Hedgehogs make great pets if you are looking for a little companion. Unfortunately, due to their rarity as a pet, there is not enough information circulating around about them. Therefore, people are likely to believe anything or have little information about them. One of the most common questions that are often asked about hedgehogs is if they are blind.
The answer to the question is no. Hedgehogs are not blind. However, they are certainly born blind.
Baby hedgehogs are born blind and deaf with a protective membrane that contributes to some of its features when it is born.
Are Baby Hedgehogs Blind?
Baby hedgehogs, when they are born, are blind. This, however, only lasts for two weeks. After two weeks have passed, the hedgehogs begin to gain some vision. The shape of their eyes is now more defined, and they are set to explore!
Do Hedgehogs Have Good Eyesight?
If compared to us humans, the eyesight of a hedgehog is not that great. That is fine for the hedgehog because they do not require good eyesight to survive. The eyesight that hedgehogs have merely allows them to see outlines and shadows of objects and other animals.
Apart from this, they also have a lack of depth perception.
Hedgehogs do not require good eyesight because they are nocturnal animals and are only active during nighttime.
Are Hedgehogs Deaf?
Just like hedgehogs are born blind, they are also born deaf. After around two weeks, a baby hedgehog begins to hear again and becomes more aware of its surroundings. The most powerful instinct that a hedgehog has is its ability to hear.
Hedgehogs have tiny ears, but they are quite important.
Hedgehog ears are small yet powerful and able to pick sounds well. The positioning of their ears is what allows them to filter through the noise and pick out the important ones. The sensitivity of the ears allows hedgehogs to hear high pitch sounds more easily.
Hedgehogs have a hearing range between 250 and 45,000 Hz.
How Does Good Hearing Help?
Good hearing is essential for a hedgehog if it wants to find food in the dark. As mentioned before, hedgehogs can hear high-pitched noises well and can hear their prey from afar. Their hearing also allows them to stay wary of any predators too.
As soon as the hedgehog hears a sound that seems threatening, it will quickly curl into a ball, with its spikes standing to protect itself.
Do Hedgehogs Have a Good Sense of Smell?
After great hearing comes the hedgehog’s second-best sense, which is the ability to smell. Hedgehogs have tiny, pointed noses that develop later as they are born.
These noses are sharp and can pick scents up quickly, whether they are prey or predator. Hedgehogs can identify their dinner from afar and can also recognize other hedgehogs as well.
These heightened senses are what make the hedgehog capable of surviving.
Why Do Hedgehogs Go Blind?
One reason why hedgehogs may be blind is that it could be a congenital disability. This can happen due to inbreeding and can be a genetic default.
Like all animals, hedgehogs are also susceptible to diseases that could hinder their eyesight. Glaucoma is one such disease that causes blindness along with ocular pain. If diagnosed at an early stage, blindness can be prevented.
Another extremely common disease is cataracts.
This disease causes the hedgehog to gradually lose its vision rather than all at once. Therefore, although the disease is quite common, the hedgehog can easily adapt to blindness. Just like humans lose their eyesight in old age, the same way cataracts affect mostly older hedgehogs too.
There can also be some neurological issues that can cause blindness in hedgehogs. One should be wary of what their hedgehogs are eating as it can contribute to neurological issues.
How Does a Blind Hedgehog Adapt?
If a hedgehog loses its eyesight, the other senses become stronger. The hedgehog becomes dependent on its sense of smell and hearing.
The eyesight of hedgehogs is already poor, but it still enables them to recognize objects from afar. During this time, the hedgehog does not make use of its other senses fully.
A blind hedgehog is more vulnerable and fully depends on its sense of smell and hearing to stay alive.
If you look carefully, you will notice that hedgehogs have small whiskers on their nose. These whiskers enable the hedgehog to recognize how far objects are to avoid any incidents. However, naturally, bling hedgehogs are prone to colliding with things.
How To Take Care of a Blind Hedgehog
Having a pet is a responsibility and a blind hedgehog, in turn, requires extra care. However, do not fear or worry as it is not that difficult. If your hedgehog has gradually lost its eyesight, then it would have had time to adjust and adapt.
But, if your hedgehog has lost its sense of sight suddenly, you will have to make an extra effort to help it adjust.
The first thing you can do is limit its cage. Having a cage with too many objects or levels can only confuse the poor hedgehog. You should get a smaller cage, so the hedgehog is less prone to bumping into the cage or objects and does not hurt itself.
Whichever objects or accessories you have inside the cage, make sure you place them in the same spot every time. This will make your hedgehog get used to its surroundings.
Hedgehogs are not blind, but they have poor eyesight, enough to identify things with their outline. These tiny creatures are born blind and eventually gain their eyesight in the first two weeks.
They are also born deaf and gain their sense of hearing. Hedgehogs may have poor eyesight, but they have an excellent sense of hearing and smell.
Hedgehogs can often go blind due to several reasons. Taking care of a blind hedgehog may be hard in the beginning, but it is not impossible. The key is to remain patient, observe and stay consistent.