The following is a list of things to observe both in selecting a hedgehog as a pet and as a way to identify potential problems with your pet.
- Check its eyes to make sure they are bold, clear, round, and bright.
- The eyes should be wide open.
- The eyes should not be watery or sunken or dull.
- They should not have any discharge or matting of the fur around the eye.
- The hedgehog’s nose should be moist and clean.
- It should not be dry, bubbly, or running.
- Keep in mind hedgehogs have an excellent sense of smell so that nose is likely to be busy sniffing you or the air to check out its surrounds.
- Your hedgehog’s ears should be clean with no drainage or crustiness of the fur at the base of the ear.
- There should be no flaking or “finger-like” projections on the outer part of the ear.
- Some hedgehog babies may have ear damage that occurs during birth or at a young age. As long as the wound has healed a less than perfectly shaped ear should not affect its quality of life or health status.
Skin and Quills
- Check the skin to make sure there are no abrasions or open wounds.
- Excessive dryness
- Missing quills or bare patches may be a sign of mites.
- Some colors of babies may appear to have thinner, less dense quills and may look a little bare when their spines are erect and still be perfectly healthy.
- The underbelly fur should not be matted.
- The hedgehog’s body should be filled out through the back and sides.
- Some hedgehogs have a streamlined appearance, but their skin should not be loose and they should be filled out below the ribs.
- Other hedgehogs are plumper but they should not be so fat that they cannot easily roll into a ball.
- Breathing should be regular with no wheezing or signs of stress. Do not confuse the normal hedgehog huffing for the rattle of a respiratory illness.
- Notice the amount of food and water consumption from the previous night and has the hedgehog gained or lost a significant amount of weight.
- The hedgehog’s bowl movements should be similar in color to the hedgehog’s food. Green droppings or diarrhea are signs of illness and stress.
Movement and Gait
- Your hedgehog should move freely without limping, wobbling, or dragging its feet.
- A hedgehog’s normal gait will create a “pitter-patter” sound.