Why is my African hedgehog's quills falling off - Causes and treatment

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¿Do you have a hedgehog as a pet? Then you may already know several things about their needs, basic care, and possible health problems. For example, one thing that usually draws our attention and that can worry us, is the fall of its spikes..

¿Have you noticed that the spikes sometimes fall off a lot? ¿You know why it is and what you can do about it?

If you want to know Why Does My African Hedgehog Fall Out of Quills, Causes and Treatment possible, from AnimalWised we encourage you to continue reading this article where you will find the answers.

You may also be interested in: Most common diseases of the African hedgehog Index
  1. Why is my hedgehog's quills falling off? What should I do?
  2. The quilling or quilling change
  3. Other causes and possible treatments
  4. What to do to avoid these problems on the skin of our little friend

Why is my hedgehog's quills falling off? What should I do?

¿Lately you have been worried that your little one is dropping the spikes a lot and you have noticed that the floor is full of them in his house? ¿Do you see any part that has been completely peeled? Don't worry, because this has several possible reasons and all of them have a remedy..

These varied reasons range from a normal change of the quills due to the growth of our African hedgehog, to possible problems due to fungi, mites or bacteria. Thus, we have to look at various factors and symptoms such as, for example, to see if the fallen quills have a follicle or not, if the hedgehog has areas without quills or if where we know that he dropped one, he does not get a new one, if he scratches much more than normal, if we see the dry skin, if it is very stressed and many other things that can guide us to know if it is a normal process or if we are facing a problem that needs to be treated.

Next, we will describe the main causes and their possible treatments. But first, from AnimalWised, we must remind you of the importance of periodically visiting your trusted veterinarian to take proper control of the health of your little friend and also go to this professional whenever you detect any sign of discomfort or something out of the ordinary in the behavior of your hedgehog.

The quilling or quilling change

If your hedgehog is a few months old, you notice that the quills are falling off and that they present a follicle, it is most likely that it is a barb molt, also known as quilling in English.

It is a completely natural process in them, since they make this change several times from the first or second month of life, until the definitive quills come out. Even so, it is possible that as adults they will change some more loose barb. A barb with a follicle indicates that it is healthy and that after its fall another new barb should come out to take its place. Generally, the process of changing the quills throughout the life of a hedgehog follows the following steps:

  • First quilling or molting of quills: It usually occurs at four weeks of age, thus changing the nest quills for the juvenile calls.
  • Second quilling: Usually starts at six weeks. This time there is the first change in the coloration of the tines.
  • Third quilling: It begins between the eighth and the ninth week of the hedgehog's life. There is a second color change, leaving behind the youthful color to take the adult color.
  • Bedroom quilling: This occurs between the twelfth and the twentieth week of life. In this phase, the quills are changed for firmer and thicker ones that will be the ones that remain as an adult, already with their final color and structure. For this reason, this phase is also known as quilling adult.

When we observe that this happens to our little hedgehog, we should not be alarmed as long as we see that there is a normal rhythm and that new quills continue to come out..

Other causes and possible treatments

As we have already mentioned before, there are many causes of the fall of the tines in a hedgehog. We have already talked about the most natural reason and that we should not worry about, the quilling or molting of barbs. But, among other factors, if we observe that several quills fall together, that the fallen quills do not have a follicle, that in the area where the quill has fallen they do not come out more, that our hedgehog is getting peeled, we observe wounds, dandruff or scabs , skin irritation, etc., then we should think about other causes.

If our African hedgehog has an abnormal spike drop (a lot of quantity and outside of times of change) along with any of the aforementioned symptoms, we should quickly go to our veterinarian, as it will be necessary to evaluate its condition to rule out possible problems and diseases, diagnose the cause of the problem and start appropriate treatment as soon as possible. Now we will move on to comment possible causes of tines falling that indicate some kind of disease or problem in our little companion and some possible booster treatment:

  • Stress: Dropped tines can be a side effect of stress. This cause can only be confirmed by the veterinarian after checking if the environment in which the hedgehog lives can cause stress and after eliminating other possible causes through tests and laboratory tests. Once stress is diagnosed, we must correct our hedgehog's environment, be it his house and objects that he uses, such as his diet or his daily activities. After some time of correcting the erroneous points in his environment, we will see that the stress is passing and the spikes are recovering..
  • Mushrooms: We will see some scabbing and peeling around the base of the tines. We will observe areas with low density of barbs and the skin of our hedgehog will be darkened in some parts. The veterinarian will perform the appropriate tests, mainly a fungal culture from a sample of the hedgehog's skin, to confirm or rule out this skin condition. After confirming it, you can prescribe the most suitable for the type of fungus that our little one's skin presents. Treatment for fungi is usually long and is usually based on special antifungal shampoos and oral antifungal agents. We will have to return to the vet to check the progress of the treatment and see if little by little the new quills are coming out..
  • Mites: The appearance of mites in hedgehogs is quite common, especially in a poorly controlled environment. The presence of these small arachnids on the skin of our little ones with spikes can be a serious problem if it is not detected early as they can cause hedgehogs to end up suffering from scabies. We will observe that our hedgehog scratches a lot continuously, we will see that its skin peels and its quills fall off. These mites usually appear when the hedgehog's defenses, that is, its immune system, are low. This detriment to the defenses can occur due to some other main illness or also due to stress. If we observe these symptoms in our pet, we must take it to the vet to confirm if it is mites and prescribe the best treatment to start it as soon as possible. In these cases, antiparasitics such as Stronghold are prescribed. We must remember that a hedgehog is a very small animal, so if we take care of the doses to be administered ourselves, we must be very careful with them and always follow the advice of the specialist veterinarian to avoid an overdose. It is vital that the treatment is carried out in full, that is, as long as the veterinarian indicates and if possible a few more days even if our hedgehog seems already cured, since scabies and mites are very persistent and can spread quickly again. After doing it properly and going to the necessary veterinary examinations, we will see how the mites disappear, the hedgehog stops scratching and its skin gradually recovers..

What to do to avoid these problems on the skin of our little friend

The most important thing to avoid these skin conditions that cause our hedgehog's quills to fall outside the stages of their change, is keep your environment clean and appropriate to your needs. The enclosure or the cage in which the hedgehog usually inhabits must be well ventilated, this area must also be disinfected, every few days the chips or the material that we are using as bedding or soil base must be changed, at the same time that we remove all the remains of urine and feces. Just as the enclosure or cage is cleaned every so often, it must also be done with the accessories and toys that our little companion uses. The cleaning products that we must use must be indicated by the veterinarian. Also, it is really important maintain both internal and external deworming of our African hedgehog. If we have several hedgehogs and one of them has fungi or mites, it is vital that the treatment is also carried out to the rest of the individuals even if they still do not present symptoms.

It is also very important, especially if we normally take our hedgehog out to the field or other areas outside the home, that we know how to properly bathe a hedgehog as this will avoid many possible skin problems and spikes, among others. In addition, other factors that must be taken into account are the daily activity and feeding of the African hedgehog..

This article is merely informative, at AnimalWised.com we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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