New hedgie owner - quill loss, mites, cleaning
Apologies for the long post, and multiple questions.
We've had our rescue, Milo (first hedgie) for 6 weeks now. Age unknown - SPCA guessed about a year. He had a vet checkup two days after coming home, and his mite scrape came back positive. We did two rounds of Revolution, three weeks apart, on the vet's suggestion. His itching subsided, his quill loss went down to basically zero. This week (three weeks after the last dose of Revolution), he started losing quills pretty easily - about 10 per day. However, his behaviour is relatively normal - a bit less active than usual (but then, I'm also sleeping a bit earlier...), eating/drinking fine, pooping mostly well (with occasional green slimy poops), wheeling fine, and he anointed for the first time yesterday!
We were still concerned about the quill loss, so we took him back to the vet today - general checkup indicated he was healthy, skin looks a bit dry but fine, fecal smear came back negative, mite scrape came back negative. However, the vet thinks it's most likely to still be leftover mites, so we're doing another 4 round of Revolution to be really sure. He also said it could be stress as a result of everything, and/or diet. He also mentioned that it does seem like new quills are coming in.
We have him on fleece, with a plastic tree trunk hide, some toys, lots of digging fleece, comfort wheel, food/water. We just finally got the sleeping bag and fleecy tunnel and toys we ordered online. He has a CHE that keeps his cage 77-79F (which seems his ideal temperature). He gets 2-4 mealies per night, and his weight has stayed consistent (325-330g).
The vet suggested switching to carefresh while treating for mites because the only way to kill mites is boiling the fleece liners. He said extra hot washing machine cycles/freezing/vinegar won't do anything to kill eggs. I would appreciate any suggestions on ensuring cleanliness while also minimizing harsh chemicals as much as possible. Should I switch to throwaway bedding and toss daily? Is that more risky stress-wise (and mite-wise)? Should I bleach the cage bottom and boil liners daily...?
I also have questions about transitioning his food (happy to give more details) and getting him into a bigger cage (and whether those are good to do now in case they're contributing to the quill loss, or whether we should wait until the treatment is all done). I'm unsure whether to include those here or separately. Any help is appreciated!
Firstly, I'm glad to hear your hedgie is doing better :)
I saw that you said his skin is dry.. I recommend doing oatmeal baths for him. They are very moisturizing and help with dry skin. Just put some regular oatmeal in a sock or cheesecloth and put it in the bath, squeeze the sock until you get a milky water. Wash him with that and then rinse.
As for the quill loss: I don't have much experience with that but I do recommend you just keep him happy and don't try to stress him out too much. Put his cage in a quiet place and handle him gently- I assume quill loss is painful.
I don't know much about mites in bedding or anything like that. (Sorry!) As for cleaning, I think bleach is way too strong to use often. To clean Peggy's cage I use Nature's Miracle Cage Cleaner for Small Animals, or any other pet safe cleaner. Don't use any perfumes or strong scents.
About the food transitioning: If his food right now is a good one and you have enough food to last until the treatment is over, I suggest you do that. Food transitioning is stressful and can lead to quill loss sometimes, so when he's all good and healthy again you can start transitioning. To do this just add a little bit of the new food to his bowl everyday over the course of a week or two until hes completely adjusted. I also think you should upgrade his cage after the treatment, as to avoid unnecessary stress on him. Unless his cage is too small you should wait. For more info you should post these questions to the Housing and Accessories subforum.
I wish you luck with your new hedgehog!! :D
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