Last Updated on November 1, 2022.

  • Hedgehogs have 4 toes on the rear feet and 5 toes on the front feet as in the Atelerix species.
  • The nails on the front feet may need to be trimmed more frequently than the rear feet to prevent them from curling into the foot and damaging the footpad.
  • Hedgehog’s feet and toes are made for walking and running.
  • They do not have opposable thumbs or fingers for grasping or for vertical climbing.

Bloody Feet

  • Symptom
  • Raw sores, scabbed, irritated feet
  • Actively bleeding feet
  • Cause
    • Damaged nails are the most common cause of bloody feet.
    • Over-use of a wheel can cause blisters or tiny scrapes on the pads of the feet.
    • Some types of wheels have a tendency to cause more irritation than others.
  • Treatment
    • Feet should be cleaned with warm water and a mild soap to determine if the injury is new or is healing
    • Remove all bedding and litter in the cage. Open wounds should be kept on clean paper towels or other non-stick substrate until healed.
    • Over-the-counter regular Polysporin (no Maximum Strength or Painkiller versions) can be applied to sore feet to aid in healing.
    • No wheel exercise until the injury has healed. Some hedgehogs become highly agitated without the wheel but one night without a wheel will make a significant difference in allowing the feet to heal.
    • “Angry red” or pustules indicate a veterinarian visit and possible medication.
    • Foot injuries tend to heal quickly without additional trauma.

Loss of Blood Circulation

  • Symptom
    • Swelling, redness, or change in color
    • Necrosis of the entire foot, portions of the foot or toes
    • Rotting flesh smell
  • Cause and Prevention
    • Circulation is cut due to tight wrapping of hair, thread, string, or carpet fibers around the foot or portions of the foot.
    • Permanent damage can occur in as little as 6 hours
    • Inspect liners, bags, and any other fabric object in the cage daily for loose threads
  • Treatment
    • The constricting object must be removed immediately and damage must be assessed a veterinarian to determine if amputation is needed
      • Necrotic tissue can cause an animal to go septic
    • Antibiotics such as Baytril and an anti-inflammatory drug such as Metacam may also be necessary to treat any resulting infection or swelling.

Contributors:  Gail Smith, Melissa Ramos

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