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Old 01-09-2014, 09:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Grouchy quilling boy or attachment problems? Help

So I went home for a while and Rory (4 months old at the time) couldn't live with me because my mother is terrified of small rodent-sized animals, so he lived in the basement of my grandmother's house, 2 minutes from mine, and seemed to be happy and content while there. I then went on vacation and had to board him with a close friend. I noticed ab few days before I left that he had started quilling. At first it was a few quills, but by the time I left, it was about 50+ a day. That was about 3.5 weeks ago. After I got back, I noticed that he was not only losing 75+ quills a day, but also the grouchiest hedgehog ever. This behavior has not stopped. I'm giving him oatmeal baths every 2 days (followed by flax seed oil on his skin) which he seems to enjoy because that's the only time his quills go down completely, and then he goes back to being angry. I guess I'm just a worried mommy, but I was wondering if this is typical quilling behavior, or something more cynical such as attachment problems. Even when he sits in my lap he's all huffy and in a half-ball. Help me or ease my mind? Thanks

Ps. I should add that when he was 10-13 weeks old he quilled for the first time, but it wasn't as much as it is now. I assumed that was his 12 week quilling since he was right around that age. But then when he started quilling at 17.5 weeks, I was a little bit confused. Is it normal for them to 9 week quill so late? Or is he actually a bit younger than I think he is?
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Last edited by jlindsey428; 01-09-2014 at 09:11 PM. Reason: (Added some more information)
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Old 01-09-2014, 09:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That doesn't sound like quilling to me, between the number of quills and the age. What does his skin look like? Does it look normal or does it look flaky, crusty, off-colored, with red spots, or bloody spots? Does he have any bald spots? Is he scratching at all, or just very grumpy?

The other possibilities (besides quilling) are skin infection, mites, or dry skin. Skin infection would require a vet visit and a skin scraping to be sent in for testing on what kind of infection it might be. Mites require vet visit and treatment with kitten Revolution - some vets try to treat with Ivermectin. Do NOT let your vet use that - it's been linked to many hedgehog deaths. Revolution is much safer. If it is dry skin, what you're already doing should be helping, so I'm guessing it's more likely one of the other two things. Are you putting flaxseed oil on him every two days after every bath? That's probably too much oil - you can actually use too much and cause a yeast infection. I had that happen with Lily.

Edit: Forgot that there's one last possibility - hormonal. But I think the only situation I've heard of with that was with a female hedgehog, and it doesn't seem to be too common. So I'd rule out the other possibilities before checking into this one.
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Old 01-09-2014, 09:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks Lilysmommy for replying so fast!

Well since he is albino, his skin is always pink. Since I spray flax seed oil on his skin (Because I had a mini spray bottle and no eye dropper) his dry skin is flaky around where the quills are. There was a little of crustiness, but it's probably due to the flax seed oil making the flakes stick together. His skin gets really flaky without the oil (so that I have hedgehog dandriff all over me after cuddle time) but I'll try to do the flax less often, though, just in case.

If it weren't for his age (being 5 months), I'd attribute all of his symptoms to regular quilling. The ball of the quills look normal. No off-colors. Just typical white quill with a off-white ball, as it has always been. Just the last 3 days has been less (with only about 25-30 lost a day), and I definitely see many little new quills coming in, so no bald spots.

The idea of mites did come to mind, but he's in fleece, and is fed Innova and Cat Lover's Soul (which I decided on after reading the forum!) and mealies and darkling beetles. I read that the beetles are more fibrous and less fatty than the worms, which is the only reason why I let the mealworms grow into beetles because beetles are gross. Rory gets them before they have a chance to really experience life as a beetle. But is there any chance that he may have gotten sick from those? Other than behavior, he's not exhibiting signs of physical illness. But I want to check every option.

Thanks again for helping me! Since the amount of quills lost is getting less and less, I may wait to see if his behavior improves, but if it doesn't, Rory's going to the vet!

Oh, this may be completely ridiculous but it came to mind that the breeder may have lied to me about how old he was. He came to me at ~135g (he was very small) and 8 weeks, but since the first quilling I experienced wasn't until 13 weeks, I wondered if there was a possibility the breeder was lying about his age or simply wrote it down wrong. Because if he was younger, then the timeline fits much better. 9-12 is more or less 3 weeks, and after his 13 week quilling, it was about 4 weeks til this one.

Thank you thank you. YOu are a godsend for listening to me.
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Old 01-10-2014, 10:08 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Huh. New quills coming in is definitely a good sign. I don't have much experience with different hedgie babies, so it may be totally possible for them to have late quillings or something like that. Some hedgehogs are just small, so it's hard to tell if the breeder had the age wrong or not. Maybe one of the breeders with more experience with many babies will jump in on this & give a more knowledgeable opinion! Otherwise, I like your plan to see if the quill loss continues to slow & if his attitude gets better as it does.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Update on Rory:

I took him to the vet the next day and the vet didn't see mites, but felt it was safest to treat anyway because of his waxy, flaky skin. His exact words were, "I wanna kill the vermin." He knew to use Revolution and not Invermectin so Rory, who did not behave at all, was given a dose of Revolution. The vet examined him in a clear box to get a better view of his belly (which he hasn't allowed me to even look at in a long time), and his skin was all red and inflamed especially around the armpits. He also said Rory was a big hedgehog, which I felt was true, but when I looked at his belly, I noticed that he wasn't really that big…just FAT. So Rory's going on a diet. Hopefully we can get rid of his double chin and armpit chubbs.

What has improved in the 5 days since his treatment:
- His skin looks much better. Still dry and flaky, but no longer red and inflamed.
- He's appetite has improved and he's back on his wheel.
- which also means he's losing a little weight. Slowly but surely. We're down about 7g since I lessened the amount Innova and replaced it with lower fat Blue Buffalo.
- The amount of quills lost - I said in my first post that it was upwards of 75. I actually counted them later that day from the ones I threw away, and it was more around 35. Still It felt like a lot. Now he's losing about 20-25 per day. But new ones are definitely growing in; I can see the little points everywhere.
- His behavior - he's back on his wheel every night. Though not as much as he used to be, it's an improvement. He's also eating everything in his bowl which makes me happy.

What has not improved:
- His attitude toward me. I love him so much, but he's a right brat. When he's in his snuggle sack in my lap (which he always used to love) He huffs and puffs everytime I move the tiniest bit and jumps as if he is trying to stab me with his visor quills. He often succeeds. Ow.
- His behavior - He refuses to unball unless I'm completely still and wait about 3 minutes in silence. Then if i even breathe loudly, he's back in a ball. He just won't let me touch him. He used to be such a good baby, and loved being pet. Now he hates it.

I've decided that it's too early to really decide that he's changed his behavior, but I'll continue to monitor him and try not to get stabbed too much. Since the amount of quills lost is going down, I'm really hoping this is just a quilling issue. Thanks for all the help. Let me know what you think
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I like your vet! That is an attitude I can get behind.
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Unhappy Update: Back to the Vet :(

Rory's skin has been getting worse the last few days. These are the symptoms:

- I started noticing bald patches on Wednesday afternoon (after I posted the update, of course), and the last few days they've gone from just a little to way too much. His butt is so bald. [I have to tell you, the attached picture looks worse than it is because A) he's albino and his skin is pink and B) the flash was so bright I'm still seeing stars.] [edit: The quill loss is also pretty much just on his rear. It thinned last time he quilled, but not this much, so that's why I didn't mention thinning before. I read in a post that Nancy wrote that albinos will have more noticible thinning because it's more obvious. But this isn't just thinning. this is balding.]

- I was telling the truth when I said his quill droppage was less than it had been, but right after I said that, I noticed he was dropping more and more quills each day. Over 50 a day. yesterday was especially bad.

- Strangely enough, his appetite is the same as it was for the update (which wasn't great pre-Revolution but has since returned to normal), he's not scratching, and his belly isn't inflamed anymore. He's not quite as grumpy, but I sayt that delicately, because it's just barely an improvement over last time.

So friends, please send kind thoughts to us! I probably need them more since I'm freaking out. But any advice is more than welcome and actually really appreciated. What antibiotics to use for the skin infection. What not to use. how to soothe his skin for the time being... .
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Old 01-19-2014, 09:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Did the vet send you home with more doses of Revolution? It usually takes 3-4 doses anywhere from 2-4 weeks apart to be totally sure mites are gone, if that's a possibility.

Since he's not improving yet, it might be worth a trip back to the vet to have them take a skin scraping to test for infections, both bacterial and fungal. I know one other person on here thought her hedgie had just dry skin, but a vet visit came up with a fungal infection and things improved after medication. If he has a bacterial infection, he'd get antibiotics, if it's a fungal infection, it'd be anti-fungal meds.

It is possible that it's still just mites & he'll show some improvement again after another dose of Revolution (and damaged quills will also continue to drop off after mites are treated, but would start to slow down), but since the tests for infection can take a couple weeks to get results back on, it may be worth going in right now, just in case.

Lily had a bacterial infection, but I can't recall what antibiotic we used for it. I'll go take a look through my past threads, I'm sure I posted about it, so I may have mentioned the meds.

Edit: Her antibiotic for the bacterial infection was Ciprofloxacin and she also got an anti-inflammatory, Prednisolone. We didn't do an actual text for bacterial infection, but that's because she had clear symptoms (red rings around the bases of multiple quills), and the test (according to my vet) involved anesthesia and cutting out a quill follicle. I think a fungal infection test is just a skin scraping & lab culture, though.
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Old 01-19-2014, 10:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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He didn't send me home with more doses. But he told me to come back in a month for a second dose. It's only been just over a week. Do you think I should wait until friday to take him back to the vet for a dose of revolution, or should I go tomorrow? I'm just very concerned about his quill loss, which is around 75 per day now.

I'll ask for both a fungal check and a bacterial check whenever I go back though. Thanks for the info!
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Old 01-22-2014, 03:44 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Vet Visit 2: Update 1/22/14

So Rory went back to the vet today. I was worried about his severe quill loss and balding and his skin is just getting worse. So we went to the vet. Lucky I thought to schedule it for tomorrow. This morning I noticed that his nose was running, which was an indicator to me that his immune system is compromised in some way. So off to the vet we went.

Rory had a full comprehensive examination, and because he wasn't cooperating, he had to be anethestized for the skin scraping/skin exam part. Turns out the vet couldn't get a really good skin scraping cause his skin is tough. But he could see that Rory has a bacterial infection under his skin, as there are "pockets of bacteria" and his quills are red and some are bloody around the base. So Rory is now on Baytril for the next few weeks. Hopefully we'll finally see an improvement in everything from the quill loss to the behavior problems.

Thanks to everyone for their support, especially Lilysmommy!
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