Oral Foreign Bodies in Hedgehogs, Bears and Ferrets

Summary Information
Diseases / List of Physical / Traumatic Diseases / Disease summary
Alternative Names --
Disease Agents
  • Pieces of bone, whole peanuts, coiled springs and similar objects may become wedged in the roof of the mouth. (B337.3.w3)
  • Linear foreign bodies such as grass, tape and even stringy veins from meat may become wrapped around the tongue. (B337.3.w3)
  • In bears, a ring-like foreign body around the tongue. (B214.3.4.w16)
  • In ferrets, usually bits of bone.  (J60.11.w1)
Infectious Agent(s) --
Non-infectious Agent(s) --
Physical Agent(s)
General Description
Clinical Signs
In Hedgehogs
  • Poor appetite, salivation and pawing at the mouth may be seen as with dental problems (See: Hedgehog Dental Disease).(B337.3.w3)
    • If untreated this condition may lead to weight loss and starvation (see: Starvation). (B337.3.w3)
In Bears
  • Clinical signs of open mouth, facial swelling, pawing at the face, anorexia and salivation may be seen if the tongue has been penetrated by a foreign body. (B16.9.w9)
  • In a Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear:
    • Protrusion of the tongue, which was flabby, swollen and purple. 
    • The bear was unable to close its mouth.
    • A ring-like foreign body was present around the tongue. 


In Ferrets
  • Drooling, face rubbing, difficulty swallowing. (J60.11.w1)
  • Clawing at the mouth with the front feet (also a sign of nausea). (J213.4.w7)
Further Information
  • Clinical signs are suggestive; examination under anaesthesia may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
  • Similar clinical signs are seen with dental problems. (B16.9.w9, B337.3.w3)
  • Similar signs may be seen with neoplastic disease of the tongue. (B16.9.w9)
In Ferrets
  • Examination of the mouth; check the palate. (J213.4.w7)
In Hedgehogs
In Bears
  • Surgical removal of the foreign body generally allows rapid healing and recovery. (B16.9.w9)
  • If the tongue has been lacerated, it may be necessary to debride necrotic tissue and close the laceration using an absorbable suture material. (B16.9.w9)
  • Antibiotics should be given white the wound heals. (B16.9.w9)
  • Soft food is useful during healing. (B16.9.w9)
  • In the Helarctos malayanus - Sun bear, partial amputation of the tongue was required. (B214.3.4.w16)
    • The bear was able to eat slowly after the partial amputation. (B214.3.4.w16)
In Ferrets
  • Removal of the foreign body.
Techniques linked to this disease
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Host taxa groups /species

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