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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A friend of mine owned 6 hedgehogs up until recently. They’ve been sick for a few days and now they seem to be “dropping like flies”. His vet, though he has experience with hedgehogs has never seen this. So maybe someone on here has experienced this or knows someone who has? Or just has an idea? Worth a shot.

Little Summary (anything that could be of importance):
-They were 7-11 months old, 4 girls, 2 boys, non-breeding.
-From good breeders, all with health guarantee’s
-None are related
-Eating a good diet (Blue Buffalo, Innova, Katz, Fromm, Now!)
-Filtered water
-On flannel liners with quilt batting in the middle.
-Cage temp of 25.3-26.1C
-13 hour light cycle
-Housed separately in ferret nations
-No wood in the cage
-There was nothing sprayed in the house or any poisons around.
-Laundry soap is scent free, sensitive skin.

He lost 1 female on Wednesday and 2 yesterday. The 4th is in quarantine at the vets office because he is showing symptoms. They are treating him, and his symptoms aren’t getting better, but aren’t getting worse either. The symptoms all started the same:
1. Lethargic.
2. Lethargic and Dehydrated.
3. Small red marks on skin.
4. Small needle sized hole on red marks.
5. Small open wounds with crusty edges.
6. Large opens wounds exposing muscle and bone, death.

The vets cannot figure out what is wrong. After ruling out a number of things, their first thought was Necrotizing Fasciltis aka Flesh-Eating Bacteria. But after doing autopsies this doesn't fit. On all 4 of the hedgehogs the liver was significantly enlarged. This isn't a symptom of Necrotizing Fasciltis. So now they think it is either:
A) An infection from an infection from a virus that can't get better unless they narrow down the virus.
B) Poisoned by contaminated food. They say it's almost like someone sprayed chemicals on the food and this was the reaction.

The more they try to treat it the worse it gets. The vet told him to throw out all the kibble and feed a homemade diet of carrot, sweet potato, squash, egg, potato, chicken, mealworms and crickets. Right now the other 2 seem to be ok and have been quarantined since Wednesday. There haven't been any warnings or complaints about Blue Buffalo, Innova, Fromm, Now! or Katz-n-Flocken, but the vets are thinking it could be from a contaminated bag of food. Because there were so many different kinds though, they don't know which it could be, but they did send samples of them all in for testing.

The foods being fed where:
BLUE Finicky Feast Chicken & Turkey Adult Cat Food
Innova Senior Cat Food
Solid Gold Katz-n-Flocken Cat Food (Lamb)
Fromm Family Mature Gold Dry Cat Food Duck
NOW! Grain Free Senior/Weight Management Cat Formula
 

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Wow. I have never heard of anything like it. The only thing I could think of would be spider bites or some other type of bug bite. Does your friend live in a house or apartment building? I ask, only because in an apartment building, there would be more chance of some odd type of bug.

I pray they find the cause before any more pass on.
 

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This is so sad. :( I immediately thought of necrotizing fasciitis when I read through the progression of symptoms.

Please keep us updated on what they find out. Fingers and quills are crossed here in WI for the other three hedgehogs.
 

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I have a few questions.

Are any of the hedgehogs new in the last month? If so, was the new one one that does or doesn't have the symptoms?

Don't name names on here but did the bags of food come from a reputable store? I'm assuming so since they are all decent foods. Has your friend spoken to the store about what going on to see if anything has been done in the store. Has any construction or pest control been done in the store where the food is from?

Is one or more of the bags of food new? If so, that would be the one most suspect. Any bag of food that has been opened and used for a couple weeks or longer, would most likely be safe as symptoms should have started sooner. Maybe you can eliminate some of the foods.

Any new mealworms or bugs lately? I have heard of a few cases of mites brought in on mealies.

If your friend is in an apartment or joined house, has pest products been used?

I went through something similar a few years ago only the symptoms were all intestinal. Thankfully we only lost one but it was touch and go for another for a few weeks and numerous had mild symptoms and recovered on their own and some with antibiotic. It took about 4 months to find the answer and it was contaminated mealworms purchased from a local pet store.
 

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Oh wow, this is so sad :( I'm so sorry your friend has to deal with this! Just to add onto what the others said, if I were your friend I would ask the vet if it could be caused by a bug, then I would start looking around for any kind of bug, mainly spiders, and start catching them live. Don't kill them, also be very careful so it doesn't bite you. I've found the best for this is those little deli sauce cups (with lids of course), jars would even work! If he finds a bug he doesn't recognize, I'd catch it as well. The apartment my mom use to live in had an infestation of brown recluse spiders, most under my sisters bed! They had lived there about a month before they noticed.

I would also start looking in the room(s) that the hedgehogs were living in or rooms they had been in. Is there any kind of chemicals around, is there any mold (I don't think this would cause those symptoms, but I'm trying to think outside the box!), are there any plants in there that could be toxic to hedgies that they may have been able to get ahold of, did someone bring something new in, any new mealies/insects, any new bags of food, have they been outside? I can't think of anything else, but as crazy as something may seem to cause this, don't completely rule it out!

Nancy also made several great points and questions!

The way you described the wounds to me sounds like spider bites or some kind of bug bite. Also, if your friend isn't already doing this, I would sanitize everything, and wash my hands with some good antibacterial soap before and after handling the other hedgies and any other animals he may have. Seeing as it's unidentified, I wouldn't risk spreading it to any other animals. This was once told to me, not sure how true it is, but it made sense, smaller animals are affected by something sometimes before larger animals/people show any symptoms, so if he has other animals, I'd keep an eye on them, and if he starts feeling weird/sick I'd let the vets know and go to the doctor. I'm not trying to scare him, but I'd play it safe.

He and all those babies are in my thoughts! Please keep us updated!
 

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That is just awful! I am so sorry this is happening.

Now keep in mind the things I am about to suggest are just something to ask the vet about. At work we have sometimes get opossums that show similar symptoms. We give them subcutaneous fluids, antibiotics, clean the areas with novasain and apply A&D ointment. I have no idea if this will help with what is going on the the hedgies but it might help.

Please keep us posted on them
 

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Oh no. I hope they figure out quickly what is wrong. I hope the surviving hedgies get better. I'll say a prayer that everything works out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The first hedgehog that showed symptoms was bought 5 weeks ago and shipped up from the USA. The vet at the border checked her over and said she was fine. And he took her to his normal vet when he got her home, and she said he was fine. She was in quarantine for the first month and showed symptoms 2 days after she was placed with the other hedgies.

3 of the foods came from a good store, 1 was ordered from that stores website and the other came from the company website.

He spoke to the store today, after you mentioned to do that. The store said they had the floors stripped and waxed 2 weeks ago but ensured that that wouldn’t have any effect on the food. I was with him though and the store employee started talking to the manager quietly, immediately and they both looked a little worried. So I’m not sure, maybe they weren’t telling us something.

2 of the bags were new, they were opened last Monday. The others were being used for months so they probably aren’t the culprit. Out of the 2 that were opened, one came from the store and the other came from the food brands website.

He breeds his own crickets and mealworms so I don’t think that would be the cause.

He lives in a nice apartment. According to the manager there have been no pest products used, but he couldn’t guarantee that other people in the building didn’t use them without permission. If that happened the fumes would have come through the vents. The vet doesn’t think this is the cause because generally they would need a lot of exposure to have these symptoms.

He does have fake silk plants in the cages and real grass, but they’ve aren’t new. I think if the plants or grass caused it, it would have shown up before. The hedgehogs were all kept in the living room and we didn’t find any bugs. Since its winter here they haven’t been outside. Since he has real grass in the cages we checked that for bugs and sifted through all the dirt, but didn’t find anything.

He has completely sanitized everything, and sanitizes his hands/arms before and after touching each hedgehog now. He didn’t always before they got sick, so he could have inadvertently spread whatever is causing this. The vet did warm him to keep an eye on his mini pig and himself because smaller animals generally get hit first.

We don’t think its something in the water because the water here is safe and there haven’t been any warnings about it. They did send a sample in of the water though to test it just to be sure but the results haven’t come in yet.

Unfortunately the hedgehog that wasn’t doing too well was euthanized this afternoon, his symptoms got drastically worse overnight and no one wanted to see him suffer anymore. His liver was significantly enlarged as well. So far the other two seem to be fine, eating, drinking, pooping, wheeling like normal so hopefully they stay that way.

They are still waiting for the results of the kibble, water and tissue samples to come back and we’re hoping that they come back before one or both of the other hedgehogs get sick. One of the vets at the office (who knows nothing about hedgehogs) said it looks like a very, very, bad case of ringworm. I googled “hedgehog ringworm” and one of the first images that came up with a hedgehog with a big hole in his neck, which is very similar to what these hedgehogs are experiencing. But the vet treating them doesn’t think that is the case because if it was it would have cleared up with the anti-fungal medication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
That's a good idea. It would be terrible if something the store did was the cause and other animals were getting sick and/or dying.
 

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I can't imagine that ringworm would get that bad that fast to kill the hedgehogs before the vet had a chance to figure it out. I just did a search for ringworm in hedgehogs and came up with an article that's called "Tea Tree antiseptic cream: A new treatment for ringworm and sarcoptic mange in the hedgehog". Tea tree is toxic to hedgehogs including the European and this is an old article that unfortunately continues to come up in searches.

It's good that the food is narrowed down and it will be interesting to hear the results of the tests on the food. It's interesting about the floors being done that recently and it being a new bag of food from that time frame.

I hope the results come back soon.
 
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