7 Signs of Dehydration in Hedgehogs [Key Symptoms]


So you’ve got a spiky little companion, a hedgehog! Cute, curious, and utterly captivating hedgehogs make for unique pets.

But caring for these charming critters requires a watchful eye and an understanding of their needs. This includes recognizing signs of common health issues, like dehydration.

One essential aspect of hedgehog care is ensuring they stay hydrated. Like other pets, these little ones also need their share of water to stay healthy.

Unfortunately, hedgehogs can’t tell us when they’re thirsty. So, it’s crucial to know the signs of dehydration in them.

Understanding Hydration in Hedgehogs

Water is vital for humans, but it’s equally important for our hedgehog buddies. But why, you might ask?

Firstly, hydration is essential for your hedgehog’s bodily functions. Water plays a key role, from digestion to maintaining body temperature and assisting in waste elimination.

Their bodies can’t function properly without enough of it, leading to health problems.

Secondly, dehydration can lead to severe health issues. From organ failure to metabolic disorders, the implications can be quite grave.

This is why it’s necessary to ensure your pet hedgehog has access to fresh water at all times and knows how to drink it.

But how much water does a hedgehog need daily? Great question; let’s address it.

On average, a hedgehog drinks about 22 to 44 ml of water per day (around 0.74 to 1.48 fl oz). This amount can vary depending on factors such as their size, diet, and the temperature of their environment.

It’s important to note that they may drink more during hot weather or if they eat mostly dry food. So keep an eye on their water dish to ensure it’s always filled with fresh water.

How to Spot Dehydration in Your Hedgehog

Identifying the signs of dehydration in your hedgehog early on is vital for their well-being. Here are the seven (7) key signs that your hedgehog might be thirsty.

Sign 1. Loss of Skin Elasticity

Like our own skin, a hedgehog’s skin tells much about its hydration status. When a hedgehog is well-hydrated, its skin will have good elasticity.

If you gently pinch the skin (be careful of the spikes), it should return quickly once released.

However, in a dehydrated hedgehog, this isn’t the case. The skin may appear loose and take longer to return to normal.

This is known as decreased skin turgor, a common sign of dehydration in many animals, not just hedgehogs.

Sign 2. Sunken Eyes

Have you ever noticed the bright, alert eyes of a healthy and hydrated hedgehog? They’re quite a sight! In contrast, dehydrated hedgehogs might present with sunken or dull eyes, a visual cue that they might not get enough water.

You see, dehydration can cause the fluid in and around the eyes to decrease. This lack of fluid can make the eyes appear sunken or less full than usual.

This sign is often easier to spot in hedgehogs as their eyes are relatively prominent.

However, remember that hedgehogs are nocturnal animals. They naturally have a bit of a sleepy look during the daytime. So, it’s important not to confuse their normal daytime demeanor with a sign of dehydration.

Sign 3. Loss of Appetite

One of the key signs that your hedgehog might be dehydrated is a decrease in appetite or refusal to eat. This is because the body’s hydration level directly affects its digestion.

Water aids in the breakdown of food, and a lack of it can disrupt this process, leading to a decreased interest in food.

You might notice your hedgehog ignoring its favorite treats or not eating as much as it normally does. This is especially concerning if your hedgehog is normally a hearty eater.

Sign 4. Lethargy and Weakness

Hedgehogs, while being nocturnal, are generally active and curious creatures when they are awake. However, dehydration can take a toll on their energy levels, leading to lethargy and weakness.

This is because water plays an essential role in energy production at a cellular level.

If your hedgehog is dehydrated, it might seem unusually tired or weak. You may notice that it’s not exploring its surroundings with its usual enthusiasm or that it’s sleeping more than it typically does.

One specific behavior to look out for is if your hedgehog is less active during its normal peak activity times, i.e., during the night.

If you notice that your hedgehog, which usually loves a good night-time run on its wheel, is suddenly spending most of the night curled up in a corner, it might be dehydrated.

Sign 5. Dry Gums and Mouth

The inside of a hedgehog’s mouth can give you a glimpse into its hydration level. Under normal circumstances, a hedgehog’s gums should be pink and moist.

But when a hedgehog is dehydrated, its gums may become dry and tacky to the touch.

Checking your hedgehog’s gums might be a bit tricky due to their small mouths and sharp teeth. It’s best done gently and ideally with a bit of experience handling your hedgehog.

If you’re unsure or uncomfortable doing this, your vet can check during regular health check-ups.

Also, dry gums can sometimes indicate other health problems such as dental disease. So if you notice this sign, consulting a vet is worth ruling out other potential issues.

Sign 6. Thick, Sticky Saliva

In a well-hydrated hedgehog, saliva should be clear and watery. However, a lack of adequate water intake can cause the saliva to become thick and sticky.

This change is due to the body trying to conserve water when dehydrated.

You might be thinking, “How on earth do I check my hedgehog’s saliva?” You might notice this sign while you’re checking their gums and mouth.

If you notice that their saliva seems unusually thick or isn’t as clear as it should be, it might indicate dehydration.

Sign 7. Reduced Urinary Output or Dark Colored Urine

One final indicator that your hedgehog might be dehydrated is changes in their urinary habits. Water plays a crucial role in flushing out waste products from the body through urine.

When a hedgehog isn’t getting enough water, it might produce less urine than usual. This reduction in output could be a sign that your hedgehog is conserving water due to dehydration.

In addition, the color of your hedgehog’s urine might change. A well-hydrated hedgehog should produce light-colored or clear urine.

If your hedgehog is dehydrated, the urine might become darker due to the increased concentration of waste products.

These signs can be challenging to spot, especially if your hedgehog is toilet trained or does business in a corner of its cage.

But a little detective work during your regular cage cleaning can go a long way in keeping your hedgehog healthy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q1. What happens if a hedgehog is dehydrated?

When a hedgehog is dehydrated, its body doesn’t have enough water to function properly. This could lead to numerous health issues, including kidney problems, heatstroke, or severe death.

It’s essential to ensure your hedgehog gets enough water daily and be aware of dehydration signs.

Q2. What do you give a dehydrated hedgehog?

If you suspect your hedgehog is dehydrated, getting it to drink water is crucial. However, in severe cases, offering water alone may not be enough, and your hedgehog may require specialized fluids provided by a vet.

If you ca unable get your hedgehog to drink or if it appears severely dehydrated, you should seek immediate veterinary care.

Q3. Why do hedgehogs get dehydrated?

Hedgehogs can get dehydrated for a variety of reasons. It could be due to not drinking enough water, being in an environment that’s too hot and dry, or having a health issue that causes excessive water loss, like diarrhea.

It’s important to regularly check your hedgehog’s water bottle or dish to ensure it’s working properly and filled with fresh water.


Dehydration in hedgehogs is a serious concern that should never be taken lightly. As responsible pet owners, we must always ensure that our prickly pals have access to fresh water and that we’re aware of the signs of dehydration.

The signs we discussed, such as dry skin, sunken eyes, loss of appetite, lethargy and weakness, dry gums and mouth, thick, sticky saliva, and reduced urinary output or dark-colored urine, can all be indicators of dehydration.

If you notice any of these signs in your hedgehog, don’t hesitate to consult with a vet.

The key to preventing dehydration in hedgehogs is by providing a suitable living environment, maintaining regular hydration, and understanding these signs.

With these measures, you can ensure your hedgehog stays healthy and hydrated.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top