Hedgehog Care Sheet

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Hedgehog Care
Hedgehog, photo by yoppy

Info

  • Scientific Name: Erinaceinae
  • Lifespan: Approximately 4 – 7 years.
  • Handling: Any time after he/she gets use to you. He/she may puff up if frightened. Be careful, the quills are sharp.
  • Size: About 6 – 10 inches
  • Care: Easy/Medium
  • Community: Not really. Hedgehogs are solitary animals which means they like to live by themselves with no companionship. However, some people say female hedgehogs seek companionship for another female in captivity. So if ‘getting a friend’ is what you’re after, then I suggest to get two females. Make sure to keep a close eye on them to make sure fighting doesn’t occur. Never ever put two males together or serious consequences may arise.
  • Lifestyle: Nocturnal, active at night.

Enclosure

A good enclosure for a hedgehog will be the ones sold at pet stores for bunnies. The type of cage that I am talking about would be the type with a hard plastic bottom, having the walls made up of hard wire. This type of enclosure will be perfect for your hedgehog, as it has great ventilation, along with an escape proof bottom. Make sure to choose an enclosure with the wire bars being close together, because if your hedgehog can reach those bars and fit through them, I assure you he/she will not be in the cage the next morning. Make sure to clean out the enclosure and bedding at least once every two weeks to avoid bacteria build up and any odor issues.

Furnishing

The more, the better, but also give him/her room to roam around the enclosure. Things that you may want to include…

  1. A hide that your hedgehog can retreat to when feeling scared or threatened. This is also where your hedgehog will sleep most of the time during the day. Hides may include, plastic igloos, huts, and small totes.
  2. A wheel to exercise. Make sure to get a solid wheel, and not a wired wheel. Failure to do so, will result in your hedgehogs feet getting caught in the wheel’s wired bars.
  3. Appropriate chew materials made specially for hedgehogs.
  4. A few climbing objects made specially for small rodents.

Temperatures

Temperatures must stay between 70-75 °F. It is necessary to keep these temperatures correct, as many hedgehogs get cold very easily. If you cannot maintain these temperatures naturally because it is too cold, try using a ceramic heat emitter or red heat bulb for night-time, and a regular daily house bulb for the day time. Up the wattage if the temps are still not getting reached. However, most houses reach these temperatures naturally, not having you to buy any lighting or heating.

Feeding/Diet

It is rumored that most (not all) ‘hedgehog foods’ sold at pet stores aren’t everyone’s number one choice for their hedgehog’s diet, because they do not contain the ingredients a hedgehog needs to live a full and healthy life. For example: “Hedgehog Diet” ,“Insectivore Fare”, “8in1” and “Vitacraft” are all hedgehog foods that contain a lot of fillers and by-products which does not contain enough nutrition a hedgehog needs. Most people choose a high protein cat food as their hedgehogs primary source of diet along with a few insects as treats like crickets, silkworms, and etc. Their stomachs are not that big, so their amount of food served should not be that much. Start with two tablespoons of whatever your feeding them and if you still see food the next day, bring it down to one tablespoon. If you don’t see food, you may even put three tablespoons of food. Make sure you are not leaving any uneaten food in the enclosure daily, as it may spoil.

Hydration

Water must always be available to your hedgehog 24/7. You can either place a water dish in the enclosure, or place a water bottle specially made for small rodents which attaches  from the outside of the enclosure. A glass water bottle is the best route to go because most small rodents will chew right through the plastic ones. Make sure to clean out and replace the water every other day to avoid bacteria and mold build up, especially when dealing with hedgehogs who love to walk right through their water bowls.

Substrate

Bedding material should be non-toxic, low-dust, absorbent, and several inches deep. A good choice of bedding may consist of aspen bedding or pine shavings, pelleted newspaper, or shredded newspaper.

 

Note: The information on this hedgehog care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care.

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