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Since this is a topic that comes up so often, I'm adding the information from my website as a sticky.

Often hedgehogs new to a home will be sneezing. Frequently these are hedgehogs that have come from a petstore but can happen with hedgehogs from breeders to.

At times the change in environment can cause a bit of sneezing. This is usually random sneezes that go away in a day or two.

Certain beddings can cause allergies as well as nose irritation and sneezing. All loose beddings such as shavings of any type, Carefresh, Yesterdays News, shredded paper etc are dusty and depending on the individual hedgehog can cause a reaction.

Often to those unfamiliar with hedgehogs it can be difficult to tell if the hedgehog is truly sneezing or is a normal little snuffling sound. Listening closely and watching the hedgehog will show the difference. Often a hedgehog that is sneezing will also be licking his/her nose frequently. While hedgehogs do lick their noses and some more than others, it should be assumed that a hedgehog that is sneezing and also licking their nose has a runny nose.

Runny noses are not always a concern. There can be some clear liquid with an allergy or nose irritation. Clear mucous can also be a sign of a upper respiratory infection (URI).

Any thick, cloudy or coloured mucous means infection and the hedgehog needs to be treated by a vet ASAP.

Any sneezing combined with a runny nose or excessive nose licking should be checked out by a veterinarian as soon as possible. UTI's can quickly turn to pneumonia which is very often fatal or leaves life long health problems.

The first thing to do if your hedgehog is sneezing is to put him or her on cloth cage liners. A temporary liner can be a pillow case, flannel baby receiving blanket, or T-shirt. Ensure there are no loose threads or raw edges to the fabric. Never use a towel or any loose woven or loopy fabric as the threads can get wrapped around tiny nails. You can also buy polar fleece at the fabric store and cut to fit the cage. Fleece does not need to be hemmed as it doesn't leave raw edges.

Once you have something to use as a liner, wash it and double rinse with a bit of vinegar in the rinse water to cut the laundry soap residue. Either dryer dry or hang inside to dry. Do not hang outside as allergens and pollens can attach to the liners.

Within 24 hours of using a liner, if the sneezing is an allergy or caused by dusty bedding, the sneezing should have either quit or lessened immensely. If there is no change, a vet visit is a must.

URI's must not be left untreated as they will NOT go away on their own and the hedgehog will continue to get sicker until it is too late.

Whenever there is a concern about the possibility of the hedgehog being ill, care must be taken to ensure the hedgehog remains warm enough and is eating well. In the case of a respiratory infection, a sign that it is turning to pneumonia is decreased eating. Count the kibble you give him or her and count again in the morning and again in the evening. Keep track of how much the hedgehog is eating. Ensure he is drinking and watch his urine and fecal output. Often green or slimey poop indicate increasing infection.

At any time if the hedgehog is lethargic, unsteady on his feet, decreased appetite, decreased urine and feces, runny eyes, runny nose, and sneezing, he is a sick hedgehog and needs to see the vet IMMEDIATELY.

Any sneezing that increases in frequency, is combined with excessive nose licking and does not go away in 24 hours with a change to cloth liners must be checked out by a vet. The sooner a respiratory infection is treated, the easier it is to treat and better chance of a complete cure. Leaving a URI untreated will have deadly consequences for your hedgehog.

Used with permission from Nancy at TheHedgieDen http://www.freewebs.com/thehedgieden/hedgehogcare.htm
 
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