Toys, Enrichment & Entertainment

Jun 27, 2013 by

Toys, Enrichment & Entertainment

Environmental Enrichment

  • Wild and free ranging animals have lots of natural exercise and stimulation.
  • Numerous studies have shown that animals in zoos, animal parks, labs and private homes benefit from exercise and environmental enrichment.
  • Thirty minutes outside of the cage each day is ideal for play time.
  • Hedgehogs require physical and mental stimulation through toys and other objects in their enviroment.
  • Activity that is essential to animal health and a happier life.
  • Healthy, happy, active animals (and humans) tend to live longer and have more fulfilling lives.
  • It is up to hedgehog caretakers to provide a variety of cage items to enrich the life of your pet by providing a variety of experiences, which prevent boredom and stimulate activity.
  • In her book Pet African Hedgehogs Kimberly Goertzen states “While it’s extremely unlikely your hedgehog will fetch a ball or jump through hoops for you, they still interact with things. Some will play tug-of-war, some will chase things”.
  • Like children, hedgehogs seem to prefer bright colors while some hedgehogs may have no color preference at all.
  • Many hedgehogs like to push, pull, drag, and climb on a variety of different objects.

Safety Precautions

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  • One must carefully inspect every cage addition (or play item) for small detachable parts that could become choking hazards.
  • Look for sharp edges that could cut your hedgehog.
  • Inspect toys the same way you would for a young child.

Play Areas

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  • 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 are available through several vendors.  You can put plastic tablecloths down to protect the floor and still have a portable and safe play area.  Keep corralled hedgies under supervision, because some may try to bulldoze under and escape.
  •  The Grrreat Wall has a lot of great features that are ideal for hedgehogs.
    • Make any size play area up to almost 20 square feet.
    • Rolls up to a diameter of 8″ for storage and weights 9 lbs
    • This is an indoor/outdoor expandable play pen that provides a safe, contained area for your pet to have supervised playtime and exercise.

Wheels

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  • Wheels are one of the most important toys and environmental enrichment accessories that you can provide your pet hedgehog.
  • Wheels provide the much needed exercise and hours of entertainment.
  • Please refer to our article dedicated specifically to wheels.

Critter Exercise Balls

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  • Hedgehogs love to explore their environment. Unfortunately, they have a propensity for finding places where they are not supposed to go including under furniture and appliances.
  • A large 12” Critter Ball is a relatively safe way for hedgehogs to explore their surroundings. Most owners prefer the clear balls rather than the colored balls. It is hard to say what the hedgehog prefers!
  • The best way to introduce a hedgehog to the ball is to prop it in its cage so it can go into and out of the ball at will. Once your hedgehog is comfortable with a stationary ball, a rolling ball won’t be quite so scary.
  • One MUST be cautious of stairs and other pets to ensure the hedgehog’s safety.
  • It is also a good idea to be familiar with your hedgehog’s potty habits.  Allow your hedgehog to do its business before placing it in the ball. If your hedgehog pees or poops in the ball, take it out immediately.
  • Superpet makes a Hamtrac that will accommodate the large size balls.  This creates an exceptionally safe area to roll.

Toilet Paper Tubes

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  • A toilet paper tube is one of the cheapest and most popular hedgehog toys.
  • “Many hedgehogs periscope with the toilet paper tube. They enjoy watching what is going on in the room through it”. Massena, Smith
  • Hedgehogs can look as if they are in a panic to get the tube off their head as they thrash wildly about their cage. When the tube is taken off, they will go right back at it and do it again and again. Hedgehog enthusiasts often refer to this as “tubing”.
  • Occasionally a hedgehog will ram its head so far down the tube that its head will get stuck.
  • You ou can cut the tube length ways before giving it to your hedgehog to prevent this problem. Some owners cut the tube in half width ways as well.
  • The cut will prevent breathing problems and it will come off more easily for your hedgehog.
  • Many hedgehog owners make their own tubes out of plastic craft foam.  This allows for a little wider tube, which is less likely to get stuck.
  • We had one hedgehog that loved to chase plastic cat balls around with the tube on its head. He would corral the ball and work it into its food dish.  After the task was accomplished, he would lie down and go to sleep.
  • If your hedgehog likes to chew the cardboard, or you have need of a more rugged tubing material, craft foam sheets come in bright colors and you can hot glue the ends together to make a tube any size you wish. If your hedgehog should get stuck, you can tear the foam apart along the seam.

Small Plastic Balls

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  • Many hedgehogs love to play with ping-pong balls, cat balls, or small balls with bells inside.
  • Balls left in the cage need to be sturdy and solid without any type of holes.
  • Make sure lattice type balls, balls with holes, or balls that can be  easily chewed or damaged are only used with supervision outside of the cage.
  • Another version of the plastic ball is a ferret treat ball. As the hedgehog pushes around the ball, a treat will come out.
  • Again, some hedgehogs may ignore the balls and others will enjoy shoving them around with a tube.
  • Becca Loane, hedgehog breeder and popular hedgehog article author, suggests hanging a small ball from the cage for the hedgehog to bat around.
  • One Florida breeder had cat balls that had holes in them. The hedgehog used the upper jaw and lower jaw and put its mouth right into the holes to pick up the ball. It got stuck and caused a cut under the chin. It kind of became imbedded under the chin. It was infected and she had to take it to the vet. As a reminder, we recommend the cat balls with tiny holes etc. are only used outside of the cage with constant supervision.

Stuffed Animals

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  • Some hedgehogs are known to have taken a special liking to stuffed animal friends.
  • We recommend small children’s stuffed animals, cat, or dog stuffed animals the same size as your hedgehog or smaller.
  • Even though hedgehogs aren’t likely to chew, make sure that the stuffed animals do not have eyes or other parts that could fall off or be chewed off and become choking hazards. Loose threads can also be a significant danger.
  • Your hedgehog may simply ignore the stuffed animal or you may see your hedgehog snuggling with it in its hedgehog hideout as if it is a companion or baby.
  • Be sure to wash or replace soiled or dirty stuffed animals.
  • Small Beanie Babies (similar to the ones you would find in a McDonald’s Happy Meal) are also a favorite.
  • Hedgehogs may treat their stuffed animal like a friend or their baby.
  • Some may groom their toy, take it to various parts of the cage, sleep with their friend or find comfort in other ways.

Cars and Trucks

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  • Your hedgehog might enjoy pushing a small plastic car or truck around its cage.
  • Make sure the vehicle has no detachable parts or sharp edges that could harm or injure your hedgie.
  • Sand box or toddler toys are often good truck options.
  • Dump trucks might also be a fun option as the hedgehog takes up the challenge of climbing in the back.

Leather and Rawhide

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  • Hedgehogs often have an affinity for old shoes and other leather.
  • Slip-on-shoes are a great place for hedgehogs to explore. Be careful of gifts they might leave behind the next time you go to put on your shoe.
  • Leather or rawhide puppy chew toys may be a fun treat for your pet.
  • There are some concerns that leather may be hard on a hedgehog’s teeth if it is fascinated with chewing.

Other Options- Get Inventive!

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  • Hedgehogs are like small children in that they can turn ordinary household items into a favorite toy.
  • In her article “…and More Toys” Gillian Holmes states she had two hedgehogs that liked to chew on the soft rubber of baby bottle nipples.  She would find them under her hedgehogs’ blankets with the nipple by their side.
  • Holmes also indicated that her hedgehogs liked to drag around catnip and lavender filled sachets.
  • Be creative and try out things that wouldn’t ordinarily be considered a “toy.”
  • Give  new toys items that cannot become a choking hazard or any other danger.
  • A clay flowerpot placed on its side can provide a “cave” for your hedgehog as well as to help wear down the front claws.
  • Strips or squares of toilet paper may be drug around the cage and even stuffed into an igloo.
  • Another possibility for entertainment is to create a maze of cardboard boxes and appropriately sized tubes.  You can also place treats in the maze to encourage hunting for the food and increase activity.
  • Some hedgehogs may like to climb up ramps and slide down.  Be sure to use plenty of bedding at the landing points so that the hedgehog is not injured.

My Hedgehog Hates Toys

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  • Some hedgehogs may appear to ignore or hate their toys. Keep in mind that hedgehogs are nocturnal and can be very secretive, so they may be playing with their toys and you aren’t seeing them.
  • One way to encourage your hedgehog to play is to hide some of their favorite treats or pieces of food throughout the cage.
  • Be creative and try new things!

Hedgehogs Are Great Entertainment for Us!

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  • Hedgehog toys are not only a good idea for your hedgehog but they are a good idea for you.
  • We have found that the more owners spend time with their pets and invest in their pets the more they enjoy them.
  • Spoiled pets are not only happy pets, but their owners tend to be happier with their pets.
  • Hedgehogs are quite amusing in their antics and amusing behavior, so get involved and find out how much fun you can have with your prickly friend!

Contributors: Kelsy and her Hedgehog Lily: Shelly Fowler, Beach Bum Hedgehogs

References:
Goertzen, Kimberly. Pet African Hedgehogs; A Basic Guide to Care. Publish Date December 16, 2009
Holmes, Gillian. and More Toys. IHA News. Vol. 5, Issue 8. August 2003
Loane, Becca. How to Choose Toys for Your Pet  IHA News. Vol. 5, Issue 8. August 2003.
Massena, Sharon and Smith, Bryan. The Pygmy Hedgehog, A Perfect Pet.  1996. ISBN 0-9655629-1-3

From our customer Jill Dentel 10/12/12

I’d like to give a word of caution to anyone who buys cat balls for their hedgies toys. I had several in the pen with my girls and heard someone running on the wheel and heard the bell in one of the balls going so I went to see what was up assuming there was quite a party going on. Well Cruizer was on the wheel and it appeared that a ball was on the wheel with her. I hadn’t said hi yet today so I went to grab her and to my horror she had the ball stuck on her leg. It was a lattice type ball and somehow she had stepped into it and it had gotten stuck on her leg (and she was still running on the wheel, that’s dedication to fitness!). Thankfully I grabbed her and my roommate was able to cut the ball so we could get it off her. She is ok I think. Her leg is very red and has had some hair rubbed off of it on a raw spot, but I put some Chlorihexidine on it, rinsed it, and then put some Neosporin on it. She was glad to get back to the cage and started eating her chicken baby food treat. Had I not gotten up though when I heard it she could have broken her leg eventually or rubbed the skin more seriously. Probably a one in a million chance, but I’d tell people to be safe and only buy solid balls with no holes in them like ping pong balls.

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