Hedgehog with ticks on face
Helping hedgehogs

Hedgehog ticks

Hedgehogs found with tiny grey or white blobs – ticks – between their spines are one of the most common ailments that people contact me about. They are often seen on poorly hedgehogs found out in the day and they are also frequently spotted by people using night cameras to spy on their visiting hedgehogs.

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A hedgehog covered in ticks

Ticks are found in the natural environment and, worryingly, their numbers are growing – see the UK Tick Threat Map. It is completely normal for a hedgehog to pick up a few ticks. Anything more than a few though, could possibly be a sign of illness.

Ticks insert their mouth-parts into their host and suck their blood. They can carry all sorts of nasties and, if a tick regurgitates its stomach contents into a host, it can cause all kinds of problems from blood poisoning through to Lyme Disease, Bordetalla or Encephalitis. They can also cause their host to become anaemic if there are multiple ticks sucking their blood.

Ticks will naturally fall off when they are full (of blood) and should only be removed if you are certain that you can remove them correctly to ensure that the tick does not regurgitate its stomach contents.

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Close up of a tick

I use a tick removal tool (tick lasso) that has a special loop and is designed for the correct removal of ticks.

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Tick lasso with loop for tick removal

You must NEVER

  • Burn off a tick
  • Use cream, oils or other varnish
  • Pull them off
  • Use flat bladed tweezers as these can squash the body but leave the mouth parts in the host

If you are in any doubt, please contact a hedgehog rescue for advice.

If you are a hedgehog rescue or help with hedgehogs, there is a risk that ticks could pass onto you from a hedgehog in care. Please always check your skin thoroughly after handling any hedgehogs. You can read more about Lyme Disease, passed on via tick bites, here.

Along with ticks, hedgehogs can occasionally be found with fleas although this is very rare and may also be a sign of illness. I have also noticed fleas this Summer on very young hoglets that have been orphaned and have been struggling in the hot weather.

I run a hedgehog hospital in York, England. You can read more about me and my work. I also make silver jewellery inspired by nature and wildlife and you can visit my shop here.

Silver wildlife jewellery
Silver wildlife jewellery

11 thoughts on “Hedgehog ticks”

  1. The little one that came to us last year had a lot of ticks so I used one of Speedy’s tick removal tools to remove them all,this year the little fellow has been tick free though he’s ended up being treated for parasites twice.He seems to be doing well now though,he leaves me poop and pee mail in the greenhouse a couple times a week and its nice healthy looking poop,xx Rachel and Speedy

  2. Our visitors haven’t appeared for a while now, but I was routinely in the habit of photographing them during their nightly visits and found at least 2 to have ticks. One was near the ear which I thought must be painful but wasn’t too inclined to intervene as I couldn’t see any others. This has certainly clarified a few things. Thanks for posting – I’m still wondering where the hedgehogs that were regular visitors have gone…

  3. My cat has had a lot of ticks and he pulled out all the fur near his anus. Broadline from the vet deals with the problem and prevents reinfection for three weeks. Is this able to be used on hedgehogs?

    1. Hello! Not sure about Broadline. I have heard of Frontline? I wouldn’t recommend cat treatments as some of them can be toxic to hedgehogs. I do have a special medicine that I use for tiny tiny ticks but the best treatment for larger ones is the tick removal tool as it is the only way to make sure that the head parts are removed without them regurgitating their stomach contents into the animal or the head part staying in and causing infection 😦

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