Last Updated on October 30, 2022.
Free roaming is used by some enthusiasts and is acceptable, provided that you have ensured your hedgehog’s safety in every aspect. We recommend saving it only for supervised playtime.
For the best outcome for you and your hedgehog, it is best if free roaming is limited to one room in your home that you can devote to your hedgehog.
Advantages of Free Roaming
- Free roaming provides highly ample space for your hedgehog to explore and run for exercise. This may be especially beneficial for larger hedgehogs prone to obesity.
- Cageless hedgehogs are likely to be more active than caged hedgehogs.
- Extra freedom may allow your hedgehog’s personality to be expressed.
Dangers of Free Roaming
- Keep in mind that if your hedgehog is one of those that will not litter train, you will have urine and feces to clean off your floors on a daily basis. Be extremely careful with carpet cleaners as Lori Keller, experienced hedgehog rescuer, had a terrible experience with carpet cleaning products.
- You will need to consistently monitor the room for potential dangers. A free-roaming hedgehog is more prone to accidents than a hedgehog confined to the safety of its cage.
- “Hedgehog-Proofing” is a lot like “Child-Proofing” in which it is a job that is almost never done. You can hope to provide the most hedgehog resistant room, but your hedgehog will most likely find something that you have missed… just like children.
- You will need to watch your step and do the “shuffle” walk while walking in the room. (you slide your feet across the floor and do not lift them up, this way you can’t accidentally step on and crush your hedgehog.)
- Wearing socks or bare feet and not shoes can also help prevent an underfoot accident from occurring.
Preparing for Free Roaming
- You will need to ensure that adequate temperatures can be provided and that any use of electrical devices are used in the safest way possible.
- This includes keeping electrical cords out of reach, and that the heating elements cannot be reached by a hedgehog seeking a warm spot.
- Furniture in the room should be high off of the floor, reclining, rocking chairs, glider rockers etc, should not be used for obvious reasons.
- Couches and upholstered chairs will be used as a hiding spot and if there is a hole underneath in the lining you can be assured that your hedgehog will find it and climb up into your couch or chair. This can result in a squished or trapped hedgehog and for their safety, that furniture is not recommended.
- Escaped hedgehogs have been found underneath refrigerators as well.
- Small items on the floor will need to be watched for as well.
- Your hedgehog can choke or have an intestinal blockage on buttons, coins, zipper pulls, snaps, paper, paper towels, tissues, etc.
- Paper seems to be irresistible to some hedgehogs and they will chew and consume any they can get to. Not only can they receive a blockage from ingesting paper, the dyes and inks used in the paper could be toxic to your hedgehog.
- Strings and hairs are also something that will need to be checked for daily as these can wrap around your hedgehog’s leg or toes resulting in loss of blood flow, infection and/or amputation of the limb or appendage.
- You will need to ensure that your hedgehog cannot escape the room and that other household pets cannot enter.
- A hedgehog will climb anything it can get its claws hooked into or that will provide a boost.
- Be careful about plants in the room, hedgehogs would love to play in the dirt, and may also nibble on the leaves which may be toxic. Even if a plant is up high, leaves and flowers do drop down and may be taste tested by your hedgehog.
- Your hedgehog will need to have easy access to food, water and litter box at all times, as well as hiding places, and a warm, secure place for sleeping.
- The above suggestions should also be kept in mind when you are letting your hedgehog loose for out of cage play time.
- Make sure your hedgehog is plenty warm. You need to be concerned about floor temperature rather than the temperature at human eye level. Heat rises and drafts are often on the floor.
Contributors: Gail Smith, Nicole Beval and Shelly Fowler, Beach Bum Hedgehogs, Melissa Ramos