Pet hedgehogs can be prone to mite infestation if not treated properly. If your hedgehog starts losing patches of quills, is noticeably itching, has dry flaky skin, and is biting at parts of its body mites are probably to blame. The good news is that mites on hedgehogs are easily preventable and treatable.
Preventing Mites on Hedgehogs
The best way to keep your hedgehog safe from mites is to prevent them from showing up in the first place. Prevention can include not buying bedding in a pet store where the bedding is stored close to small animals/birds. Mites could migrate into the bedding that you buy. I purchase my bedding from The Tractor Supply Company where it is sheltered and kept away from live animals. If bedding must be purchased from a pet store, you can freeze it for a day or two to help kill any mites.
Bathing your hedgehog once per month in warm water with a few drops of olive oil can also help to prevent mite infestations (How to Give Your Pet Hedgehog a Bath). At Riddle’s Hedgehogs, we give olive oil baths regularly and have not had a case of mites yet. Peppermint essential oil can also be added to a bath to aid in prevention.
Treating a Hedgehog with Mites
Unfortunately your hedgehog may get mites in which case he / she will need to receive treatment. Many people confuse fleas with mites and will use the same type of treatment. However, most flea treatments are dangerous for hedgehogs, so avoid using any over-the-counter flea treatments.
Some people have tried using the powder Diatomaceous Earth for hedgehog mite treatment. The food grade powder can be used as a natural treatment, every few days for a month or more. It is not 100% effective, but we’ve heard of success stories from other hedgehog owners. If you use it, be sure to avoid the hedgehog’s face as the dust can be harmful.
Ivermectin can be used topically/ or orally to treat hedgehogs, but we do not recommend it unless you have had good results with it in the past. Since hedgehogs are small, getting the dosage correct can be difficult, and you will need to administer 3 doses at 2 week intervals. Unfortunately we have also heard of instances where hedgehogs died from Ivermectin treatments, possibly from overdosing or fatal injections.
The best treatment by far is prescription Revolution (prescribed by your veterinarian). Revolution kills the mites and prevents any further re-infestation for at least one month. You would need to schedule a visit with your vet and your vet may insist on doing a skin scraping or extra testing. A typical vet visit usually costs around $50 + $20 or so for a vial of Revolution. The dosage is usually 1-2 drops between the shoulder blades and is very effective. The vial that you get from the vet can also be stored properly to be used again in the future. Our hedgehog receive a preventative dose of Revolution monthly.
Are you unsure if your hedgehog has mites or have another hedgehog-related question? Please feel free to contact us!