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.


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.


allergies_080417_mnAre hedgehogs hypoallergenic?

The simple answer is – Yes!

Definition

hy·po·al·ler·gen·ic
adj.
Having a decreased tendency to provoke an allergic reaction.
The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary

The definition of hypoallergenic may surprise some people. Hypoallergenic does not mean non-allergenic. Hedgehogs are not very likely to cause an allergic reaction, but it has been known to happen. Hedgehogs produce very little dander, which is the usual culprit for animal allergies. It is extremely rare that hedgehog dander produces any sort of reaction. Allergic reactions to hedgehogs are usually from small pricks of the hedgehog’s quills that have been contaminated with an allergen. (more…)


cat_beyond_chicken_package-bowl

There are so many commercial foods out there. You may be confused by the selection and quality of hedgehog food. When I first did my research, I was naive and believed that if it was labeled for a hedgehog, it must be a perfect diet. I was completely wrong. Unfortunately, the hedgehog diets on the market are not well suited for hedgehogs. Since hedgehogs are a fairly new exotic pet and are even illegal in many states, many animal food companies still do not have a handle on the nutritional requirements of a hedgehog. If you ask most breeders, they will give you a variety of different cat foods and hedgehog foods that they have tried. I have tried a good many of the ones labeled for hedgehogs, but I’m still most happy with the cat foods.

What do they eat?

Hedgehogs are insectivores. Fresh fruits and vegetables can be fed to your hedgehog in very small amounts from time to time, but treats should mostly consist of live insects. Other good treats would be: cooked chicken, cooked eggs and cottage cheese, to name a few. My hedgehogs have really liked Sunseed Hedgehog food as a treat, too.
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What is Self Anointing?

self annointing hedgehogYour hedgehog is walking around fine and then suddenly he backs up, contorts his body, foams at the mouth and starts licking the foam onto his spine. This is something that has to be seen to be believed. This behavior is completely normal for hedgehogs.

When your hedgehog encounters a new or unusual smell, you may see him self anointing. Young hedgehogs seem to do it more often than adults. Possibly because more smells are new to them.

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