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In the US, hedgehogs became popular as pets during the 1980s, but the Romans domesticated hedgehogs and kept them as pets since the 4th century BC. Throughout these years, hedgehogs have proved to be excellent pets because they’re easy to care for and are suitable for first-time pet owners.
But what about allergies? Many people would love to keep pets, but they can’t because they’re allergic to dander. So, are hedgehogs hypoallergenic?
We’ve answered this question in this article, and we’ve also done more research to provide you with more information about keeping hedgehogs as pets. So, if you’re a hedgehogs lover, keep on reading.
Are hedgehogs hypoallergenic?
Dander or dead skin is the main reason why people with allergies can’t keep pets. Luckily, hedgehogs produce too little dander and shed a tiny amount of dead skin compared to other different pets like cats and dogs.
This is why hedgehogs are considered hypoallergenic and are perfectly safe for pet owners who suffer from allergies or other breathing problems. Here’s an explanation of why hedgehogs are hypoallergenic.
Shed less dead skin
Animals shed dead skin cells to reveal new skin. Unfortunately, these cells get attached to pet hair and fur and get suspended in the air, and then eventually settle on flat surfaces, bedding, and carpets. If you’re allergic, breathing in these dead skin cells will result in several annoying symptoms like sneezing, red eyes, and coughing.
Compared to other animals, hedgehogs actually produce a small amount of dander. They definitely shed their old skin cells, but not as much as other pets, including cats and dogs, do. Because of the limited amount of dander, those who can’t stop sneezing when they’re near a cat or a dog can definitely tolerate the presence of the cute hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs don’t produce bad odors that are quite common if you’re raising a rabbit, hamster, gerbil, or mouse. This foul odor can be quite irritating if you’re allergic.
The hedgehog’s house doesn’t stink if you clean it regularly, and in most cases, you can train your pet hedgehog to use a litter tray. This will help you clean the enclosure easily to get rid of all the poop and any uneaten food.
The spines or the quills on the hedgehog’s body are for protection, and if you happen to touch them carelessly, they might puncture your skin. However, these spines aren’t venomous like those found on the maned rat.
In very rare cases, you might get a hive-like reaction if one of the spikes penetrates your skin. This will happen if you’re highly allergic, and it usually resolves within an hour.
Hedgehogs also tend to cover their bodies with their own saliva, especially when they encounter a new smell. They produce a lot of saliva and rub their spines or quills in it to cover the whole body.
If you happen to touch a hedgehog after it has covered its body in its saliva, you won’t get an allergic reaction. The saliva doesn’t irritate the skin, but it’s still recommended to wear gloves if you plan on touching your hedgehog.
Handling the hedgehog doesn’t cause skin irritations
The problem with keeping pets isn’t just about touching them and sneezing because of the dander. In some cases, you might get an allergic reaction because you’re taking care of and cleaning your pet.
Luckily, touching the hedgehog’s bedding material doesn’t cause any serious reactions. There are different types of materials that you can use as bedding inside the enclosure to keep your hedgehog comfortable. These include shredded newspapers, recycled wood, wood pellets, and fleece fabric.
Warm and cozy fabric is an excellent choice for a little pet like the hedgehog, but you need to make sure that there are no loose threads where the pet’s legs can get tangled. If the threads wrap around your hedgehog’s legs, they will restrict the blood flow and might lead to the amputation of the limbs.
Moreover, cleaning the cage itself by removing the feces and pee won’t cause an allergic skin reaction. It’s recommended to wear latex gloves while cleaning the hedgehog’s house and remove the feces as soon as possible because they become more stubborn to get rid of when they dry. Use water and a brush to clean the house and avoid using chemicals that might irritate your pet.
How Can I Reduce Dander in My House?
It’s true that hedgehogs produce a small amount of dander, but there are a few things that you can do to minimize this amount and reduce the chance of an allergic reaction.
- Clean your hedgehog frequently to remove any dry skin buildup. Cleaning the hedgehog’s body will also remove any dried poop or mud that might be trapped between the spines and will allow the built-up dander to fall off without affecting the air in your house.
- Keep your hedgehog’s cage away from the bedroom. It’s best to keep the hedgehog away from the beds because the dander will settle on the sheets and irritate you while you’re sleeping. If possible, keep the hedgehog in the living room or somewhere where it has access to good ventilation but would still provide this little pet with the warmth it needs.
- Play with your hedgehog in its cage or outside the house. Cuddling with your pet hedgehog on the furniture means that the dander on its body will eventually settle on your sofa or chair. These microscopic cells can’t be seen, but they will cause irritation and discomfort if you’re allergic.
- Keep the hedgehog off the carpet. While playing with the hedgehog on the carpet might sound like a fun idea, the dander eventually ends up being trapped between the piles. When you step onto the rug, the dander gets disturbed and circulates in the air to cause discomfort and sneezing.
- Use the vacuum cleaner regularly to get rid of fur, dust, and dander. Invest in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to trap the dander and keep the air in your house clean and fresh. It will also seal the dust and the dander, so they don’t spread back into the house.
- Wash your hand after playing, cleaning, or handling your hedgehog. The hedgehog isn’t poisonous, but you don’t know what it has stepped into if it has been playing outside. Washing your hands also gets rid of dander that might stick to your skin or get trapped under the nails.
How Can I Clean My Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are quite easy to take care of, and cleaning them frequently will help you keep your little pet healthy. At the same time, cleaning the hedgehog’s body will get rid of the dander buildup before it spreads into your house and causes any discomfort.
However, you shouldn’t bathe your hedgehog too often or use hot water and harsh soap to clean its body. Too much bathing will remove the natural oils that coat the pet’s skin and keep it moist, and this will make the skin turn dry.
Dry skin is more prone to flaking and producing dander which will eventually cause more allergic reactions. At the same time, the hedge will be in pain if the skin starts to crack, as this can lead to painful sores.
It’s best to clean your hedgehog once every two or three weeks or when it gets dirty after stepping into the mud. Here are the best tips to clean your hedgehog properly.
- Use lukewarm or warm water to clean your hedgehog. If the water is too hot or too cold, it can hurt your little pet and make it extremely uncomfortable.
- Go for a mild oatmeal-based shampoo or body wash to clean your hedgehog’s skin. You can also prepare your own oatmeal wash by putting some oatmeal into an old sock, soaking it into the water, and using the water to clean the pet’s body.
- Start by soaking the feet in the water for a few minutes to soften any dry poop. Then, use a very soft brush or your own hands to remove the softened poop.
- Since the hedgehog is away from its natural habitat, it can’t file its own nails. After softening the nails by soaking them in water, use small scissors to trim them. If you can’t cut the nails by yourself, take your pet hedgehog to the vet and ask for a professional manicure.
- Make sure that the water’s level doesn’t exceed the hedgehog’s chin level, so it doesn’t feel threatened. Allow the body to stay soaked for a few minutes, as this will help soften any dry poop.
- Wash the body by pouring some of the oatmeal wash and rinsing with water.
- Use a soft microfiber towel to dry your hedgehog’s body and remove any dry skin flakes or dander that might still be trapped between the spines. In addition, drying the hedgehog will help it feel warm after having a bath.
Hedgehogs are hypoallergenic because they don’t produce as much dander as other pets. As a result, they’re typically easier to care for and don’t smell, which makes them amazing pets for novice owners and those who suffer from allergies.
Cleaning the hedgehog’s body and house regularly will help reduce any allergy symptoms or irritation that might happen because of dander buildup.