As with many other animals, hedgehogs can have fleas. Unlike other fleas, hedgehogs don’t generally infest other animals or humans but they can still give you a bite.
Hedgehogs and fleas
There is an old wives tale that hedgehogs need fleas to survive and that is all that this is: a tale.
The truth is that not all hedgehogs do have fleas and when they do have them, the fleas generally cause them no harm. Hedgehog fleas are specific to hedgehogs. Some do have resident fleas and they can live a normal life with no problems. In fact, some hedgehogs have been found to have as many as 100 fleas and have been perfectly healthy.
If you have pets, you do not need to worry about them picking up hedgehog fleas. These fleas are host specific, so even if they jump onto your cat or dog, or on to you, they will do you no harm. They will not survive on any other species and while it is not pleasant to have any fleas, they would die very quickly on any host other than a hedgehog.
Hedgehogs fleas are different from the fleas which generally infest your pets. Their legs are longer and their body is thinner which allows them to move around between the hedgehog spines. This flea would find it harder to live on animal fur and would generally just fall off.
Prevent hedgehog fleas
Out in the wild it is very difficult to control the breeding of these fleas. They do not breed on the hedgehog but in the nest.
- If you have a hedgehog house in your garden it can be a good idea to clean it out as often as you can, without disturbing the hedgehog.
- If you have taken a hedgehog in, or are nursing a juvenile, change the bedding regularly. This will prevent the fleas from breeding.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do hedgehog fleas bite?
They will jump on to pets and humans and will bite, but as they will not survive on human flesh or animal fur, so you do not need to worry. The bites are harmless and the flea itself will not survive long without a hedgehog host.
How can I tell if a hedgehog has fleas?
In many cases, you can’t. Hedgehogs can continue a healthy life even when they have fleas, and it’s only if they become infested that they may begin to have a problem. If you are nursing a juvenile hedgehog, these are the things you need to look out for.
- One sign that they may have fleas is that they begin to lose quills.
- They will also bite, chew or scratch to try to relieve the itching and this is also a reason why they will lose quills.
- It can be difficult to see bite marks on a hedgehog, but if you are able to look closely you will see red marks or sores on their skin.
How do I get rid of hedgehog fleas?
You can use animal flea powders to treat hedgehogs but as these are not specifically designed for hedgehog fleas, it is best to consult with your local hedgehog rescue centre or a vet who will be able to offer the correct treatments.
- Do not put a flea collar on a hedgehog you are nursing.
- Do not use any flea sprays on a hedgehog.
The best way to prevent hedgehog fleas is by keeping the nest clean, and this is not something that you are often able to do.
If you are nursing a hedgehog, always make sure that your own pets are regularly treated for fleas, which is something you should be doing anyway. Be aware that hedgehog fleas cannot be harmful to your own pets or yourself, but also be aware that hedgehogs do carry ticks and potentially other diseases too.
Unless you are experienced at nursing a hedgehog, always consult a vet or hedgehog rescue centre before you take one in.