Hedgehog Care Guide


Lifespan – 3-5 Years

Hedgehogs Require Temperature Control Always! – 73-78 degrees for the entire cage is ideal. Hedgehogs can become ill or go into hibernation if they are too cold which is highly dangerous and potentially fatal.

Hedgehogs are solitary animals which means they do not like the company of other hedgehogs. Do not ever put hedgehogs together.

Hedgehogs are mostly nocturnal. You should expect to interact with them mainly in the evening when they are awake.

To be ready for a Hedgehog you will n

  1. Large enclosure – We recommend Midwest guinea pig cages, a Critter Nation single unit with the top shelf tray and ladder removed (to prevent climbing and falling), or a large modified Christmas tree clear tote without the plastic top
  2. Large 16”+ Flat surface wheel 
  3. Hedgehog Precision Kibble or Lucy Pet chicken and brown rice or Inception Chicken and Turkey recipe
  4. Fleece liners
  5. Aspen or paper bedding for litter
  6. Baking pan for litterbox to put underneath the wheel
  7. Food Container
  8. Water bowl
  9. Reptile heat lamp (with non-light emitting bulb)
  10. Thermostat for your heat lamp to plug into(inkbird ITC is a good brand)
  11. Thermometer
  12. Hides & Toys (cat toys are great) – there are Etsy stores with many safe options. Felt toys, rubber animals, and fleece pom poms are good options. Remember that hedgehogs will pull off and eat small parts. You need to provide at least 2 hides, a tunnel, or a snuggle sack for your hedgehog. They like to burrow underneath blankets and sleep inside. If any fabrics become frayed they should be removed.
  13. Sandbox/Digbox- Providing a sandbox during playtime outside the cage is a great way to provide a natural source of enrichment for your hedgehog. Only repti-sand or child’s play sand that has been baked should be used. Be careful that the sand is not building up in the penile sheath if you have a male. We do not recommend leaving a sandbox in the cage.
  14. Alternatively, you can provide a box of cut-up fleece, toys, and pompoms (no plastic or sparkly strands) in a box to root around and play in. You can hide treats in it for extra enrichment. This can be left in the enclosure.
  15. Travel Carrier (cat carriers usually work well, we usually put fleece on the bottom).
  16. Small shop vac for cleaning up after your Hedgehog(s) -optional but useful

*Please understand that some items will need to be replenished monthly.


Here at the rescue, we use Midwest guinea pig cages or Critter Nation cages.
They are easy to modify on the inside. They provide enough space for a large igloo, hides, toys, and food/water bowls, and the top will not melt with a heat lamp sitting on top. However, if you use these you will need to make a guard at least 5” tall with coroplast or plexiglass so the hedgehog does not climb the bars and heat is kept in the enclosure.

Hedgehog Care

Feeding – Feed Hedgehog Precision diet along with Lucy Pet chicken, brown rice, and pumpkin cat food OR Inception Chicken and Turkey recipe. You must mix Hedgehog Precision with one or both cat foods for a balanced diet.

We highly recommend feeding live insects daily along with kibble. Hedgehogs are insectivores and can eat Dubia roaches, crickets, hornworms, BSFL, and wax worms daily. Superworms and mealworms should only be used as an occasional treat.

Wheels – Hedgehogs need large 16”+ diameter flat wheel. Make sure the wheel does not have any splits in the plastic to avoid their toes getting stuck.

Bedding – Fleece cage liners can be easily washed twice a week to keep your hedgie clean and stink-free.

Light – A Ceramic Heat Emitter (100-watt CHE bulb) with a compatible lamp. The dome of the lamp should be at least 10 inches in diameter. For a larger cage such as a Midwest, 2 lamps may be necessary to keep an even temp throughout the enclosure.

Cleaning the Enclosure

You should spot-clean the cage every 1-2 days. Most hedgehogs will not litter train so you will have to vacuum or shake out the fleece. Change out fleece covers and wash as needed. If there is an odor it should be washed. We recommend using dish soap and water with a good non-scratch sponge on the cage liner or cage bottom. Dry the liner or bottom of the enclosure well before re-covering with anti-pill fleece.


There are some serious signs you may want to watch out for in your hedgehog that you would want to seek a Veterinarian promptly:

  • Change in poop (large change in consistency, having a foul smell, or if it contains blood/mucus)
  • Change in behavior
  • Loss of mobility
  • Difficulty eating
  • Strange lumps
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Shaking
  • Wobbling
  • Trouble breathing (noisy breathing, discharge around nose/mouth)
  • Limping
  • Sneezing
  • Weight loss
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy
  • Squealing when urinating
  • Loss of quills
  • Extreme flaking of the skin

Hedgehogs can live for 3-5+ years. Please be sure your chosen Veterinarian specializes in the needs of hedgehogs.


Your hedgehog will need a carrier for trips to the veterinarian and when they come home with you. Moves can be stressful so include a piece of anti-pill fleece. If traveling further a larger carrier may be needed so that your hedgehog has access to food and water.

Socializing and Bonding

Socializing your hedgehog with yourself and taming it for handling should be gentle, You should never introduce your hedgehog to any other animal. When you first bring your hedgehog home you should put your hands inside the enclosure and allow the hedgehog to come to you in its own time. You may try to encourage your hedgehog to come closer with treats. Once you and your hedgehog feel comfortable interacting within the enclosure you can begin attempting to pick them up. Please note that it is natural for hedgies to feel defensive when being handled. They may hiss and puff up. Most hedgehogs are not friendly or cuddly by nature. It takes persistence to gain a hedgehog’s trust.

How to pick up your hedgehog

To pick up your hedgehog, it is recommended to put your hands underneath its body, scoop them up (imagine like an ice cream scoop), carefully lift them, and cup them in your hands. You can also use gloves or a snuggle sack to avoid getting poked. We recommend talking to them softly the whole time.


Hedgehogs have notoriously dry skin. They also tend to get poop stuck to their feet (poop boots). When this happens you will need to bathe them in shallow warm water. The water should never come above their chest. There are products specifically made for hedgehog skin, do not use shampoo or soaps. A thin layer of coconut oil can be rubbed onto their skin to lock in moisture.

Out of Cage Time

We recommend approximately 30 minutes each day outside of the enclosure for your pet. Ideas can include: free roam in a hedgehog-safe area (watch for electrical cords and anything in your hedgehog’s reach), playing in a dry bathtub, or a hamster playpen. Ensure other pets are put away for your hedgehog’s safety. If you can not provide a safe play area, it is best to avoid out-of-cage time.

We DO NOT recommend the following

  • Small Enclosures, or ones made mostly of wood
  • Plastic (hamster type) exercise balls aka death balls
  • Inappropriately sized wheels (under 14-16”), or wheels made of barred, mesh, or wire wheels
  • Poor Quality Food. If it has a lot of bi-products, cornmeal, or fish it is not safe
  • Cedar, Softwood, unknown woods
  • Cotton or fibrous bedding
  • Snak Shaks or Logs
  • Harnesses, Leashes, and pet clothing can break quills and cause infection

Updated 5/16/2024