What do you suggest we use for a hedgehog cage?
Hedgehogs do best in a 4 square foot or larger (guinea pig style) wire cage with solid plastic bottom pan. It's important not to use any multi-level cages as hedgehogs have little to no depth perception. The cage should have 1 inch or smaller bar spacing to prevent them from escaping.
While plastic storage containers can be used, they need to be heavily modified to become a safe habitat. Storage containers restrict airflow which can be harmful to the respiratory system.
Under no circumstances should aquariums be used to house hedgehogs. While nice to look at, they provide little to no airflow and can trap heat and moisture providing the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria.
What type of bedding should I use for my hedgehog?
When choosing a bedding there's many to choose from each having their own pros and cons. Below are some of the most common types used. Paper Based Bedding Usually made of recycled paper product, paper based bedding can be an excellent choice when it comes to keeping your hedgehog healthy and comfortable. Being a recycled paper product, the bedding is processed and therefore less likely to harbor mites. It's super absorbent keeping the cage nice and dry. You're also given choices with color and scented/unscented. Paper based bedding products usually have excellent odor protection as well. We personally use and recommend paper based bedding. Wood Based Bedding Kiln-dried pine and aspen are the only wood based bedding products safe for hedgehog use. You should avoid cedar and natural pine bedding as both can be harmful to your hedgehog's respiratory system. Kiln-dried pine can be a great option since the drying process with often times kill off any mites in the wood. Aspen can work, but since it's a natural bedding there is always a risk of mites. Aspen does not control odor as well as pine. Fleece Fleece is one of the worst bedding choices for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs like to burrow in their bedding and fleece doesn't allow for burrowing. It's also non-absorbent and does nothing for odor control. With heat and moisture it can create the perfect conditions for bacteria growth.
Do hedgehogs require a running wheel?
Hedgehogs require a 12 inch or larger flat solid bottomed wheel. Wire wheels must never be used as hedgehogs can get their feet caught injuring them.
The African pygmy hedgehog should be fed a high quality cat kibble as the main part of their diet. While there are hedgehog branded foods available, most are just refined guinea pig formula and hold little to no nutritional value for hedgehogs. In addition to cat kibble, hedgehogs can eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Insects are optional and should only be offered in moderation since they are relatively high in protein and fat. We send our babies home on (Fromm - Adult Gold cat food). It has a high fat content and lots of healthy ingredients which promote healthy growth during the first 6 months of age. Once the babies reach 6 months of age, we recommend gradually weaning over to one of our recommended foods.
How much food should I feed my hedgehog?
We recommend free-feeding. While babies eat roughly 1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons of food per day, they go through growth spurts which require more food. We recommend feeding 1/4 of a cup of food per day and refilling as needed. In our experience, it's more important to focus on the nutrition making sure you're within the range that's appropriate for your hedgehog. Adults will eat up to 1/4 of a cup of food per day.
Can I offer my hedgehog treats?
Yes! Hedgehogs can enjoy a variety of treats ranging from unseasoned cooked meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, babies foods of all kinds and insects (freeze dried or living).
Which foods are unsafe for consumption?
Hedgehogs have the same toxicities as most animals. Things to stay away from are avocado, chocolate, citrus, coconut, grapes and raisins, nuts, pits, seeds, onions, garlic, chives, rhubarb, raw/undercooked meat, salty foods, xylitol and yeast dough.
Is it okay to purchase a hedgehog as a gift?
It is our policy that the primary caregiver (and parent/legal guardian if for a child) plan to care for their child’s hedgehog should the child lose interest or be unable to care for him/her. It is unrealistic to assume that your child will be responsible for all care and veterinary bills should you hedgehog need any medical help throughout its lifetime. We don’t advocate giving a live animal as a surprise gift and recommend that you discuss purchasing a hedgehog with your child before placing a deposit. Furthermore, we recommend that if possible you visit our facility to handle some of our hedgehogs and ask any questions you may have. We believe that children can make great hedgehog owners, but parental involvement is essential to be sure the hedgehogs’ needs are being properly met. A new pet is a huge financial and emotional commitment, and we want to be sure that a hedgehog is the right choice for you.
Do I need to bring anything to take my baby home?
We require that all babies leave in a hard-sized carrier that either zips or latches shut. This is for the safety of the animal. You can bring your own carrier or purchase one in store for $10-$20. Our kits also include carriers.
Can I hand feed my hedgehog?
Hedgehogs have relatively poor eyesight and make up for that with their incredible sense of smell. If you're holding something tasty, it's very easy for them to mistake your finger as a treat. For this reason, hand feeding is not recommended.
How important is handling?
Handling your hedgehog helps you bond and maintain a desirable temperament. While it's true that hedgehogs are solitary in nature, they can and do benefit from human companionship. Generally speaking, the more you handle your hedgehog the friendlier he/she will be.
How often should I handle my hedgehog?
You should handle your hedgehog at least 30 minutes to an hour a day. The more you handle your hedgehog the more friendly he/she will be.
If you stop handling your hedgehog for a few days, he/she will regress and require more handling.
How should I pickup my hedgehog?
The easiest way to pick up your hedgehog is to scoop your hands under him/her. Once in your hands your hedgehog should unravel. You'll want to hold your hedgehog close to your body as they have little to no depth perception and can easily walk off of your hands.
Hedgehogs are relatively clean animals producing no body odor. They are not self grooming and therefore require water baths every so often. The general rule of thumb is that you should bathe no more than 2-3 times per month. The reason for this is that hedgehogs are desert mammals and prone to dry skin. Over bathing can worsen the problem.
How much water
Usually about 1-2 inches of water is sufficient for bathing. You'll want to make sure not to run the faucet when your hedgehog is in the bath tub or sink. The reason for this is that aspiration of water can cause upper respiratory infections.
Types of Shampoo
Hedgehogs are best washed with moisturizing pet shampoo or baby wash. Make sure to never use human soap or dish soap as they will strip your hedgehog of natural oils and/or cause dry skin.
Do hedgehogs require nail trimming?
Hedgehogs do require regular nail trimming. They have a visible quick making it relatively easy to do. You'll want to trim your hedgehogs nails about once per month.
Pro Tip: If you find that your hedgehog moves too much during nail trimming, place him/her on top of their wire cage. Their legs will fall through making it very easy to grab their legs and effectively trim their nails.
If over-bathed, your hedgehog could suffer from dry skin. This is easily remedied with a bit of liquid coconut oil and/or olive oil. Make sure to never use any scented lotions or creams as many contain chemicals toxic to hedgehogs.
How often do hedgehogs need to go to the vet?
Hedgehogs are relatively healthy animals and require minimal vet care. As a rule of thumb, we recommend yearly vet checkups. Hedgehogs do not receive vaccinations. Males do not spray and females do not go into heat meaning no neutering necessary. While not super common, if your hedgehog were to come down with an upper respiratory infection or fungal infection they would require antibiotics to clean the infection. If using a wood-based bedding there is a risk of mites. If your hedgehog were to come down with mites, you would have to bring him/her to the vet for treatment. If you ever suspect your hedgehog to be sick, please contact us and we'll do our best to point you in the right direction.
Do hedgehogs need to be neutered?
No. Males do not spray and females do not go into heat. Unless medically necessary and recommended by a licensed vet, you should under no circumstances have your hedgehog neutered. They are very sensitive to anesthesia and should not be put under unless necessary.