Articles on basic care and considerations for new or prospective owners.
Articles pertaining to health, nutrition, and veterinary care.
Articles and pictures about hedgehog breeding, growth, and development.
Articles for people who already own a hedgehog or want to know more than just the basics.
Learn more about hedgehog colors!
Wondering where to buy a hedgehog? Start here!
Where to purchase hedgehog supplies and collectibles.
Meet the hedgehogs of Hedgehog Valley!
Meet the other critters that call or
have called Hedgehog Valley
There are a lot of
myths and misconceptions about hedgehogs and mites. This article will
address the three biggest ones. First, there is the idea that the mites
that hedgehogs get are species-specific. That is just not true. Several
species of mites have been identified on hedgehogs including those that
can also affect dogs, cats, and birds.
Next, there is the myth that mites are always a sign of poor care. Poor husbandry is not going to help the situation, but even people who are scrupulous about cleaning have had mites turn up on their hedgehogs. There are plenty of possible explanations. One is that mites can lay dormant in bedding. If you purchase a bag of infested bedding, you bring the mites home to your hedgehog. Second, mites can be present at an undetectable level. If you handle another animal outside the home, the mites get on you and you bring them home to your hedgehog. Or, your hedgehog may have a few mites and they are not a problem until something happens to stress the hedgehog. A chill or minor illness lowers resistance and the mites take advantage of the weakened condition to multiply. You can be cleaning and disinfecting daily and still have a mite outbreak.
The third group of misconceptions has to do with treatment. The current standard of treatment from a veterinarian is three doses of ivermectin injection, given two weeks apart. There is a research study that was done at the Santa Barbara Zoo that showed that 6 hedgehogs with severe might infestations, treated with the standard course of ivermectin, were not mite free at the end of treatment. Six similarly infested hedgehogs treated with amitraz dip were mite-free at the end of treatment, as well as at follow up. Our experience with ivermectin and amitraz has been consistent with the Santa Barbara study in that amitraz worked better.
Unfortuntely, we have found that amitraz is no longer stocked in our area and is difficult to obtain. My search for effective treatment led to a veterinarian who prescribed Revolution (selamectin) as a spot-on, calculating the dose at the same per-pound rate as for dogs.
We first used the Revolution in April of 2000. We used it on every furred critter in the house except the humans (that included a sugar glider, ferret, dwarf hamsters, and bushy tailed jirds). We treated pregnant and lactating mothers, as well as nursing infants. I had one hedgehog with cancer, who we had not been able to rid of mites for the last 4 months, no matter what combination of amitraz and ivermectin we had tried. Within a week, she was mite free and made some significant gains! We did not have another mite until August of 2001.
In August 2001 we had several animals come and visit, so I am pretty sure the new outbreak came from outside rather than having been harbored in our herd. We treated again with Revolution and it was over five years before we saw another case of mites. We saw no long term effects on mothers or babies. If mites are an ongoing problem with your hedgehog, I would encourage you to take this article to your veterinarian and ask them to consider this type of treatment.
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