Acclimation To New Home

Apr 25, 2013 by

Acclimation To New Home

Right From the Start

  • When your hedgehog gets home you will want to let it acclimate to its new cage.
  • Make sure it is warm, comfortable, and able to find its food dish and water bottle. The water level should be placed so that the tip of the bottle is the hedgehog’s shoulder height.
  • Please allow your hedgehog time to rest after the ride home. It may take awhile for it to adjust to its new surroundings or it may be relaxed and ready to play right away.
  • We suggest that you wait to put the wheel until a week after your hedgehog comes home. Your hedgehog should be eating and eliminating regularly before you introduces additional stimulation to the cage.
  • Some hedgies are more interested in wheeling than eating or they wheel so much that they are too tired to eat after all their activity. A good comparison is my children at the park – they play and play and don’t want to stop and eat, then fall asleep in the car on the way home without getting a full meal.
  • It is always a good idea to quarantine any new animals from other animals in your home for two weeks. We understand that it isn’t always possible but it will help minimize the stress of the new animal and decrease the risk of an illness or disease among pets.
  • What is normal bacterial flora for one species of animals may be harmful for other species. This is especially true for bacteria between birds or reptiles, and mammals.

Behavior Changes

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  • It is not uncommon for new pet owners to notice a change in behavior from the time when they purchased their hedgehog and the time they took their new pet home.
  • The friendly outgoing hedgie that crawled all over you and cuddled in your shirt is now a shy ball of prickles. There are a few reasons why you are seeing a change and some things you can do to help you and your hedgie relax.
  • Changes in environment are stressful for most animals and each animal will respond to the stress differently.
    • Some hedgehogs will check out their new cage and home immediately. Others will revert to their shy and nature and will be inclined to protect themselves from the unknown.
    • Your hedgie may be thinking “Where am I? I don’t know this place, this person so I should hide from this scary new situation”. My best description compared to children (or adults!) that are at home singing super stars and will sing like they are going to be the next American Idol. Get them out in public and they are shy, nervous and lacking the confidence they had in their own living room. It isn’t that they can’t sing it is that they are afraid to let it out. Your hedgie is the same way, it isn’t that it isn’t suddenly a totally different animal but you will need to help it relax and become comfortable with you.
  • Most new owners are a little nervous around their new pet and the hedgehogs can pick up on their nervousness.
    • Handling hedgehogs takes time, patience, and practice. We do our best to give our customers training, practice, and encouragement during the selection process.
    • Many new owners are more nervous and unsure about handling their new pet when they are at home on their own. Hedgehogs can pick up on that nervousness and may think “Gee, they’re nervous about something, I should be nervous about something. I’d better protect myself from what is about to happen”.
    • You may be afraid of their prickles but they are afraid of YOU.
    • It takes practice to be an experienced hedgie handler. Unfortunately some of our handling inadequacies can make nervous hedgies even more nervous.
    • With patience, time and remembering the basic handling principals you and your hedgies can overcome prickly beginnings.
    • However, if you don’t handle your hedgehog the way it wants to be handled it won’t respond to you the way you want it to respond.
  • Vacations or other periods of time without handling can contribute to a set back in the bonding process.
  • Hedgehogs will also become more shy and nervous over time if they are not handled regularly.
  • According to Lori Keller, hedgehog rescue coordinator, rescue hedgies are generally intractable and grouchy as a result of not being handled regularly or properly. When handled properly and consistently many grouchy hedgehogs can be rehabbed into wonderful pets.

Eating Habits

  • It is not uncommon for hedgies to skip their first meal in their new home.
  • Sometimes hedgehogs are just too busy sleeping or exploring to take the time to eat.
  • Millermeade Farms provides a week’s worth of food with every hedgehog. We do suggest that you purchase additional food with your hedgehog.
  • It is a good idea to keep your hedgehog on the same diet for at least a month to make sure it is well adjusted to its new home.
  • Try new foods gradually instead of introducing a new food “cold turkey”. If a hedgehog doesn’t like a new food it simply won’t eat.

Sleeping Habits

  • Your new hedgehog will most likely sleep all day and quite a bit in the evening hours. Many hedgehog owners think their hedgehogs sleep “all the time”.
  • Hedgehogs are nocturnal by nature so they are naturally going to sleep during daylight hours. Many hedgehogs are not inclined to wake up until the lights go out for the evening.
  • Baby animals are known to sleep more than adults so don’t be surprised if you need to wake your hedgehog up for playtime.

Optimal Temperature

  • Keep your hedgehog out of drafts and in a warm and well-lit location but not direct sunlight.
  • Various books and online care information will suggest temperatures ranging from 65°F to 80°F as the preferred temperature.
  • Our hedgehogs are accustomed to temperatures around 75°F. We prefer our animal room to stay between 74°F and 80°F.
  • You should shoot for a higher temperature if the temperature is going to fluctuate so that the lower temperature is still within the recommended range.
  • Lower temperatures leads to eating less and lower activity that makes the animal more susceptible to respiratory and other opportunistic infections (Smith).
  • Temperatures below 65°F can induce torpor that can be very dangerous to your pet.
  • Other hedgehog owners may suggest cooler temperatures as low as 65°F but we have found that our hedgehogs are healthier, happier, and more active at warmer temperatures.
  • A sign that your hedgie is too hot is that it is spread out with its nose pointed upward and is panting. Its skin will also appear to be flushed.

The Need For Heat

  • Many stores sell a thermometer that records the high and low temperatures for a given period of time. This device is helpful to ensure that the temperature doesn’t get too high or too low without your knowledge.
  • No matter what heating device you choose you want to make sure your hedgie stays warm. Some people find this is a bigger problem in the summer with air-conditioning that in the winter months.
  • When hedgehogs get too cool they are likely try to go into a form of hibernation/estivation. Hedgehogs will not eat and they become less active which can be very dangerous for your pet.
  • Once a hedgehog has attempted hibernation it is more likely have the problem again in the future
  • The more constant the temperature the more beneficial for your hedgehog.
  • All direct heat should be applied only to a portion of the cage. This can allow the hedgie to move to a cooler part of the cage if it gets too hot.
  • In case of a power outage you should have a back up plan as to how you will keep your hedgie warm.
  • Refer to our Keeping Your Hedgehog Warm guide for more information.

Hedgehog Health

Hedgehogs do not require routine vaccinations but we do recommend an annual veterinary visit for well pet care. This will keep you acquainted with your veterinarian and your veterinarian acquainted with your pet. Your vet may be able to spot problems that you don’t recognize.

It is extremely important to pick up your hedgehog and inspect it every day for signs that something may be wrong. Our little friends cannot communicate that they are injured or ill so it is up to us ensure their health and safety. It is much easier to treat a minor problem or illness rather than to let a problem go unnoticed until it is severe and much more detrimental to your pet.

Not Eating

It is not uncommon for hedgies to skip their first meal in their new home. Sometimes hedgehogs are just too busy sleeping or exploring to take the time to eat. I do recommend taking the wheel out of the cage for the first couple of nights so your hedgehog can adjust to its new home. Make sure your hedgehog is warm and comfortable and that they have easy access to their water bottle or dish. It is a good idea to keep your hedgehog on the same diet for at least a month to make sure it is well adjusted to its new home. Try new foods gradually instead of introducing a new food “cold turkey”. If a hedgehog doesn’t like a new food it simply won’t eat.

Green Poops

Green poops can be caused by stress, diet change, travel, infection or anything else that might upset the digestive tract. It occurs because food moves through the digestive tract much too quickly. The green color caused by bile, which would normally break down in digestion. Green poop that is caused by traveling or change in environment should clear up in two to three days. If it lasts longer, an antibiotic from a veterinarian may be required.

Dry Skin

Hedgehogs can have dry skin without having mites. Low humidity, diet, bedding or just the general nature of your hedgehog may cause dry skin. You can make a homemade oatmeal soak by placing a handful of oatmeal in cheesecloth or panty hose and the putting it in a warm bath with your hedgehog. Aveeno makes a product for human babies that is an oatmeal shampoo which also works well. In extreme cases you can put a couple of drops of olive oil directly on their skin to help sooth some of the dryness. A small amount of flaxseed oil may also help dry skin as well as be beneficial for digestion and overall good health. If the dry skin doesn’t clear up your veterinarian may want to check for mites or fungus.

Mites

The most common health problem in hedgehogs is mites. Mites can be contacted through bedding or other animals. Signs of mites include dry flaky skin, scratching, redness of skin and or scabs or sores. If you suspect that your hedgehog has mites the best thing to do is to seek treatment from a veterinarian. Revolution has become the most popular treatment for mites (compared to the traditional use of Ivermectin).

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