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PostSubject: Gender Differences and Health Care   Tue Sep 17, 2013 7:41 pm

Males

Male and female hedgehogs obviously have different reproductive and urinary tract systems and their main health care concerns are related to these differences.

A male's penis is contained in the penile sheath and is only exposed during urination, breeding, and on occasion self-stimulation.

Hedgehogs are relatively low to the ground therefore their extended penis is even closer to the ground. There is a chance that bedding can stick to the extended penis and be drawn up into the penile sheath. One can be certain that this problem is both irritating to the hedgehog as well as a potential for infection or other damage.

Good bedding choices and daily monitoring of your hedgehog dramatically reduce the incidence of serious problems.

The first sign of irritation is redness and/or swelling. A bath and gentle cleansing of the area may be sufficient treatment.

Veterinary care may be required for more serious irritations.


Females

A female hedgehog's urinary and reproductive systems and the associated problems appear to be closely related.

Again, a female hedgehog is close to the ground which most likely contributes to the potential of urinary and reproductive tract issues.

One obvious indication of a urinary tract infection is visible blood in the stool. Change in eating, elimination habits, and general decline in health are also potential signs of a problem.

Female hedgehogs are induced ovulators, meaning their reproductive cycle is stimulated by the presence of a male rather than cyclic ovulators like humans.

Some hedgehog owners and breeders believe that having a male and female in the same household without breeding the female increases the risk of uterine cancers.

On the other hand, breeding drastically increases the risks of problems during pregnancy, birth, and post natal care.

Some veterinarians recommend preventative spaying of females. However, there are risks with every invasive procedure and use of anesthesia. Proactive spaying is not yet widespread among owners of female hedgehogs and is not recommended by all veterinarians.

At this point in time no studies have been done showing the advantages and disadvantages of preventative spaying. Since veterinarians tend to only see hedgehogs with problems it is hard to get a good idea of what percentage of female hedgehogs in the pet population actually need spaying.

Most veterinarians and breeders DO recommend spaying at the first sign of urinary or reproductive issues. It is much easier to treat a small problem than try to fix a larger problem later on.
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