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Old 12-14-2009, 12:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

Hi there,

My boyfriend and I have a roughly 6 month old Algerian/Salt & Pepper mix named Emiki. Miki is absolutely beautiful and as sweet as possible, and we've had her for about 2 1/2 months. When we first got her we took her to a recommended exotics vet in our area and he said that she was quite possibly the healthiest hedgehog he'd ever seen (we'd done our homework and adopted her from a breeder down here and so we were ever so proud to hear that ) She's been great since then, and probably only lost about 1-2 quills a day at the very most (and that's accounting for what we assume she shed in her house).

About 5 days ago we noticed that she has been losing quills more than normal, as in, about 5 each time we'd take her out, which is easily 3-4 times a day. She doesn't have any bald spots, but she's also been scratching a good bit for the last few days. When I looked at the quills she'd been losing, they seem to be flaky instead of having a follicle at the end, which we'd read meant she may have a skin condition (her ears are in perfect health, no tatters, nor do we see any mites). Now, my boyfriend says they look like follicles to him, but he often thinks that I just worry too much about her health, so it's become slightly a moot point. Either way, we'd read that one of the best things to do when they have been itching and losing quills is to give them their regular Johnson & Johnson baby bath with baby oil in it as well. We did that this morning, as well as thoroughly cleaned every facet of her cage and ever since she has not been itching that we've seen, nor has she lost any more quills, however, when we came to check on her tonight her tummy was pinker (redder) than normal. Again, my boyfriend said he thought it was the same color as normal and I was just being nervous, however, our roomates backed me up and said she was definitely much more rosy on her stomach. Ever since she's been acting the same as normal, in fact, she seems more active even, however I'm still concerned. Should I be? Any suggestions?

Just for reference, we feed her predominantly Sunseed, Sunscription Vita formula for hedgies, and supplement that with plain turkey breast and mealies every few days. If she'll eat it, we try to give her some apple chunks or a veggie here and there but she's predominantly a carnivore and doesn't like much anything else. Additionally, her bedding is made of recycled paper pellets, and her litter is a corn cob for cats. Additionally, we clean her cage roughly every week and a half to two weeks, and she sleeps under a towel swatch or in an infant's fleece hat in her large plastic tuppy. I just want to make sure I'm not overlooking anything.

Sorry I'm so lengthy in my writing, I just want to be thorough. Please help if you can!

A Worried Mommy,
Kait (& Mike and Emiki)
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:41 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

I'm still new to hedgies, so I can only comment on a few things you've mentioned. Avenoe Oatmeal bath is what is normally recommended. Even baby shampoo is very strong for animals. They don't have as many layers of skin as we do, so that could account for the red tummy. I alco noticed in what you listed you feed, I didn't see any mention of a high quality catfood, but then again the other stuff may be making up for that, but if the quills are flakey it almost sounds like a nutritional problem.
Hope that helps until someone more knowledgeable comes along.
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

Thank you for the response. We supplemented the high quality cat food with the hedgie food, and the vet seemed to think that was fine as long as we didn't underestimate the quality of live feed such as mealworms.

I'm starting to get more nervous though because I've been keeping an extra close eye on her and the pads of her front paws (the one more so than the other) have inflammed and swollen. Unless someone tells me otherwise, I'm going to take her to the vet tomorrow. I'm getting really freaked out. She doesn't seem to be in pain or to be itching, but I'm still worried about her.

Additionally, after her bath, she seemed to have a small dot of blood above her eye which I thought may be a cut. Immediately it went away and it hasn't been puffy or red or swollen or anything since and I can't see evidence of there ever being a cut. I really hope I'm over-reacting. I try my very hardest to be the best Mommy possible to her.

Thank you all in advance for the help. I know no one is an expert, but I will take all the help I can get. Thank you.
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

Well I can see a few things wrong with your housing/feeding conditions right off the bat.

Hedgehog food (even sunseed) is not sufficiently nutritious for hedgies. Instead it is recommended that a mix of at least 2-3 high quality cat foods be fed, with the hedgehog food mixed in as a "junk food" (ie something that is not neccesarily super healthy but feeding it seems to extend hedgie lifespan). I recommend taking a look at the recommended cat food list: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15 and changing the diet asap (but slowly) as poor nutrition = poor skin condition. Continue with the mealworms and cooked turkey breast. Insects should be part of the main diet, not just a supplement though.

Also the corn cob litter = a big no no. It is especially dangerous for male hedgies because it can get caught in their gentials, but I imagine it is not too good for females either.

Baby shampoo is also not recommended...especially if it has tea tree oil in it (= deadly toxic to hedgies). Instead aveeno non-scented bath products are recommended.

All that aside, it sounds to me like your hedgie is just quilling. Quilling can cause dry skin which can cause itching. To fix: 1) change diet 2) add flax seed oil (you can use on skin as well as on food) 3) bath every 1-2 week with aveeno and flax seed oil to help skin.

BUT it could also be mites. so you may want to consider a trip to the vet to get some revolution as a treatment. (NOT ivermectin! also = deadly).

As for the red tummy, I blame that nasty corn cob litter. Switch to something paper based like yesertdays news. The paper pellet bedding doesn't sound too comfy either and your hedgie could be allergic. Switching to liners may also help.

You didn't mention a heat source....do you have one? Not that it is relevant to the condition, but you were very specific about the housing and did not mention a heat source. Please look into this.

Hope that helps
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:01 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by seacanekb
Thank you for the response. We supplemented the high quality cat food with the hedgie food, and the vet seemed to think that was fine as long as we didn't underestimate the quality of live feed such as mealworms.

I'm starting to get more nervous though because I've been keeping an extra close eye on her and the pads of her front paws (the one more so than the other) have inflammed and swollen. Unless someone tells me otherwise, I'm going to take her to the vet tomorrow. I'm getting really freaked out. She doesn't seem to be in pain or to be itching, but I'm still worried about her.

Additionally, after her bath, she seemed to have a small dot of blood above her eye which I thought may be a cut. Immediately it went away and it hasn't been puffy or red or swollen or anything since and I can't see evidence of there ever being a cut. I really hope I'm over-reacting. I try my very hardest to be the best Mommy possible to her.

Thank you all in advance for the help. I know no one is an expert, but I will take all the help I can get. Thank you.
Once again I blame the corn cob and possibly the paper bedding (how hard are the pellets?)....that being said it never hurts to go to the vet. You are her owner, you know when something's wrong so I would go if you are truly concerned.
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Old 12-14-2009, 01:20 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

In addition to the corn cob litter which is bad...

I'm wondering if the mix of baby shampoo AND baby oil irritated her skin.
From this thread we get:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancy
Baby oil is horrible to use and can actually make dry skin worse. Dermatologists are against it for humans because it irritates the skin.
Perhaps it would be good to go get some oatmeal bath, to help sooth her skin and wash whatever's left over that's irritating her skin. (Aveeno is the popular brand, but plain old oatmeal in a sock to make cloudy water works as well!)

To me, it just sounds like some sort of allergic reaction, from the swollen puffiness you are seeing.

Definitely take her to the vets to rule out allergic reaction.
Aside from that, agree with everything SnufflePuff has listed.
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Old 12-14-2009, 02:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

Thank you all for your advice. I have been absent from responding since as soon as I got a second recommendation for Aveeno Fragrance Free Oatmeal Body Wash, I went to the 24-hour pharmacy across the street and got it along with a thick stack of newspaper that I will trade her bedding out for along with her towel/hat combo. We're going to switch that out tonight.

We are going to look into changing her diet slightly, adding a mix of the cat foods with what she currently has, and as for the johnson and johnson, we will never use the wash or oil again. Her paws haven't shrank in size yet, but we only re-bathed her in the Aveeno about half an hour ago. The red seems to have dissipated on her tummy, so it should hopefully continue to do so overnight. Upon looking really really closely, we've noticed tiny little quill tips starting to come through her skin, so we are pretty sure she is just doing her adult quilling (safe to say correct?)

As far as a heat source... We considered buying one, but the thing is, we live in Miami, and although her cage isn't directly under the window, it's about 4 feet away, and our apartment constantly stays at 76 degrees air wise, so add in the sunlight and we figured it should be fine for her? During our 'winter' months (where the temperature drops to a whopping 65 degrees fahrenheit, haha) we will be placing a lamp near her cage that lets off a fair amount of heat, although again, the apartment will stay at 76.

Thank you all again for helping Mike, Miki, and I! If she has gotten better in the morning then we will not take her to the vet, although if she gets worse, or is the same, then we will. Right now I'm just chalking it up to her quilling causing the first issue, and then me just making conditions worse by bathing her in the oil accidentally. I'll keep you all updated, and at some point I will get around to putting up pictures of our precious girl. We know you all like to brag about your babies, and we're no different

Best WIshes,
Kait
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Old 12-14-2009, 03:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

Are you using actual newspaper?
Be careful with that, as newspaper is cold when wet. Also, there is no guarantee that the inks used are not toxic, no matter what the company claims. And her feet will end up with ink as she walks through the newspaper and can easily ingest it when she licks her feet.

Most people here use fleece liners, and then have a litter pan under the wheel(paper towel under the wheel works as well!). For litter, most use some sort of pelleted litter, like Purina's Yesterday's News, which is a pelleted type litter.

As for heating, that sounds fine to me. As long as you can guarantee that her cage stays at that temperature. Do you have a digital thermometer for the cage?
When I'm at my apartment, I don't have another source of heat, just because I keep my entire apartment at 75-76 anyways. So no, you don't need an extra source of heat if you can maintain the desired temperature. Oh! and just to add, make sure she gets minimum 12 hours of light(sun or normal lamp) daily.
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Old 12-14-2009, 11:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

So this morning Miki's little tummy is all back to its very light pink, mostly entirely white self. Her appetite is normal (and by normal I mean a little piglet with her food) although that hadn't changed. Although her feet are less puffy they're not back to normal yet. With these good signs though, since the discovery of the quills growing in, I don't believe we need to take her to the vet today.

We were indeed using newspaper, I believe we got confused. When you say fleece liners, do you just mean large pieces of fleece that you lay on the bottom of the cage? I think we're having some issues with trying to make sense of what that entails exactly. As for her wheel, we got her a wodent wheel, so nothing would come out of it, although, she does seem to think of it as a secondary litter box... Much to the dismay of her Mommy and Daddy who end up cleaning it every few days. Any suggestions for that one?

Today, the only thing was that she seemed to be scrunching up her face every now and again when she was walking around our bed (probably like 3-4 times she did this). My boyfriend watched her with me and said he didn't see what I was seeing, but I was wondering if it was possible for them to get water in their ear during a bath or something of the sort. Once again, it didn't seem as if she was hurt or anything, it was just this weird facial movement.

Anyways, Miki is sleeping happily in her towel in her cage now, and once we figure out what fleece liners truly mean so we don't make the wrong investment, we'll go get her some. In the meantime, until we buy that, are the plain paper pellets (no corn cob) better as a temporary alternative or the newspaper?

Thank you all, you have no idea how much you help and soothe my mind. We just want to do what's best for her, and we thought we had up until this point. There's always room for growth I suppose.

<3 Kait
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Old 12-14-2009, 12:41 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hedgehog Possibly Sick, But Not Sure... Please Help.

Hi there,

I just thought I'd help a bit.
The fleece liners that everyone refers to are basically just sheets of fleece fabric. many of us have sewn basically 2 sheets of fabric together (the size of the bottom of the cage) which eliminates any raw edges. I know around here (sometimes in Miami too since it's
"winter" there) you may be able to find fleece blankets at places like Walgreens/CVS or even Walmart, which helps for the sewing-challenged! For me, the less fuzzy the better because I've read a lot of people saying that their hedgie would accumulate this fuzz from the blankets, so just be sure to get one that's soft but not overly fuzzy. So you basically put that down as "flooring" for your hedgie habitat and change it out every day/every few days as needed (it helps to have a few so you never go without one). You can check out tons of cage ideas in the "Housing & Accessories/Cage set up-examples" forum viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1860~ tons of pictures-just how I like!! Then many of us use a litter pan under the wheel to be used as a litter box and to catch anything that flies of while hedgie is running while doing their business! I just switched over to "Yesterday's News" litter over the weekend after it being higly recommended on here- and I and Miss Muffet love it already! She even annointed to it. It's made from recycled material and is perfume free and non-toxic...and my favorite part iis that hedgie doesn't track it all over her cage like before!! I don't know much about the Wodent Wheel but even with a regular wheel you usually need to clean it everyday because they loooove going potty while running!!
http://www.yesterdaysnews.com/products.html

~Melissa
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