At Home FAQ

Nov 13, 2013 by

Care When should I take him to the vet? We recommend a well pet visit within the first month of coming home. If you are having any transitional stress issues we recommend as soon as you notice a problem. Check our Facebook page for quick answers but feel free to email us and put URGENT in the header so we know to answer your email first. How can I choose a veterinarian? These are some simple questions that will save you time and prevent surprises at your first visit. Do you treat hedgehogs? How much is a well pet visit? What do you do at a well pet visit? *We don’t believe anesthesia is necessary for a friendly hedgehog but if it doesn’t allow your veterinarian to easily exam your hedgie it may be necessary. We don’t feel a fecal exam is necessary if your hedgehog has normal, formed stool. How much is an emergency pet visit? How much is a mite treatment and what do you use? This can range from $18 to $200. We feel Revolution is the safest treatment available. Many veterinarians carry it in stock and it is relatively inexpensive. Your treatment should be less than $40. How much is a necropsy report? Losing a pet is never easy but finding out the cause of death can give important information about our herd and it can help prevent future hedgehog...

General Requirements

Sep 2, 2013 by

Maintenance Requirements Most hedgehog owners agree that hedgehogs are relatively easy to care for and maintain. Fresh food, water, and regular cage cleaning are it’s basic requirements.  One must be careful not to take the hedgehog’s easy care for granted.  A hedgehog not closely monitored, can become neglected. A small problem can result in death of the hedgehog, if a problem is not addressed in a timely manner. The amount of maintenance required is determined in part by the cleanliness of the hedgehog and your perception of ‘work’, as an owner. Cage Requirements Most breeders recommend a medium size, solid surfaced, guinea pig cage with a minimum of four square feet.  Ten to 15 gallon aquariums were once recommended, but most hedgehog enthusiasts and experts now agree that aquariums this size do not have adequate floor space for hedgehogs. Diet Requirements Many commercial hedgehog foods are available but they are all not equal in nutritional value or ingredient quality.  One should become familiar with their hedgehog’s needs, before purchasing foods, because some foods marketed for hedgehogs are quite inappropriate as a staple diet. Spike’s Delite Ultra by Pet Products (1-877-977-8310) is a quality hedgehog food that is used by many breeders. Other breeders use a blend of dry cat foods. Hedgehogs should be kept on the same diet as the breeder/previous owner for at least a week of adjustment before changing foods. Please review...

Litter Pans, Litter, & Litter Pan Training...

May 28, 2013 by

Litter pans are a great accessory to any cage as it is well worth your effort to try and litter train your hedgehog.  A litter-trained hedgehog will save you cage cleaning time, decrease the amount of bedding needed, and increase the freedom you have with your pet.  Litter trained hedgehogs are obviously much more suited to “free-roaming” in their own room or in an area of your home or apartment.   Probability of Use We once heard that it was a “crap shoot” whether or not your hedgehog would use the litter pan. We tend to agree! Some hedgehogs take to the litter pan and use it right away with little or no coaxing. Others refuse to use their litter pan despite any attempts on your part to try to teach them the purpose of the litter pan. One former customer e-mailed us and told us that her hedgehog suddenly started using the litter pan when it was two years old. Better late than never! Some hedgehogs prefer to use their litter pan as a sand or dust bath rather than for elimination. Dust bathing is harmless and is simply a natural thing for a hedgehog to do. Another customer e-mailed us and told us that his hedgehog was careful to eliminate on one side of the litter pan and dust bathe on the other. Your litter training success will depend partly on your...

Elimination Habits

May 27, 2013 by

Baby Hedgehogs Young hedgehogs are especially prone to releasing their bowels on their handler. When you first get your hedgehog you can pretty much expect to get pooped on at some point. Hedgehog babies typically get better as they get older. Wake Up Ritual Many animals (including humans) have to go to the bathroom when they wake up after a nap or a night of sleep. While the body is resting, it is still processing foods and wastes. Hedgehogs are no different, and they normally eliminate within twenty minutes of waking. It is a good idea to have a litter box or paper towel handy at the beginning of playtime. Litter Pan Usage Some hedgehogs use the litter pan faithfully when they are first introduced to it. Other hedgehogs flatly refuse to use a litter pan. One hedgehog owner reported that her hedgehog suddenly started using the litter pan at the age of two. The benefits of a hedgehog using the litter pan are well worth the small investment and effort required to set one up. When hedgehogs use their litter pan it cuts down on cage cleaning, which in turn saves on both time and bedding, as well as improves overall hygiene of your hedgehog. Hopefully litter box use will occur in the first week or so of coming home. See our Litter Training Article for more information on this topic. Wheel Pooping Hedgehogs...

Cleanliness

May 27, 2013 by

Naturally Clean Some hedgehogs might be considered naturally clean and tidy. They use their litter pans faithfully, and leave their cage pretty much as the owner has arranged it. Other hedgehogs are slobs!  They will try to defy every sense of cleanliness and make a complete mess of their cage. Most hedgehogs are somewhere in the middle. Their cage will need to be tidied, but it would not take more than a minute or two each day. Unfortunately, there is no way to look at a baby hedgehog and decide how its personality will grow and develop in this aspect. Cage Trashing Some hedgehogs routinely rearrange their cage furniture by dragging, pushing, or shoving their wheel and other large accessories. They drag their blankets and sleeping bags around their cage and scoot around their cage liner. Other hedgehogs might turn over food dishes and knock off water bottles.  Having heavy food dishes and a quality water bottle hanger will certainly help this problem. Litter Pan Use or Lack Thereof Some hedgehogs take to using the litter pan as if it is the most natural thing in the world. Hedgehogs that use litter pans are obviously much neater and require less maintenance than hedgehogs that view the litter pan as something that merely shares their cage space. Other hedgehogs just refuse to do their business in a designated spot. The most common spot for hedgehogs...

Transition From The Breeder’s Home To Your Home...

May 25, 2013 by

 When to Feed Your Hedgehog Hedgehogs are typically crepuscular (awake during dusk and dawn) to nocturnal animals. Wild hedgehogs typically spend most of their awake-time hunting for food. We feed our animals in the morning because that is what our schedule allows. Our animals know the routine and are very well adjusted. Most of our hedgehogs come out and take a nibble of their favorite part of the mix and then go back to sleep and eat the rest in the evening. Other hedgehog owners find that evening feeding works well for them and it certainly doesn’t hurt hedgehogs to adjust to a new routine. Moist or wet food or treats should be left in the cage for about four hours to prevent spoilage. This needs to be kept in mind while developing a routine. Your hedgehog will adjust to feeding at any time during the day or evening but it is important to be consistent in feeding at the same time every day. Shipping Stress Overview Baby hedgehogs in transition to new homes are subject to “shipping” stress.  Shipping stress occurs in all types of animals and can occur at any age. The most common problems during shipping stress are diarrhea or loose stools, and/or not eating. Many hedgehogs are happy to discover a new wheel and be so absorbed with running that they forget to eat, drink, and attempt to use the...

Nail Trimming

May 21, 2013 by

The Need for Nail Trimming Hedgehogs have nails similar to humans. Their nails are relatively clear and have a kwik at the end. Some hedgehogs will require their nails trimmed more frequently than others, (every couple weeks) but some hedgehogs wear their nails down during play and activity and might only need trimming once or twice a year. It is completely normal for different hedgehogs to have nails that grow at different rates. Nails that are too long on the front feet can curl under and damage and deform the foot, inhibit normal walking, or increase the risk of infection. Long nails may also get caught on things increasing the risk of the nails being ripped or torn. The nails on the back feet seldom curl under, but if they are too long they can make walking difficult. A veterinarian should do the first corrective nail trimming if a hedgehog has nails imbedded in their feet or if the hedgehog has foot deformities. Playing with your hedgehog’s feet a lot during snuggle time and regular handling is a great way to get them used to people touching their feet. This is what we do with our horse and donkeys – we work with their feet before the trimmer comes so that they are comfortable at trimming time! Types of Trimmers There are many kinds of trimmers that will work for cutting your hedgehog’s nails....

Cage Maintenance

May 21, 2013 by

Introduction A clean cage is essential to the health and well being of your pet. Our rule of thumb is that if the cage smells bad to us, it probably smells really bad to our hedgehog. Hedgehogs have a much better sense of smell than we do. Type of Cage The type of cage and the ventilation it provides can make a difference in the level of odor that accumulates in the area of the cage. A glass aquarium or plastic bin with poor ventilation will harbor odor, moisture, and will encourage bacterial growth, which will in turn create an unsanitary living environment for your hedgehog. If you should choose to use these types of cages, you may need to perform complete bedding changes more frequently than with a wire-topped cage. Marchioro’s solid plastic bottom cages with coated wire tops provide the needed ventilation and they are our recommended choice of cage. Regardless of the type of cage you use, you will still need to perform regular cage cleanings. Type of Litter Different types of bedding have different absorbency levels so the cage may need to be cleaned more or less frequently depending on the size and general messiness of your hedgehog. Pelleted beddings may allow you to sift the good bedding from the soiled bedding to be reused after the bottom has been cleaned. Refer to our Bedding Guide for more information on...

Hedgehogs On The Loose

May 21, 2013 by

Hide and Seek Hedgies love to play hide and seek. They will hide for hours or even days and probably don’t even care if you don’t notice they are hiding. Only allow your hedgehogs to play in “hedgie safe” areas so that you can monitor your hedgehog at all times. The best way to search for a missing hedgehog is to explore an area on your hands and knees. Look for warm dark places where a hedgie is likely to hide. Be sure to look in, under and behind appliances such as the stove and refrigerator. Refrigerators are very popular because they are warm. Couches and recliners are dangerous because an unassuming person can sit on one and squish poor hedgie. Hedgehogs can sneak behind cabinets, dressers, bookcases, or other storage units. They might find holes in walls and flooring or squeeze through ducts and drains. Heather Johnson at www.hedgies.com suggests putting food, water, and treats in a brown paper bag. When a missing hedgie searches for a meal you will hear the bag rustle. Familiar sleeping bags or other objects might also attract a missing hedgie. Remember that hedgehogs are nocturnal so a good time to find them on the move is to search in the dark with a flashlight. The best way to be a winner at this game is not to play at all! Make sure your hedgehog is housed in...

Travel vs. Pet Sitter

May 21, 2013 by

There are times when we all have to be away from home. Whether on vacation, family get togethers, work travel, etc. you will need to make arrangements for your hedgehog’s care in your absence.  Overnight Trips If you are going to be away for one night, your hedgehog will usually be fine on its own. You will want to make sure you have provided a good amount of food (preferably no moist food) in the bowl as well as a full (and working) water bottle. One of the most dangerous situations for your hedgehogs is extreme heat or extreme cold.  A power outage could be deadly for your pet. If your overnight absence could turn into two nights or more, it is a good idea to have someone lined up to come and take care of your hedgehog, should the need arise. You can get stickers to put on your windows or doors to alert emergency personnel that you have live animals in the house, specifically hedgehogs, the number of pets, and the location in the house where they are kept. These stickers can be obtained through most emergency agencies, shelters, humane societies, pet stores, online, and mail order catalogs. It is also a good idea to alert a neighbor that you will be out of town. They can keep an eye on your house and be on the lookout for anything suspicious or...

Indoor Play

May 21, 2013 by

Hedgehogs are fun to play with and are easily entertained. They love to play with tunnels, mazes, and specially designed hedgehog wheels. Even something as simple as a toilet paper tube will make a good toy; as they love to stick their heads in them and run about the floor. (HHC) Play Safety and Precautions Even though hedgehogs are not typically described as “chewers” it is possible they can chew electrical wires, so it is a good idea to keep them away from your hedgehog while it is playing. Your hedgehog may be litter box trained, but it is also likely to potty anywhere outside the cage when it gets the urge. Make sure the floor can be easily cleaned and that there are no climbing objects, such as books or magazines, which can be ruined if they get soiled or wet. Some owners recommend no less than 30 minutes of supervised free roaming time in a hedgehog safe room or enclosed area. Play Areas Enclosed play areas with smooth sides are ideal because the hedgie is less likely to attempt to try and climb out. A plastic kiddie pool is a great place to let your hedgehog exercise and play. The hedgehogs won’t be able to escape unless there are objects close to the wall. They can climb on play accessories to give themselves a boost up and over the top. Pet corrals...

Outdoor Play

May 17, 2013 by

Animal enthusiasts often want to give their pets time outdoors when the weather is right.  We like to be outdoors ourselves, so it is logical to think that our pets would like to catch some fresh air as well. Benefits Animal enthusiasts often want to give their pets time outdoors when the weather is right.  We like to be outdoors ourselves, so it is logical to think that our hedgehogs would like to catch some fresh air as well. Hedgehogs generally love exploring grass, leaves, and a new environment. As long as you take certain precautions, your hedgehog may enjoy a change in scenery. Remember that hedgehogs may self annoint with new scents or substance. Typically safe, but can be very messy! Weather Conditions and Time of Day You will want to make sure the weather is suitable for your hedgehogs. Most hedgehog enthusiasts recommend a minimum outdoor temperature of 70-72 degrees Fahrenheit and that the ground is warm. The first of spring the grass, concrete etc. may not be as warm as the outdoor temperatures. Make sure your deck, patio, or other concrete isn’t too hot from the heat of the sun. Check the temperature with your bare feet or hands because if the temperature is too warm or hot for you it will certainly be too hot for your hedgehog. The difference in light from indoors to outdoors my stress your hedgehog...

Warming Up A Cold Hedgehog

May 17, 2013 by

A hedgehog that is cold or feels cool to the touch is in serious danger. Captive bred hedgehogs are not accustomed to hibernation and can die from, what to them is, an unnatural torpor. Warming up a hedgehog too quickly can do more harm than good. A warm, gentle heat is preferred over forceful, direct heat. Our most successful method for warming a cold animal is direct human body heat. Hold the animal in your hands, tuck it in your shirt, or whatever other method feels comfortable to you. Heating pads can also be useful, but one must be careful not to overheat or burn an animal that is too sick to move away from the heat. Also, don’t assume that the external heating device is doing the trick when in fact it may not be warm enough. An animal that has gotten too cold and recovered is more susceptible to future incidents. Contributor: Susan Crocker, Susan’s Hawkeye Hedgies...

Finding A New Home For Your Pet

May 17, 2013 by

Need for a New Home There are times when hedgehog owners feel they simply cannot give their hedgehog the love and attention it deserves. Sometimes hedgehogs are more of a prickly ball than the cuddly critter their owner imagined they would be. Moving, job changes, or other changes in an owner’s lifestyle can create a need to find a new home for their hedgehog. Whatever the reason, it is important to find the best possible home for your pet. Returning to the Breeder Most hedgehog breeders will gladly accept any hedgehog that needs a new home. Conscientious breeders will work with your animal to get to know its personality. Many breeders and rescues will try to find a new home for your hedgehog that has hedgehog experience or someone who bonds well with your pet. Humane Societies and Animal Shelters Some humane societies and animal shelters will accept hedgehogs. Unfortunately many shelters are not experienced in handling exotic animals, including hedgehogs. Undoubtedly these animal rescue organizations will do their best to care for your pet. Humane societies and animal shelters are not as good of a choice as returning your pet to a breeder. Turning Pets Loose Releasing or abandoning a pet in the wild is almost a certain death sentence for your pet. Depending on where you live, hedgehogs will likely only to be able to survive in the summer when the weather...

Bathing Your Hedgehog

May 17, 2013 by

 Hedgehogs and Bathing Many hedgehogs love to play in warm water and will enjoy themselves during bath time. Other hedgehogs may not like the water at all, but bathing a dirty hedgehog is necessary for the overall wellbeing of the animal. Some hedgehog owners have found giving hedgehogs a bath when they are young makes bathing less stressful when they are older. Even though hedgehogs are good swimmers, one should never leave a hedgehog unattended while in the water. Frequency  Hedgehogs do not groom or clean themselves like most other animals. You will know your hedgehog is ready for a bath when it looks dirty, has dry skin, “poop boots” (dirty feet from, well, you know!), or anointed spots of dried “stuff”. Once a month bathing is adequate for the average hedgehog. Some hedgehogs need baths frequently and others seldom need one. Bathing generally helps to relieve dry skin; however, bathing too frequently may contribute to dry skin. Suitable Bath Tubs Common places to give hedgehogs a bath are in a sink, dishpan, infant bathtub, laundry sink, or a bathtub. Hedgehogs are prone to relieve themselves in the warm water so it is a good idea to select a place that is easy to disinfect and that does not come in contact with food. Some owners prefer to have a dishpan or tub that is used only for hedgehog bathing. Infant bathtubs usually have...

Temperature Requirements

May 15, 2013 by

Thermo-Sensitive Hedgehogs are very sensitive to temperatures when compared to dogs or cats. They do not cope well with sudden changes in temperature. We have found that warm room temperatures are better than cool room temperatures. Hedgehogs that get too cool can go into a false or light hibernation, which can be deadly. Hedgehogs that are too cool can become torpid, lethargic, and will start to lose interest in food. Aestivation is a short hibernation that occurs when temperatures are too hot. Both hibernation and aestivation are not normal or healthy for pet hedgehogs. Optimal Temperature Keep your hedgehog out of drafts and in a warm and well-lit location, but not in 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 80°F. We prefer our animal room to stay between 75°F and 85°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 lead to eating less and lower activity, and that makes the animal more susceptible to respiratory and other opportunistic infections. Temperatures below 65°F can induce torpor that can be very dangerous to your pet. Pet hedgehogs have been known to die at sudden drops of temperatures this low. Other hedgehog owners may suggest cooler temperatures, but...

Preparing For Power Outages

Apr 25, 2013 by

Potential Need for Back-up Heat One must always be prepared for a power outage if you live in an area that’s temperature gets cold or cool in the winter. Power outages for long periods in cool weather can be just as dangerous as short power outages in extreme cold. When using alternative power or heat, one must use caution and be aware of potential safety hazards. Conserve the Heat You Have Wrap your hedgehog’s cage in heavy blankets. Give your hedgehog extra sleeping bags, or extra pieces of fleece to make their sleeping area cozier. Disposable (Or Reusable) Instant Heat Packs These sources of instant heat hand warmers can be found in the hunting, camping, or sporting goods section of most stores. We have also seen them used for reptiles and other baby animals, so you may find them through various other sources as well. Re-usable ones can often be found at flea markets or through other specialty vendors. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to store. We have found that some will not work if they have been stored for long periods. It is a good idea to have fresh ones available. Also make sure you keep several on hand in case you have purchased an older or defective warmer. Generators Generators are valuable to not only your pets, but can be quite handy for you. There is a huge price range depending...

Acclimation To New Home

Apr 25, 2013 by

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...