When you’re looking for your next pet, Hedgehogs might be an option. Hedgehogs are cute, unusual, exotic pets, but it can be somewhat challenging to take care of them. First-time owners need to learn about the care before getting one, just to be prepared and know what to expect.
- How are the Hedgehogs as pets?
- Hedgehog Basics
- What Will You Need For Your Pet Hedgehog
- Living Space For Your Hedgehog
- Feeding and Diet
- Hedgehog Behavior
- Health and Common Hedgehog Diseases
- Quilling-What You Need To Know?
- Hedgie Hives, What Is It?
- Grooming Your Hedgehog
- Hedgehogs and Other Pets
- Do Hedgehog Pets Hibernate?
- How To Hold Your Hedgehog
- How To Bond With Your Hedgehog?
- What Age Should Your Hedgehog Be When Buying It?
- Where To Buy a Hedgehog?
- Adopting a Hedgehog
- Finding a Veterinarian
How are the Hedgehogs as pets?
Hedgehogs are great pets for people who are busy during the day since they are mostly active at night and will sleep most of the day. They are also suitable for people who are not looking to spend too much time with a pet. These pets require to stay warm at all times, so specific care is necessary. Cleaning their cage and cage accessories every day is also essential.
Hedgehogs can be expensive for first-time owners. The animal itself is not cheap to purchase, but there are also necessary supplies you will need for your pet. If you would like to learn about the care of these beautiful pets, please keep reading.
Find basic characteristics and info about Hedgehogs in the table below.
|Types of Hedgehogs||1. African Hedgehog/White-bellied (Atelerix albiventris)|
2. Algerian (Atelerix algirus)
The African/White-bellied Hedgehog is the one found in many homes as a pet.
|Type of a pet||Exotic pet|
|Weight||7.76-15.87 ounces (220-450 grams)|
|Colors||Two color groups: white-bellied and snowflake and 92 recognized colors by IHA|
Most common color and patterns of White-bellied Hedgehogs: Salt and pepper, dark grey, grey, chocolate, brown, cinnamon, dark cinnicot, black-eye cinnicot, ruby-eyed cinnicot, champagne, apricot, pale apricot, silver, silver charcoal, charcoal, chocolate chip, brown snowflake, cinnamon snowflake, silver cinnamon snowflake, dark cinnicot snowflake, black-eyed cinnicot snowflake, ruby-eyed cinnicot snowflake, champagne snowflake, apricot snowflake, pale apricot snowflake, platinum, silver charcoal white, charcoal white, chocolate white, brown-white, white, dark cinnicot white, black-eyed cinnicot white, ruby -eyed cinnicot white, champagne white, apricot white, albino, and pinto.
|Grooming||An occasional bath, footbath, and nail clipping|
|Registrees and Resources||The International Hedgehog Association|
Hedgehog Breeders Of America
The Hedgehog Welfare Society
How Much Does a Hedgehog Costs?
Expect to pay anywhere between $150-$300 US for your Hedgehog. Some breeders offer to ship your pet as well, but this will cost you an additional $160 on average.
What Will You Need For Your Pet Hedgehog
There are supplies that are absolutely required and some optional ones.
Basic, necessary Hedgehog supplies include:
- Cage, bin, or a tank
- Food dish, and water bottle
- Exercising wheel
- Source of heating
- Thermometer to control the temperature
- Nail clipper or cuticle cuter
- Cage pet-safe cleaner
Additional supplies and accessories that are recommended include:
- Tunnels (plastic, fabric, wooden) and other shape hideaways
- Dig box
- Bath wash
- Small, soft brush for a bath time
- Sleeping bag
- Cuddle time bag
- Plastic bin for digging (with cut fleece pieces)
- Small pet carrier
- Play pan
- Litter tray
- Cage lamp
- Pet carrier
- Pet camera
Living Space For Your Hedgehog
Hedgehogs require a bigger cage, and the more space they have, the better. Here are some basic ideas about the cage. You can use the following:
- Plastic clear storage box or a container (at least 105 quarters=99.4 l)
- Wire-topped cage (with the flat bottom)
- C&C cages (cubes and coroplast; plastic base with grid surrounding)
- Homemade enclosures
- Custom made cages
What Is Important When Choosing a Cage?
Heating should be your first concern when choosing a cage. Plastic bins are warmer than open cages, so if you select any kind of open cage, make sure to think of a heating source.
Size of a cage matters. According to The International Hedgehog Association, the minimum size of floor space your pet requires is 4 square feet (576 square inches). It can be a square or a rectangle shape, but it has to be 3-4 square feet in total.
Hedgehogs are climbers, so if you choose a wired cage, make sure it has some kind of protection on the sides. They can easily injure themselves if they fall while climbing on the cage sides.
If you choose a bigger cage than what is required, consider filling the empty spots by putting other hideaways, toys, fleece blankets, etc. Hedgehogs don’t prefer a lot of open cage space because they don’t feel safe. Only about 1/4 of the whole cage should be a free space. Additional items will also help to keep a cage warmer.
A one-level cage is the best option. Hedgehogs are clumsy and can easily hurt themselves. Keep that in mind if you decide to make a fancy, leveled house for your Hedgehog. Make sure that the stairway is well secured with a solid fence on both sides. The fence should also be tall enough so the Hedgehog can’t fall over.
Where to place the cage? The cage should not be in the direct sun, but it should be in a warm, well-lit area.
What Will You Need Inside The Cage
As mentioned above, there are some necessary supplies to put in the Hedgehog cage, and those include:
There are a few options when it comes to materials you can place on the bottom of the cage.
- cloth liners (fleece, flannel/cotton, or corduroy; last two should have finished edges to prevent fraying)
- wood shavings (dried Aspen)
- a paper-based substrate such as Carefresh brand
Most owners use fleece for beddings because it’s affordable, edges don’t have to be sawn, and it comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Fleece is also easy to wash.
Make sure the fabric fits perfectly on the bottom of the cage. Sawing a few pieces of cloth is recommended; it makes a thicker layer and more comfortable on Hedgehog’s feet.
Bedding should be changed every few days (preferably twice a week), but the owner should spot-clean it every day. Having multiple pieces of bedding is recommended, so you can change it while the other one is washing.
2. Water bottle and food dish
Small, heavy ceramic dishes are good options for both water and food. This is because if the dish is not heavy enough, Hedgehog will tip it over.
You can also use a water bottle attachable to the cage sides. The dishes fit the best somewhere in the corner of the cage, but it’s a personal preference.
What is a Hedgehog hideaway? Hideaways are accessories placed in a Hedgehog’s cage where the animal can hide or sleep. Shelters are made of different materials and can be all kinds of shapes.
The most popular hideaways among Hedgie owners are sleeping bags made out of fabric (cozy items). Fabric sleeping bags can be either thin or thick, depending on the season and where you live. If you live in a warmer climate, your Hedgie will appreciate the thinner one.
Plastic tunnels are another popular hideaway, and it’s available in every hardware store (PVC pipes).
Plastic houses such as igloos are available in most pet stores and online. Most owners put a crumpled fleece blanket or fleece strips inside the house. Hedgehogs like to hide under the blanket.
Be creative with hideaways. As long as it’s big enough for a Hedgehog and can be cleaned, it will work.
You can use cardboard boxes, but you will have to replace them because your Hedgehog will poop and pee in them.
4. Exercise wheel
An exercise wheel is one of the most necessary accessories in Hedgehog’s life. Hedgies are active pets, and in nature, they will run a few miles per night.
In captivity, they don’t have that opportunity to run freely, so they will need a wheel to burn energy. The wheel will be the primary source of entertainment and exercise for the Hedgehog, especially at night.
What is important when choosing a wheel?
- The wheel has to be solid, without any obstacles inside (like bars and holes); Hedgehogs have sensitive feet
- It has to be wide enough (wider running surface)
- The diameter of the wheel has to be big enough for your Hedgie (to run on it comfortably)
- The stable bottom is preferable (some might come with the cage attachment)
- Try to choose the quiet wheel
- 11-12 inch wheel is a standard for an adult Hedgie
Types of Wheels
- Comfort wheel
- Flying saucer
Flying saucers should be only a temporary solution. They break quickly, especially with heavier Hedgehogs.
You will have to clean the wheel at least once a day, if not more often. Hedgehogs will defecate as they run on the wheel. You can expect to find a mess in the morning. The good idea is to put a litter under the wheel; this will help you with cleaning the cage.
Wheels can be very loud, so do not put them in the area where you sleep because your Hedgehog will be active most of the night.
5. Source of heating
The temperature in the cage is critical. The room temperature is not necessarily the same as the cage temperature. Hedgehogs require cage temperature between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit (22-27 degrees Celsius).
To make sure your pet is warm, you will need some form of heating (unless you live in a warm climate and you’re not using the air conditioner). It can be dangerous if the temperature drops or rises.
The most common sources of cage heaters are:
- Space heaters (outside of the cage)
- CHE (ceramic heat emitters)
Ceramic heat emitters are heating bulbs you can use instead of light bulbs in the lamp and place them in one corner of the cage.
Central heating is okay as long as the temperature in the cage is between 72-80 F. Make sure to use the thermometer inside the enclosure to be sure.
The thermometer is an integral part of keeping your Hedgehog warm. It has to be placed inside the cage to measure the temperature correctly.
You can use the thermometer for reptile cages. Place the thermometer on the opposite side of the heater; this way, you will know the real temperature throughout the cage.
Cleaning The Cage
Since Hedgehogs are messy, cleaning the cage is going to be a weekly task. Cleaning means you will have to change the bedding, clean the hideaways, toys, and everything else in the cage.
Spot cleaning and wheel cleaning should be done daily. A small hand vacuum cleaner is convenient for daily as well as weekly cleaning.
To disinfect the cage before you put the clean bedding, use either apple cider vinegar and water mixture or a specific pet cage cleaner (unscented).
Please do not use regular household cleaners; they are too strong and can be toxic to Hedgehogs.
Is Lighting In The Cage Necessary?
Most Hedgehogs do the best with some source of light, even though constant lighting is not necessary.
Natural light will be enough for most of the year. In the wintertime, when the days get shorter and it darkens earlier in the evening, your Hedgehog will need some source of light (to prevent the hibernation attempt).
Regular, overhead room light will work. You can also place a desk lamp near the cage.
Avoid having a lamp in the cage during the night because your Hedgehog most likely won’t like it and won’t get out from the hideaway or a house.
Feeding and Diet
Diet is a vital part of caring for your Hedgehog. When it comes to nutritional requirements, the percentage of the nutrients, in general, should contain:
- Protein: 28% – 35%
- Fat: 8% – 15%+ (depending on the individual Hedgehog)
- Fiber: 3% – 8%
Since every Hedgehog is an individual, and not all are the same age, the above percentage may vary. Younger Gedgehogs will probably need a little bit more fat than is recommended, and obese pets will need less.
Most owners feed their pets with this percentage in mind.
|Protein: 30% – 33%|
Fat: 10% – 13%
Fiber: 3% – 8%
What Is A Main Source Of Food For Hedgehogs?
Dry cat food would be your best choice. There are a variety of cat foods available on the market.
When buying cat food, choose the food containing meat or meat meal as the first two ingredients on the list. Meat-based food will be the best source of protein for them, especially chicken and turkey.
What you feed your Hedgehog will make him healthy and long-lived, or unhappy and possibly ill.
The food you choose should not be corn-based. Even though Hedgehogs do eat grains, you should choose the food containing healthy grains that you can recognize as whole foods. Avoid food with by-products in it, as well as with artificial colors.
It might take a while to find a balanced diet for your Hedgehog. The breeder should provide you with food for the first few weeks. Do not hesitate to ask them if they don’t. If you decide to change the type of food, do it gradually.
How Much Food Should You Give To Your Hedgehog Daily?
The average food amount for Hedgehog is anywhere between 1-2 tablespoons per day (night).
Since most Hedgehogs are nocturnal, giving them food in the evening before they wake up is recommended.
If your pet eats all the given food, increase the amount. Maybe your Hedgehog is very active at night and is burning a lot of energy.
Be careful not to feed your Hedgehog too much, as they can quickly gain weight. If you are unsure what and how much you should be providing your individual Hedgehog, seek advice from your exotic pet veterinarian.
Hedgehog food (cat food) is very affordable, as one bag can last you for months. It is always better to invest in the best quality ingredient food and pay a little bit more than buy cheap food. If it’s possible, always choose organic.
Free feeding (having food in the cage at all times) is not smart. As mentioned above, Hedgies can quickly gain weight, so unless you have a very young Hedgehog or underweight one, feed it once a day.
To see some suggestions on which dry cat food you can choose, click here.
Treats For Your Hedgehog
Treats are just an addition to good quality, dry cat food. However, they are not mandatory, but it’s good to add a variety to their diets. Hedgehogs are omnivores (they eat both meat and plants) and insectivores (they eat insects).
Hedgehogs cannot digest cellulose very well, so be careful what you’re feeding your pet. Providing your Hedgehog fruits and vegetables every day is not a good idea.
Dairy products are not the healthiest choice of treats for Hedgehogs. If you wish to feed your Hedgie dairy, do it in minimal amounts occasionally.
Some suggestions for treats you can feed your Hedgehogs include:
|Insects||Meat and Fish||Veggies||Fruits||Other|
|Mealworms||Beef||Carrots||Blackberry||Wet cat food|
|Trevo worms||Salmon||Dandelion greens||Cherry||————|
Silkworms provide the best nutritional value of all worms and insects, as they contain a high source of iron, magnesium, calcium, protein, sodium, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3.
Vegetables should be cooked or finely chopped.
Baby food should be meat, veggie, or fruit-based. Avoid food that is rice and pasta-based.
What Your Hedgehog Should Not Be Eating?
These are only some of the foods they should not be eating. The complete list of unhealthy and possibly toxic foods for Hedgehogs is still unknown. Use your judgment when choosing treats. If you are not sure whether you should give it to your Hedgie or not, better, don’t.
Here is the list of treats you should not give to your Hedgehog.
- Citrus fruits (lemon, orange, grapefruit, lime, tangerines, pomelos)
- Tomatoes (also acidic)
- Pineapple (acidic)
- Pomegranate (acidic)
- Dried fruit (it can be a choking hazard)
- Dried nuts (it can be a choking hazard)
- Dried seeds (it can be a choking hazard)
- Uncooked root vegetables (it can be a choking hazard)
- Avocado (possibly toxic)
- Raisins (toxic)
- Grapes (toxic)
- Garlic (toxic)
- Onion (toxic)
- Chocolate (possibly toxic)
- Candy (anything with sugar is not good for them)
- Any junk food humans eat (unhealthy)
- Insects (ants, bees, butterflies, centipedes, fireflies, houseflies, and wild maggots)
Note: Hedgehogs can eat nuts and seeds, but dried pieces are not safe. If you want to give it to your Hedgehog, use other forms of nuts and seeds, such as pure.
It’s good to know…
- some Hedgehogs don’t like veggies and fruits
- veggies and fruits are not an essential part of their diet
- whether you should feed your Hedgie raw or cook meat is a personal preference
- some sources suggest not to feed raw fish because of the possibility of getting parasites
- cook eggs before giving it to your Hedgie (scrambled are most common form)
- your Hedgie might be a picky eater
- most Hedgehogs continue eating treats they were eating while still at the breeder or previous owner
- do not use seasoning when cooking food for your pet
- if you feed it food with seasoning, make sure there is no garlic and onion in seasoning mix
Many factors are influencing your Hedgehog’s behavior. They are scared and shy by nature. It’s crucial to pick up and hold your potential pet before buying it; this way, you can see its behavior. If the breeder was not bonding with the Hedgehog for the first eight weeks, your pet might never be an ideal pet.
Hedgehogs are not the kind of pets that enjoy bonding with humans. They can be very grumpy little creatures, especially when you wake them up during the day.
Tamed Hedgehogs will generally be okay with you being around them, but they can be very defensive if they are not socialized.
Owners need to understand that Hedgehogs are not like other pets (cats, dogs, etc.) and will not seek your attention. Hedgehogs are okay with being alone, so if you are expecting a lot of cuddling, this might not be an ideal pet for you.
What Is Self-Anointing?
Self-anointing is the way Hedgehogs explore the environment. The anointing is normal Hedgehog behavior, but some owners are not aware of it. Some owners even think something is wrong with the pet the first time it happens.
Your Hedgie will show this behavior when exploring new toys, fabric, cloth, plants, and especially food. The anointing process involves licking, mouthing, spitting in their mouth, and then licking their quills. It can be very messy and seem very strange. You might experience this when you take your Hedgie outside and put it in the grass for the first time.
If you notice such behavior, don’t panic. It’s entirely normal for Hedgehogs.
Are Hedgehogs Affectionate?
Hedgehogs are not affectionate pets. These animals are solitary and enjoy being alone. They also sleep most of the day, which means they will be awake while you are sleeping. Sometimes you will have to wake them up during the day; otherwise, you will rarely have a chance to cuddle with your Hedgie.
Hedgehogs will not seek your attention and run to you to pick them up. It’s still important to spend time with them every day. Put your Hedgehog in the sleeping bag, and let it sleep on your lap while you’re watching TV, reading a book, or doing homework.
Tamed Hedgehogs will let you pick them up and put them in different positions. They can let you flip them on their backs and even do a belly rub. Don’t expect your Hedgehog to be as affectionate as dogs and cats because you will be very disappointed.
How Messy Are Hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are usually very messy. They poop and pee while running on the wheel. Hedgehogs will also poop themselves while running on the wheel, so expect feces on their quills and everywhere else.
You can potty train your Hedgehog, but they will still end up pooping around, just less than if they weren’t potty trained. This behavior is typical for Hedgehogs.
Expect to find feces and pieces of food everywhere around the cage, and this is normal. The level of messiness also depends on the Hedgie, and some are messier than others.
Pellets will usually be all over, possibly in the water (if you have a water dish), and around the accessories in the cage. If you have water and food dishes that are not heavy enough, they will tip it over.
Everything they can mess up, they will. Toys will be everywhere, and poop will be on the toys, and much more.
Are Hedgehogs Loud?
Hedgehogs are not vocal animals; however, their activities are loud, especially at night. If the exercise wheel is noisy, it will be hard to sleep with the cage in your bedroom. If you are a light sleeper, don’t keep the cage in the bedroom.
Hedgehogs also like to dig. They will explore their food, as well as their litter. Digging can be very loud, so again, keep the cage outside of the sleeping area.
Health and Common Hedgehog Diseases
There are few things every owner should pay attention to.
- Dry skin
- Bowel movement problems
- Mites infestation
- Respiratory infections
- Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome
- Fatty liver disease
1. Dry skin is common in winter because of the dry weather but can be a result of too much soap during bath. To prevent dry skin as a result of bathing, use Hedgehog soap or avoid using soap at all. Some owners will use oatmeal in the water while bathing.
Some hedgehogs will have dry skin in the winter and will shed dandruff-like flakes. Dry skin can be very itchy for Hedgehogs. Adding a few drops of coconut, flaxseed, or olive oil to the bathwater at the end of the bath can be helpful. You can also add a few drops of oils to their food.
2. Bowel movement problems can be a result of stress, digestive problems, or infection. Your new pet can be stressed out when you first bring it home. It can have poop problems with food change or if it eats a lot of treats. If your Hedgehog gets diarrhea, contact your veterinarian.
3. Mites Infestation. It’s a parasite infest usually affecting Hedgehog’s skin and quills. These parasites are tiny, so it’s hard to see them. They live in different materials, including wood and fabric, or can come from other animals. If you use wooden accessories and wood shavings, make sure it’s mites-free and safe. If you notice that your Hedgehog is losing quills and is scratching a lot on certain spots, visit your vet.
4. Respiratory infections often happen when owners use wood shaving beddings with a lot of dust in them. Contact your vet if you notice that your Hedgehog has a runny nose, seems lethargic, makes a whistling sound when breathing, or has difficulty breathing.
5. Obesity in Hedgehogs is not unusual. Avoid free feeding your pet, as well as giving it too many treats. Do not provide your Hedgie with unhealthy or junk food.
6. Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome is a progressive neurological disease disabling Hedgehogs to walk normally, and your pet can tip on one side. This syndrome can cause total paralysis. If you notice any of the symptoms in your Hedgie, take it to the veterinarian.
7. Cancer is also common among Hedgehogs. Avoid feeding your Hedgehog low-quality food, mainly if it contains chemicals, additives, and artificial colors. Take your pet for a regular vet check-up.
8. Fatty liver disease is usually caused by a high-fat diet but also by sudden weight loss or gain.
Quilling-What You Need To Know?
Quilling is a process of losing quills, and it’s normal for Hedgehogs to do so. Young Hedgehogs shed old quills and grow new ones. Your Hedgehog will lose quills periodically. Young Hedgies usually lose quills between 6-12 weeks of age, but it’s not a rule and can happen even later.
During the quilling period, your pet might be stressed because it’s uncomfortable for them.
Your adult Hedgehogs can also lose quills, and it can be fifty or more quills every day.
Hedgie Hives, What Is It?
Hedgie hive is an allergic reaction some owners experience when holding Hedgehogs near their skin. They might feel a burning sensation and can get itchy. In some cases, they can break up into hives.
Hedgehog’s quills can irritate the skin of some owners. It can be different with each Hedgehog you own. Wash your hands after each handling. Make sure your Hedgehog is clean since their quills can get feces on them.
Grooming Your Hedgehog
Grooming your Hedgehog is relatively easy. These little guys require an occasional bath, a footbath, and nail clipping. Most Hedgehogs do not enjoy any of these, but it’s necessary to keep your pet clean.
How To Bath Your Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs require a bath approximately once a month if they are not extremely dirty. You can bath your Hedgie as needed, depending on how messy your individual Hedgie is. If your pet is younger, you might have to bathe him every week.
The most important thing is to dry your Hedgehog after the bath completely.
Bathing your Hedgehog step by step
- Fill the tub, sink, or a bigger plastic container with warm water.
- The level of the water should be just above the legs
- Add a little bit of a body wash (specially designed for Hedgehogs), or a wash for sensitive skin to the water (such as tear-free Aveeno baby with the oatmeal)
- Put your Hedgehog in the water
- Let him acclimate to the water for a bit
- Use a cup to pour warm water over the Hedgie, avoiding eyes, ears, and nose area
- Use a small, soft brush (such as toothbrush) to clean the quills and feet
- Add a little bit of soap (wash) on the brush and rub the soap first
- Brush the quills gently from the head to the back, as well as sides of his body
- Brush it’s feet if necessary (you will probably have to hold your Hedgie to do so)
- Check the water temperature often. It can cool down very fast. Drain the water and add a fresh one if necessary, or just add more warm water
- After you are done brushing your Hedgie, you can drain the dirty water and pour the fresh, warm water in (no soap this time)
- Once again, use a cup to rinse the soap from the Hedgehog’s body.
- When you’re done, take the towel (or washcloth) and wrap a Hedgie in it
- Avoid towels with visible loops of thread, the Hedgehog’s nails might get caught into it
- Change as many towels as needed until your pet is completely dry
- Put your Hedgehog in the cage only after is completely dry (if it gets cold, it might attempt a hibernation)
- Wash your sink, tub, or a container after the bath, and disinfect it
You can get very creative with where to bathe your Hedgehog. Any plastic container or a tub that is big enough will work (even a baby tub). It’s easier to do it on a well-lit surface. It’s more comfortable because you don’t have to squad down.
Footbath is something you can do every day. It’s a similar process to bathing, with less water in the tub and brushing only Hedgie’s feet.
Hedgehogs are messy creatures. Their feet get dirty when they are running on the wheel and poop and pee at the same time.
Some owners use a footbath after their Hedgies wake up and before bonding with them to stimulate their metabolism. This way, they will defecate in the water and not on them while bonding. Even with a footbath, your Hedgehog might still poop and pee on you while holding it.
Make sure to dry your Hedgehog entirely before putting it back in the cage.
Nail trimming is something you will have to do often, so if you’re not comfortable doing it, this pet might not be for you. Most Hedgehogs do not enjoy this process, but they get used to it after a while.
There are few different methods you can use to trim Hedgehog’s nails.
- in the water (while bathing or foot bathing)
- outside of the water (dry method)
Which method you will use will be your personal preference. Some owners find it easier to do it in the water, especially with more active pets, while others prefer to do it while holding them.
To trim the nails, you can use:
- nail clipper or
- cuticle scissors
Cutting nails step by step (dry method)
- Hold the Hedgehog in your palm (with their belly resting on your palm, and their head facing your wrist)
- Very gently press the Hedgehog onto your chest to secure its body from moving too much
- Place the paw that you’re planning to trim in between your fingers (do the same with all four feet)
- Use a clipper or scissors to cut the backside nails first (this should be easier than the front ones)
- Be careful not to accidentally cut the quick of the nail (the part of the nail with the nerve ending)
The dry method works best for cooperative Hedgehogs. It may take a while to cut all the nails if your Hedgie is moving too much. When possible, ask someone to help you.
You can also place a folded towel on your chest before you press the Hedgehog onto your chest to prevent quills from pocking you.
- Fill the sink or a tub with warm water (just enough to cover its feet)
- Put your Hedgie in the water
- Let it stand in the water for a while to soak its feet
- Clean their feet with the toothbrush
- While the Hedgehog is standing in the water, take one foot at the time and place it in between your thumb and index finger. Use the other hand to cut the nails
- Repeat with all four feet
Hedgehogs have four nails on each foot. If the Hedgie is moving while you’re cutting it, you can cut a few nails on each foot and then return to finish the rest.
If you accidentally end up cutting the quick of the nail and it starts bleeding, don’t panic. This happens sometimes. What you can do is to have a Styptic powder or corn starch on hand. Apply a pinch to the bleeding area, and press it with a piece of paper towel for a few seconds. If it doesn’t stop after a while, call a vet.
Hedgehogs are very active, and they need to exercise. Having a wheel in the cage will be the primary source of exercise for them. Running on the wheel will provide enough physical activity for the Hedgehog.
If you do have a chance, let them walk outside of their enclosure. They like to explore, and it will be good for them to spend some time somewhere other than the cage.
Toys are not an essential part of their enrichment, but it’s affordable, and most Hedgehogs will appreciate it.
Choices for toys are endless. As long as it’s not big and it doesn’t have any loose threads, you can use it.
Toys can include but are not limited to:
- small rubber toys
- solid-sided cat balls
- small toy cars
- toilet paper tubes (cut them in smaller pieces)
- stuffed animals (small version)
- crinkle ball
- scented stuffed toys
A playpen is excellent for providing your Hedgehog with out-of-the-cage time. Playpens are cheap and can be great for your Hedgie to explore.
You can use it outside, as well as inside. Fill the playpen with a lot of toys and a Hedgie hide, and let your Hedgehog enjoy some different environments.
Hedgehogs and Other Pets
Hedgehogs are good with other pets, but they have to be around them to get used to it. Don’t expect your Hedgehog to bond with your other pets, though. They are solitary and like to be alone.
They don’t usually mind dogs, cats and other pets being around them. When they get scared, they will curl up into a ball, and it can continue until your Hedgehog gets comfortable around other animals.
If your other pet is aggressive towards your Hedgehog, separate them. Your other pet should never attack your Hedgehog.
Do Hedgehog Pets Hibernate?
Pet Hedgehogs in captivity should not hibernate, but they might attempt to do so. That’s why it is crucial to keep them in a warm environment and keep the temperature between 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
If Hedgehog gets too cold, after a particular time, it will start the process of hibernation. In this case, Hedgehog’s body starts to shut down and can be fatal for them. It’s tough to bring them back once they start the process. Your Hedgehog probably would not survive the hibernation.
Most Hedgehogs in captivity do not store enough fat to survive the hibernation.
How To Hold Your Hedgehog
If your Hedgehog is not socialized, there is a great chance it will curl up into a ball. In this case, you want to use a fleece blanket of something similar to pick up your Hedgehog. If you use your bare hands, there is a chance you’ll get poked.
When your Hedgehog is tolerating you (most of them don’t enjoy being held), the safest way to pick them up is to take them under their bellies (just like scooping something). There are no quills in that area. Keep them closer to your body.
How To Bond With Your Hedgehog?
Bonding with your Hedgehog is important. You should spend some time with your pet daily, especially if your Hedgehog is new and is not used to you yet.
Even though they are nocturnal creatures and most of them sleep all day, you should still spend some time. If possible, bond with your Hedgie late at night after they wake up.
It is very common that your Hedgehog won’t be thrilled to be in your hands and will hiss and curl into the ball but have patience. Sometimes it will take a few months for your Hedgehog to socialize, but bonding is essential.
Even if your Hedgehog is grumpy, it’s still important to spend some time together. The more you handle it, the easier it will be. Put your Hedgehog in a carrying bag and keep it close to you; let it sleep in a hedgie carrying bag while wrapped in something. Don’t ignore and leave your Hedgehog when it gets defensive; keep handling it.
When your Hedgehog gets used to being around you, it may even let you rub its belly. Their belly is soft, and it’s a beautiful experience for both you and your Hedgie.
Spend at least 30-60 minutes a day bonding with your Hedgehog. Since they also require time outside of the cage, bonding with you is the perfect time to do so.
What Age Should Your Hedgehog Be When Buying It?
Hedgehogs are mammals and should be with their mothers until they are eight weeks old. The breeder should not offer to take your new pet home before it’s at least eight weeks old.
By that age, they are learning socialization from their mothers and siblings.
Where To Buy a Hedgehog?
Whenever possible, choose a Licensed breeder. If you live in the USA, search for USDA Licensed breeder.
In Which USA States Are Hedgehogs Illegal As Pets?
Hedgehogs are illegal in:
- Georgia (illegal to own it as a pet, but it’s legal to be a breeder)
- New York (some parts of the state)
- Washington DC
Are Hedgehogs Pets Illegal In Canada?
Pet Hedgehogs are not illegal in Canada; however, some provinces don’t allow European Hedgehogs to be kept as pets.
For individual provinces, check with your local authorities.
How To Choose a Healthy Hedgehog?
Here is what you should check.
“Are the eyes nice, round, beady, wide open, and bright, without discharge?
Is the nose clean and not running?
Are the ears short, clean, with no discharge or crustiness behind them? Sometimes an ear has been chewed on by a sibling. As long as it has healed, this is not something to worry about.
Is the fur on the belly soft and not matted?
Are the spines all there with no bare spots? Bare spots indicate an unhealthy animal. Is there any sign of mites, fleas, or crustiness on the back?
Check the pen, are there any green droppings or diarrhea?
Is the hedgehog’s body plump? (not fat)
Place it on a flat surface such as a table and watch it walk. Does it wobble or have difficulty staying upright? A healthy hedgehog should have a stride that is somewhere between a walk and a shuffle.
Can you hear a rattle when it is breathing? (do not mistake normal hedgehog “talk” such as chirping, purring or cheeping for a pneumonia-related rattle) ” – IHA
What Should You Ask a Breeder?
- Is the breeder licensed
- How old is the Hedgehog
- Is the Hedgehog tamed
- What kind of food and treats they are feeding to their Hedgehogs
- Do they provide 7-day food supplies
- Do they provide essential care instructions
- Do they give a lifetime assistance
- Do they provide a lifetime warranty against WHS
- Does the Hedgehog has a pedigree
Adopting a Hedgehog
It’s possible to adopt a Hedgehog. Some ASPCA’s and Humane Societies will occasionally have Hedgehogs available for adoption. Check with your local shelter for availability.
Other Hedgehog adoption resource includes The Hedgehog Welfare Society.
Finding a Veterinarian
Since Hedgehogs are exotic pets, finding an exotic pet veterinarian is preferable.
Find your local exotic vet by following the links below.
Resource: Hedgehog Welfare Society
Resource: Hedgehog Welfare Society