Keeping a tiny hedgehog as your pet companion can be a very fulfilling experience for you and your family. These inquisitive and smart animals make wonderful house pets. Of course, they may not be as openly affectionate as a cat or dog, but they do enjoy human touch and express love and warmth in their own special way.
For all those who are a little inexperienced to owning hedgehogs as pets, it is critical to select a cage or habitat that is appropriate for them. Keep in mind to provide them all the necessary amenities so that they are comfortable, secure, and protected inside your house.
What will you need for your pet hedgie’s cage? Many specialists consider ten things or groups to be key components of your hedgehog’s cage or habitat.
The cage, a food dish, a water dispenser or a water cup, a spinning wheel, litter box, litter product, a tunnel (or hideaway), bedding material, a variety of toys that will entertain your prickly little friend, and other cage items are all included.
Obviously, all these types of things have a plethora of extra information that must be discussed. What do hedgehogs need in their cage? What products should be used to create these things? What proportions do they have? Is there something you can stop doing with your hedgehog because it’s dangerous?
We’ll get you sorted with all these questions, as well as several others, so you will be able to get the best tips and knowledge for building the ideal hedgehog cage setup!
10 Essential Supplies Every New Hedgehog Owner Should Have
Let’s get into the specifics starting with the most basic requirements for the perfect hedgehog cage setup:
1. The Cage
Undoubtedly, the cage/enclosure is the one component of a hedgehog cage that is the most crucial of all! Although some cages are specially designed for hedgehogs, they are limited and often fairly a little expensive.
Instead of just naming individual cage labels or models, it’s more useful to identify the fabrics and characteristics that are suitable for your pet hedgehog and which are not.
Hedgehogs, for starters, require a lot of space. They hunt and forage for food and discover their life in the open, covering many miles of ground each night. They will get overwhelmed, experience health issues, and, in rare situations, avoid feeding if they don’t have enough space inside their cage.
As a result, most specialists recommend a minimum cage room of 4 square feet for pet hedgehogs, with 5 to 8 square feet being preferable. Most cages intended for dogs, cats, or any other pets might not have this cage space. A few people may choose cages constructed from readily available plastic containers or other related materials.
Hedgehog cages, in principle, have a sturdy bottom tray that extends several inches up the edges, according to breeders and specialists. Over that, a wiring that has thin enough spacing in between the wires should be there so that your hedgehog’s head does not get trapped between them.
Hedgehogs should not be held in wire-bottom cages designed for hamsters because they have small, stubby limbs that get trapped in these types of cages. They could injure themselves as a result of this.
Hence, cages with solid bottoms are the safest option. The tray extends several inches well above the bottom of the cage to prevent your hedgehog from scaling the cage’s edge.
You can always go for the wire style cages, which have solid bottoms but keep in mind that a plastic cage is also a good choice. Make sure your hedgehog is always able to see what is beyond the cage. You should also be able to see inside the cage. Your pet can become unhappy or confused if he is unable to see the real world.
Also, make sure your cage has enough airflow and a stable lid to prevent your pet from wandering. It’s even better when your cage can handle any heat, as you can need to add a heating device to make sure your pet stays warm and safe. This is particularly important if you’re considering a plastic enclosure, as it is susceptible to melting away and bending.
2. Heating Requirements
For the cooler seasons of the year, cages require a stable source of heat. Hedgehogs are native to warmer climates and have not grown to cope with the cooler conditions seen in many western countries when kept as pets. They will go into hibernation if it is too cold for them, which could be extremely dangerous.
The cage should not be a fire hazard due to the heat from the heat lamp, as certain plastic cages can melt, burst into flames, and cause serious injury to hedgehogs. Any other objects in the cage that can quickly catch fire or melt are considered to be a fire hazard.
The heat lamp does not produce any light and should only be used to heat the room. Heat lamps that emit light may be good for reptiles and amphibians, but they would be harmful to hedgehogs.
The glare would most likely deter the hedgehog from getting out at night, misled by the heat lamp’s light and thinking it’s still daytime.
A heat lamp holder that is rigid enough to hold the heat lamp in position is needed. The heat lamp may otherwise collapse and injure the hedgehog. To shield the hedgehog from injuries, a cover is placed around the heat lamp. Heat lamps are either hanging from the ceiling of the cage or placed on the top of the cage.
Hedgehogs can safely use a premium heating pad, provided there is a thermostat to control the temperature and a thermometer inside your pet’s cage to monitor the temperatures.
The heating pad also has a cloth layer that protects the hedgehog from any direct heat from the pad. This layer also makes it easier to clean by quickly removing the cover and tossing it in the laundry basket.
Hedgehogs could try to nibble on the cords that come out of the heat pad, so heat pads must have sturdy cable covering. Otherwise, if they bite through the wires, they risk being tasered.
Measures should be taken to keep the heat in the hedgehogs’ cage from 72F (22C) and 80F (26.5C) at a minimum, although this does not mean the entire cage must be regulated to just this temperature.
The most significant factor is the temperature inside the enclosure, which may differ from the outside temperature and, based on the cage, might also be lower than the outside temperature.
There is only one method to determine the cage’s internal temperature, and that is to use a thermometer. You can also use a thermostat to constantly monitor the temperature and help regulate it when it gets too high.
The thermometer and the thermostat are both connected to each other. This should be put inside the cage so that the thermostat is mindful of the environment throughout the entire cage and can turn on the heat pad in the hedgehog’s cage if needed.
Hedgehogs have the ability to survive in temperatures as low as 72 degrees Fahrenheit (22 degrees Celsius), although anything below 64.5 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) can cause them to develop pre-hibernation effects. Symptoms include being cool to the touch, being restless, and being too tired to get up.
3. Choose The Right Bedding For Your Hedgehog
Not only does your pet hedgie need the right bedding to avoid the cold from the bottom of the enclosure, but it also needs to be convenient to clean the waste the hedgehog makes on a daily routine.
A hedgehog enclosure requires wool, wood-based, or sheet bedding on the floor of the cage to ensure protection against the freezing of the cage floor as well as a convenient way to gather their excrement.
Without bedding in an enclosure, the feces and urine will cause the cage to become wet and slippery, risking injuries to your pet. And if the feces dry into the floor of the cage, cleaning will be more troublesome. By using bedding, you can directly take it out and/or restore it.
There are a variety of bedding choices available, some of which are ideally fitted to hedgehogs than others, and some of which can be harmful and poisonous to them.
Hedgehogs may use certain forms of wood chippings and scraps as bedding as long as the wood is not poisonous and will not produce any harmful oils.
Many wood-based bedding products are labeled as soot and lint free or low-dust. This will help prevent the hedgehog from being irritated by any type of dust.
Avoid using beddings that have unpleasant odors because it usually includes scents to disguise the smell of your hedgehog‘s feces and urine. This scent may also irritate the hedgehog’s extremely sensitive sense of smell.
Wood-based bedding will absorb a lot of their urine as well as any fluid spilled on it by accident at their drinking cup. In contrast to other forms of bedding, it is effective at hiding some of the urine odor.
Wood chips are an inexpensive bedding choice, and old wood chip bedding is simply replaced with new ones.
Wood-based kitty litter can also be used, but it’s a little more difficult for hedgehogs to maneuver on because it doesn’t have a flat surface. It also absorbs urine and any fluid spilled inside.
Another good choice for your pet hedgehog’s bedding is a fleece-lined blanket. This should probably be washed twice a week because the feces and urine on it will cause it to stink. It’s both cost-effective and ecologically sustainable since the bedding is reused.
Certain kinds of bedding are unsuitable for hedgehogs and should be avoided at all costs.
Sawdust isn’t a smart option for bedding because it’s gritty and extremely dusty. At any point, if your pet comes in contact with this dust, it would irritate them. Their skin can be irritated by the debris, causing them to itch further to relieve the discomfort.
You will also have to scrub it from the cage and swap it with new sawdust on a daily basis which is a very tiring task.
Hedgehogs find gravel to be inconvenient to run on, and it can be risky and lead to injuries. During the winter months, this base will quickly hold some of the cold, which will prevent the hedgehogs from walking over it as much as they could.
Bedding Made Of Cedarwood
Hedgehogs are poisoned by cedarwood, so this is one material to completely stay away from. Other forms of wood may be permissible, provided any curing oils are secured and do not spill out. This is because preserving oils may be hazardous to hedgehogs.
It is important that they have access to some kind of fitness equipment in order to stay safe and prevent excess weight and being overweight. Hedgehogs require exercise to stay fit and keep their mind in balance.
They travel several miles a night foraging for food in the wild, and as companions, they must be able to get up and run as much as they can.
Exercise wheel (aka spinning wheels) offers them the best workout by encouraging them to walk and run many hours each night.
A level surface is needed so that the hedgehogs do not injure themselves when playing. Tiny ridges are uniformly spaced around the interior of certain exercise wheels, with an inch or two between them.
Don’t worry! These ridges do not create a threat because they are tiny. Instead, they create extra grip for them when they use the exercise wheel, ensuring that they do not slip off as they try to slow from a jog.
When buying a spinning wheel, make sure it doesn’t have any bits where the hedgehog’s feet may get trapped, causing harm. A meshed or steel wired wheel is a poor option since the hedgehog’s feet will quickly get entangled in the holes and cause serious damage.
5. Hedgehogs Food And Water Bowls
Glass or plastic water dispensers may be mounted on the cage’s side. They can be mounted in such a manner that they do not have to climb in order to reach the dispenser.
It’s also essential to remember that if your pet tries to chew on the metallic cap of the water bottle, you should stop using it. They risk seriously damaging their teeth, which can lead to other problems (Not eating an adequate amount of food).
Clay bowls and vessels (which are 4 inches in diameter) are the most popular choice of products for food bowls. Stainless steel or plastic plates, as well as cylinder-shaped dishes of comparable scale, are suitable alternatives.
The aim is to have something strong and solid enough for your hedgehog to not tip over, made of a suitable material that cannot be easily destroyed by regular hedgehog feeding and everyday activities.
Be sure to disinfect it often since it can get very dirty.
It is vital to train your hedgehog to make use of the litter box or container in their enclosure. Most hedgehogs usually pass urine or feces anywhere they want in their cage. However, in order to maintain them and keep their cage tidy, it’s important to continue to teach them how to make use of the litter box. It also makes things smoother for you while you clean the cage.
Litter pans designed for hedgehogs are most often advertised for other pets as well. Square pans are the most effective as they conserve valuable cage floor area. Hedgehog litter pans must have a short front also be wide enough so that your pet can easily get into the box and move around in.
Obviously, a litter box would be useless if it didn’t contain litter. In particular, litter content comes in a variety of options, just like the options for cage bedding. Things like cement, bunched up kitty litter, wood shavings, straw, sawdust, hay, compost, dirt, and other things obtained from the outside should not be used at all.
The best source of litter, according to most specialists, is reused paper or shredded paper pellet-type products. Also, there are a variety of crumpled paper choices and toxin-free natural alternatives.
Hedgehogs like to spend their time in a secure, mostly enclosed hideaway. It’s understandable: many animals love the feeling of protection and comfort in a confined space. The hideaway is designed to resemble the natural habitat of hedgehogs. In their natural habitat, they normally sleep in tunnels or hidden spaces.
The most commonly suggested pet-safe shelters are igloo-shaped designs consisting of durable fabric or padding. Structures in the form of a bubble, wooden shelves, or pipes are also suitable alternatives.
Hedgehogs don’t do well stepping out of stuff, so completely sealed tubes must be very wide to enable them to easily run back and forth and move around.
Whether a hedgehog lives in the wild or at home, they need excitement. Toys are the perfect means to offer them exactly that fun. Hedgehogs respond well to most toys designed for little kids. You simply must ensure that there are no little pieces that they might chew on, as well as no sharp corners or pieces.
Small hoops, sturdy plastic dolls, and other related items are excellent options. Avoid poor quality toys with paints or other varnishes as they are more likely to contain toxic chemicals.
Toys made from popular companies focusing on small kids’ toys go through intensive inspection and reviews at established retail stores in the United States. So if you want to purchase a few fun toys for your hedgie, that’s a decent point to start.
Numerous different supplies for your pet hedgehog’s cage are available. However, it’s crucial to remember all of the other factors we’ve discussed in this feature. Avoid attachments that encourage your hedgehog to climb or too fragile for him to twirl around.
Many cage devices designed for guinea pigs or hamsters are not appropriate for hedgehogs. Simultaneously, shallow slopes, half-log-sized objects with plenty of space, and many other similar products are ideal.
Ping pong (table tennis) balls and other little balls are pleasant toys for them to engage with.
Any product for hedgehogs must not be poisonous to them, so do your homework before purchasing, particularly because cheaper toys can contain chemicals that respectable companies will never use.
During the winter months, a sleeping bag is useful because they sit on the heat pad, much like a pillow.
Many various timber quarters for different species will be available at your local pet store, and these would be a nice habitat for a hedgehog. They must be big enough to hold your pet and crafted of a wood that is both stable and non-toxic to hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs should avoid those kinds of wood that are suitable for other pets but not for them.
A little animal playpen is a great way of keeping track of your animal while you let him out of his enclosure. The hedgehog will run freely and explore more openly in the playpen while still keeping him from fleeing and getting lost in your house.
Just keep in mind that your hedgehog needs a lot of room to run around, so don’t overcrowd their enclosure. You may even consider heating solutions to keep your hedgehog cozy and comfortable on chilly nights.
The Most Common Questions About Hedgehogs Cages
How Frequently Should The Hedgehog Cage Be Cleaned?
Your hedgehog’s cage must be washed at least once in two weeks. Litter boxes, food, and water bowls/trays, along with the spinning wheels, require even more regular cleaning (at least every alternate day) and more frequently if they stink or get especially dirty.
When bedding products get soiled, they can be replaced or washed. This is based on whether they are washable materials (like fabrics). Maintaining the hedgehog cage and keeping it neat and tidy will help reduce the number of times your hedgehog will need baths.
Hedgehogs only need baths once every month, and this is done to prevent the drying of their skin and quills.
Do Hedgehogs In Cages Hibernate In The Winter?
Pet hedgehogs should not go into hibernation. If they exhibit symptoms of hibernation, they must be bundled up and not allowed to hibernate. Under all situations, you can also get the guidance and assistance of a veterinarian.
It’s crucial to keep your pet warm and safe, as they thrive in temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
You can purchase a heater for your hedgehog cage if your house gets particularly cold during the night or during the winter. Remember to do your homework, contact specialists or the veterinarian, and strictly abide by any of the manufacturer’s directions and warnings to avoid overheating your hedgehog, damaging the enclosure, or risking a burn.
Is Hay A Good Hedgehog Bedding Option?
Hedgehogs can be wounded by hay or straw bedding, particularly if their limbs become tangled in hay or straw, causing cuts or stopping circulation. In the worst-case situation, amputation could be needed.
Pesticides could have been used on the hay, and it is a bad idea to let a hedgehog rummage around anything with pesticide residue.
Is It Possible For Hedgehogs To Play With Cat Toys?
Before handing some cat toys to hedgehogs, make sure they haven’t been handled by a cat. Since the smell of a cat on the toy may annoy hedgehogs, they can become hostile and attack the toy, mistaking it for a threat. Any cat toy should be brand new to be on the safe side.
Any cat toy that is used by hedgehogs must be able to survive the stress and strain. They’ll want to chew it with their razor-sharp teeth.
What Is The Recommended Depth Of Hedgehog Bedding?
Since we use fabric-based bedding, the thickness is just about a half-centimeter. An inch or two of pellet or shaving bedding may suffice, with caution taken to ensure the hedgehog’s freedom to walk about the cage is not affected.
The hedgehog’s bedding must be able to withstand other things in the enclosure.
Is It Possible To Use Newspaper As Hedgehog Bedding?
Few hedgehog owners use newspapers for bedding, but caution must be taken to guarantee that the newspaper pigment is not poisonous. Since water spills, vomit, and feces will seep through the newspaper, it will need to be cleaned on a daily basis.
Is It Possible For Hedgehogs To Overheat?
Hedgehogs will overheat and go into a state known as aestivation, in which they lay on their stomachs with their legs extended (splatting). In humans, this is similar to heatstroke because they must cool off.
Hedgehogs require heat to survive, a place to cover and relax, dry and convenient bedding, toys to play with, and workout equipment to stay safe and avoid becoming obese.
All important cage products chosen must be appropriate for the cage and not of danger to a hedgehog. Bad choices will result in fire hazards as well as health complications for your pet.