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The Basics of Hedgehog Care

Hedgehogs are called "exotic pets" for a reason-- they have slightly different requirements than a cat, dog, hamster, or bunny!  Here are the basics for your hedgehog setup:

*Cage/Enclosure - Optimally 6-8 sq ft of floor space but a minimum of 4 sq ft, smooth bottom, preferably not a wire cage. They're drafty and hedgies will try to climb and can fall and hurt themselves and/or get body parts stuck. I personally prefer the modified, 110 qt (or more) plastic bin/totes. They are perfect for hedgehogs and easy to clean.

*Heat Setup - 8.5-10 inch ceramic heat dome, 100-150 watt Ceramic Heat Emitter bulb, (they are either black or white, but they do NOT emit light! No red bulbs) thermostat for setting temperature, digital thermometer to make sure temperature is correct. Hedgehogs NEED a heat setup, it is not optional. 75-78 degrees is an optimal temperature for them. If it gets below this, they can get too cold, go into hibernation, and die. Domestic hedgehogs are not equipped to hibernate, so PLEASE avoid this by having the proper heat set up, and monitoring it daily.

*Wheel - needs to be a solid, smooth surface, no wires. 10.5" size or larger. I am a big fan of the Carolina Storm Wheels ; they are totally silent and super easy to clean. Hedgehogs can run for miles every night since they are nocturnal, so the silent wheel is great! But most bucket wheels (found on Etsy mostly) in the appropriate size will be good.

*Hides - Igloos hides, plastic bowls with air holes drilled into them, PVC pipes, snuggle bags, or fleece hides (non-pilling fleece, check for loose threads) 

*Toys - toilet paper rolls, miniature rubber ducks, ping pong balls, cat balls with bells inside, cat toys without strings or feathers, small stuffed animals, toy cars, plastic Easter eggs

*Bedding - NO CEDAR. Paper bedding such as Carefresh, kiln-dried pine, and aspen are all good. Fleece liners are also an option, but not one I personally utlize or recommend.

*Food dish - ceramic bowls, small animal size

*Food - Mix 2-3 high quality cat foods that avoid dyes & fillers, also that list meat as the first ingredient.

(30-35% protein, 9-14% fat, 5% or more fiber) AND/OR Hedgehog Precision (which is the only recommended hedgehog specific food) I also mix a pinch of cricket powder into their food daily, as this provides chitin, which is insect fiber. This burns fat. Which in turn, makes their poo smell less. If you are interested in buying food mix from me so they stay on the same food, I do offer food for sale by the pound. Contact me for more info!

*Bugs & Treats - Live bugs (black soldier larvae, dubia roaches, superworms, mealworms, wax worms, horn worms, silk worms) are the best for them, but freeze dried are okay in moderation. (Too many freeze dried bugs may cause constipation.) Treats can include wet cat food, meat flavored baby food, baby meat sticks, cat treats, unseasoned eggs and meats. Canned pumpkin is good to have on hand for both constipation and diarrhea.

*Water bottle/dish - water bottles are fine as long as you avoid the spring loaded bottles. If using a water dish, replace water at least once daily. Hedgehogs can be very messy and you will often find bedding (and who knows what else!) in the water bowl.

*Small animal playpen - this is optional, but these are ideal for letting your hedgie have some extra time out of their cage and a place to play.

*Travel carrier - Just good to have! There are options on Amazon that are hedgehog sized, but I prefer the 15 qt Sterilite latch boxes with lids. I make air holes all along each side with a hot glue gun (no glue!) or a drill. Add a little bedding, and this is perfect for going to the vet, or anywhere.

* VETERINARIAN - PLEASE make sure you have a vet in mind when adopting a hedgehog. NOT ALL VETS SEE HEDGEHOGS SINCE THEY ARE CONSIDERED EXOTIC PETS. Please make sure the vet you choose DOES see hedgehogs! If you are in the DFW area, I am happy to recommend several if needed.

*Clean cages weekly. The small animal playpen is a perfect place for your hedgie to hang out while cleaning their cage.

If you need additional help/advice, feel free to ask, or you can join Hedgehog Talk on Facebook, a great group if you have questions or just want to talk hedgehogs!

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