page will give you some basic information about caring for
One of the most
important things about owning a hedgehog is to offer the proper
temperature. Unlike most mammals, hedgehogs require a specific
(and limited) temperature range to keep them healthy. The
ideal temperature range is 75°F - 85°F.
While hedgehog can survive at temperatures between 70F – 95F, it is
not recommended to allow temperatures to linger around 70F for prolonged
period of time.
|First and foremost, you need to
purchase a digital thermometer. Humans are terrible at telling what
the actual temperature is; and this is extremely important when
keeping a hedgehog. You MUST know the actual temperature to ensure
that your hedgehog remains healthy.|
|There are many methods of heating
available, however, we strongly recommend using ambient heat such as
a heat lamp. Heat sources that only heat the laying surface,
such as heating pads, will not heat the air that the hedgehog is
breathing and could lead to a respiratory infection or other
illness. Utility lamps can be purchased at the hardware store,
and even most Walmarts, and are inexpensive. You can purchase actual
heating bulbs although regular incandescent bulbs are sufficient for
|You MUST check the temperature at
least every 10-12 hours to ensure that the wattage of the bulb is
correct for the temperature needed. It is best to start with a
40 watt bulb and if the temperature required is not reached,
increase the wattage as necessary.|
|In the event of a power outage, please
make accommodations for your hedgehog with a family member,
neighbor, etc. They cannot endure the same temperatures that
Hedgehogs can endure temperatures
up to 85F but should not be allowed to remain in temperatures exceeding
85F for prolonged periods of time. Over exposure to extreme temperatures
can cause heat exhaustion and even death.
|If you keep your AC turned down pretty
low, please do not sit your hedgehog directly under an AC vent. This
could cause them to become to cold and lead to health problems.|
|In the event of a power outage, a
large bowl of ice can drop the temperature in a hedgehog’s cage by
as much as 10F (which is usually
sufficient to reach the desired temp.)|
contact us if you have any questions about temperature requirements or
emergency measures that can be taken.
bringing home a new hedgehog, give them 24 - 48 hours to acclimate
themselves to their new surroundings. There will be new
sounds which may be frightening to them and they may not
tolerate being handled right away. After he/she has settled in,
daily to ensure the best possible bond. Typically
hedgehogs are up and moving around sundown and most are more
receptive to being
handled once they are awake.
Hedgehogs (especially babies)
SLEEP A LOT. This is normal.
It may take a few days for the hedgehog to feel comfortable enough to
resume eating normal quantities of food. Nibbling at first is
normal. When picking up a
is best to slip your fingers under their belly and lift straight up.
In nature, predators attack
from behind so if
you grab them from behind,
your hedgie will instinctively curl up. This is a sign of fear, not aggression. When
hedgehogs feel safe and
comfortable and are
picked up correctly, they are very calm and sweet creatures. If
your hedgehog balls up
and huffs, pick him/her up
regardless and wait
patiently for them to open up. If you allow him/her to intimidate
you once, they will
continue to do so. Do not try to restrain him/her. Allow them to walk around freely.
If you try to restrain him/her they will react negatively. In the
event that your hedgehog should bite you, try not
to over-react. Hedgehogs do not typically bite and he/she may have
smelled something on
you that they thought was edible. Wash up and
try again. Over-reacting to a bite
or a grumpy hedgehog will encourage the negative
behavior. If they realize that
they didn't accomplish much by
biting, they are less likely to try it in the future. Never discipline a hedgehog. They are animals and do not
understand that they have done something wrong. They will view acts
such as raising your voice or thumping their nose as harm and
almost certainly guarantee a repeat of the negative behavior as
well as possibly break your bond permanently. Over the years, we have found that down-playing and not over-reacting to
undesired behavior is usually the best deterrent.
NOTE: Lay out an old towel or equivalent to protect clothing, carpet and
furniture in case he/she makes an oops while roaming.
guidelines state that the minimum cage requirement is 2 sq. ft. of
floor space. We recommend 3-4 sq. ft. of floor space ...
the better. Hedgehogs love to explore each night. Extra
space will also allow for a hide hut, exercise wheel and litter pan (if
training is desired). Hedgehogs can
climb and escape from a cage with no top if the sides are not tall
enough. Hedgehogs have tiny
feet that will slip through wire
bottoms causing injury so a solid bottom is a must.
Substrate or bedding for hedgehogs can include
wood shavings, paper
bedding or cage
liners. If you choose to use a wood product, you must NEVER USE CEDAR as it contains oils
that are toxic to all
animals. Kiln dried pine is an acceptable alternative. There
are paper beddings available in most pet stores (i.e.
Carefresh, SoftZorb, etc.) but
watch for allergies and dry skin conditions when using paper products.
Hedgehogs are solitary
more than one hedgehog in a cage is NOT recommended regardless of
gender. Even two females may squabble if housed together, and the resulting
injuries can be fatal. We strongly advise 1 hedgehog per cage.
not to place your hedgehog
bringing home a hedgehog, much consideration must be given to the
location in which to place his/her cage.
You want to
ensure that you
place your hedgehog in a safe and
temperature controlled location. Special
consideration should also be given to
the fact that while hedgehogs
spend time awake during the day, they are
primarily nocturnal (and most likely,
you are not.)
Temperature is important
so you should have a digital thermometer to properly monitor the
temperatures in the cage. You
placing your hedgehog in the following locations in
an area is uncomfortable/stressful to you, it will certainly be
detrimental to your hedgehog. Hedgehogs are far more sensitive than
in many aspects; particularly with sounds, smells and
– NEVER place your hedgehog near a fireplace.
Temperatures near fireplaces can often exceed
and fumes emitted can be lethal
to your hedgehog. Caged
any species) should never be placed within
15-20 feet of a fireplace.
– Windows are often drafty and allow marked temperature
winter months, the
difference near a window can be as
much as 20˚ colder than the center point of the room.
In summer months,
windows can act as a
glass, amplifying heat from the sun, leading to heat exhaustion.
– Doors are quite often drafty and entry doors are extremely
likely to cause marked temperature fluctuations
outdoor temperatures into your hedgehog’s home each time the
door is opened.
– While it seems an unlikely area
to place your hedgehog, some folks may try this.
I strongly advise against
it. Obviously there may be temperature fluctuations when the
dryer is in use. The
noise will undoubtedly cause stress for
your hedgehog. Most importantly, if a hedgehog is placed on top of either
the washer or dryer, the vibration can cause the
become ill and
could lead to death.
Vibration will not only cause gastric (stomach) disturbances,
it can also cause
inner ear problems and even
Just avoid this room altogether.
– Though it may sound silly, some
folks do have caged animals in or near their kitchen or dining
avoided. Kitchens can
often exceed ideal temperatures when an oven is in use.
Fumes from gas stoves/ovens can be harmful
Often, kitchens and dining rooms are stressful areas for
hedgehogs, as there is an increased
amount of noise (pots
clanging, fridge door being opened and closed, etc.),
increased traffic through the area and a large
volume of smells.
Too many odor fluctuations
can cause your hedgehog to
become reluctant to eat and/or become withdrawn
– We do not recommend bedrooms
because they may be kept at a cooler
temperature, for the sleeping comfort of the humans.
In addition to
problems, there is the chance that
your primarily nocturnal friend may keep you awake all night.
You may even
disturb him/her. Unfamiliar sounds (especially
repetitive noises such as snoring or beds squeaking)
can cause stress. If hedgehogs are
stressed by repetitive
noises, they will
often exhibit behavioral changes.
These changes could
be a sign of a health problem
caused by the stress.
Food and Insects
specialty foods are available for hedgehogs, however, it has been our
experience that they do not meet the nutritional
many hedgehogs will not eat them.
Our recommendation is a mix of good quality dry cat foods (though
only 1 quality food may be
sufficient.) It’s very
important, regardless of which dry food you offer, that you offer
such as mealworms, crickets and wax worms. ALL FREEZE-DRIED insects should be avoided.
insects can be offered daily
unless the hedgehog is obese, and should be offered no less
than 3 days per
week. Hedgehogs are insectivorous and must have
insects in their
diet to maintain optimal health.
you are not willing to handle live
insects...hedgehogs ARE NOT the pet for
You must observe your hedgehog’s weight. Some hedgehogs
will become overweight from either over-eating or lack of exercise.
If you notice
that your hedgehog is unable to roll into a ball and/or
has a noticeable amount fatty tissue around the front shoulders
(noticeable hump) or
excessive fatty tissue around the rump (when
laid upon its back) then you'll want to consider a lower calorie
food and/or rationing the
Food should be offered in a shallow, heavy dish that can hold
approximately ½ - 1
cup of food. Unless your hedgehog shows
weight problem, food should be offered at all times. Food
from the previous day should be discarded and fresh food
daily. We find that it is best to offer a water bottle rather than a water
dish. Typically hedgies
will knock a water dish over, play in it, or
fill it full
It just tends to be messy and doesn’t allow access to clean
water at all times.
for a list of foods that are known to be
problematic) to hedgehogs
& other animals.
exercise wheel is a must! Hedgehogs
are foragers. They can (and do) walk up to 7 or more miles each
night. The exercise wheel
the hedgehog with a way to
satisfy that natural need to walk. This will also help to ensure
that your hedgehog stays as
healthy as possible and
overweight. The wheel should have a solid walking surface to
prevent injuries such as
snagged toenails or trapped limbs, as
have tiny feet. Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal;
most of their waking hours
are after sundown, with only
trips during the day. This also means that
the wheel will mostly be in use during the
night. See below
"Where Not To Place Your Hedgehog".
Other suitable exercise options include:
Allowing your hedgehog to run around on a
protected surface, with your supervision,
is a great way to keep
them in shape.
a dip in the bathtub is fantastic exercise. See
"Cleaning" section below.
in a runaround ball is great exercise. The
ball must be the ferret size to accommodate a hedgehog's
When using the
you will want to make sure that it is on a
that are at least 4" in diameter for them to trot around in.
empty toilet paper tube makes a free and funny toy that will keep
them busy which is also good exercise.
Just make sure to
remove it from the cage when you're not around to ensure that they
have access to food and water.
should only be done when necessary.
bath removes vital oils from their skin and may cause dry or flaky skin.
run just enough lukewarm (never hot or cold) water to reach
the hedgehog’s belly. Once
he/she is used to the water,
you can raise the water
them to swim. Since they're
such small animals, they can be bathed in a sink or wash-pan ...
if you like you can use the tub
or a kiddie pool to allow for more room
to roam. If taking a dip
doesn’t clean all soiled areas,
you can use a tooth brush to gently
usually like to play in the water for a while but never leave him/her
unattended as they could escape or possibly even drown. Give
your hedgie plenty of towel time. Hedgies should be
dry when placed back into their cage.
Damp hedgies + drafty cages = illness.
Cleaning your hedgehog’s cage
is simple. Mix 1 part
chlorine bleach to 10 parts water and use this to clean the cage, litter
hut, food bowl and water bottle.
Make sure to rinse thoroughly and drip or towel dry. This should be done every 2–3
days or as often as
needed if you have an unusually messy hedgie.
This will keep down any bacteria growth and odor and keep your
hedgie happy and healthy. Cleaning doesn't have to be a thankless
chore ... spend time with your hedgie while the cage dries. By
spending time with your hedgie, then
returning him/her to a clean cage,
you just might be reinforcing the bond with your hedgie.
AND FOREMOST, if you suspect that your hedgehog is ill or injured, seek
attention of a licensed vet that
is experienced with
While we are knowledgeable about some hedgehog health issues, we are not
medical professionals. All medical issues and injuries should be
referred to your veterinarian.
Several things can affect a hedgehog’s
Hedgehogs can develop or suffer from obesity, skin conditions,
mites, fungal infections, congenital defects, neurological disorders,
etc. Some of these issues can be researched on the internet
successfully; however we recommend that you at least consult
with a licensed vet before beginning any treatment. We
too deeply into these issues. We feel that they are best
left to professionals. If you feel that there is a problem,
visit a licensed vet.
Parasites: It is possible that your hedgie could
contract external parasites. Wood shavings can contain
mites and if there are other
in your home that travel outside,
it is possible that they could bring in mites and fleas.
Signs and symptoms could be: Constant scratching
(remember that all
animals do scratch occasionally), dry and flaking skin, cracked skin,
open sores and quill loss
resulting in bald spots (losing a few quills
is likely normal, bald spots are not),
crusty-looking ears or muzzle. If you observe any of these
symptoms, contact your vet. An infestation
of parasites will
result in health problems that could lead to death.
Click here for
a list of VETS that treat hedgehogs
will "anoint" themselves when they smell new
scents. This is when they lick themselves (usually on the back)
clearly visible. It is a natural behavior
and nothing to be alarmed about. As a result of anointing, the
saliva will dry and
flake off. This can
sometimes be mistaken for
a skin problem. If your hedgie has recently anointed and has
flakes, give him/her a
quick rinse in lukewarm water,
There should be no signs of flakes after the rinse, unless they anoint
For more information on hedgehogs, see the video at the bottom of this
page and visit Hedgehog
of this video is pretty good, though we strongly DISAGREE with the use of baby