Mites in Hedgehogs

By Gregory Rich, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

Mites are small insect parasites that cause itchy, irritating skin issues in pets, including African Pygmy hedgehogs. The species that affect hedgehogs is Caparinia tripilis, which is often referred to as quill mites.

How can my hedgehog get mites? 

Hedgehogs can become infested with mites from contact with other infested hedgehogs at a breeder’s facility, pet store, animal shelter, or previously contaminated bedding.

How can I tell if my hedgehog has mites?

You may not notice any signs of mites early in the infestation unless your hedgehog is hypersensitive to mite bites and very itchy. Eventually, you might notice that your hedgehog is losing quills, frequently biting, licking, chewing, or scratching itself, losing weight, has less energy than usual, and/or has seborrhea (dandruff).

" might notice that your hedgehog is losing quills..."

How will my veterinarian treat quill mites on my hedgehog?

There are no hedgehog-specific drugs for managing mites in hedgehogs, so your veterinarian may prescribe products used for dogs and cats for off-label use. Topical cat medications, including Advantage™ and Revolution™, may be used but should ONLY be used under the guidance of a veterinarian experienced with hedgehogs. Proper dosing of the medication is dependent on your hedgehog’s weight. Overdosing may cause serious side effects.

" is very important to clean and treat your home and any other areas where the hedgehog may reside, play, and visit..."

In addition, it is very important to clean and treat your home and any other areas where the hedgehog may reside, play, and visit, as mite eggs and adult mites can fall off your hedgehog and survive for a short period of time. The cage requires thorough cleaning and bedding, cage flooring, and other fabric materials should be washed or replaced. The area around the cage will need to be vacuumed and wiped down with a cleaning agent. Consult with your veterinarian for advice regarding appropriate cleaning agents and protocols for treating your hedgehog’s environment.

CAUTION: Certain products should NEVER be used on hedgehogs. DO NOT use mite collars, organophosphates, straight permethrin sprays, or permethrin spot-on on your pet hedgehog.

Will quill mites bother me or my other pets?

Most mites are species-specific; quill mites do not like living on people or other animals. However, if your hedgehog has mites, it would still be prudent to have other pets in your home checked by your veterinarian.

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