Hibernation is the most common issue African Pygmy Hedgehog owners face. Sadly due to the size of African Pygmy Hedgehogs their body doesn't contain the reserves to sustain hibernation. This means that hibernation is often fatal if the hedgehog isn't brought around in time or the hedgehog is older/weaker. 

Hibernation happens when hedgehogs get cold which is why we suggest using a heat source (such as a ceramic heat emitter with thermostat) to keep your pygmy hedgehog at a constant heat. 

Symptoms include:

  • Cold/Cool belly.
  • Unable to unball.
  • Slow huffing. 
  • Wobbliness.
  • Lack of activity.

Should your hedgehog attempt hibernation you need to warm them up, however try not to heat them too quickly. If your hedgehog gets warm too fast it could lead to shock. Gradually heat them up either on a heat pad or against your skin (under your clothes). 

Please don't put them in warm or hot water, this will result in them becoming cold again very quickly. 

If after 1 hour of being gradually heated there's no sign of improvement please seek vet attention. 

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For more help and advice on hibernation or other health issues please join our facebook group. We have loads of knowledgeable members and breeders to help with issues owners face.

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Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome

 Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome is a progressive, debilitating health disease often compared to multiple sclerosis that eventually leads to paralysis and death. The condition is not fully understood but there is believed to be a genetic component. There is also a suggestion that poor diet and environmental stressors may also be factors in the onset of this condition. There is no cure, although there are steps people can take to make things easier for their pet as the disease progresses. Hedgehogs who are suddenly very wobbly are unlikely to have WHS, which manifests gradually over time, and is probably affected by another issue such as a hibernation attempt, a stroke, or an inner ear problem. WHS can only be definitively diagnosed after death, if a vet performs a necropsy. Animals that are weakened through illness may often be unsteady on their feet.

There have been no confirmed WHS cases in the UK since 2011. 


Mites / Fungus / Fleas

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are affected by fungal infections, including ring worm, and mites. A furry/mouldy looking face, flakey skin, quill loss, yellow crusting, and tiny white specs coming off or constant itching are a sign of mites/ fungal infections/fleas. Some mites burrow and some live inside ears- if a hog is scratching it is best to treat, and also get a skin scrape at an exotics vet as the scratching could also be due to an allergy. F10 Products Germicidal Wound Spray with Insecticide is good to spray on hog’s skin on alternate days during fungus or mites. Xeno 50 pipettes can be used to treat mites, for a 300g hog put the full pipette onto the hog’s back every 2 weeks up to 3 times to treat mites. If after doing this the hog still has mites go to the vet. Ardep spray can be used to treat vivariums and carpets with parasites present. Vets can prescribe frontline kitten and puppy spot on to clear severe mite infections. 

Ring worm, whilst uncommon in APH, is transmittable to humans and therefore a trip to the doctor is advised. Hogs can also be infected with pin (thread) worms. Some owners treat for both internal and external parasites as a precaution every six months using a product such as Xeno 50 Mini Spot-on. 


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Refusing to eat

 This is a sign of pain or illness and it is best to see a vet ASAP. If this is not possible (e.g. Christmas Day) syringing 2ml of either hills a/d, Emeraid Omnivore care, Emeraid carnivore care, oxbow carnivore care or Vetark critical care every 2 hours (you can add a spec of nutrobal and avipro) will stop the hog becoming weak. To make up critical care add a tiny pinch to 2ml of slightly warm water (boiled and cooled) and mix, keep adding until thick and feed with a syringe. Hills A/D can be syringed from can or a small bit of slightly warm water (boiled and cooled) can be added to make the consistency easier to syringe. Boiled chicken thighs, taken off the bone and liquidised with cooking liquid, can be syringe fed, or tempt the hedgehog to eat from the bowl. This can be fed slightly warm. 


Calcium Deficiency

 Calcium deficiency can manifest in a similar way to wobbly hedgehog syndrome, but is easily treated. This problem can cause many symptoms such as muscle wastage, unexplained weight loss, lethargy, seizures, and problems with mobility eg limping, wobbliness. The condition is apparently quite common in exotic pets due to difficulties emulating the wild diet. Foods such as farmed insects and cuts of meat are judged to be low in calcium, and should not be fed in such large amounts that the dried kibble mix is not being eaten. It is desirable to supplement an African pygmy hedgehog's diet from time to time with calcium rich foods such as pinkie mice, canned insects (which have added calcium), calci worms, broccoli and kale. It is also a good idea to sprinkle a small amount of nutrobal powder on their food once per week; this supplement contains calcium, vitamin D3 (which aids calcium absorption) and multivitamins.


For more health advice please download our caresheet.

Hedgehog Care guide 2019 (pdf)