we’ll chalk the problem up to mites. If not, the vet explained that the next step would be to send the skin samples and the quills he has lost out for cultures (though she didn’t say what for. I’m assuming some kind of bacterial skin infection?) I hope that won’t be necessary, as it would only delay his feeling well again. We’re going on our 6th week of quill loss here! I counted 20 quills in his cage the morning of our vet visit. Add it to the additional 5-6 he lost during the interactions of the vet visit and we’re still around where we were last Friday.

At the very least I seem to have solved the dry skin issue, according to the vet. Stopped the flax seed and got a humidifier used for babies. He isn’t as flaky or dandruffy as he was on his first visit regarding this problem. I hope your little one will find some relief from the dry air as Spring finally rolls around!!! I moved my humidifier so that the mist falls directly into the cage. Maybe that would be more effective in increasing the humidity for your baby? Mine is still not balding as a whole or in any one particular spot, which the vet said is also unusual. Additionally, she has ruled out quilling and environmental stress in moving as a factor; the problem wouldn’t be growing gradually worse as it is if the issue stemmed from a latent factor, and quilling doesn’t last this long.

To answer your questions about bathing, I don’t bathe him frequently to help keep his skin from drying out; generally every 3 weeks, 4 in the winter if it’s particularly dry. I use the baby aveeno oatmeal soap that many folks on the forums favor, and even add some olive oil in as a recommendation from my vet to help with the dry skin; we’ve used it all his life so it’s not something new that he is having a reaction to.

I am...hesitant to switch him over to a raw diet, but will keep that idea in mind. In the past he has had issues maintaining a healthy weight. He additionally wasn’t chewing or swallowing dry pieces well enough and wound up with an oral infection. Only within the last year and a half I have found a kibble that keeps him happy, at a healthy weight for his energy needs, and can be ground up and wet down for easier consumption. The brand is Halo cat food. Grain free with safe ingredients and a good fat and protein percentage. When he was younger he used to be more willing to try occassional non-kibble snacks, like turkey and banana, but the most I can entice his interest with now a days is hard boiled egg (which, I don’t think on it’s own would be a good substitute). I’ll keep it in mind, though. Thank you for the suggestion!

It’s too early to tell if anything that I am doing is helping, but I will keep this post updated! At the very least, it is reassuring to know that other folks have gone through /are currently going through this issue as well! I wish your babies all the best! Keep me up-to-date with your situations well and hopefully we can all figure out this quill mystery together!

CharlieCrowley 03-27-2019 09:07 PM

Charlie was started on a mite treatment. We tested for 5 things including mites, worms, fungal etc..labs have not come back yet. He has flaky skin but now this seems to be improving with the linseed oil treatment and the coconut quills from hedgehog and friends. I have still consistently seen 2 quills per night, but this is an improvement from before when it was more like 30. He is also growing new quills so hopefully he will be back to normal soon

xCrazyFlyinAcesx 03-29-2019 08:34 AM

I’m glad to hear that your hedgie is responding well to the treatment! Hopefully the quill loss will stop completely by the time the first dose wears off (or maybe a follow up dose may be necessary).

It has been 12 days since the Revolution mite treatment was given to my little boy, and the quill loss has not stopped. In fact, I would say that it has increased. Found about 33 quills in cleaning his cage this morning. Up from 25 a week to 33. Still no balding patches. Still happy as a clam in every respect. Even his dry skin seems to be gone, yet this problem persists.

My follow up appointment with the vet is in less than 2 weeks. I’m going to wait out the mite medicine’s dosage, see if this is just one of those “It’ll get worse before it gets better” situations. In the meantime, I will follow my vet’s advice and start to collect his lost quills again so that I have something to send out to a lab to check for skin bacterial/fungal issues.

Feeling very helpless right now, not sure what more I can do to help him.

CharlieCrowley 04-03-2019 02:07 AM

I am so sorry your baby is still sick. I really hope they find out what is wrong! I’m feeling helpless also. Tested Charlie’s poo again for mites, sent quills to the lab, still waiting for one lab to come back. They did a scrapping while I was there and looked under a microscope. It really isn’t mites. It isn’t ringworm either. Maybe bacterial? The next set of tests will be on the endocrine system. I am at a loss. I can tell the vet is worried.

Charlie continues to lose 5-7 quills a day. Not in any place in particular. He does not have bald spots. It is perplexing. His appetite is the same. His energy is the same. His mood is calm. I think his skin is looking a bit clearer. It is not so flaky. The oil is working. I’m also bringing him in the bathroom when I shower as the vet suggested. He doesn’t seem to mind the steam as long as he can hide in his towel and sleep. I plan to buy a humidifier this weekend to continue with steam.

I think it is time to take him in again. Keep me posted on your next vet visit and I will post after mine

Yukidama's mama 04-04-2019 12:51 AM

Sorry to hear both your hedgies are still losing quills.

Yuki is the same still but not as many. On average it was 4-6 quills a week but last week he lost x8 so it’s getting worse.
He had his first dose of revolution 2.5 weeks ago. The vet didn’t think it was necessary but did it to make me feel better I think ><

On the pet cam a few days ago I saw him scratch 20x in 10 mins!! He also shakes his head and wipes the side of his face against the floor etc. Do either of your hedgies do these additional things?

Next I’m thinking an ear issue, would perhaps explain the vomitting issue he also has. He has no wax and inside of ears from what I can tell aren’t red or aggravated. But he has lost a lot of fur around the base of his ears from above and behind them and even his quills on top of his head don’t look as full.

He also has some snapped quills, which make him look patchy in places but he has no actually bald spots. Any of your hedgies also have snapped quills? I heard it could mean a deficiency.

Oh I used to feed Halo chicken and also Halo salmon as part of a mix with now fresh and natural balance (all grain free). I had to reduce the Halo Chicken as the fat content was too high and he piled on so much weight! This is when I introduced the blue buffalo weight management which has grains and is chicken based.

I only give Yuki a full bath every 2-3 months and footbath every 1-2 weeks as it stresses him out so much, plus the winters get really cold here. But I’m going to try keeping his paws cleaner by just wiping them with a damp cloth. I guess it can’t be too hygienic for them to scratch with poopy feet! ><

I also use aveeno oatmeal wash but also recently got the hedgehog and friends line so the last two footbaths I’ve used the coconut and lime wash. I’d be careful using any oils directly on the skin, if there’s a chance it is a bacteria or fungal infection, the oil will block the pores and make the situation worse... what type of oil are you using CharlieCrowley?

Have you both always used fleece?
The only other thing I noticed was Yuki’s quill loss get worse when I put him back on fleece last Fall. That could just be it was more easier to spot them or perhaps fleece stresses him out (he tries to burrow in it). From last April to Summer he was on carefresh, which he loved but it came with other issues.

I’m thinking of introducing a natural substrate box (organic soil, play sand and coco peat) and see how he does in it then hopefully switch his enclosure completely but might be harder to monitor his health issues so not sure yet...will do the box first. Hoping it will help keep him cleaner and happier though!

That’s good to hear the humidifier is helping! I don’t know how I could get it to fall directly into his viv?? The top is wire mesh but I have two heat lamps on either end so maybe a fire hazard?! It will be so humid here soon enough I’ll probably have the opposite problem soon! But will be interesting to see if his quill loss gets better with the change of seasons!

Hoping our babies all improve soon!

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