allergies_080417_mnAre hedgehogs hypoallergenic?

The simple answer is – Yes!

Definition

hy·po·al·ler·gen·ic
adj.
Having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary

The definition of hypoallergenic may surprise some people. Hypoallergenic does not mean non-allergenic. Hedgehogs are not very likely to cause an allergic reaction, but it has been known to happen. Hedgehogs produce very little dander, which is the usual culprit for animal allergies. It is extremely rare that hedgehog dander produces any sort of reaction. Allergic reactions to hedgehogs are usually from small pricks of the hedgehog’s quills that have been contaminated with an allergen.

Allergies to Bedding

The majority of people who think they are allergic to their hedgehog are actually allergic to the bedding. You might want to try switching to different bedding options if you are affected. I am allergic to almost all of the bedding, so I use a hepa filter right beside my hedgehog cages. Due to my allergies, if the quills prick my fingers I get a little rash that disappears within minutes of washing my hands. I know that some people get hives after handing hedgehogs and that is probably due to an allergen being pushed into the skin.

How to lessen allergic reactions

If you find that you have a severe reaction to the bedding, you should try fleece or corduroy fabric that is cut to fit in the bottom of the cage. Remember to look for loose threads in the fabric, since hedgehogs have been known to get their feet caught and lose circulation which leads to amputations.

If you suspect that you are allergic to hedgehogs, it can help to bathe the hedgehog monthly in lukewarm water and a drop of olive oil. It is also a good idea to keep an air purifier with a hepa filter close to the cage. Since hedgehogs produce very little dander, this should be all that is needed to relieve your symptoms.

My own experiences

Although my cat is hypoallergenic (bengal cat breed), I will get a reaction if I touch my eyes after petting him. I have noticed that if I pet my cat and then handle my hedgehogs I am more likely to get a rash. I also have mild allergies to perfumes, hay, mold, most cleaning products and animal dander. I find that if I wash my hands with hand sanitizer before handling the hedgies, that I rarely get any rash. If you have troubles with allergies, I’d recommend washing your hands before handling your hedgehogs, but avoid scented soap.

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