General Information

Hedgehogs have several unique problems; understanding these problems will allow you to better care for your pet and minimize future health care problems.


Cancer is very prevalent in hedgehogs, especially those over 3 years old. Tumors have been reported in all body organs in hedgehogs, but are especially common in the gastrointestinal tract. Signs are often vague and non-specific, including weight loss, loss of appetite, and lethargy.


Anting is a peculiar behavior seen in hedgehogs. When seeing an unfamiliar object, hedgehogs often lick the object repeatedly until frothy saliva accumulates in their mouths. They will then rub this saliva onto their skin and spines. It is not known why hedgehogs do this or the purpose the behavior serves.

Difficulty Examining

Hedgehogs commonly "ball up" when handled. This makes an examination by your veterinarian difficult if not impossible. Most hedgehogs will require anesthesia for even a simple examination. While there is always a risk with anesthesia, the risk of death is greater if an examination and needed tests [such as blood tests or radiographs (X-rays)] are not performed. In order to properly diagnose and treat your pet, these tests are necessary and so is the short period of anesthesia that may be required.


This client information sheet is based on material written by Shawn Messonnier, DVM.

© Copyright 2002 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. February 22, 2018.