In a world of increasing friendship between man and animal species, some pets can be comparatively less harmless and potentially dangerous. Hedgehogs, or popularly known as hedgies, come under these categories of pets.
So, are hedgehogs dangerous? Well, the answer would be yes and no. Hedgehogs aren’t originally dangerous. But, if not given the proper habitat conditions and not taken proper care of, they can be the bearer of diseases as well. As such, they’ll be considered dangerous to the human.
Hedgehogs generally isolate themselves from people and curl up into a ball as a sign of self-defense. Hedgies won’t sneak out of their homes at night to attack you. However, they may be the medium through which microorganisms reach humans.
Read on to acquaint yourself with the risks you may have from your hedgehogs, particularly the Salmonella disease spreading from hedgies. Let’s get started!
Are Hedgehogs Poisonous?
Hedgehogs are adorable, cute animals that resemble the porcupine. However, they are quite different than the latter.
So, are hedgehogs poisonous? They are neither poisonous nor are they barbed. Hedgehogs can bite you, but that is a rare possibility. However, there is a strong chance that your hedgehog would carry bacteria in its spines. These bacteria, when penetrates through human skin, can be the cause sickness to human health.
Nevertheless, although hedgehog bites are rare, the adult counterparts have two rabbit front teeth that might be challenging to get rid of when penetrated through your skin.
If bitten by a hedgie, you’d need to take a tetanus shot to prevent the consequences, which, though not serious, may trouble your health to some extent if it’s a healthy hedgehog.
However, the scenario would be much different if the hedgehogs have been the hosts of bacteria or fungus. We’ll get into that soon!
Do Hedgehogs Carry Diseases?
Transferrable diseases from animals to humans are known as zoonotic diseases. So, do hedgehogs carry diseases? The answer would be between Yes and No. Hedgehogs are completely capable of carrying diseases to humans. However, that is only possible given certain conditions, and hedgies aren’t disease-laden animals.
Hedgehogs can carry diseases known to be harmful to humans. However, it is possible only if they have these harmful diseases. The diseases that hedgehogs bear and are transmittable to humans are obscure.
The real scenario is that hedgehogs need to be first exposed to these obscure diseases before spreading them to humans. Therefore, there are only negligible chances of rare diseases.
If you have any doubts regarding your hedgehog’s sickness being harmful to you, consult their veterinarian. Vets would have better knowledge than books or access to general information about hedgies and their illnesses.
How Hedgehogs Carry Diseases to Humans?
Several ways can transmit pathogens between hedgehogs and humans that can be dangerous and poisonous to health. For starters, hedgehogs that bite or scratch may transmit germs through their teeth or nails, or even their spines.
Other common transfer mediums are urine, feces, saliva, blood, and other fluids secreted by hedgehogs. If your skin comes in contact with any of these mediums, you may invite the infection to your body directly or indirectly.
The human skin, which is the largest organ of the body, acts as the greatest source of pathogen transfer into the body. Moreover, open wounds would act as a doorway to such pathogens. Therefore, it is best to cover any open wounds with anti-bacterial creams like Neosporin and a bandage.
Open wounds could be as minor as paper cuts, a scratch that might break the skin. However, any open wound would behave the same way for harmful pathogens.
Diseases that Hedgehogs Can Carry
Zoonotic diseases that are transferrable by hedgehogs, humans, or other organisms, are of four types:
Belonging to these particular categories, specific pathogens act as the medium of transferring diseases from hedgehogs to humans. Here are some of the most common diseases that can pass on to humans from hedgehogs.
Parasitic Hedgehog Illnesses
Cryptosporidium is a parasitic species that lives on soil, food, and water. It is adaptable to different surfaces at a time and is resistant to hand sanitizers and chlorine. Scary, right?
But the most common transmission occurs through the water. Therefore, the risk factor hovers around how clean the water is around your living space.
This parasitic species can cause diarrhea and sometimes even persistent cough. Moreover, it can be hazardous to those that are immune-compromised. While on the other hand, healthy people shall recover with constant hydration and electrolyte replenishment.
However, prevention is always better than cure. If you have a questionable water source, it would be best to boil it and cool it before drinking it. Or, you can also go for water filters with the facility of filtering parasites.
Bacterial Hedgehog Illnesses
The most common among the bacteria-causing diseases is Salmonella that most vets would warn you when you bring a hedgehog home. So let’s learn better about this disease along with one other variety of hedgehog-spread bacterial diseases.
Salmonella is an obscure food-borne disease that hedgehogs can carry to humans. Since these are food-borne, they can spread the disease only when they have this illness.
Moreover, as the disease is obscure, you would be on the safer side if you keep your hands sanitized at all times. Additionally, if you feed your hedgehog with any human food, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned and cooked.
Plus, as challenging as it might get, it would be best to avoid kissing your hedgehog even to express your fondness for them.
Salmonella can cause diarrhea that might also bring the side-effects of vomiting. If you ever show such symptoms that last for over 24 hours, consulting the doctor would be a responsible decision.
However, not to get too worried, the good news is that humans rarely die from such sickness. But, if you are immune-deficient, you should immediately see a doctor in such cases.
Although an uncommon zoonotic bacterial disease, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis can get truly bothersome. It hubs in the intestines or the colon, primarily because it is a food-borne disease.
The symptoms could be bloody, mucus-covered stools, abdominal cramps, fever, rashes, and sometimes, even the sense of an appendicitis attack.
It would be best to avoid raw meats for your hedgehogs if you want to prevent him from getting in contact with this bacterial infection. There are other ways for your hedgehog to gain some proteins in its diet that do not invite these bacterial diseases. If you want a natural diet, ensure that it’s cooked well and is raw in no way.
Viral Hedgehog Illnesses
One of the common zoonotic diseases, rabies, can be transmitted to humans by hedgehogs. However, there is only a minimal risk if your hedgehog doesn’t come in contact with wild animals. Generally, wild hedgehogs carry this virus which they may have got from another rabid animal.
But, to be most concerned about viral diseases is to get extra precautious against Herpes. Herpes simplex 1 and 2 are common among rehomed hedgehogs.
The best possible way to prevent the spread of this virus is not to touch the sores of your pet hedgehog with bare hands. Make sure to wear hand gloves every time you have any business with him. Additionally, avoid sharing food from your dishes and keep your hands sanitized at all times.
Ensure that you do not touch anything with your pet hedgie’s saliva, spine, or DNA on it. It can be potentially dangerous to you, a human.
Fungal Hedgehog Illnesses
Ringworm, scientifically called Trichophyton mentagrophytes var. erinacei, is one of the most common fungal zoonotic diseases that hedgehogs can carry to humans.
Candida is also a type of fungal disease transmitted from hedgehogs to humans. It is a kind of yeast that every mammal carries an amount of in its digestive system. It is well-balanced by natural good gut flora. But several factors can disrupt this balance.
For instance, antibiotics can disturb this balance. The candida overtaking other flora means a deterioration in your hedgie’s health. Subsequently, you’ll be at a major risk.
The best way to act cautiously against all of these illnesses is not to touch your hedgie with bare hands when he is sick. Always wear a pair of disposable gloves when you need to feed or bathe them. It will keep you safe to a great extent, as these diseases are contagious through physical contact.
How to Prevent the Diseases Spread by Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs mostly carry the obscure bacterial disease of Salmonella in their droppings. These bacteria are easily transmittable to bodies, habitats, toys, or their bedding. If you encounter these surfaces, you are highly prone to acquire the sickness from your hedgie. Here are a few precautionary steps to follow for safety.
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water once you touch your hedgehog while feeding, bathing, or caring.
- Play with your pet hedgie safely. Avoid kissing or snuggling him. Germs, if he reaches your mouth, can be deadly in some scenarios. You don’t want that to happen!
- Avoid letting your hedgehog roam freely around the home where there is food or utensils you use to feed the people in the house.
- Clean his habitats, toys, or other supplies away from your kitchen and dining area to avoid their contact with your food.
While you are all adapt to the information you read in this blog, it is important to understand that there is a difference between wild and pet hedgehogs. Wild hedgehogs may be vulnerable to many diseases which are not in your control.
However, the pet ones can be taken care of, fed, and kept well to avoid exposure to any infectious surroundings or animals.