Mite infestation in hedgehogs (Erinaceidae) in Israel – Characterization and response to treatment

Igal Horowitz*, S. Krupnik, P. Bourdeau, U. Landau, N. Anglister, R. Alias, G. Zur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hedgehogs (Fam. Erinaceidae) are among the most common mammals in Israel. Their innate sensitivity to external and internal parasites can cause critical damage to their population that could create an imbalance of the ecological environment. Mite are common external parasites of hedgehogs and the current recommended treatment is the use of ivermectin. The hypothesis of this study was that hedgehogs are infested with mites in their normal state and in disease, however with a difference in the severity of infection depending on the hedgehogs' general health condition. The purposes of this study were (a) Investigation and characterization of mites infesting healthy hedgehogs captured in their natural habitat; (b) Characterize the disease caused by mites in clinically affected hedgehogs submitted to a wildlife hospital (IWH) and (c) to assess the success of treatment with ivermectin. Data were collected over a period of one year (July 2011-July 2012) and included skin scrapings, microscopic examinations and fixation of mites for morphologic identification of mites' species. A disease severity scale was devised by the combination of clinical signs and microscopic examination of mites. Seventy hedgehogs were captured in their natural habitat, out of which 65 were not infested with mites and 5 were infested. Mite species were identified as Sarcoptes scabiei, Caparinia tripilis and one mite of the family Laelaptiae. Ninety three hedgehogs were brought to the Israeli wildlife hospital (IWH), out of which 48 were infested with mites identified as Sarcoptes scabiei. Thirty-four of the infested hedgehogs had dermatological signs only, suggesting that mange was not associated with any other internal diseases or injuries. No differences were found in the survival time of hedgehogs for the different degrees of skin disease, but survival rates dropped significantly during the first ten days of hospitalization, regardless of the severity of the dermatological disease. The release of hedgehogs back into the wild was made possible after 80-130 days of hospitalization, when their clinical signs had resolved. The significance of this work was the identification of the mite Sarcoptes scabiei as the most common mite species infesting hedgehogs in Israel and emphasizing that this species is a zoonotic parasite. Furthermore, to the best knowledge of the authors, this is the first report to describe the presence of a mite from the Laelaptidae family in a hedgehog in Israel. The clinical importance of this study is in realizing that prognosis is not related to the severity of the dermatological disease. The critical days for survival are in the first 10 days of hospitalization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-22
Number of pages6
JournalIsrael Journal of Veterinary Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Caparinia tripilis
  • Erinaceus concolor
  • Hedgehog
  • Hemiechinus auritus
  • Laelapidae
  • Mange
  • Mites
  • Notoedres cati
  • Sarcoptes scabiei


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