Caring for a Hedgehog
Origin: Europe, Asia, Africa
Lifespan: 5-7 years
Hedgehogs are naturally shy individuals. They are nocturnal, so they will be most active at dusk and during the night. These small mammals are solitary by nature and seldom accept the company of other hedgehogs.
When frightened, a hedgehog will roll into a tight prickly ball. To avoid scaring your hedgehog, avoid sudden movements and loud noises. To pick up your pet, scoop it up gently from the rear and hold it underneath. Keep in mind their eyesight is quite poor so they are easily startled. Once it feels safe, it will unroll and enjoy attention. Always wash your hands after handling your hedgehog as they can carry salmonella.
A roomy, solid-bottom cage with a secure lid is ideal for hedgehogs. Take care to place the cage away from draft, in an area between 70-80 degrees. An under-cage heating pad may be needed to maintain a warm area. Cover the floor of the cage with safe bedding, such as Carefresh or Yesterdays News. Hedgehogs will frequently use a litter box placed in a corner, which makes for easy cleaning. They particularly appreciate a half log, tube, or wood nesting box. A solid type exercise wheel will encourage your pet to be active.
Hedgehogs are omnivores. You can provide a balanced diet by combining commercial hedgehog food with a quality chicken cat food made up of small kibble. Your pet will also enjoy the occasional mealworm, cricket, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Teach your hedgehog to use a water bottle and refill it with fresh water daily.
Spot clean the soiled areas a minimum of 2-3 times per week, and scrub out the entire cage weekly, including food dishes and water bottles. Always rinse and dry the cage well before adding fresh bedding.
Hedgehogs can reach sexual maturity at around two months of age. They should be housed alone to avoid fighting.
If you notice any signs of illness or injury to your hedgehogs, consult an exotics veterinarian for treatment. Signs include: drooling; loss of appetite; discharge from the eyes or nose; sneezing or wheezing; lumps and bumps; excessive scratching; scaly skin; and broken quills.
Cedar shavings contain harmful oils and should never be used for hedgehogs.