Lifespan – 3-5 Years in captivity
Hedgehogs Require Temperature Control Always! – 73-78 degrees for the entire cage is ideal. Hedgehogs can go into hibernation if they are too cold which is highly dangerous.
Hedgehogs are solitary animals which means they generally do not like friends.
Hedgehogs are mostly nocturnal.
To be ready for a Hedgehog you will need
- Large enclosure – We recommend Midwest guinea pig cages, critter nation single unit with the top shelf removed (to prevent climbing and falling) or a large modified clear tote without the plastic top
- Large 16”+ Flat surface wheel
- Hedgehog precision kibble or premium cat food (no fish, bi-products, corn, fillers)
- Fleece liners
- Food Container
- Water bowl
- Light – Reptile light+lamp and a thermometer
- Hides & Toys(cat toys are great) – there are Etsy stores with a lot of safe options, including ours!
- Mealworms, crickets, or dubia roaches
- Puppy pads (to put underneath fleece)
- Travel Carrier (cat carriers usually work well, we usually put fleece on the bottom).
- 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 because they are easy to modify on the inside quickly depending on the animal we are intaking. 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.
Feeding – Feed your hedgehog high-quality cat food or a hedgehog precision diet. It is important to have hard kibble in their diet to keep their teeth healthy. Insects, fruit, and some vegetables are safe on occasion. Starchy vegetables should be avoided and all raw foods should be cut into small pieces.
Wheels – Hedgehogs need large 14-16” diameter flat wheels. 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. I 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
- Trouble breathing (noisy breathing, discharge around nose/mouth)
- Weight loss
- 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. In fact, most hedgehogs are not friendly or cuddly. 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 and scoop them up (imagine like an ice cream scoop) and carefully lift under them and cup them in your hands. You can also use gloves or a snuggle sack to avoid getting poked. I recommend talking to them softly the whole time.
Hedgehogs have notoriously dry skin. They also have a tendency 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 not have any 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-product, 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.