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USDA Licensed Hedgehog Breeder
Located in South Dakota

 Quilling

Northern Plains Hedgehogs  

Quilling is something that every hedgehog will go through a few times in his or her life.  A hedgehog will shed of a set of quills and grow in a brand new set. This occurs several times in young hedgehogs life.  The ages in which this usually happens is typically at:

  • 2-3 weeks
  • 5 weeks
  • Somewhere in between 8-12 weeks of age
  • 5-6 months for some

Common signs and symptoms of quilling include:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Loss of quills, can range from a few to a lot
  • Possible biting and other unusual behavior
  • Itching and scratching as new quills come in - may be intense
  • New quills seen breaking through the skin

The most common behavior that one will encounter during quilling is your hedgehog will become very antisocial and not want to be held or played with.  If you stop and think about what the hedgehog is actually going through during this time, especially during the final quilling when they get their adult quills (8-12 weeks) it is very understandable why they are uncomfortable and usually very huffy.  Quilling is a major event in their life that is comparable to a baby teething, but not just in the mouth, picture it all over the babies body, plus hitting puberty at the exact same time.  The good news is there is light at the end of the tunnel and they will get over it. The time frame varies in length between hedgehogs, some are over it as short as 4-5 days, others can take 2-3 weeks or much longer.  

One thing that you can do to help with the stress and discomfort of quilling can include bathing as it is helpful in soothing the hedgehogs skin.  I would recommend a luke warm bath with an oatmeal shampoo such as the Aveeno baby shampoo, or actual oatmeal soaked in the water.  You can also add a tablespoon or so of vitamin E, flaxseed, olive oil, or other non-toxic oil to the final rinse can help soften the skin.  This can make it easier for the new quills to poke through, which makes the hedgehog less uncomfortable and irritable. 

The most important thing to remember with quilling is every hedgehog is different.  The time they will can differ from each hedgehog as well as the length of the quilling.   Keep taking your hedgehog out and socializing with him or her.  Leaving them alone when they are huffy will only make your socialization attempts backtrack. 

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