What you need to know about getting a hedgehog
But they also require a lot of attention, just like any other baby. So if your thinking of taking home one of these little guys home for an addition to your family there's some information you should probably know. If you've been looking into hedgehogs and you've read some info, thats great. We'll cover stuff you've probably already seen, and some you may have not. If your just starting to read about hedgehogs, this page will teach you a lot of the basics from getting your baby hedgehog to growing up.
When you get your baby hedgehog he should be 6 weeks old, any younger than that and there could be complications with his diet and you may have to bottle feed him. Any babies you receive from us will be at least 6 or 7 weeks old. You can visit when they are 5 weeks old. At this stage it will be prime bonding time for you and your hedgie. There are cloth bags called hedgie pouches, a lot like ferret bags or sugar glider pouches, that will be a great addition to bonding with your hedge hog. He can nestle in and feel safe while sitting on your lap getting used to you and his new surroundings. You may want more than one since they will get used in and out of the cage.
Hedgehogs usually like someplace that's dark and soft. They are timid by nature, although some can be very adventurous! Be sure that you handle your hedgehog daily, even if its for 10 minutes. Being left to their solitary desires will make an unfriendly hedgehog. Its nothing wrong with them per-say, but its generally how they are when in the wild. I would recommend that you handle your hedgehog for at least a half an hour a day. If your watching a movie, why not put your hedgehog in his hedgie bag an set him next to your hip or lap.
They may be in a ball when you first pick them up and "huff", this is normal. The more they get to know you and your scent the faster they will unball. If you wake them up they will be momentarily grouchy, and have to go to the bathroom. It is wise to have a "transfer box" or blanket that they can run around in for 5 mintutes so they can go to the bathroom before handling. Try scooping them up from the front, they need to be able to smell you. They
cant see very well so what they hear and smell is
amplified. Touching them from behind will probably
scare them momentarily, while letting them smell you
first will let them know that its safe to not be in a ball.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs like it warm, since they come from the very warm continent of Africa. All hedgehogs you get from us will be African Pygmy Hedgehogs. A very important aspect of these hedgehogs is that they have to be kept in a room that is at least 73 to 80 degrees. This is something that cant be compromised, if the temperature goes lower that 73 degrees there's a very good possibility that they could go into hibernation, and hibernation for them is lethal. If your worried about being able to provide a stable temperature, there are some solutions that can make it less daunting.
A ceramic room heater $10-$50
Animal hot and cold pouches $3-$35
Reptile heating pads $15-$120
Heat Lamps $50-$80
If you are looking for localized heat instead of heating up a whole room, heat lamps are a great way to keep your hedgie warm. If you have a moderate sized cage a 100 watt black ceramic heat bulb should be strong enough. Make sure it is a black bulb, otherwise it will always be bright in their cage, which can mess up their internal clocks. If you have a large cage two lamps may be recommended or try a 150 watt bulb. Its always good go with a 10 inch dome lamp or higher to make sure heat distribution is wide enough, and make sure you have a regulator which you will need to plug your heat lamp into. I cant stress enough how important it is to have to have a temperature regulator with CHE setups, or you may fry your hedgehog! Remember that you're going for a nice "medium bake" at 75 degrees rather than crispy hedgehog at over 85 degrees. These setups are often referred to as CHE (Ceramic Heat Emitters) setups. You will find that most of the heating products used for hedgehogs are mainly used for reptiles. Some people only use heat lamps and swear by them. Others just use ceramic heaters for the whole room, and occasionally reptile heat pads. But I would not recommend the heat pads since they do not provide adequate heat within the cage itself. You can find full CHE setups in our Hedgie Store.
Do not use a regular heating pad meant for humans, it can get too hot and will only stay on for 4 hours. You can get reptile heating pads but they have been know to burn hedgehogs or be too warm. They should not be considered for their main source of heat. Animal hot and cold pouches are good (which can be found on Etsy as flaxseed or kernal pouches) especially if your traveling, but they will ultimately need something that will keep them warm while they walk around too. We use a ceramic heater that has a temperature knob and gauge. You should always have a thermometer near or in your hedgies cage that is separate from your heater. Make sure that they do not break a traditional thermometer inside the cage since most have mercury and can be poisonous, we use a digital thermometer for reptile cages.
DIET & EXCERCISE:
Their diet consists of mainly cat food. I know weird right? But like cats, hedgehogs need a certain set of nutritional properties. You can also get special hedgehog blends, but a high quality cat food is probably cheaper. Also hedgehog food is usually more like fast food, and you don't want to be feeding your hedgehog Mcdonalds for every meal. The one hedgehog food that has not been ruled out entirely as bad for hedgehogs is Spikes Delight, although we recommend you mix another high quality cat food in. Using a blend of 2 or more different high quality cat foods as a regular source of diet is highly recommended. We use Rachael Ray Nutrish Indoor, Chicken Soup for the Soul and Purina One Sensitive Systems for our hedgehogs. It sounds expensive but at $7-$17 for a 5-13lb bag, it lasts a very long time for when you combine them for only $30. Look for a high protein cat food that's low in fillers and peas. Hedgehogs have a hard time processing phosphorus, which peas are high in. Although its hard to find a cat food that has absolutely no trace of peas, find a cat food where pea protein, starch or flour is at least or 5th or lower on the ingredient list. Blue Buffalo, Fromms, Solid Gold and certain Wellness cat foods are good choices as well.
The rule of thumb in most cat food for hedgehogs is to make sure it has at least 33%-35% protein and 15% fat content. You do not have to get any grain free food, hedgehogs are perfectly capable of digesting rice, flax seed and oatmeal and helps with fibrous digestion. If the cat food lacks in grains make sure it has some other adequate fiber content such as pumpkin. Steer clear of any corn fillers, most no grain cat foods will usually use more peas as a protein filler. Make sure to keep their food in an air tight container and feed them about 1-3 tablespoons once a day. The 3 tablespoons usually consists of a small handful or palmful of food. If you find they they are becoming an unhealthy weight according to this diet, adjust it accordingly. Some hedgehogs will have higher metabolisms or run way more than other hedgehogs who will run only occasionally and put on more weight. Hedgehogs with higher metabolisms will need food with a higher fat content or that have more calories. Hedgehogs usually weigh 300 grams, but each hedgehog is shaped differently. So pay attention to what their normal weight is.
Most hedgehogs absolutely LOVE meal worms. You can pick up some live meal worms at your local pet store for about $3 and a freeze dried insect medley usually used for Turtles and Bearded Dragons. Though they wont get a lot of the protein benefits from freeze dried insects that they would from the live ones. You should think of anything freeze dried as treats and not a source of their consistent diet. I would recommend 1-3 dried meal worms a day. Live meal worms do contain a bit of fat, but are not as bad as wax worms. Feeding your hedgehog 5-15 live meal worms is a day is recommended rather than feeding the same dosage in freeze dried or roasted mealies. Do not feed them super worms, they actually have small teeth and can bite your hedgehog. Some people have gotten around this by cutting off the heads of super worms before feeding them to their hedgehogs, but we find that just feeding them live meal worms is a lot easier than going through the trouble. They also love crickets, you can actually have your own cricket farm and enjoy the ambiance, or pick some up at your pet store, usually costing $1 for 8 crickets.
Hedgehogs also drink a moderate amount of water, so getting them a 16 ounce water bottle wont be over doing it.
They especially drink more water when you first bring them home because they will be stressed out. You may also see them have green feces within the first week of bringing them home, don't be alarmed, this is from the stress of a new environment and the coloring should go back to normal within a few days to a week.
Hedgehogs need to be able to run, it keeps obesity and boredom at bay. Hedgehogs can run up to miles a day, and since they are nocturnal they will mostly run at night. You can usually find something called "bucket wheels" at most pet stores for about $20. You will need to use at least an 11 inch wheel, otherwise it will be too small for them to run properly and eventually will produce skeletal muscular problems. So do NOT try and use a hamster wheel. I highly recommend Carolina Storm Wheels, which are found on Etsy. They are silent and easy to clean.
Like cats, hedgehogs have pointy teeth and claws. So they have no need to "trim" there teeth and chew like hamsters or rats. You will eventually need to trim their toenails with some cat claw trimmers. Giving hedgehogs a bath is a major source of fun. Use an all natural baby or kitten shampoo, although your should not bath them too often since it can dry out their quills. Every two weeks should be the most often you bath them. Once a month is ideal. We understand sometimes your hedgehog may get dirty, so try to lightly bath or "spot clean" in between baths. You can usually use pet wipes to do spot cleaning, just make sure that there isn't any citric acid in the wipes. We use Johnson's all natural lavender-oatmeal baby shampoo. They are fantastic swimmers and can even float on their backs with enough practice. Sometimes floating can be too stressful and its good to use caution when first training your hedgie to float. You can use a toothbrush to clean there quills and feet.
They also like to play with new toys and love tunnels. Giving them a toilet paper roll is a great and inexpensive way for them to have fun. But make sure that you cut the roll down the middle so they don't get their heads stuck, hedgehogs have died and gotten injured from getting stuck. They also love cat toys, plumbing pipes that you can find at hardware stores, and sometimes will even play tug-o-war. They also really seem to love catnip mint sticks.