Loss of quills is a significant health indicator for Hedgehogs. Excessive loss of quills can be a major concern for Hedgehog owners. Many owners struggle to find the answer to “Why is my Hedgehog losing quills?” So, I decided to do a little research and consult my veterinarian friend to find the answer to all of your concerns.
It is normal for a Hedgehog to lose quills in its course of life. During the quilling phase, delicate and light quills fall off and are replaced by new stronger quills. In Hedgehogs, quilling usually starts during adolescence and will continue during their adulthood. Always visit a vet if you see any signs of illness accompanied by loss of quills in them.
On average, a Hedgehog approximately has more than 5000 quills. Out of the 5000, it will replace as much as 90% of them during its lifespan.
If you see any other symptoms of diseases or your Hedgehog is losing excessive quills every passing day, then you must consult a professional veterinarian immediately.
What Causes A Hedgehog to Lose Quills?
Most owners are concerned about their little Hedgehog’s quilling behavior or pattern. Three main factors make your Hedgehog quill, more or less.
Nutrition, stress, and mite infestation highly influence a Hedgehog’s quilling behavior.
If you feel that your Hedgehog is sick, I advise you to take them to a vet. They will be able to provide your Hedgehog with the necessary treatment.
Now, let us discuss these three factors in detail.
Hedgehogs have a specific nutritional requirement, and it is essential to stick to it.
It is crucial to provide our Hedgehog will gut-loaded insects and fresh fruits and vegetables.
If you cannot fulfill the dietary requirement of your Hedgehog, then there are high chances that they will become malnourished. They will also have deficiencies in specific vitamins and minerals.
If your Hedgehog is malnourished, you will see the effect on its skin. Flaky skin often causes quills to become damaged and fall off.
You must provide your Hedgehog with a diet between 30% and 50% protein and approximately 10% fat.
Just like human beings, Hedgehogs too suffer from stress and anxiety. Several things can lead to stress in your Hedgehog.
Listed below are a few things that can easily result to stress in Hedgehogs:
- Loud Noises
- Lack of space
- Sudden change in routine
- Excessive handling
- Sudden temperature fluctuation
- Health complications
It is vital to keep your Hedgehog stress-free to keep a check on their quilling behavior.
Treating your Hedgehog with their favorite food could be an excellent way to keep your pet calm and get them back into their comfort zone.
One of the most common health problems in Hedgehogs is mite infestation. Mites are tiny insect parasites that live in the spines and hair of Hedgehogs.
These tiny parasites can lead to severe skin irritation in our Hedgehogs. With irritating skin, Hedgehogs often start to stretch and bite themselves.
This biting and scratching often causes the spines to damage and fall out.
Although mite infestation is curable, it can lead to a severe health condition if left unchecked. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to spot the early signs, and the loss of quills is actually when most owners start to realize there is a potential mite problem.
Quilling In Hedgehogs
Every Hedgehog has to go through the normal process of quilling. However, your Hedgehog will start to lose its quill in this process.
There might be times when your Hedgehog will begin to lose a large number of quills in a short period.
In general, quilling in Hedgehogs starts in the adolescence phase. It will continue to happen a few times during their adulthood.
Most Hedgehogs start to lose their quills at around six to eight months.
Quilling is a painful process, and your Hedgehog might turn grumpy. However, it would be best if you did not stop handling your Hedgehog entirely during this time. A lack of touch often leads to the loss of the bond between you and your Hedgehog.
If you see that your touch is hurting your Hedgehog, then let them initiate contact by cuddling you or walking on your lap.
How Do You Tell If A Hedgehog Is Quilling?
During the first quilling phase, you will notice a loss of small fine quills and the growth of thicker quills. These new quills grow through the holes left behind by the old quills.
During the quilling period, your Hedgehog will have to face some pain. It can be pretty painful as the new thicker quills grow through the small holes.
At that time, you will notice a visible change in the behavior of your Hedgehog. There are chances that your pet will grow grouchy whenever you touch them.
You might even see increased temperaments, and your Hedgehog will not allow not you to touch them.
How Many Quills Should A Hedgehog Lose A Day?
In general, you can expect your Hedgehog to lose around 20 quills a day. However, as your Hedgehog starts to grow old, the number of quills lost will gradually decrease.
Besides this, the number of quills lost also depends on many other factors. For example, your Hedgehog’s color, age, diet, sex, and quill coverage also decide the number of quills lost.
It is essential to keep a keen eye on your Hedgehog when they reach the quilling age.
If your Hedgehog is losing an exceptionally high number of quills, then other serious factors might influence the quill loss.
If your Hedgehog suffers from mite infestation, stress, insufficient diet, or hormonal imbalances, then the quills lost in a day could be much higher.
If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, the best idea is to visit a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Do Hedgehogs Lose Quills When Stressed?
Indeed, Hedgehog often loses their quill when under stress. Some Hedgehogs even scratch their quills when they are stressed out.
An abrupt change in your Hedgehog’s living conditions, lack of sources of entertainment, or even lack of human contact can lead your pet to get bored or uneasy, which can lead to hair loss in them.
Can Hedgehog Quills Grow Back?
In most cases, the quills of Hedgehogs often grow back. However, the rate of growth often depends on their age as well.
If your Hedgehog is young and their quills have fallen due to mites, then there is an outstanding possibility that they will begin to get all their quills back.
Once your Hedgehog grows old, their ability to regrow their quills gets less potent over time. Therefore, bald patches are pretty standard in older Hedgehogs.
Does Hedgehog Quill Change Color?
Hedgehog quills do change color. However, the change is not as much as you think.
Hedgehogs cannot change from dark brown to dark red. Instead, they start to get lighter as they age. So, a dark grey Hedgehog can become lite grey or snowflake grey.