• Quilling

    Quilling is a term that refers to the shedding of a set of quills and growing in a new set. This occurs several times in young hedgehogs, typically at 2-3 weeks, 5 weeks, and 8-12 weeks of age. Typical signs of quilling include irritability, dropped quills, and new quill points breaking through the skin. This is a normal occurrence for hedgehogs, similar to cutting teeth in human infants. Quilling is a gradual process, and should include new quills replacing the old quills within a very short period of time after they are shed. Because of this, there are no bald spots or thinning areas visible in the hedgehog s' quill coat. Any bald spots are signs of a problem that is not related to normal quilling.

    Behavior during quilling is often very antisocial. However, if you stop to think about what the hedgehog is going through during this time, especially the final quilling (usually around 8-12 weeks of age), it is very understandable why they are uncomfortable. Quilling is a major event in their life that is comparable to cutting teeth all over your entire body, plus hitting puberty at the same time. The good news is, they will get over it. This phase varies in length between hedgehogs, some are over it as short as 4-5 days, others can take 2-3 weeks or slightly longer. However, if you continue to be stubborn and handle them even when they act like they want nothing to do with you that doesn't involve bloodshed, they will improve again, and most likely be very near their normal non-quilling temperament.

    There are a few things that you can do to help ease the stress and discomfort of quilling. While I don't normally recommend bathing your hedgehog extremely often, during quilling baths can be helpful in soothing the hedgehogs' skin. I recommend slightly warm baths with an oatmeal bath such as the Aveeno products approximately every other day if needed. As well, adding a tablespoon or so of olive oil or other non-toxic, non-flavored edible 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.