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 shows and hedgehog colors!
Wondering where on earth 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 Hedgehog Valley
HEALTH AND HYGIENE AT HEDGEHOG SHOWS
Hedgehog shows are a wonderful way that hedgehog fans get together to share experiences and knowledge, as well as to see so many wonderful examples of hedgehog form and personality. Despite the joys, there are some risks inherent in attending shows with your hedgehog. Proper attention to health and hygiene can go a very long way toward minimizing these risks.
The first thing that you need to consider is the health of your hedgehog prior to leaving for the show. If there is any reason to believe that your hedgehog is harboring a contagious disease or parasite, such as a bacterial infection or mites, you should not bring your hedgehog to the show. Not only will the stress of travel likely further debilitate your hedgehog, it will place other hedgehogs at risk of contracting these conditions. Whenever possible, it is recommended to take your hedgehog to the veterinarian for a skin scraping and fecal exam within one week before leaving for the show, to make sure that no contagious conditions are present.
If your hedgehog has a health condition that is not contagious, such as cancer, you should consider very carefully before bringing that hedgehog to the show. Some hedgehogs do not like change and this can create a stress, further debilitating that hedgehogs. The stress of travel can affect some healthy hedgehogs as well. Green or loose stools are a common stress reaction. Even hedgehogs that get a clean bill of health from the vet can develop bacterial infections post-show due to the stressors creating an imbalance in intestinal flora. For example, a hedgehog that is a hidden salmonella carrier may have a clean fecal check prior to the show, but may begin to shed when under stress.
Because there is no way to tell with 100% accuracy
which hedgehogs may be hidden carriers of infection, hygiene is an
extremely important consideration. IHA licensed judges are trained to be
very attentive to hygiene. They are to use hand sanitized between
handling different hedgehogs (this may be in a gel or wipe form). The
table is to be wiped down between classes, unless entrants are using
papers or blankets that keep the table hygienic. Show entrants are
encouraged to bring their own table pads, to protect the health of their
hedgehog and others.
It is also very important that show goers consider hygiene when away from the show table. Of course, we all want to handle all of the really cute hedgies- but how many people do you see using hand sanitizer or washing hands between handling one hedgehog and the next? Although it is awkward to start doing, IHA highly recommends that this become common practice. To illustrate why this is so extremely important; I want to share a terrible experience that I personally had early in my hedgehog ownership. I had a female hedgehog and so did a friend of mine. She was thinking about getting another hedgehog and wanted to see if hers would get along with another hedgehog. She brought her hedgehog, who had absolutely no signs of ill health, and I let her play with a 9 month old albino female of mine- Ivy. Not long after that, Ivy fell ill and died less than 24 hours after her first symptoms showed. Devastated, I took Ivy for a necropsy to find out what had happened to my beautiful darling. The verdict came back that she had contracted coccidia and that had killed her. I wracked my brain for several days and finally it occurred to me- Ivy had been in contact with that other hedgie. I called my friend, who said hers was in fine health. However, she did remember that her roommate’s kitten had gotten into her hedgehog’s cage prior to coming to visit me, and the kitten had fallen ill and died… from coccidia. It turned out that her hedgehog was probably an asymptomatic carrier.
Incidences such as these do not have to occur.
Increasing attention to health checks prior to shows, only bringing
animals with good health, and practicing good hygiene on and off of the
show table will ensure that these types of occurrences do not happen.
The hand sanitizing gels and wipes that are on the market will eradicate
nearly all bacteria and host of viruses that can affect our hedgehogs,
preventing them from being inadvertently passed from one hedgehog to
another. Next time you head out for a hedgehog show, don’t forget your
sanitizer. Although it can be awkward to ask someone to sanitize or wash
hands before handling your hedgehog, remember that this is an important
way to safeguard his or her health. Also be cautious about placing your
hedgehog with other hedgehogs. Most of the time nothing will happen, but
if it does, the results can be as tragic as what happened to Ivy.
After attending a show, or any long trip or social event for that matter, be sure to watch your hedgehog’s health very carefully. It is not unusual to see brief changes in eating or drinking habits or in stool quality. However, if this persists for more than two or so days, you will definitely want to take your hedgehog to the veterinarian to make sure that it is a transient stress reaction and not a sign of something serious. Despite the inherent risks, a little attention to health and hygiene will ensure that your hedgehog stays happy and healthy!
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