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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hiya,

Me and my boyfriend are living in Ireland and own a wonderful little hedgie called Xena. However, for the last few months Xena has been suffering from excessive quill loss and also does not seem to have as much fur as before. We have taken her to the vet last week (this late as we first thought it was a late quilling) and are going again next week but it has been a long time since our vet treated a hedgie, so I'd like feedback from here as well. I've copied all the details I have below. If anyone could be of any help, it'd be so appreciated!
Xena:
- Female
- Born late September 2008
- 0.45 kg
Food:
- Royal Canin Indoor 27 cat food
- Meal worms
- Occasional flax oil
Housing:
- 40 by 60 cm cage
- 30 by 20 sleeping space made by storage bin attached to cage with rubber tube
- fleece bedding in play/food area and t shirt in sleeping space
- 12" flying saucer wheel
Symptoms (started around June/July 2009):
- Quill loss (ball still on quill)
- Hair loss?
- Flaky skin
- Vomiting (recently, night of 7/8-10-2009)
- Sensitive skin (very strong reaction when putting flax oil on)
Behaviour:
- Normal
- No scratching
- Huffs for a while but often explores the house if you put her on the floor
- Does not explore when on lap
- Starts huffing fast when touched or when coming close
Possible ailments:
- Mites
- Ringworm
- Dry skin
- Stress
- hormonal
- bacterial
- fungal
- allergies
- yeast
 

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Add bacterial infection to your list of possible ailments. I had one who had extreme quill loss (left him permanently bald), we tested for mites and tests came back negative. Fungal - negative. A bacteria culture resulted in a staph infection of his skin.

For mine when his quills would fall out there would be a pocket of pus on the end of the quills. We noticed these little pockets of pus would form around the base of the quill and then when they ruptured the quill would fall out (they never grew back). He too became more grouchy to handle and had other behavior changes. His skin hurt and he reacted accordingly.

He was put on an antibiotic that the staph was sensitive to, the infection cleared up and the quill loss stopped.

Did your vet do a skin scraping to rule out mites? I'd have a skin scraping done again, and if it is negative, ask doc about doing additional tests. I'd inquire about a culture & sensitivity to rule out bacterial, and then investigate fungal.

Dry skin can cause quill loss. Does she have sheets of flaky skin? If so, also talk to doc about food supplements for getting rid of the dry problem. I've used flaxseed oil added to my hedgehog's food as well as a couple of drops on the skin to help combat overly dry skin. The supplement added to the food can take 4-6 weeks to really start to work, but a few drops on the skin can help during that time to moisten/soften the skin.

Good luck with her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Kalandra, I've added it to the list. I deed see some white stuff around the base of one quill last night, but that's a first.

Gladly she did not vomit last night.

I have contacted the vet again and we are going again tomorrow. The vet talked to an exotics specialist and they are saying ringworm and mites are common, as I know from here. She has suggested doing a skin scrape under the influence of a mild sedative so she will not ball up. She has also said that mites are often under the skin AND not always detectable even if a scrape is done. Is this true? I do not want to put Xena through Ivermectin injections unless absolutely necessary (our vet does not have access to revolution :cry: ). I am sad to say the vet, though doing her best, is not the most knowledgeable on the species. She is also our best hope unless we are going to travel long lenghts with her as hedgies are not common pets in Ireland.

EDIT: I just reread the mail from the vet:

' Selmectin and Ivermectin are similar drugs with the same mode of action. Unfortunately I am not aware of Revolution being available in this country.'

That seems to suggest she has Selmectin, which is Revolution! :mrgreen:


She is not scratching, the balls are always still on the quills and the quill loss is spread out though mainly around her butt area, there are no big bald patches, she is just getting sparse. I will try posting some photos later. I am trying to analyse the flakes on her skin, they are slight whitish yellow and mainly around the base of a quill.
 

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At least selamectin is an option that's good news. Even if the mite test comes back negative you can at least treat her without having to worry about ivermectin side effects.

It is possible to get false negatives with skin scrapings. I had one that had mites, but only on her head and mostly around her ears. We did a skin scraping and it came up negative (doc scraped the rump area. We were preparing to do something else when I thought I saw a skin flake move on her ears, we did another scrape and got a positive.

Definitely discuss the possibility of the bacteria infection. Bacterial skin infections are also pretty common in hedgehogs. I have seen staph diagnosed many times when a hedgehog has had an unexplained quill loss.

Hopefully your visit will yield a diagnosis and your little one's quill loss will soon be over. We will keep our quills crossed here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
OK, the vet gave Xena 0.1ml of Selamectin (Revolution in the States, Stronghold here) on her back yesterday to get rid of any possible mites. She also took some of the flakes on her skin to do a fungal culture. And we got the anitbiotic Baytril to give her twice daily. She actually already looked better this morning. Hope this will do the trick! I am glad she is growing quills back as she really is going bald on her backside at the moment...
 

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Sounds like your vet is covering everything at once. Hopefully this will fix the problem and the only thing she will soon be suffering from is new quill growth. If you aren't already, you may want to add some probiotics to her diet while she is on the Baytril. Baytril is very strong and can cause green stools quickly. If you do give a probiotic, give it mid way between Baytril doses, otherwise the Baytril will kill off the probiotics.

Keep us updated. We will keep our quills crossed here that she is on the road to a full set of quills again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Just an update and a question or 2...

Xena has had the baytril 6 times now, starting one dose wednesday evening, 2 doses thursday and friday and a dose this morning. She still is pretty much covered in pus colored flakes over her skin, which do seem directly related to the quill loss. The flakes almost look like ruptured and dried up pus except I have only seen a few balls of actual pus on her. It is almost like her skin is coming loose. I wanted to help her get rid of some of it, so I bathed her and then after drying her a bit when her skin was still damp I took a tweezer and picked a lot of the flakes off. This must have taken about an hour and she lost loads of quills in the process. She obviously didnt appreciate me getting so close to her skin either.

Now, does anyone know how long it usually takes for an antibiotic (and Selmectin aka Revolution/Stronghold to kick in? Whenever I have used them, my ailments stopped within about 2 days. Now, I can't really be compared to a hedgehog, so any thoughts? (The vet recommended 0.1 ml of Baytril 2x daily for a week).

Also, these flakes, should she get rid of them herself in due time (gonna assume they wont just dissappear) or should I continue to help her with this?

I am gettin increasingly concerned that this has been taking so long and I am so suprised she is not yet bald. In a week we should contact the vet for an update and to see about the fungal culture she did. I still do not believe there is an internal issue or stress as stools seem fine, and she eats and drinks fine, except that she still wont eat veggies and fruit (tried apple, pear and asparagus so far, next step: banana.). Now she's on meds, she somehow seems more active on the wheel at night (can't tell as she wont go on it when we are in the room, she is in the sitting room and will run when we are asleep in the bedroom). If it's not mites, fungal or bacterial I am running out of ideas.
 

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Are you still treating her with flax seed oil? Is it possible that she is allergic to it? I can't think of anything else that it might be that antibiotics wouldn't cure. I hope that you and your vet figure out what it is.
 

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Often you should see some improvement within a couple of days of the antibiotic if it is going to work. I've never used selamectin, but I understand it works fairly quickly as well. Any word from the vet yet as to the fungal results?

Did doc do a culture and sensitivity test of the yet? If not, that would be my next question to the vet. It could be she has a antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria.
 

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I wonder if she could be reacting to the wheat or the corn. I've never heard of a hedgehog with a food allergy but it might be possible. I know many dogs with sensitive skin cannot eat wheat or they end up with skin that cracks and leaves soars all over their body. Could a hedgehog have a similar reaction?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
We have her on a different food now, that does not have corn as the main ingredient. She also gets a canned food that consists of chicken, rice and water. And of course her mealies. Still failing to find veggies she will like though...

She is still dropping quills and is covered in flakes. Is it possible that she is shedding old/sick quills as well as old/sick skin? Is there something I could do to help with that?

Are there any anti bacterial shampoos I could perhaps bathe her with, maybe mixed with some flax oil so it won't dry her skin too much?

I will ring the vet shortly to see if there is any result in the fungal infection. If not, I cannot think of anything else that would cause this issue with her. *worried*
 

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Are there new quills poking through? Are there very many?

Yes it is possible that she is shedding damaged quills and growing in new ones. Hedgehogs have been known to do this after periods of stress, diet change and mite infestations.
 

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Poor little fuffer. It's scary to watch your little one lose all those quills.

Sounds like you have a good plan going with the meds. It can take awhile to see change in quill-coverage even after the underlying condition is successfully treated since the "bad" quills continue to drop for awhile and it takes time for the new healthy ones to grow in.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Xena is still losing quills quite a bit, but is also growing quills backk. She is currently quite unsociable, but I put that down to the quill growth and she never was the most of a people hedgie to begin with but she explored at least.

Is it possible that she might need to shed a lot of sick quills and then replace them? We want to be patient but not negligent. We want to give her time to recover before draggin her back to the vet but don't want to mistake her recovering for still being ill. I am trying to closely monitor the new quills, if those start falling out as well, there is def more of a problem. I stopped the anitbiotics as she had been on them for over 2 weeks and yesterday I gave her a little bit of natural yogurt. Does anyone know if yogurt would help combat a yeast infection? I asked the vet about those, she saw a bit of yeast on her skin during the first consultation but said it was a normal amount. But I know antibiotics can cause yeast infection with people. the vet said the chances were small as she only got a small dose of antibiotics (0.1ml 2x a day of Baytril). If it's not yeast, I'm running out of ideas. Maybe stress (we moved into a new apartment in June, shortly after the quills started dropping) in which case we just need to wait. Or hormonal. Does anyone know how a vet would check for a hormonal disorder?

We moved her to a bigger and nicer cage recently and into the guestroom for some peace and quiet...

Sorry for all the questions guys, just looking to get her back to her prickly self asap...
 

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I know one of the experts like Nancy will be along to answer your questions. I just want to thank you for the update on this beautiful little girl.
 
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