Hedgehogs as Pets
Hedgehogs are quiet pets that are easy to care for, as pets for children I recommend that the child be at least 10 years old to be able to handle the responsibility and the poky quills that hedgehogs have, as younger kids are typical afraid to touch them and don’t like the prickly feeling of the quills.
Hedgehogs due well in families that are busy working or going to school. Because hedgehogs are nocturnal (sleep during the day) they do not miss you while you are gone. This makes for an ideal pet for a busy family that is home in the evenings but does not have extra time during the day, however If you want to play with your hedgehog during the day they usually wake up fairly easily and then go back to bed within a few minutes.
Hedgehogs can be adorable pets that enjoy exploring, running thru tunnels and playing with small pet toys. They are fun to watch and love nothing more than to snugly up and sleep on your lap awhile watching a movie or reading a good book. Each one has a very unique personality that is sure to surprise you.
Pet Hedgehog Care Sheet
The first thing you will need is a habitat for your new pet. For hedgehogs, give them as much room as you can, the more space the better, we recommend an absolute minimum of 2.5 to 3 square feet of floor space for your new pet. Your hedgehog will need a lot of room to exercise each night. We recommended the Hedgehog Habitat because of the large floor space it provides.
Your hedgehog will need an exercise wheel to run on ( THIS IS A MUST HAVE ). We use 12" giant comfort wheel, these wheels are easy to clean and safe for hedgehogs. Your pet will also need a food dish, a water bottle or bowl, they will also need some type of hut to sleep in.
Hedgehogs are shy but inquisitive creatures and like checking out new things, so alternating things in their cage like pieces of drift wood to climb under and push around or even tunnels made of PVC pipe to run through or hide in.
These are all good choices to help keep your hedgehog active, happy and healthy.
Bedding will be your next concern, you will need some sort of bedding to line your pet's cage. Aspen wood shavings, Corn cob bedding, carefreash bedding and cotton fabric are all good choices and are commonly used as bedding.
NEVER USE CEDAR as the aromatic oils have been known to cause respiratory problems, that over time can be fatal.
Hedgehog Bonding/Socialization & Grooming
You will need to develop a relationship with your new hedgehog. Devoting as much time as possible is essential and helps to create a trusting bond. Hedgehogs by nature are shy and timid creatures, so you will need to interact with your new pet on a daily basis. Setting play time aside each day will help your hedgehog become a custom to you and his/her new surroundings. Especially if your bringing home a new baby. With young hedgehogs ( just weaned ) at 6 weeks of age, they will start their quilling process which last's until about 3 months of age. Interaction with your hedgehog during this time, we think is the most important. The use of hedgie bags are very helpful during this time.
Allow your hedgehog time to get used to his new surroundings before you approach him. After a few days, you can start visiting with him in the evening. Hedgehogs are nervous creatures with poor eyesight, and your pet may click his tongue or hiss a warning at you when you come near. Even if he does curl up in a ball, try picking him up and resting him in your lap while you sit quietly. Wear jeans, or protect your lap with a towel. You may wish for gloves, but try not to wear them if you can. You want your hedgehog to start recognizing your scent.
Your hedgehog's best defense is passive resistance. So don't be surprised if at first it seems you brought home a grapefruit-sized bristle ball rather than a curious and unique insectivore. Don't worry; with time and patience you will discover just how fun living with your hedgehog can be.
You can also let your hedgehog explore outside of his cage. Close him into a room that you've hedgehog-proofed: lift all electrical wires off the floor, check the floorboards for holes, close all windows and doors and block off the spaces behind heavy furniture. Or let him run up and down an empty hallway. Remember to supervise your hedgehog's exercise sessions at all times.
When bathing your hedgehogs, we recommend using oatmeal baby shampoo and a few drops of olive oil. We use a soft toothbrush to work the shampoo into their quills. You can also gently wash their feet to remove any debris. This is also a good time to clip their toenails if needed.
Trimming hedgehog nails can be difficult, but with a little patients you should be able to trim your hedgehogs nails with no problems.
Follow these few easy tips: .
1) Hedgehogs do not ball up when placed in water so most folks find it easier to trim their nails at bath time.
2) Go slow. If you hedgehog starts to get really squirm take a break and finish later.
3) Cut with regular human nail clippers. The nails are clear, so you can see where the quick is in the toenail. If you accidentally cut the quick it will bleed. Do not panic or feel guilty it is easy to have happen and while it can be a little painful to your hedgehog it is not the end of the world. Using a bit of cornstarch or kwikstop with some pressure to get it to stop bleeding.
4) Treat time! If your hedgehog has let you do any of its nails give it a treat. That way your hedgehog will learn over time that nail trimming can be fun. Our hedgehogs favorite treat when we do their nails is mealworms.
You can use the diagram below to get a feel for where the quick is in the nail.
Hedgehogs require a diet fairly low in fat, and some what high in protein, along with vitamin supplements. Because they burn more calories baby hedgehogs to 3 months of age require a little higher fat and protein content than do adults. We feed our hedgehogs "Wild Hog" as a base food for their diet.
To add variety to your hedgehogs meal plan you can feed them some of the food listed below as a snack or treat.
NOTE: We do not recommend feeding free choice, adult hedgehogs without enough exercise can become obese in a very short time. Most hedgehogs will eat between 1 and 2 Tbs. of dry food per day.
Hedgehogs that are properly carded for can live 4 - 6 years on average, some have even been know to live to ten years. So how do you properly care for a hedgehog? It is actula not as hard as one might think but they do have requirements that must be meet.
Hedgehogs need to be kept warm, temperatures between 76-80 degrees. Using heat lamps we suggest a black or red bulb (75 watt max) so the hedgehog’s natural light cycle is not disturbed by having continuous white light. Hedgehogs that are not kept at warmer temperatures will not be as active and will be more grumpy and huffy when handled.
Below 70 degrees they will start to go into a false hibernation. Letting your hedgehog become too cold will eventually cause internal organs to shut down, respiratory problems, or sudden death. The signs that your hedgehog is too cold are lethargic, much huffier/grumpier than usual, slow to respond to being woken up, has a cold belly or feet, or is even wobbling. Immediately begin to warm him up, but do so gradually! .
Hedgehog Litter Box Training
Litter box training your hedgehog will make clean up faster and easier and keep your hedgehog enclosure germ free!
Step 1: Find Out Your Hedgies’s Bathroom Habits.
- When you first bring your hedgehog home observe where he goes to the bathroom. This will give you a guide on where to place your litter box.
- Do not give your hedgehog its wheel! If you do your hedgehog can end up using it as the bathroom instead while it runs and plays on it which will make its feet gross and hard to clean.
- If your hedgehog doesn't have a spot and goes all over, you will be fine, he/she is waiting for you to designate his/her potty spot.
Note: If your hedgehog has already taken on to going in His/Her wheel, take it out for at least the first 3 days of potty training.
Step 2: Supplies
You will need a litter box and a all natural dust free litter.
- Litter box: Here at Crazy Critters our hedgehog herd likes to use the high back corner pan.
- Litter: Our hedgehogs favorite litter is "Critter Litter" a premium-quality potty training litter 99% dust free, made from all natural and nontoxic minerals.
Note: Can help reduce cage cleaning by 30% or more.
Step 3: Prepare
Place some of your hedgehogs previous droppings and put them in its new litter box. This will help your hedgehog figure out that this is where it should go. Believe it or not your hedgehog wants to have a clean house they instinctively know that they don't want to go to the bathroom where they eat, sleep, or play. Must hedgehogs are thrilled to finale have a designated spot to use.
Note: When you are first training your hedgehog use very little litter so your hedgehog wont be distracted by the new fun stuff to play in and not using its nose to find the potty and to be using it properly.
Step 4: Placement
Place your litter box where your hedgehog seems to go the most often. This is usually by the wheel. If your hedgehog likes to go in its wheel, put the litter box where the wheel usually sits and take the wheel out for a few nights. After your hedgehog has the hang of it you can but the wheel back in a different spot.