Diseases and parasites

External parasites of the hedgehog

Hedgehog fleas

Hedgehogs are renowned for having fleas. However, the fleas found on hedgehogs are actually hedgehog fleas (scientific name: Archaeopsylla erinacei) which are host specific, meaning they will not survive for long on any other species, be it pets or people. Occasionally hedgehogs can become infested with fleas but usually they will only have a few resident fleas which will cause them no harm.

Hedgehog ticks

Ticks are another common external parasite on hedgehogs. Usually an individual will have a couple of ticks on it though occasionally there are hedgehogs with heavier burdens. Ticks are commonly attached to the underside, behind the ears or the flanks of hedgehogs but they can occur elsewhere as well. Ticks are in general harmless to hedgehogs. However, a high parasite load can be indicative of sickness.

Ticks on a hedgehog by Emily Thomas

Ringworm can also be quite prevalent in hedgehogs, with around a quarter of the national population thought to be affected. Most hedgehogs show no visible symptoms and even those with severe infections can still show little sign of skin infection and can feed normally. Dry, crusty ears are one of the most common symptoms of a ringworm infection.

Internal parasites

Hedgehogs can be host to a number of different parasitic worms, with lungworm being especially prevalent in European hedgehogs. Lungworm infection can result in a dry rattling cough and can prove fatal if left untreated. A mild worm burden is to be expected in most hedgehogs but this should cause few problems to them. 

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