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Old 05-08-2009, 02:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 5
Default Worried new owner - scratching minor "raw spots"

Hi all,

I was hoping anybody might be able to give me some advice on hedgehog care please, I hope I'm just worrying too much (I tend to do that) but I just want what's best for my hedgie. Sorry that this may seem like a bit of an essay but I want to make sure everything that may affect him is noted. First a bit of background information:

I got my hedgie about a week ago (2nd May), he's currently around 6 weeks old and is quilling (therefore itchy and irritable), he's my first hedgie. He was purchased from a reputable breeder who is registered with the International Hedgehog Association, we got his registration papers showing his lineage so we know it's all as it should be. He is still on his original diet (the breeder gave us a “welcome pack” with the food he was on). We don't have any other pets and he's not let outdoors so there's no chance of him picking up anything like fleas or mites from an outside source. I use Carefresh pet bedding which is suppose to be hypo-allergenic and a whole bunch of other stuff (e.g. dust free) that's supposed to be good for small animals (link below) and Animal Dreams shredding as nesting material (also linked below)
http://www.petco.com/product/3370/Caref ... dding.aspx
He's kept in a large zoozone “cage” (it's plastic all the way up with just a cage roof) with a flat disk spinner and a plastic igloo. His feed and water bowls are ceramic and he has 2 toy balls (a plastic practice golf-ball and a sorta doggy chew toy ball), a soft plush sheep and a cardboard loo roll thing (cut down the middle to prevent him getting stuck).

So now onto what's worrying me. On about Wednesday I noticed on his wheel some quills ... which was expected, but also a very very small tuft of fur with a bit of skin (think if you've ever pulled out a couple hairs from your head at once) ... which wasn't. When I looked over him I noticed behind his right ear it was a little bit raw, kinda like he'd scratched himself too much or caught his head when poking it under something and pulling it out (like hedgies always do), around his eye also looked a bit irritated. Not wanting to panic I left it to see if it was a once off. Checking yesterday evening it seemed untouched and was getting better but I decided to check this morning and there was another similar patch, this time in front of his ear (behind it was still untouched and healing). This evening when I got home I decided to check him more thoroughly (I was on my way to work this morning so only gave him a quick look over on the side I knew he had a “problem”). It seems that he's done the same thing on both sides (but more-so on his right, very very minor on his left) and also at the top of his back legs, checking his spinner there's another small bit of fur there with assorted quills. Now looking at it it would seem that he's scratching his head/ears which is causing the patches and, because of what he has to do to get there, is catching his legs on his quills (thus causing those areas), at least that's my suspicion, a suspicion that seems confirmed by seeing a little bit of plasma/skin on one of his hind feet (not from his foot itself, just stuck there).
Now I'm worrying as to whether that is ok or if I should start getting concerned. The things to note are:
1 – He is quilling and is therefore itchy/irritable as is the norm. I've seen him scratching his sides a bit sometimes as well.
2 – When around us we've not seen him focus excessively on any spots, this only seems to be something happening when we leave him for the night (we tend to have him out between 8pm and 10pm each night). We've not seen him scratch excessively anywhere while out (sometimes he gets a few itchy spots and will scratch for a few minutes but not in the same place).
3 – He's not focussed on the back of his ear again, which looks to be healing nicely now.
4 – They are quite minor, the spot behind his ear is almost healed (in 2 days) and the spots in front of his ears and on his legs are no worse than it was, it's not like they are actually bleeding, just a bit of a raw patch (kinda like you'd get if you scratched yourself too much in 1 spot, you know those little plasma drops that go kinda yellowy when they dry?)
5 – The rest of his skin looks ok, it's not flaking or dry enough for any skin bits to come off.

We're planning to give him a warm bath to help soothe his skin (and yes, I know, no tea-tree anything, it's poison) and the breeder recommended we use something mild like baby shampoo to help his skin. They've also offered to have a look at him but they're an hour to an hour and a half drive away which I'd rather avoid if I'm just being paranoid (but of course wouldn't hesitate to do if things look like they're getting any worse). I'm considering leaving him for a week to see if there's any improvement with the other patches like with the back of his ear. So am I just a new owner being paranoid about something that is normal or minor or should I rush him back to the breeder to get him checked out immediately? Please tell me it's the former

Thanks very much and once again, sorry for the wall of text. I just wanted to make sure anything that could be relevant was included up front and I just want what's best for my baby
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Old 05-08-2009, 06:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Worried new owner - scratching minor "raw spots"

I haven't had any baby Hedgies so I can't really say why he's doing it or anything.
But when you give him a warm bath you can put oatmeal bath in it and it will help sooth his skin more. I've heard that the baby shampoo can dry out their skin so I'm not sure about that.

I'd try some oatmeal bath on him.
)O( Do what you want, as long as you harm none. )O(
Dogs have Masters, Hedgehogs have servants.
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Old 05-08-2009, 07:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Worried new owner - scratching minor "raw spots"

Thanks I'll have a look out for that. The breeder recommended mild baby shampoo so we went with that, it's supposed to be a moisturising one but I've seen a few places recommend oatmeal as well so that seems to be the way to go. We gave him a bath tonight and it seemed to help for a while, that was at about 8, I've gone to check on him now and he seems to be scratching a lot again.

I've also had a look around to find possible signs of ill health to check for. He certainly hasn't lost his appetite and his stools look fine and healthy so that seems to be a positive sign. Both the shampoo for him and the disinfectant we use on his cage are odour/perfume free and hypo-allergenic so hopefully it's neither of those.
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Old 05-08-2009, 10:39 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Worried new owner - scratching minor "raw spots"

Definately go with the oatmeal bath. You can use real non-instant oatmeal, stuff in sock and swish around to make the water cloudy, or you can use Aveeno oatmeal bath.

Also, you should go out and buy some flax seed capsules. They usually come in a container with 1000 capsules. Should start feeding him 1 capsule per week(pop one open with a pin, and let it soak into his kibble). And after a bath, you should make a final rinse with another capsule of oil added in. About an inch of water would do, add in 1 or 2 capsules, and wash over his back. However, since it seems to be a more severe case, You may want to drip a few drops of oil directly onto his back, without the water dilute, and use the rest of the capsule in his food(I just like to do it in the water rinse because it seems to distribute more evenly).

Second, get a tube of regular strength polysporin or neosporin, it MUST be regular strength, and dab that onto the raw spots to moisturize and aid in the healing process.

Third, how are his nails? Are they nice, short and trimmed? If they're overly long, and being awkward babies, he might be hurting himself that way.

Fourth, if he's really scratching that much, and considering he seems to be scratching his head a lot. It does sound a bit like mites. So that's something to consider as well. It's just that during quilling time, the scratching tends to be more focussed on their back/sides, rather than their head and ears.

So over the next little while, keep an eye on his raw spots, count his kibble so you know how much he is eating and know when/if he eats more or less. And weigh him at least once a week(helps to weigh at the same time, and make note if it's before or after a poop, because that can set the weight off 20g). It will help catch any fluctuations in weight and eating habit quickly, so you know if something is wrong.
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Old 05-10-2009, 10:02 AM   #5 (permalink)
Join Date: May 2009
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Default Re: Worried new owner - scratching minor "raw spots"

Thanks again for the advice. Update today, we checked him this morning and it seemed like he'd been scratching again so we decided enough was enough, we were going to take him to the breeder to be checked out. So we took the drive down this morning and the verdict is ... they're not sure, they've not seen anything like it before. But he is definitely quilling so that'll be a part of it. We're going to be trying a few things for him:
They've given us this droplet stuff for mites, just in case (apparently it's the same as that "Spot-on" stuff). They doubt it's that though because the scratching is quite localised.
They've also given us the same type bedding that he was in when they bred him, the current main suspicion is the Carefresh. It's supposed to be very absorbent and they said his skin on his body is a bit dry so we think he's snuffling around in the bedding (as they do) and that's drying his face (more-so than the rest of his body) and, as we all know, dry skin is itchy skin.

Apart from that they say he's in very good health, eyes are bright, nose is cold and wet, active and energetic and no appetite loss so they don't think it's anything very serious with his health, just a localised skin problem. We'll see how the change in bedding goes and hopefully that'll sort it out for the most part. We've also got some of the stuff recommended for his skin as well just to help things along!
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