Hedgehogs are small creatures with even smaller ears, so it can be easy to ignore them.
Don’t! There are many issues that can attack the ears of your hedgehog, making them uncomfortable and interfering with their ability to hear the world around them, which produces anxiety.
Ear infections are common enough that you’ll probably have to face one if you own a hedgehog. Fortunately for you, you’re in the right place to learn everything you need to know about caring for their tiny ears.
Below you’ll find information on the symptoms you should look out for, how to diagnose ear problems, and how to treat them.
Ear Infection Symptoms
Before you can find a remedy, you need to figure out what’s wrong with your hedgehog’s ears. Let’s take a look at some of the symptoms of ear infections that you should look out for.
Problems with the ears don’t typically interfere with the eating, drinking, or defecating habits of your hedgehog. This puts it under the radar of many pet owners, who are taught to monitor those three things for any signs that their pet is unhealthy.
That said, ear problems can often be indicators of more serious issues that need addressing, and so they will interfere with the hedgehog’s life once they become critical.
That’s why paying attention to possible symptoms is so important, so you can get help earlier and pre-empt the worst of any hedgehog diseases. Consider getting a night camera that allows you to take a quick look at your hedgehog’s nocturnal frolicking, as it may give you insight into any weird behaviors they’re developing.
What weird behaviors? Well, there are quite a few. It could be as simple as the hedgehog scratching their little ear, though that could be several other things too.
However, if they shake their head and scratch at their ears then maybe there’s something more than an innocent itch going on.
Similarly, watch for balance issues. Just like us, hedgehogs also have centers of balance in their ears, and so ear infections will make them dizzy and uncoordinated.
If the hedgehog is walking in circles, leaning to one side (with an inability to walk straight) has seemingly become clumsy over the last few weeks, it’s likely to be an ear problem.
Last but certainly not least, get up close and personal with your hedgehog pet to detect any physical symptoms coming from the ear. A common symptom is ears that look tattered because of waxy buildups on their edges.
This is a symptom of other interrelated problems that look a lot like an ear infection, like a fungal infection or ear mites, which we’ve discussed below.
It could also be a dietary deficiency from having too few omega fatty acids. Consult a vet before adding any dietary supplements to your hedgehog’s diet.
Upon seeing any or all of these symptoms, you should take your hedgehog to a veterinarian that’s qualified to work with exotic pets. They’ll have a better idea of what is going on and they’ll be able to diagnose your pet accurately.
Types Of Ear Infection
Ear infections are the most common problem but there’s more than one kind out there. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the other infections that interfere with your pet, from tiny mites to parasitic fungi.
Ear mites are a cause of secondary bacterial infections on the ears of animals, including hedgehogs. They’re also the primary cause of the so-called tattered ears that we mentioned above.
Moisturizing the ears is a great way to destabilize the growth and get their ears looking good as new, though some hedgehogs will have to get used to you playing with their ears. Rub Vaseline or jojoba oil into them for best results.
Ear drops may also be prescribed by your veterinarian for ear infections that have gone out of control. Drops of neomycin and permethrin can do the trick. If you suspect ear mites, your veterinarian will know what to do.
As for fungal infections, these can attack the ears and also form what can be mistaken for “tattered ears.” This is because fungal infections form cream-colored or gray growths on the edge of the ears, creating an uneven edge.
These will eat away at the ears, so get these infections under control immediately! Avoid paper or wood bedding to prevent these infections from occurring.
If the infection is already present on the hedgehog’s ears, immediately take your hedgehog to the veterinarian where they can administer fungicides to clear the infection and reclaim their ears.
Lastly, there are middle and inner ear infections that strike deeper into the ear canal than most others. These are usually accompanied by discharge and serious balancing instability.
If your hedgehog’s steering seems broken, they may have an inner-ear infection and need to see a veterinarian. When it comes to these infections, their balance is always affected somehow, so be vigilant for changes in how your hedgehog navigates the world.
Ear Problem Diagnostics
So, let’s say you’re taking your hedgehog to the vet’s office. They’ll want a summary of the hedgehog’s behavior so, as you notice symptoms and other odd behaviors, write them down on a notepad and bring that to the veterinarian so you don’t forget important details.
Then they’ll take a look at the animal to find out what’s wrong with them. Hedgehogs that don’t play nice might get sedated to make the process easier.
Then they’ll look for some of the physical symptoms above, like flaky and painful ears, and they may even smell the ear area to detect any odors that shouldn’t be there.
In cases where it’s expected that the infection runs deeper into the ear, they may perform an X-ray on your hedgehog’s tiny head.