Cancer is the most common disease affecting hedgehogs and it comes in many different forms. The most recognizable thing about cancer are the tumors that develop. In cancer, a distinction is made between benign and malignant tumours. Benign tumors do not spread and are often easier to remove surgically, although the risk of such an operation in hedgehogs is always high. Malignant tumors do spread and that metastasis often causes the worst problems.


  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Carcinogens
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Weak immune system


  • Abnormal lumps or hard spots in the abdomen
  • Bulging eyes (with tumor in the head)
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite (especially with tumor in the mouth)
  • Shortness of breath (gasping for breath)
  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Diagnosis and treatment

With tumors it is very important to be there early, so that treatments are possible and less risky for the hedgehog. A daily health check helps with this. Diagnosis is usually made by tissue examination. This involves sending a sample of tissue from the tumor to a laboratory to see if the tumor is caused by cancer and whether it is benign or malignant. Depending on the results of this, a treatment plan is drawn up or further investigation is required. Sometimes medication can be enough to stabilize the tumor so that the hedgehog can live on, even if surgery is not possible. Tumors on the outside of the hedgehog's body are easier to remove, especially if they are benign. The chance of cure in this case is higher than with tumors in the abdomen or in the head of the hedgehog. In many cases, surgical removal of the tumor is not possible or very risky and the hedgehog will have to be put to sleep. The vet always discusses the treatment plan for the specific situation of your hedgehog.