Are hedgehogs low maintenance?

I am asked this question a lot. How much time and money does it really take to care for a hedgehog properly?

All animals require time and commitment and a pet should never be purchased on a whim. I’m happy to report, though, that hedgehogs ARE a low maintenance pet.

Cage Cleaning

Expect to spend about fifteen minutes to a half hour per week cleaning your hedgehogs’ cage, food bowl, water bottle, wheel and other toys. The wheel will require the most “work.” I have a lot of wheels to clean, so I’ve found that just putting them in a bucket or sink to soak for about 10 minutes works the best for me. Hedgehogs WILL go potty on their wheel. There are very few hedgehogs that I’ve ever seen that keep a fairly clean wheel. Usually, those hedgehogs just aren’t using the wheel very much.

Time Commitment

Hedgehog playtime is what you make of it. Since hedgehogs are solitary animals, they will not get depressed or angry if you do not have loads of time to spend with them. It is important, however, to get your hedgehog out every day to be sure he is not ill or injured. I recommend getting a collapsible type of small animal playpen to allow your hedgehog to have out of cage time without the worry of watching him every second. (They are quick to run for a nice dark hiding spot under the sofa.) Hedgehogs do bond with you  and enjoying spending time with you, but they won’t be angry if you don’t have hours to spend with them.

Food and Water

You will need to feed your hedgehog daily and refill the water bottle every couple of days. Treats can be fed a few times per week. Treats are not necessary. My hedgehogs are all fed Purina One Beyond Chicken and Whole Oat Meal Recipe cat food with mealworms occasionally as treats. The food is easy to find at any pet store.

Bedding

I personally like and use Kiln-dried pine shavings for my hedgehogs. They enjoying burrowing down into the bedding. Avoid cedar shavings and scented pine shavings (not kiln-dried). Aspen shavings can also be used, but I have heard of cases where hedgehogs have been allergic to aspen. Bedding will need to be changed weekly. Bedding can be purchased at pet stores, department stores and farm stores. I buy mine at The Tractor Supply company. The negative to buying from a pet store is that mites are more likely to be found in the bedding.

Heating

Temperature is one concern with hedgehogs. You will want to purchase a small animal heated pad to place under your cage since hedgehogs are most happy and healthy at temperatures in the upper 70s. Hedgehogs will attempt to hibernate if the temperature drops. I personally like the K&H Small Animal Heated Pads.

Cost

Expect to spend about $5-$10 per month for food and $10 per month for bedding. They do not eat much and their dry staple cat food is not expensive, but you will want to feed some mealworms, cooked chicken, scrambled eggs or other foods as treats and even tiny bits will add up. A general veterinary well visit is also recommended for hedgehogs. This will cost around $40-$60. A good cage set up will cost around $60-$75 and $30 for a heated pad.

Hedgehogs and Temperature

I get a lot of e-mails and phone calls when temperature begins to fluctuate, especially during the Fall and Spring months. It seems that hedgehogs are not really happy when the temperature isn’t fairly stable for them. It can really stress them out and lead to things like quill loss, grumpiness, loss of appetite, weight loss and more serious things such as respiratory infections and attempted hibernation.

Hedgehogs enjoy burrowing down into their bedding. If you think about it, a heated pad under the cage is the most natural way for them to get some extra warmth. In the wild, hedgehogs burrow down to a temperature that is comfy for them. In captivity, heated lamps or space heaters are not the best solution for heat. The heat is more difficult to keep stable and hedgehogs do not go out in the sun to bask like reptiles. For that reason, heated lamps are best suited for reptiles.

In the wild, hedgehogs are out and about during the coolest part of the day. It can actually get chilly in their natural habitat during the nighttime. For this reason, I feel it is important to create a warmer sleeping spot. If you place a small animal heated pad under their igloo, they will really appreciate it.

I recommend the K & H Small Animal Heated Pad.

How to make a hedgehog starter cage.

How I make my hedgehog wheels.

Update: Hedgehog Room Video

Veterinary Contact Information

All of my hedgehogs see Dr. Regina. Here is the contact information:

Linden Heights Animal Hospital

274 Linden Drive
Winchester, Virginia  22601  United States

Phone : (540)667-4290
Fax : (540)667-8067

Email : info@lindenheightsanimal.com

Hours:

Monday-Thursday: 7AM-1PM, 2PM-7PM
Friday: 7AM-1PM, 2PM-6PM
Saturday: 8AM-1PM
Sunday: Closed

3 Week Old Litter of Baby Hedgehogs

This is Kita’s litter on 6/1/10

New Cage Kits For Sale

Sterilite BinI have been working on some new cage kits for quite some time and after a testing period they are finally being offered to my hedgehog buyers. Yay! I’m so excited!! I am very happy with these bins, because they are a nice size for the hedgehogs and they are very easy to keep clean. My favorite advantage of using the bins is that there is virtually no possibility of escape! Young hedgehogs seem to be the worst escape artists. You also don’t need to worry about little hedgehog feet getting caught in wire.

Cleaning

I am offering these kits for sale with wood shavings or velcro fleece liners. When I bought my first hedgehogs, I decided to try out some fleece liners, but it wasn’t long before I realized how messy they can become and how quickly the hedgehogs start hiding underneath the liners. These tubs are very simple to keep clean. Everything comes out easily and can be sprayed down with a vinegar/water mixture. The liners are machine washable and should be spot cleaned daily. I recommend hand washing or machine washing the liners at least once per week with a gentle detergent. Continue using the same detergent, so the hedgehogs get accustomed to the scent.

Silent Spinner

I have found this wheel to be a combination of the most sturdy and easiest to clean. If you spray a bit of cooking spray on the wheel, clean up is a breeze.

Top-Fill Water Bottle

This is a very sturdy water bottle and is easily filled by lifting the flap and adding water. I love the size and style for hedgehogs and it seems to drip less than the regular water bottles. I have been very happy with these bottles.

Igloo

I am now using these Lixit Guinea Pig Igloos for all of my hedgehogs. It provides a dark hiding spot with plenty of space to relax and stretch out. You can actually turn them into 2 hiding spots when you are using wood shavings just by unlocking them and turning the bottom upside-down. The fleece liners make them extra cozy and warm.

For more information on these cage kits click here.

11 New Hoglets in the Nests

Uria and Tiggy both had litters of four born on 3/11/2010. I haven’t looked at them very closely yet. They all look to be darker colors. I’m probably going to keep one from each litter. I am looking forward to taking them out individually to look at them within the next few days. Uria is a wonderful mom, so I’m happy about that. When I was in checking on the new litters yesterday I heard some squeaking and picked up Calla’s hideout to find 3 newly born hoglets. I was so sure that Calla didn’t take and I had pretty much given up any hope of a litter from her. I hope she takes care of them, but I’ve been extra lucky with all of my litters over the winter. I have to give her some space and not disturb her again, although I’m very curious. I didn’t get enough of a glance to guess colors unfortunately.

9 Hoglets in the Nests!

Kita has 5 little ones and Veda has 4. I was finally able to move the moms from their cages and hold the babies for a short while. I spent a little more time with Kita’s litter since they are older and I know that Kita doesn’t mind as much. Kita has 2 boys and 3 girls. The boys are both algerian grey or dark grey pintos and the girls are algerian cinnamon or cinnicots. I have already decided to keep 2 of the girls. I named them Valentine and Honey since they were born on Feb 14th.  :) I will have the other 3 up for sale to my waiting list. Their eyes are not open yet, so I’m waiting to post pictures until they are around 3 weeks old. Veda’s litter was a surprise. I think 3 of them are albino. I can’t be 100% sure until their eyes open, but that is what they look like. The other looks like an algerian grey. I haven’t sexed them yet, but I think I’ll keep the grey one for my breeding program. I might change my mind once they are sexed.

I am very excited that there were no losses with these litters. Veda and Kita are both wonderful moms.

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