Hedgehogs can be the most unique and amazing pet you never knew you needed, but they can take a higher level of commitment than your average family pet. We feel that between your research, our information and continued lifetime support you will be ready to bring your baby home to your family.
Congratulations on becoming a hedgehog owner for life! The purchase of your new baby includes lifetime breeder support, advice and guidance, so please contact me at any time if you have any questions or concerns regarding your new baby.
Cage: Your hedgehog will spend most of his/her time in a cage, so you want to make sure he/she has the best cage and accessories possible. A proper enclosure will help ensure that he/she is safe, feels secure, and is entertained. The best way to have a happy and healthy pet starts with having the best enclosure for him/her. Modified Sterilite bins are recommended as they are easy to sanitize and they keep heat in the best. Some cages may work too, as long as the bottom is solid and the cage is not too tall because a hedgehog could climb and fall down. Adequate ventilation is required. The minimum floor size requirement for your baby hedgehog needs to be 30”x18” (appx equivalent to 100qt for plastic bins). No wire flooring, no ramps, and no levels. The cage should be placed away from drafts, air conditioners, windows, and other locations where the cage temperature could get too hot or cold. A hedgehog does best with a temperature of around 75 to 80 degrees F. The cage should also be placed where he/she will experience both day and night. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, but they do need periods of light and darkness to remain healthy. I also recommend placing the cage somewhere that will also not disturb your sleeping because they are more active at night.
Bedding:The bottom of the cage will need a bedding. There are a variety of different types of bedding that work well. The fluffy and soft paper bedding is an excellent choice and what I would recommend as the best option. If you choose to use a wood bedding then I recommend you use pine. I also suggest that you freeze the wood bedding for 48 hrs beforehand to kill any mites or other bugs that may be living in the bedding. DO NOT use cedar as it is toxic to them. Fleece bedding is a good option too but requires more frequent cleaning. Hedgehogs are very likely to use fleece bedding to hide under, which can be prevented by attaching it to the bottom of the cage using Velcro. However using Pine or paper bedding will help support their natural behaviors because hedgehogs love to burrow.
Nutrition: Pet hedgehogs can be prone to obesity, which is why it is important to evaluate the nutritional content as well as the amount of the food you are feeding them. I recommend cat kibble as their primary source of food. The reason I recommend this is because high quality cat foods that are high in protein around 28%-35%, low in fat with no more than 15%, contain fiber around 5%, and are made with chicken as the primary ingredient, best mimic the nutrients they would receive in their natural diet. I definitely recommend mixing two or three high quality dry cat kibbles together to maximize the nutrients for the hedgehog(s). Hedgehogs are insectivores and therefore also require insects in their diet. I recommend that you also feed your hedgehog(s) live insects such as meal-worms, super-worms, Dubia roaches, crickets, and black soldier fly larvae. I also supplement their diet with other various proteins like cooked unseasoned lean meats and eggs. Hedgehogs do not digest plant matter well, so please do not feed them fruits or veggies often (only as a treat here and there). I recommend that you google safe fruits and veggies before giving any to your hedgehog. Commercial hedgehog formulas are generally not a good food source for hedgehogs. Please do not feed “hedgehog food” to your hedgehog(s). The only acceptable exception is Hedgehog Precision brand kibble, which I do recommend for hedgehogs if it is being mixed in with cat kibble as well. All other commercial hedgehog foods do not have whole meat as the first ingredient and have too many fillers that hedgehogs cannot digest. It is also recommended to freeze their kibble for 48 hrs after purchasing it to prevent an infestation from any insects that may have gotten inside it.
Food Bowls- I like to use two food bowls. One bowl is for dry cat food and the other is for moist cat food. The bowls should be heavy to prevent spilling, this is why I recommend ceramic bowls (they are heavier). I also recommend using a water bottle for their water (to prevent spills).
Heat source- Your hedgehog will require temperatures between 74-80°F at all times, year-round. Housing your hedgehog at any thing less than 74°F can cause your hedgehog to fall into a false hibernation, which may lead to death. Signs of a hibernation attempt include cold belly, wobbliness, and lethargy. If you catch it early enough, you can hold your hedgehog skin to skin until they warm back up. If you do not keep your room temperature in this range at all times, you must supply a proper heat source. I recommend a properly installed ceramic heat lamp (at least 8.5 inches in diameter) with a 100W-150W ceramic heat emitter bulb. When using a ceramic heat lamp, a thermostat is required to regulate the temperature, so that the enclosure stays a constant temperature without getting too hot or too cold. You may also use a space heater with a built-in thermostat, or you may set the room temperature to 75-80 degrees F all day and year round. Larger enclosures require more heat lamps. Heating pads do not suffice, since they do not heat the ambient air and can be unsafe.
Toys & Enrichment- Your hedgehog companion needs a variety of toys and items that will keep him/her happy and entertained. A large (12 inch) exercise wheel is necessary (please look up what the approved hedgehog wheels are and which ones are not before purchasing one). Other items of enrichment can be tubing, PVC pipe, tunnels, and other plastic small pet toys. Toys are also needed to keep your pet active. Balls, toilet paper rolls, chew toys, and other small animal toys can be lots of fun for a hedgehog. When you bring your pet out of his cage, a small animal playpen is a good way to keep track of him. The playpen gives the hedgehog extra room to run around and explore while preventing him from escaping and possibly becoming lost. Your hedgehog is also going to need a hide, this will help him/her feel more comfortable in his/her home and get a better sleep. I recommend purchasing a large pet igloo hide and then putting a small fleece blanket inside. Snuggle sacks are also another great option for your pet hedgehog to sleep in.
Cleaning/Grooming- A hedgehog is not a smelly animal and with proper maintenance his/her cage should also be fairly odor free. About once a week, the bedding should be replaced. The bottom of the cage and any dirty toys or decor should be cleaned with warm soapy water. Make sure the cage and accessories are dry before placing in the new bedding. Wheels on the other hand will need cleaned at least every other day because they typically get dirty a lot faster. Hedgehogs require regular nail trims. Use pet nail trimmers or regular nail clippers to carefully trim the tip of your hedgehog’s nails. Be careful to avoid cutting into the quick of the nail, as that part of the nail is vascular and will bleed if cut into. If you accidentally cut into the quick, apply a little pressure to the wound to stop the bleeding. For bath time, place your hedgehog in a small sink or a container for a bath and fill up to the top of their legs with warm water. Use a gentle baby shampoo and gently scrub their quills and toenails with a soft toothbrush. Rinse the soap out and dry your hedgehog completely before putting him/her back in their heated cage. I recommend full baths only once every four to six weeks but foot baths can be given as needed. Hedgehogs can get ‘poopy boots’ from running on their wheels so it’s very important to check their feet and keep them clean. I recommend using baby shampoo for baths. If you notice that your hedgehog’s skin is looking dry you can also give them a straight oatmeal bath. You would place some oats in a sock/stocking, or washcloth. Hold it under the running warm water and then squeeze while the water turns milky. Your hedgehog is then ready to spend some time in the water and does not need to be rinsed off.
Your hedgehog will let you now if they are relaxed by flattening their quills. When their quills are raised and “spikey”, they are telling you that they are afraid. Your hedgehog will relax around you once he begins to bond with and trust you. Handling them daily is very important while they are still young. A great way to start the bonding process is to get them used to your scent by leaving a small piece of worn clothing in their cage by where they sleep. Speaking softly to them will get them acclimated to your voice. You can also let them explore your lap while you are sitting on the couch. It is a good sign if they fall asleep on you because that means they feel safe with you.
Vaccines are not necessary for hedgehogs, but, as with any other pet, annual vet checks are recommended. Pet hedgehogs can be prone to obesity, so always adjust the amount and, if necessary, the type of food you are feeding accordingly. Diet changes should always be a slow and gradual transition. Making sure your hedgehog is getting enough exercise is very important too.
A rare but deadly disease that affects some hedgehogs is Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS). WHS is a progressive degenerative neurological disease that leads to muscle weakness and paralysis, and eventually death. It is believed to be a hereditary disease. All of our hedgehog babies are backed by a lifetime warranty against WHS. Should your hedgehog die of WHS, confirmed by a licensed veterinarian’s necropsy report, we will replace your hedgehog free of charge (shipping is not included and will be at the buyer’s expense, if necessary). You may choose a replacement hedgehog of equal or lesser value out of the hedgehogs we currently have available at the time of claim. Your hedgehog also comes with a 6 month congenital health warranty. We will replace any of our hedgehogs that died of confirmed congenital health defects within 6 months from the date of purchase. All claims must be accompanied by a valid veterinary necropsy report.