Do Hedgehogs Have Fleas? Identify, Treatment, Pass to Pets or Humans?


We all love seeing Hedgehogs in our back yards and gardens. We don’t see them often as Hedgehogs are nocturnal critters. Which is why it’s so much nicer when we do see them as it’s a rare treat.

You might be wondering if they suffer from fleas, much like that of our pets with cat and dog fleas – more on that shortly, but first, here’s the quick answer, then we’ll dive into a few more related details…

Do Hedgehogs have fleas? Yes, Hedgehogs have fleas, they are only found on and passed between Hedgehogs of the European and North African species. Their scientific name is  Archaeopsylla erinacei and they are smalle external fleas that feed on hedgehogs blood. A small number of fleas is not normally an issue for a Hedgehog.

It’s such a shame to think that these harmless creatures might be subjected to these parasites, but it might not be as bad as you think, let’s explore it a little further. First, let’s look at what a Hedgehog flea is…

What Is a Hedgehog Flea – Archaeopsylla Erinacei

There are two varieties of Hedgehog fleas, those of Europe and the British Isles and those of Northern Africa.

The European version of the Hedgehog flea was first discovered back in 1835 by Peter Friedrich Bouché and are known to populate fleas in large numbers, certainly up to a hundred and potentially up to thousands on Hedgehogs that happen to be sick.

The other subspecies is the common stenoxenous flea which hosts on the North African hedgehog in the western Mediterranean regions of North Africa, ranging from Morocco to Libya, and around the Mediterranean coast of Spain.

How to Identify Hedgehog Fleas

Fair to say almost every Hedgehog you come across will have fleas, potentially even domesticated ones. However, they cannot harm you in any way, they may not even try to bite you, they will recognize that they’re not on the right host and will likely fall off, but certainly will not be able to survive on you for long.

The Hedgehog Flea itself will look like most other fleas, it’s between 0.079 to 0.2inches (2mm and 3.5mm) in length, with strong rear legs and needle-like mouth part for sucking blood from the Hedgehog – which is how it feeds. See image below.

How to Tell If a Hedgehog Has Fleas

To identify them, firstly, try visual confirmation. Look close to the Hedgehogs skin, you should be able to spot any bedded in and around the base of the Hedgehog quills.

Pet hedgehogs can be prone to mite infestation if not treated properly. If your hedgehog starts losing patches of quills, is noticeably itching, has dry flaky skin, and is biting at parts of its body mites are probably to blame. The good news is that mites on hedgehogs are easily preventable and treatable.

Archaeopsylla erinacei
Archaeopsylla erinacei

Image source

These fleas will breed within the same nest as the Hedgehog family it resides with. They will breed around the same time as the female hedgehog and this is thought to be triggered by the female hedgehog hormones.

Eggs are laid and the larvae will feed on feces in the nest until it pupates and then once it emerges after about a week it will seek a host. This process can be repeated some 9 weeks or so afterward.

Range

The species is most commonly found on hedgehogs in Western Europe and Northern Europe, including the British Isles and Ireland, but is also found in hedgehog populations in other European countries, including the Eastern European countries like The Czech Republic, Greece, Croatia and Ukraine, and also in Iran and North Africa.

Can Hedgehogs Live Without Fleas?

Actually Yes, in fact, the European Hedgehog is an invasive species of Hedgehogs introduced to New Zealand and is totally free from fleas. This is most likely because the fleas did not survive the long voyage by sea to New Zealand.

Can Cats and Dogs Catch Hedgehog Fleas?

The Hedgehog flea is specific to Hedgehogs, so while Cats and Dogs and can catch them and they’ve even been found on Foxes, this would only be a temporary condition. The Fleas would not survive for long, however, they have been known to cause allergic dermatitis in dogs.

Can You Catch Fleas From a Hedgehog?

You can’t ‘catch’ fleas from a hedgehog. If you encounter a hedgehog it is likely that (by handling or near proximity, you will likely come in contact with hedgehog fleas. However, they will do you no harm at all and certainly cannot host or survive on your skin or in your hair.

you cannot catch flees from a hedgehog

Can Hedgehog Fleas Live in Your House?

Hedgehog fleas cannot survive for any extended periods without a hedgehog host to feed on. The host has to be a hedgehog, therefore, all your pets, hamsters, gerbils, cats. Dogs, guinea pigs or other family pets will be ‘immune’ to this flea. So unless you keep hedgehogs in your house then you’re unlikely to suffer any prolonged flea infestations.

How to Treat a Hedgehog for Fleas

There is no totally safe anti-mite treatment for Hedgehog fleas. However, often the same treatments designed for cats are generally thought to be safe to use. Your exotic pet vet could possibly prescribe a drug such as ivermectin or selamectin, under brand names Revolution or Advantage. If you’re in any doubt then the best course of action is to contact your local vet or Hedgehog rescue center.

Conclusion

We hope this has helped you understand more about the ticks that live on Hedgehogs. The fleas are not a requirement for hedgehogs, but they are a natural part of a Hedgehogs life. For those most part they’re used to it but if the infestation gets bad then consult your local vet for advice on how to treat it.

Or, if it’s a hedgehog you’ve found that appears sick then contact your local Hedgehog rescue center for further advice. They will likely want to take a look at the Hedgehog and may take it away to be treated.

Michael

A Certified Ecologist and an Entomologist, Michael has been interested in all aspects of Nature for many years. It's only now he's decided, along with his partner Fran, to begin documenting what he knows.

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