It may not be the highlight of your day, but inspecting your hedgehog’s poo in the morning can give you a great deal of information about their physical wellbeing. The colour, amount and even texture (don’t worry, you don’t have to touch it to tell) all provide clues as to what’s going on internally for your hedgehog so that you can monitor their health and catch any issues early. Here are the key things to look out for…
The first thing to take a good look at is the hue of your hedgehog’s poop; you’re looking for a mid-to-dark brown colour as an indicator of good gastrointestinal health.
A green poo could indicate a range of issues, some more serious than others. Because hedgehogs and their bodies are so sensitive to changes in diet and routine, green poo could simply be caused by a recent development such as moving house or the introduction of a new food. In these cases, a small pinch of probiotic may do the trick to get things back on track. Green poo that persists for more than a few days may be a sign of a bacterial infection (clostridium) or parasite, however, which will need veterinary treatment, so if green poo persists it’s time to take a stool sample to your vet for testing. Hedgehogs that go outside for enrichment time or interact with other animals in the house are at an increased risk of being exposed to parasites.
A fully black or red tinged poo needs to be addressed much more urgently, as blood in the stool indicates internal bleeding which requires medical intervention.
A healthy hedgehog poo will have the appearance of a long, thin, firm sausage; it will of course be soft when it comes out, but should harden over time.
Poo that looks runny, sticky or even mucousy in the morning requires your attention as this is a sure sign of an upset tummy due to stress, bacteria or a parasite. These poos are likely to also be green in colour.
In contrast, poo that has the appearance of multiple small pellets (a bit like a rabbit or hamster poo) suggests a constipated hedgie, as the stool is not soft enough to pass in one go.
Hedgehogs are infamous for producing a lot of poop for their size, so if there’s nothing to be found in the litter tray or on the wheel, it’s likely that your hedgehog is either constipated, or not eating enough to produce stool (this is common in sick hedgehogs that are being syringe-fed, for example). If the food bowl is empty too, constipation is the most likely culprit.
To combat constipation, you can try placing your hedgehog in a nice warm bath, as warm water against their tummy can encourage bowel movements. If this is unsuccessful, feeding them a pea-sized amount of plain cooked pumpkin can also help to move things along due to its high moisture content – just be mindful to keep it to small amounts, because too much can lead to diarrhea. This is why people in the UK are urged not to leave their Halloween pumpkins out for hedgehogs to find, as wild hedgehogs often gorge themselves and become dehydrated as a result.
Article by Sarah Bessie.