A hedgehog’s spiny quills are its most notable feature. Quills are modified hair made from keratin which is also what human hair is made from. When deciding to keep a hedgehog as your pet, you must be aware of all its characteristics so you can fulfil its needs in the best way possible.
Although a hedgehog’s quills remain intact, there are times when it loses some of its quills. But how often do hedgehogs quill?
A hedgehog will lose its quills at around five to six weeks of age. Apart from that, hedgehogs quill every 75 days in their adult life.
When a hedgehog is young, it loses its quills so that adult quills can replace it. Quilling is normal for hedgehogs, but excessive quilling is a sign that something is wrong. Hence, it is best if you observe your hedgehog avoid quilling more than usual.
How Long Does Quilling Last for a Hedgehog?
Quilling occurs when a hedgehog will shed its quills to be replaced by new ones. The quilling process gradually takes place rather than overnight. When a hedgehog is born, its quills are soft and smooth instead of adult quills that have a hard texture.
The major quilling process takes place when hedgehogs are five to six weeks old. The baby quills shed and are replaced by new adult quills, which are thicker.
When a hedgehog reaches the age of four months, the quilling process will begin again. The quilling process can occur many times during a hedgehog’s life. Baby hedgehogs will have smooth and soft spines, mostly white, while adult hedgehogs have more rough and hard spines.
The initial quilling can be painful, while that in the later years is not as uncomfortable.
Quilling for a hedgehog can take a few weeks, while for some, it can even last for a month.
How Do You Know If a Hedgehog is Quilling?
It is important as a hedgehog owner to know when your hedgehog is quilling. By keeping track of the quilling cycles, you can ensure to keep your hedgehog comfortable. There are several symptoms that you can look out for in your hedgehog.
If you notice your hedgehog being irritated a little more than usual, it could be quilling. Quilling is an uncomfortable process for hedgehogs, quite like teething. Your hedgehog may lose its appetite and may huff and puff around you.
How sharp and rigid quills are, differ from one hedgehog to another. Hence, the level of discomfort will also vary.
Upon observing your hedgehog, you will notice that it will have new spines coming out of its skin. Your hedgehog may experience irritating skin, mostly in the form of dry and flaky skin.
One thing you must be careful about is not to mistake quilling for something else. It is not normal for hedgehogs to have bald spots on their backs while they are quilling. If you notice any bald spots or excessive quilling, it is best to consult your vet immediately before the condition escalates.
Why Do a Hedgehog’s Quills Fall Out?
A hedgehog will lose its quills over time. The process of losing quills to be replaced by new ones is known as quilling. Quilling occurs during the fifth or sixth week in a hedgehog’s life when hard ones replace the smooth, softer quills.
Hedgehogs tend to become uncomfortable during this process, and the first cycle of quilling is always the most uncomfortable.
The second quilling cycle can begin around four months of age. Your hedgehog will lose a lot of quills in its lifetime; however, it is not normal to have bald spots or to notice a lot of shedding at the same time.
There are other reasons why a hedgehog’s quills can fall out instead of quilling. It is best to look out for the symptoms and consult your vet if you notice anything out of the blue.
One reason why hedgehogs may lose most of their quills is if mites infest them. Unfortunately, mites can easily be transferred to your hedgehog through its food, bedding, and other ways. As a result, a mite-infected hedgehog will experience irritated skin.
There are other reasons why your hedgehog may lose quills. These reasons include stress, hormones, allergies, or skin problems. However, the quill loss is visible, and bald spots are common.
How To Take Care of a Quilling Hedgehog
When a hedgehog is quilling, it requires your constant care and attention. Therefore, it is important to empathize and realize that your hedgehog is going through a painful time that requires patience.
Hedgehogs may be moody and irritable during the quilling process.
You should deal with your hedgehog will love, and be gentle with it. While handling your hedgehog, ensure that you do not touch its quills or brush them. Avoid touching the quills and only resort to petting your hedgehog and holding it from its belly.
To make up for the discomfort, you can give your hedgehog delicious treats. You can introduce new toys in the cage, so your hedgehog spends more time exploring and less time thinking about pain. If your hedgehog is experiencing irritable skin, you can give it oatmeal baths to relieve the discomfort.
The process of a hedgehog losing its quills to be replaced by new ones is known as quilling. The process of quilling is a gradual one and does not happen overnight. But how often do hedgehogs quill?
Hedgehogs begin quilling when they are five to six weeks old and again when they are four months. In their adult life, hedgehogs will quill every 75 days. A hedgehog may quill for a few weeks, while some may quill for an entire month.
Quilling is an uncomfortable and painful process for hedgehogs, and your hedgehog may experience mood swings. In addition, a hedgehog’s quills can fall out due to other reasons apart from quilling.
For example, a hedgehog may have mites, or it may be experiencing high levels of stress or hormonal changes. If you notice any excessive quilling or bald spots on your hedgehog, you should consult your vet immediately.