Hedgehogs tend to be shy, solitary creatures that are generally nocturnal (active at night). Many prefer quiet, dim environments and are frightened by loud noise and bright light. They like to hide and dig and have a well developed sense of smell. They try to “taste” new things in their environments by salivating and spitting onto themselves − a process called “anointing” or “anting.

Hedgehogs are covered by short, pointy spines. While young hedgehogs usually do not mind being held, adults often roll up into tight balls as a defense if they have not been well- socialized. Adults may also make a hissing sound when they are afraid. With quiet stroking of the spines over the back in dim light, a curled up hedgehog may uncurl. The more a hedgehog is handled, the tamer it is likely to become.

  •    Hedgehogs live 6-10 years in captivity with proper nutrition and wellness care!
  •    They can be fertile by 2 months of age, but females should not be bred until they are 6 months. For more on breeding go to http://www.hedgehogclub.com/breeding.html .


Hedgehogs can be housed in smooth-walled enclosures (such as aquariums, 20 gallon capacity or greater) with sides high enough to prevent escape. They can also be housed in plastic bottom enclosures with coated wire sides and top, such as those made for rabbits or guinea pigs. Cages with wire sides and tops have much better ventilation than aquariums and are therefore healthier for hedgehog’s respiratory systems. Do not house hedgehogs in cages with wire floor or with wire “ladders” as their feet could easily become trapped and and injured in the wire.  Click Here for more suggestions.

Hedgehogs are not good climbers and care should be taken to ensure they live in a one level environment. Exercise wheels should be provided.  They should be completely solid to prevent feet and spines getting caught in wires or holes. Hedgehogs are prone to obesity in captivity and providing them with a safe method to exercise is critical.

A recycled paper product such as Care Fresh(R) is a good bedding. Bedding should be several inches thick to enable digging and should be kept clean and dry.  You can also use fleece or flannel squares that can be changed out and washed daily.  Wood shavings and soil are not recommended, as they are dusty, indigestible, and may contain parasites. They are also dangerous to hedgie eyes and respiratory systems.

Hedgehogs should be provided with a hide box, a shallow water pan for bathing and a litter box with pelleted paper product for litter.  Tubes may be used to enrich their environment and provide varied resting places.  For more on housing needs Click Here.

In the wild, hedgehogs do not hibernate. However, in captivity they may hibernate if their environmental temperature falls below 65 degrees.  As hedgehogs do not appear to have a need to hibernate, and hibernating may be detrimental to them, it is ideal to keep them at a constant temperature throughout the year of approximately 70-80°F, as well as to keep them on a 12 hour light cycle.


    Hedgehogs are, by nature, curious, active foragers.  They should be taken out of their enclosures every day for exercise and social interaction. They should never be left unsupervised, as they may chew on toxic substances or be attacked by other predatory pets, such as cats and dogs, or injured by small children.

Watch this Video of Hedgehog playing with a kitty jingle ball!



Hedgehogs are in the insectivore family; however in the wild their diet includes insects, snails, worms, as well as occasional small vertebrates (like mice) and plants. They should be fed once daily in the evening from heavy dishes that do not tip over easily. A good quality commercial pelleted hedgehog diet or low-fat dry cat food (Royal Canin(R) Lite Indoor food for Cats) make a good base for their diet. Each day, an adult hedgehog can be fed 2 tablespoons of a hedgehog diet or cat food, along with 1-2 tablespoons of fresh vegetables. They also require a few insects (mealworms, crickets, snails, other invertebrates) 3-4 times a week. Since hedgehogs are very prone to obesity, feeding unlimited quantities of food or feeding high fat foods (such as seeds and nuts, or waxworms) is highly discouraged. Fresh water from a bowl should be offered every day.  Some hedgies will use a bottle, but not all.


Newly purchased hedgies should visit to an exotic animal veterinarian for a good over-all well-health check and a  dose of mite medication, as mite infestations are common.  Take a fresh sample of stool (poop) to your vet for an intestinal parasite check, as well.

Hedgehogs should be examined once a year by your veterinarian. Diet and environment should be reviewed. Hedgehogs should be weighed at least annually to ensure they are not becoming obese. They should receive a complete physical examination, including a thorough check of their teeth, as they are prone to dental disease. It is best if your veterinarian briefly anesthetizes your hedgie for a complete oral exam.  Dental scaling may be necessary if they have excessive tartar.  Hedgehogs can also be prone to hepatic lipidosis (fatty infiltration of the liver), cancer (especially oral cancer), respiratory infections, and certain neurologic conditions (Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome).

Proper preventative medicine can help avoid the development of disease and ensure the lifelong health of your hedgehog.

Another great Hedgie Care link


IHA Logo


Dr. Debra  is now a member of the International Hedgehog Association!

“The IHA is a registered charitable non-profit organization established with the purpose of educating the public in the care and betterment of hedgehogs and to facilitate the rescue, welfare, promotion and care of hedgehogs everywhere.IHReg logo

The International Hedgehog Registry is now a part of the IHA.  We encourage Owners to register their Hedgehogs to help us better track health trends and hereditary traits.  It is our hope that over time this will aid breeders in improving the quality of the species, and provide owners and breeders with lineage information.

Hedgehog ShowsThe IHA is active in the promotion of hedgehog shows and educational seminars as a means of bringing together and educating hedgehog lovers and fanciers.  The IHA sanctions shows across the United States and Canada every year, bringing hedgehogs and fanciers together in a friendly spirit of competition and friendship



We encourage and support rescue through our rescue licensing program, ensuring quality care and placement of rescues throughout North America and Europe.  As well, IHA sponsored funding campaigns help to keep hedgehog rescues running.

The IHA Vet ForumThe IHA’s research activities have included studies on diet, nutrition and appropriate medication.”

We’ve just installed our new Digital Radiology system!

Digital Radiograph (top) vs "Regular" Radiograph (bottom)

Digital Radiograph (top) vs “Regular” Radiograph (bottom)

Now we can take better radiographs, providing more accurate in-house diagnoses!  If our Doctors see something suspicious, digital radiographs can be sent, electronically, to a Board Certified Radiologist for consultation with a click or the keyboard!  This makes Radiology second opinions faster and easier than every before!

All at no additional cost to our clients!

Cimarron Animal Hospital – continuously improving to provide better, safer, more compassionate medicine for pets who are people too!



“…oral administration of live nonpathogenic organisms can result in improved GI health and immune system function, and growing evidence supports potential therapeutic benefits in diverse disease conditions (eg, chronic GI abnormalities, allergic disease, diabetes mellitus, obesity, liver disease, mood and behavior disorders).”  Clinician’s Brief- Marcella D. Ridgway, VMD, MS, DACVIM University of Illinois.

Probiotics are “happy gut bacteria”.  They have traditionally been used for pets with gastrointestinal diseases causing chronic diarrhea.  New studies indicate that daily probiotics help over-all immune system function, decrease inflammation, even stabilize metabolism.   This makes sense since 75% of the immune system lines our guts!

New Uses for Probiotics

  • Reduce inflammatory marker levels in dogs with allergies.    (This is a very active area of study in the human arena!)
  • Improve growth rates and vaccine responses in puppies.
  • Lower cholesterol in normal dogs and dogs with intestinal disease.
  • Reduce numbers of diarrhea-causing bacteria in the feces of dogs.
  • Reduce symptoms of Feline Herpes Virus-1 infection.
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Obesity
  • Liver disease
  • Mood and behavior disorders (another very active area in human medicine!)

Criteria for a “Good” Probiotic product for pets

Probiotics for pets are available through veterinarians.  It’s IMPORTANT to use pet probiotic isolates as they are different from the “happy gut bacteria” in humans.   Additionally,  an appropriate Probiotic product meets the following criteria:

  • Nonpathogenic ( will not cause disease on its own)
  • Remains viable during large-scale production and storage
  • Survives transit through the GI tract (exposure to gastric acid, bile)
  • Adheres to and colonizes gut epithelium
  • Shows a beneficial effect on host

There are 3 veterinary products that meet label claims :

Products Meeting Label Claims

  • Proviable-DC (nutramaxlabs.com), synbiotic ( contains both beneficial strains of probiotics AND prebiotics- nutrition to feed the happy bacteria!)
  • FortiFlora (purina.com), Enterococcus faecium SF68
  • Prostora (iams.com), Bifidobacterium animalis

If your pet suffers from recurrent or chronic diarrhea, chronic infection (Valley Fever?), or any of the conditions listed above, ask your veterinarian for one of the probiotic products above.

Fear, Aggression, Separation Anxiety, Thunderstorm and Fireworks Phobias are the most common behavior challenges in dogs and cats.  

We can help with these conditions so you and your pet can live a less stressful life!

Leeanne is our Certified Veterinary Assistant and a PetSMart Certified Trainer, specializing in Fear/ Anxiety disorders and Interdog Aggression.  She can do in-clinic consultations to help you get started on training and behavior modification techniques at home.  She also does in-home training.

Dr. Bohnke is very knowledgeable, taking several hours of continuing education every year to keep up with the dynamic field of veterinary behavior medicine.  She can help with medical management of behavior problems.  While training really is the key to solving most behavior problems in pets, a little medication can go a long way toward helping to reduce anxiety/ fear or territorial tendencies so pets CAN learn new behaviors!

We also emphasize a Fear Free Vet Visit with Tips for Dogs and Cats to help make the trip to the vet a more tolerable experience!

Thunderstorm Phobia Tips Here


16 week old Golden Retriever puppy scratching fleas with leg in motion on a white background "Missy"

Fleas and Ticks are not just yucky!  They don’t just suck blood from our pets (and us).  They can cause serious to life-threatening diseases!

FLEAS Itchy, disease carrying blood-suckersflea.ashx

Fleas are not common in Arizona, unless your pet lives in a desert environment and has exposure to our local rodent populations.  These rodent fleas are so tiny, you really can’t recognize them as “bugs” until they jump!  Then you can’t find them again!

Fleas are the number #1 cause of allergic skin conditions in dogs and cats world wide.  One bite from a flea can make the whole pet crazy itchy!  If your pet spends time outside and has allergies, he or she should be treated with a flea protection product.

Fleas also carry blood parasites that cause illness– sometimes life-threatening illness!

EngorgedBrownTIckTICKS Gross, disease bags of nastiness

Ticks are somewhat common in Arizona.  They survive our mild winters well and find protection from the heat and sun in wood piles, wood dog houses and against the foundations of our homes.

Ticks carry a number of blood parasites.  Ehrlichia species of parasites are common in Arizona ticks, causing “Tick Fever”.  This disease is quite serious and can lead to hemorrhage, seizures, neurologic disorders and death.  Pets who spend time outdoors should be treated with a tick protection product.  Don’t wait to find the ticks.   By then, you’ve aleady missed the ticks that your pet has already groomed off.  It only takes one infected tick to bite and disease can arise months to Years (!) later!

With so many Flea and Tick Protection Treatments available, it can be hard to decide which is best for your pets.  Please consult your veterinarian for a product that is best for you and your pet.  



Protect your pets with a maintenance Parasite prevention schedule– even in Arizona.  

It’s just part of Caring for a Pet.

FearFreeLogoNervous, Anxious, down-right Terrified Dogs and Cats find solace at Cimarron

We are implementing some new Tips/ Tricks and Strategies to help get pets who are nervous at the Vet from home to the clinic, through the visit and back home again with less stress.  Even Cats!



See our handouts on Home Prep Tips Before Vet Trips for Cats and Dogs.

In clinic, you’ll notice some changes, too:

– Offering to move you and your pet to an exam room sooner, so you can let your pet off leash or out of its carrier to get accustomed to the room and explore on his own terms.

Soothing music in the exam rooms- good for people, too!

– Pheromones ( Feliway and Adaptil ) that mimic mama’s milk gland scents – what’s more soothing than that?

– Not taking every pet’s temperature if it seems too stressful

– Performing procedures in the exam room when possible if pets seem calmer with their owners than away from them

– Using Thundershirts, Thoracic wraps, Calming Caps and Doggles  to induce a state of calm.

– Therapeutic Laser to induce endorphins– you can’t even feel it! It just works great on cats!

Leeanne, our own Pet Smart certified Training Technician is offering Densitization short courses – 15 – 30 minutes long ( $15.00)- during our quiet times to help anxious pets learn that our place is fun, not frightening!  There is a fee for her one-on-one expertise wtih you and your pet, but it’ll be sooo worth it.  

Of course we ALWAYS invite everyone to come in just for Happiness Visits for FREE during our quiet times!  This is a great opportunity to work with your pet desensitizing to our environment.  Practice getting off and on the scale.  Practice walking through the door!  Practice sitting in the exam room, giving treats and just BEING.  It also gives us an opportunity to give nothing but luvs, pets and treats!  No “nasty” business!  You are always welcome to a drink and a treat too!  We always have water, soda and sweet treats available for people!  How ’bout putting our clinic on your walking circuit?  A stop into the clinic as you pass by would be a great mini- visit!

Schedule a Training Session or Happiness Visit Now!    Click Here          Or Call at 520- 886-1125

Pre-Visit Sedation is Available as well !  Read more about our Kitty and Canine Calming KitsSedatives that you give at home to help make the car ride and the visit more bearable for your pet AND you!  Request a Canine or Kitty Calming Kit for pre-visit sedation if your pet is super anxious!  Coming in calmer can go a long way toward making this visit less stressful for you and your pet!  Having less stressful experiences promotes less anxiety the next time the same situation is experienced, too!  CAT OWNERS: This can really be a big help for getting your kitty in to the clinic! For more tips, see “Getting Your Cat to the Clinic Fear-Free”

Mon and Wed  9:00a- 2:00p

Tuesday           12:00p- 2:00p

Thursday          2:00p- 5:00p


FearFreeLogoThe Cimarron Animal Hospital Team is committed to providing a Fear Free veterinary experience, to the best of our ability, for every pet we care for.  See our Fear Free Initiative

Cats are notoriously stressed about coming in to the vet, so many people just wait until their cat is sick before they face the daunting, heart-wrenching experience.  But, cats need wellness exams as much as, if not more than, dogs, since they hide their illnesses until they are critical!

Here are some tips for getting cats into the Veterinary Clinic with less stress for both of you:

  • Leave the cat carrier out for your cat to enjoy all of the time!
    Feed your kitty in the carrier
    Every day, put treats in the carrier for your kitty to discover
    Keep soft, clean bedding in the carrier
    Sometimes, cover the carrier with a towel or carrier cover (Cat Cozy)
    Put a spritz of Feliway in the carrier once a day
  • Wipe the carrier or spritz once with Feliway 30 minutes before travel
  • Always carry the carrier from underneath— never use the handle. It’s too much rocking and swaying!
  • Cover the carrier when traveling– most cats would prefer not to see the world racing by while they are standing still!
  • Practice driving around the block or around town and ending up right back home!

Start these techniques with your kitten! If you have an adult cat, start Today!

  • Bring your cat’s favorite treats with you.
    Give a bite when you arrive in the waiting room
    Give a bite when you settle into the exam room
    Toss a few around the room to encourage exploration and natural hunting instincts- it lets off “steam”!
    Save the rest for your Pet Care Team!  This way, they will have more opportunity to give treats to help make the experience more pleasant.
  • Ask your Veterinarian for a Kitty or Doggy Calming Kit that can be given before the visit to help “take the edge off”.
  • Consider additional short-acting sedation in the clinic if needed.

For more suggestions,   Click Here

Cat Carrier Training Video

To Request an Appointment at Cimarron Animal Hospital Tucson for your cat’s Less Stress check Up, Click Here

MacDaniel, Ramsies - 7Dental Treatment Staging: Cleaning, X-rays, Tooth-by-tooth Assessment now, Periodontal treatment, Extractions later- just like at your dentist! 

 75% of dogs and cats have more dental disease than can be detected in the awake pet—usually because they don’t let anyone do a thorough  360-degree tooth-by-tooth examination while they are awake!

This means that 75% of veterinary  patients needs more dental work done than is anticipated.  This can result in an uncomfortable, unexpected financial “surpurise” for a Pet Parent.

At Cimarron Animal Hospital, we can Stage your pet’s dental treatment if you are not financially ready to cover the whole expense at the time of his dental cleaning (after all, that’s expensive enough– with anesthesia and all…).

We will first clean the teeth and do a tooth-by-tooth examination with dental x-rays.  Then, we will call you to let you know what else needs to be done in terms of treating existing periodontal or endodontic disease such as tooth infections, abscesses, or resorptions.  If you are ready to have everything done at once, while we have your pet anesthetized already, we will proceed with the recommended treatments.  If not, then we can delay the rest of the treatment (extractions, for instance) for a later date.  The Doctor will let you know, based on how severe the disease is, how long it would be OK to delay.   If you have the recommended treatments done within that time period, we give you an  $ 85.00 credit toward the second anesthesia– as if the treatment had been done the same day!

Meanwhile, the Doctor may recommend pulse therapy antibiotics or pain medication and Dental Home Care treatments to keep your pet comfortable until the dental treatment can be completed.






Spring is about spring in Arizona.  Unusually warm temperatures are going to wake hungry, cranky rattlesnakes from their short winter’s nap.  It’s time to consider…

Rattle snake vaccines are available for dogs. But are they Safe?  Effective?

Safe?  Yes.  There are virtually no side effects.  Rare irritation at the injection site.

Effective?  Honest truth: We aren’t sure. But, it’s all we’ve got besides ways to decrease our dogs’ risks.

Theoretically, they make scientific sense.  They work in the lab….   Rattlesnake vaccines work by inducing antibody production against rattle snake venom in the dog.  Each antibody produced can neutralize a unit of venom.  But, each dog responds differently to the vaccine, producing its own unique amount of antibody.  So there is no way to ensure that each dog vaccinated with produce enough antibody to neutralize all the venom that it receives during a bite.

Also consider that snakes inject variable amounts of venom when they bite.  This is based largely on when they last bit something (for food or self-protection).  If they have not fed in a while (especially early in the Spring when they are just coming out of hibernation), their venom sacs will be full. That’s a lot of venom to neutralize.

The vaccine is not protective against Mohave Rattle Snakes, a less common, but significant threat in Arizona.

So, why isn’t it a more predictable product, you ask?  Scientists can’t really inject venom in an unvaccinated dog, evaluate response, then vaccinate and re-envenomate the same dog with exactly the same amount of venom to compare responses.  First, that would be  pretty inhumane.  Second, once a dog has been envenomated, its response to the next bite will be different regardless of being vaccinated or not.

So what good is it?  The vaccine will impart at least some protection against the venom.  Some amount of the venom will be neutralized. That may be enough to protect a dog against pain and the most devastating effects of a bite: massive tissue loss, hemorrhage disorders and kidney failure.


( Very painful swelling, usually around the head, face, front legs.  Sometimes there are visible weeping punctures- sometimes not.  After a couple of hours there is significant bruising.)


Cimarron’s Recommendation: Consider Rattlesnake Vaccinating your Dog If: 

  • Your dog is at high risk for Rattlesnake bite (lives in a desert yard, runs in washes, hunts with you).  It’s the best we can do.
  • Especially if your pet is in an outside environment for long periods of time unsupervised.


  • A walled yard is not “safe”.  Snakes can find he smallest breaches, and every wall has a gate or drainage hole.

More Information about Rattlesnake Vaccine: Here

For Arizona dogs, the best time of year to get Rattlesnake vaccines is in Early March– before snakes become active after their long winter’s nap.  Vaccinate again in late Summer / Fall to maintain immune boost through the active Fall months.