CAGE REQUIREMENTS: Your hedgehog will require a secure home since they are very good climbers and can easily escape from open top cages that are designed for animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits. If you do use a cage with an open top, it must have slippery sides that are at least 12″ high and a floor space of at least 4 square feet. Multi tiered cages are unacceptable as they are unsafe. Hedgehogs have poor eye sight and balance. And can easily fall off elevated surfaces.
Place your hedgehogs new home in a comfortable, warm, well lit area that is free of drafts and direct sunlight. They are most comfortable at temperatures of between 74-80 degrees Fahrenheit. The basic rule of thumb is, if you are comfortable without a sweater, they will do just fine. The use of heat lamps are acceptable; but not required. Heating devices such as heat rocks or pads are not recommended as they can cause second degree burns.
BEDDING: Paper, Aspen, Pine or fleece are by the most popular choices. Cedar is toxic and should be avoided at all costs. For wood or paper bedding place approximately two inches of bedding material evenly over the floor of the cage. Daily spot cleaning is considered good hygiene and full cage cleaning should be done as needed or approximately ever 7-10 days. The use of fleece is another alternative. Changing intervals will have to be done more frequently as it doesn't do as good as a job as absorbing odors.
FOOD & WATER BOWSL: Their food bowl needs to be fairly heavy to prevent your pet from tipping it over. Small ceramic crocks that are designed for small rodents are perfect food dishes for hedgehogs. The width or diameter of the dish can be 3 to 6 inches and it should be no more than 3 inches high for easy reach. Water bowls should be of the same type. Daily cleaning of both is recommended to prevent the buildup of bacteria. The use of water bottles is another option used by some. Our babies are raised on bowls and if you decide to transition them; make sure they know how to use the bottles before removing their bowls. Bottles have the potential of leaking, even though they may claim to be "leak proof". And may also risk the possibility of their tongues getting stuck between the ball and neck of the bottle.
TOYS: If you choose, you can also add a few toys for your hedgehog to play with. An exercise wheel is an excellent and required addition and will help him to stay healthy and trim. There are several good wheels available and several unsafe ones as well. They need to be at least 12" in diameter with a flat running surface. The Carolina storm wheel or the Comfort wheel are the most common. A few examples can be found in the Food & Supplies page of our website. Wire wheels that are made for rats that have openings on the running surface are unsafe and should never be used.
HIDING PLACE: A igloo, hut, cave, tunnels, sleeping pouch or something similar is required. Hedgehogs love to burrow and prefer tight spaces. So they need something dark and somewhat confined in space. They do not feel comfortable or safe sleeping in the open as they feel venerable.
What Should I Feed Him and How Much?
Although there are hedgehog foods available in stores, dry cat and kitten formulas are proven to be more beneficial than anything labeled as hedgehog food. Whatever commercial food you choose should be accompanied with insects. Live meal worms, crickets, caterpillars, snails, dubia roaches or long horned worms are good options 5 times per week in addition to their dry food. Freeze dried insects cause issues with their digestive system and should never be used. Live is best. The food brands below are very common and come up on any search for hedgehog food. These are the three most common foods that should never be used. They are loaded with fillers and by-products, very difficult to chew and lack any type of nutritional value. Do not use these under any circumstance.
Care and Management
When you bring you new hedgehog home, place him in his new cage and let him have absolute privacy for at least a day if they seem timid. Most of my babies have no issues adjusting to their new environment and may be handled as soon as they arrive at their new home. Hedgehogs are prey animals and are very good at hiding health issues. Cancer and tumors are two of the most common health issues with hedgehogs. Masses can develop very quickly and restrict movement and the ability of eat. This makes monthly weight checks encouraged to track the weight of your hedgehog. Healthy adults can range in weight from 300-400 grams. Nail trimming may need to be done anywhere from 3-8 weeks depending on the hedgehog. It's something that owners are able to do themselves but may require some patience. We found nail clippers made for babies or infants work the best. If your not comfortable or having difficulty doing this yourself. A vet can usually perform this; but anesthesia may be required. Or contact us about it. Even if your hedgehog is healthy, yearly exams are still encouraged. We trust the staff at the Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic in Gilbert with all our hedgehogs. But which ever vet you decide to use; make sure they are a exotic animal vet. Normal vets usually lack the education, training and experience in dealing with exotic animals.
Avian & Exotic Animal Clinic
1911 S Lindsay Rd, Mesa, AZ 85204