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Care of your Hedgehog

Hedgehog Care

Hedgehogs are easy to look after if you have a few things they need in place to keep them happy and healthy. We supply all our pet hedgehogs with the basic diet essentials to make it easier for you.

Getting your Hedgehog Home

When you get your new pet home, the best is to put him straight into his/her new home so that he/she can start settling in. Give him/her time to adjust, get used to their new environment and settle before you play with him/her. Don’t panic if he/she is unfriendly at first, after all they have gone through a major life change. Hedgehogs don’t like change so make sure you put in the food, water and toys already in the cage so that when he/she wakes up everything is already waiting.

Hoglets may take a couple of weeks to settle down, you should try and handle him/her as much as possible during this time, especially in the early evening when they are generally waking up. The wait will be worthwhile.

Find out what food the breeder is feeding and try and keep to the same food, if you feel that you need to change the food, you should mix the 2 foods and gradually change the ratios.

Hedgehogs are solitary animals and should be kept separately except for mating.

Hoglets will start quilling at about the time you take him/her home. Baby hedgehogs do this at about 8.5 weeks old, they shed their baby spikes which are replaced by adult ones. This is a natural process and you may notice you hoglet scratching a little as this process can be quite itchy.

Housing

Hedgehogs should be housed in a Vivarium, Terrarium or tank with a floor space of about half a square meter. Inside should be a food dish, water dish and decorative climbing objects.
The cage should be placed away from drafts and direct sunlight to prevent stress.

Bedding

A fleece blanket or shredded newspaper can be used for bedding (if you use a fleece blanket check regularly for loose threads that can wrap around the hedgehogs limbs.

Temperature

Temperature should be kept above 21 deg, below this your hedgehog may try and hibernate. If you feel cold then you can be sure your hedgehog is cold, a fleece blanket will help.

Food

We feed our hedgehogs with:

  • Dry cat pellets – Whiskers Chicken
  • Whiskers cat meaty chunks in gravy – Chicken
  • Cooked chicken
  • Other Safe foods are:
  • Meat: Cooked chicken, Minced beef or Lamb, Cooked Turkey, Pheasant
  • Fruit: Banana, Strawberry, Apple, Pear, Melon, Pumpkin, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries and Kiwi Fruit.
  • Vegetables: Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Bell Peppers, Sweet Corn, Cauliflower and Broccoli
  • Other: Scrambled egg – No Milk, Small amount of Rice and Small amount of Pasta

Dangerous Foods are:
Pork, Fish, Citrus, Pineapple, Grapefruit, Grapes, Raisins, Dried Fruit, Onions, Mushrooms, Garlic, Chocolate, Junk Foods, Seeds and Nuts and Coffee.

If you offer your hedgehog Fruit and vegetables, they may show little interest in the foods, this can be overcome by mixing in a little wet cat food in gravy with the fruit or vegetables. This will ensure that your hedgehog is provided with a valuable source of vitamins.

Treats

Live foods may be given in addition to the normal foods above. These should however only be given as treats once or twice a week as they are high in fats.

Water

Fresh clean water should always be available in a ceramic dish, water bottles are not recommended as the hedgehogs do get their tongue caught in the spout.

Exercise

Hedgehogs should have a solid bucket type exercise wheel. Hedgehogs need exercise to prevent obesity which may result in liver problems. Climbing objects will also help as hedgehogs are very active at night.

Bath Time

Bathing your hedgehog is simple and a great bonding exercise. Your hedgehog will not ball up as he will try his/her best to escape the water.

Here’s how to bath your hedgehog:
Put about 30 to 35 mm of warm water in the basin or bath. Use a soft bristle tooth brush to clean between the spines. Keep your hedgehog warm after bathing with a dry blanket and keep him/her close to you.

Hibernation

Try and keep your hedgehog at above 21 deg to prevent hibernation. If you are in a very cold home or area, maybe you should think of a heat pad for the hedgehog enclosure. In extreme cases a ceramic heat lamp and controller can be fitted to the enclosure. If you take you hedgehog out on a cold day, in the car for instance, then use a microwavable heat bag. You should always try and prevent your hedgehog from hibernating, if he/she does hibernate then seek advice from a breeder or vet.

Health

Quilling – This is a natural process of replacing spikes.
Obesity – A fatter than normal hedgehog is quite common, normally this is due to a lack of exercise, poor diet or both. If your hedgehog can still ball tightly without problems it is fine, if not seek advice.
Ring Worm – Not common, but this fungal infection can be passed from humans to hedgehogs. The signs are obvious as in humans, a red ring on the skin. This can be diagnosed by a vet or seen with a ultra violet light. For treatment it is best you seek help from a vet.
Lumps- Hedgehogs can be prone to lumps, any suspicious lumps should be check and tested by a vet to determine if they are cancerous or not.
Wobbly Hedgehog syndrome –Sadly this is a genetic illness that affects African Pigmy Hedgehogs. It is progressive and will get worse in time. It normally affects the back legs first and gradually paralyses the whole body causing the hedgehog to roll over on it’s side and unable to stand. There are no known cures and sadly result in having to have the hedgehog put to sleep.
Mites – Mites will cause dry, flaky skin and itching. Quill lose is a sure sign your hedgehog has mites. Mites can be spotted by looking closely for small white moving dots. You can wrap your hedgehog in a dark cloth and rub it, remove the cloth and check for mites moving on the cloth. Mites can be treated with various powders or diatoms.

Toys

Toys are welcomed by hedgehogs, especially exercise wheels. You can use a 12” ferret wheel which has no bars or gaps. Exercise can prevent health problems like Fatty Liver and obesity.
You can also use small cat or ferret toys such as balls with bells in that they can push around. Also place tube and pipes in the cage, hedgehogs are adventurous and will crawl in and out of these.

Cleaning enclosures

Enclosures should be cleaned weekly, however heavily soiled areas should be cleaned daily. Do not use scented cleaning products.

Toilet Training

Your hedgehog can be toilet trained. Put a low container with absorbent litter in a corner, if the hedgehog does not use this container then take the droppings and place them in the litter. This should coax the hedgehog to toilet in this area, if it doesn’t move the container the their favorite toilet spot.

We hope that you enjoy your new pet and invite you to call or visit us if you have any concerns or queries about you new companion.
Hedgehogs need regular exercise and time out of their cage. Regular handling, cuddles and treats will ensure that you are rewarded with their inquisitive behavior and interesting characteristics.