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Care and Maintenance of Your Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are rewarding animals that are very easy to maintain. Here is a brief overview on how to take care of them. For more questions and information, please go to the links page, as I sincerely hope you will do before you decide if a hedgehog is the right pet for you.

Food And Water: There are a variety of hedgehog foods available for consumption, but many are hard to find and are somewhat pricey. If you are able to find one of these brands (Briskies, L'Avian, 8in1, Select Diet, Spike's Delight), you should use it for your hedgehog's food. Hedgehogs will also eat most cat foods, though one low in fat is recommended (such as Purina ONE Low Calorie Cat Chow ) and should NOT be it's sole diet as the metabolism and nutritional needs of cats are much different than our prickly friends. They also love mealworms and crickets, which can be bought at exotic pet stores, or in the aquatics section of most pet store chains. Due to their fat content, they should be used as a treat only. You are also welcome to experiment with other treats on your own to see what your hedgehogs enjoy. I have found mine to be avid fans of chopped raisins, applesauce, cooked rice, and cooked corn while others huff and snuffle away at the sight of them. Each hedgehog is an individual. If you are trying to switch your hedgehog's food, do so gradually, eventually replacing the old food with the new one.

An eight once water bottle is sufficient for one hedgehog, and should be rinsed and refilled often. If you live in an area where you are unsure of the purity and safety of your tap water, bottled water or filtered water is recommended. Be sure to clean the water bottle regularly to avoid bacteria or mildew buildup. We recommend keeping the water bottle external and cutting a hole to make the spout available to the thirsty hedgehog. This may help prevent future cage escapes as the hedgehog cannot crawl or use the bottle as an aid in escape!

Bedding and Living quarters: The living quarters should be in a warm area, devoid of draft. Hedgehogs seem to be most comfortable between 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit and do not like cold temperatures. However, they can handle high temperatures fine though a cool course should be provided in cases of extreme heat (90 F and above).

Bedding should be aspen shavings, CareFresh, or a paper based, dust free kitty litter, or pine shavings (some animals have allergic reactions to the oils in pine bedding. Noticeable by a brown crust around the nose)  as they provide less irritation to the hedgehogs skin then most other beddings.  Newspaper can be used but is discouraged as it is easily soiled and shredded. Do not use cedar bedding under any condition as cedar's fumes gives them respiratory problems and could even kill your pet.

The more space you can provide your hedgehog with, the better. Sterlite or Rubbermaid containers make excellent and affordable cages. They provide more area at a cheaper cost and are more readily available. A 56Q Sterlite container or a 58L Rubbermaid container will provide more space. Hedgehogs are also avid runners and a wheel designed especially for hedgehogs is strongly recommended (be sure it is covered to prevent little feet from falling out and getting caught); Your hedgies will thank you for it!

Health: Hedgehogs are usually healthy and happy animals but should be taken to a vet that specializes in exotics when a problem arises. Slight changes in eating habits and behavior should be taken with a grain of salt, but anything drastic and long term may require a veterinarian visit. The average life span of a hedgehog is approximately five years, but they can live upto seven, and in rare cases ten years. To ensure friendliness, they must be played with on a daily basis, with delicate and gentle handling. While baths are not necessary, they can be given at leisure, or when a hedgehog becomes excessively dirty. Most people prefer to use lukewarm water and a toothbrush to clean the quills. Toenails should also be trimmed at will. This can be an easy task for some or an impossible chore for others. Be careful not to cut too low or the hedgie may bleed and get an infection from improper treatment of the wound!



Send me an e-mail if you have any hedgehog related questions that are not answered here and I will reply to you as soon as possible.
 
 

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Permission must be received before using our information.