How to Clean Hedgehog Ears?

If your spiky little friend has been acting a little weird lately, doing head tilts and spinning in circles, it’s possible they might have an ear infection.

Yes, hedgehogs are a bit quirky, so you don’t pay attention to their strange behavior. However, be worried if you spot them shaking their head frantically, like a dog that just got out of a bath.

Next, you will see some nasty stuff oozing out of their ears.

So, how do you clean the ears? Depending on what type of infection you are dealing with, you have two options: Use a warm damp washcloth or a Q-tip to gently remove the wax, or get the ear flushed by a vet. The former approach is a little challenging due to the small size of your hedgehog’s ears. If this is your first time dealing with an ear infection, you might fear going in too deep, causing your hedgehog pain. It is better to visit a vet first and ask them for advice.


If you are a hedgehog owner, you know how important it is to keep your pet healthy and happy. One aspect of their health that is often overlooked is ear care.

Hedgehogs have small, delicate ears that can easily accumulate dirt and wax buildup, leading to potential hearing problems over time.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to clean hedgehog ears and keep them healthy.

Cleaning hedgehog ears is a simple process that can be done at home with a few basic supplies. It is important to note that hedgehogs do not require ear cleaning as often as other pets like dogs or cats.

However, regular ear inspections are necessary to ensure there is no dirt or wax buildup. We will discuss the signs of ear infections, how to clean hedgehog ears safely, and what to do if you suspect your hedgehog has an ear infection.

Signs of Hedgehog Ear Infection

Take immediate action if you see any of the following signs in your hedgehog.

  • Scratching
  • Ear discharge
  • Head shaking
  • Cream or grey fingers growing on the outer ears
  • Loss of balance
  • Ringworm
  • Tattered ears

Why Clean Hedgehog Ears?

As hedgehog owners, we know that keeping our pets healthy is a top priority. One important aspect of their health that is often overlooked is ear cleaning.

Regular ear cleaning can prevent ear infections and other health issues that can cause discomfort and even hearing loss.

Symptoms of Ear Infections

Ear infections are a common problem for hedgehogs, and they can be caused by a variety of factors such as mites, bacteria, or fungus. Some symptoms of ear infections include:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching or rubbing at the ears
  • Redness or swelling of the ear canal
  • Discharge or odor from the ears
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Hearing loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take your hedgehog to a veterinarian for treatment. In some cases, ear infections can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated.

Regular ear cleaning can help prevent ear infections by removing dirt, wax, and other debris that can build up in the ear canal. Keeping your hedgehog’s ears clean and dry can also help prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi that can cause infections.

It’s important to note that hedgehogs don’t need their ears cleaned as often as dogs or cats do. Over-cleaning can actually cause irritation and lead to more problems.

A good rule of thumb is to clean your hedgehog’s ears once a month, or as needed if you notice any buildup or discharge.

How to Clean Hedgehog Ears

Cleaning your hedgehog’s ears is an important part of their overall hygiene. Regular cleaning can prevent ear infections and ensure your hedgehog’s ears stay healthy.

In this section, we will go over the supplies needed and a step-by-step guide on how to clean hedgehog ears.

Supplies Needed

Before we begin, let’s gather the supplies we need to clean our hedgehog’s ears:

  • Q-tips
  • Warm water
  • Antibacterial or antifungal cream (if needed)

Step-by-Step Guide

Now that we have all the necessary supplies, let’s get started on cleaning our hedgehog’s ears:

  1. First, we need to make sure our hedgehog is comfortable and calm. You can hold your hedgehog in your lap or place them on a soft surface. Make sure to support their body and head.
  2. Next, dip a Q-tip in warm water and gently clean the outer part of the ear. Be careful not to insert the Q-tip into the ear canal, as this can cause damage to the ear and potentially push debris further into the ear.
  3. If there is discharge or debris inside the ear, use a different Q-tip to gently clean the inside of the ear. Do not use water inside the ear, as this can cause infections.
  4. If you notice any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or a foul odor, apply a small amount of antibacterial or antifungal cream to the affected area. Be sure to follow the instructions on the cream and consult with a veterinarian if necessary.

It’s important to note that hedgehogs are prone to ear mites, which can cause discomfort and infection.

If you suspect your hedgehog has ear mites, consult with a veterinarian. They may recommend treatments such as neomycin or permethrin to kill the mites and prevent further infections.

Additionally, it’s important to keep your hedgehog’s environment clean and free of excess shavings or debris that can accumulate in the ears.

Regular ear cleaning can help prevent infections and keep your hedgehog healthy and happy.

Hedgehog Ear Problems

The most common disease or ear infection that afflicts hedgehogs is mange mites. A hedgehog’s ear is naturally thin, almost hairless, and has a smooth edge.

A quick look into your pet’s ear will reveal little to no ear wax. However, in some cases, the gunk is not visible to the naked eye.

Whether your hedgehog has a parasitic or fungal disease, you will see thickening and crusting of the ear edges, flaking of the skin on the ear flap, ragged edges, and accumulation of wax in the ear canal.

Most owners of this pet seldom look into the ear, so they cannot catch the problem in time.

Hedgehogs are vulnerable to the same ear mites that affect ferrets, dogs, and cats. Usually, the signs include the hedgehog scratching at its ear or excessive ear wax.

A diagnosis is made by spotting the mites with a magnifying glass – they are about the size of a pin’s head and white in color.

As for the ear wax, to find out if it’s fungal or bacterial, it is observed under a microscope for mite eggs.

There are various options for treating ear infections, including antiparasitic drugs, topical ointments, injections, etc. Remember:

If you have other pets in the house, inspect their ears too because mange mites jump ship easily.

When it comes to bacterial ear infections, the discharge from the ear is in liquid form and has a foul smell.

If the discharge is not visible on the outer ear, you must monitor your hedgehog for any signs. Usually, their ear and the infected side of the face will be sensitive to touch.

A bacterial infection is best diagnosed by a veterinarian; they will perform a bacterial culture.

This helps identify the type of bacteria you are dealing with, allowing the vet to recommend the right antibiotic. In severe infection cases, the antibiotic is given orally.

An ear infection can take a dangerous turn in hedgehogs if not caught in time. It can lead to brain damage, making your pet go a little cuckoo in the head.

Now that you know how ear infections affect hedgehogs, let’s take a look at how to ensure their hearing remains intact:

Types of Ear Infections and Their Treatment

Ear Mite Infection

Ragged or tattered ears are the two most common signs of ear mite infection. When left untreated, it leads to secondary bacterial infection. If the bacteria continue to spread, the ears become disfigured, which affects hearing.

A parasitic ear infection is treated with a combination of drops, including Permethrin + Neomycin. Consult your vet if you are using this method without a checkup.

Usually, the dosage is 5mg to 10mg per pound. If the infection is severe, use the drops after every 12 hours.

Fungal Infections

Just because your hedgehog has tattered ears does not mean it has a mite infection. You may be dealing with a fungal infection if you don’t see any signs of mites.

This type of infection is identified by cream or grey fingers growing on your hedgehog’s ear. It makes your pet visually unappealing.

If you have made a bed for your hedgehog using paper or wood shavings, you are exposing your pet to fungal infections, as these materials tend to trap moisture.

As a result, the fungus thrives in the bedding, leading to ringworms that slowly make their way into your hedgehog’s ears.

One of the reasons fungal infections are difficult to treat is because they literally eat your hedgehog’s ears. This is why you need to visit a vet immediately if you see tattered ears. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Antifungal creams, such as Panalog and Clotrimazole, are a safe treatment for this infection. They provide instant relief and eliminate infection.

These creams have minimal side effects, which are not harmful to hedgehogs, so keep applying them until the infection is completely gone.

Inner Ear Infection

The most common sign of an inner ear infection is a foul-smelling discharge oozing from the ear. You might have difficulty spotting this infection until it’s too late because the early signs are not clearly visible.

However, you can catch it by observing your hedgehog’s behavior. You will see your pet walking off balance and going in circles. Let’s say, you might feel like their steering is damaged.

In this state, they experience vertigo, making it difficult to control their senses. Avoid letting your hedgehog out in the garden when they are acting this way because they can easily become a larger animal’s victim.

Cleaning your hedgehog’s ear when they have an inner ear infection is tricky. Since you have no idea how far the infection goes, you will have trouble getting all the discharge out.

The wrong flick of your hand can lead to hearing loss. Since hedgehogs depend on hearing to lead normal lives, getting them treated immediately is important for their happiness.

A vet usually flushes the hedgehog’s ears with antifungal or antibacterial medications to provide relief and offers an ointment to heal affected areas.

Final Thoughts

Hedgehog ears do not require regular cleaning because they seldom develop wax. However, it is important to inspect them now and then, especially when bathing your pet.

Wax on the outer ear can be easily wiped with a Q-tip. You can also splash a small amount of water on the ears but ensure it does not enter the ear canal.

This will trigger infection and lead to a bigger problem. In case you see mites, visit a vet immediately.

You might be tempted to put a little pressure behind the ears to make the wax visible, but refrain from doing it because this will cause your hedgehog discomfort. Do not apply over-the-counter antibiotics because they can aggravate the infection.

In short, if you see something other than ear wax, get your hedgehog’s ears thoroughly checked by a vet to prevent hearing loss and brain injury.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some common questions about cleaning hedgehog ears:

Do hedgehogs need their ears cleaned? 

Yes, hedgehogs do need their ears cleaned regularly to prevent dirt and wax buildup that can cause hearing problems over time.

How often should I clean my hedgehog’s ears? 

You should clean your hedgehog’s ears once a month or as needed if you notice any dirt or wax buildup.

What should I use to clean my hedgehog’s ears? 

You can use the wet edges of a Q-tip, a clean washcloth dipped in warm water, or simply rinse the ears in warm water. Avoid using any harsh chemicals or solutions.

How do I know if my hedgehog has an ear infection? 

Signs of an ear infection in hedgehogs include tattered edges on the ears, shaking their head, scratching at their ears, walking in circles, leaning to one side, and balance issues.

If you suspect your hedgehog has an ear infection, take them to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Can I use ear drops on my hedgehog? 

Ear drops may be prescribed by a veterinarian for ear infections that have gone out of control. Do not use any over-the-counter ear drops without consulting with a veterinarian first.

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