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.

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Responses to “Are hedgehogs low maintenance?”

Sheila

My little “new” 1 and1/2 year old hedgie licks on my hands everytime we are socializing is it the salt on my skin and does he need a salt and mineral block new to these so learning as fast as I can

christie

When a hedgehog encounters a new smell, he will often lick to taste test. Lotions, soaps and perfumes can be new and interesting for a hedgehog and hedgie may like the taste of certain products. Licking is also common the first month in a new home as he becomes accustomed to new smells. Some hedgehogs like to taste test more than others, but when it comes to fingers, it should definitely be discouraged. Licking is often followed by biting and/or self annointing. Self anointing is when a hedgehog encounters an unusual smell, he will lick and bite the object, produce foamy saliva, and then spread the foam onto his quills with his tongue. Some hedgehogs may like the taste of sweaty palms and some owners have mistaken that as a need for salt in their diet. However, salt should not be added to a hedgehog’s diet as it can cause health problems. Washing hands prior to handling hedgie should help prevent licking and biting. Some owners use hand sanitizer to prevent this behavior.

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