Hedgehog Care: Everything You Need to Know 

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Hedgehog Care

Are you confused about how to raise your hedgehog? We can feel you, buddy! These quill balls can be a little tricky to handle, but not if you have a fool-proof care sheet! 

Yes, we have raised multiple hedgies over the years. And now, we have come up with the ultimate hedgehog care chart from our experience. So, read to the end so that you do not miss any special tips. 



A Complete Hedgehog Care Sheet

We have included everything you need to know to raise a hedgehog, from housing to grooming. Let’s get started. 

How Big Should A Hedgehog Cage Be?

A full-grown hedgehog is in the range of 4 to 12 inches. So, their floor requirement is a minimum. Yet, we suggest offering the hedgies a spacious cage because of their strolling habit. 

How to Choose The Right Cage for Your Hedgehog 

The ideal cage size for hedgehogs is 6 square feet. However, you can settle for a 2 by 4 foot enclosure if you can not afford the space. Urban keepers often buy a 2-square-foot cage because of the space issue. In such scenarios, you must provide the pets with enrichment for entertainment and exercise purposes. 

Special Note: The wired cages are the most popular. But make sure the enclosure has a solid floor. Otherwise, the pet might get food injuries. 

Do Hedgehogs Need Beddings?

Burrowing in the soil or leaf dump helps the hedgehogs relax. The creatures also use natural bedding to hide from predators and hibernate in the cold. Though the captive cages are safe spaces, you still need to lay out the enclosure bottom with a suitable substrate. 

Pick Up The Hedgehog with Bedding

Our top bedding recommendations are as follows, 

Bedding Choice Pros Cons 
Paper substrateHighly absorbentNot entirely dust-proof
Aspen shavings Cheap Accumulate dust 
Fabric bedding Reusable Loose threads lead to injuries
Bio-active substrate All-natural Expensive 

Buying commercial bedding from any of the above categories is okay for the hedgehog. As per PetMD, the ideal substrate thickness in the enclosure is 3 to 4 inches. 

What Do You Put in A Hedgehog Cage? 

A bare enclosure is good for nothing for our tiny quill balls. Without any entertainment sources, they will soon get bored. Experts suggest that boredom can lead to mental abnormality in these pocket pets

We recommend putting toys and other enrichments inside the hedgehog cage. For example, a running wheel is mandatory. Hedgies can run for hours on the wheels. It will make up for their strolling habit in the limited space. It also helps them with their daily dose of exercise. 

What Do We Need in A Hedgehog Cage

Other than wheels, give the hedgehogs medium-sized balls to play with. These little prickly pigs also enjoy the side and seek in tunnels. You can buy the tunnel toys from any pet store. Besides, put several hiding spots in the enclosure for their privacy. 

You should also add a little hut at one corner of the cage. The hedgies will use that for sleeping and resting. Then again, it can make the enclosure look more congested. In such cases, the pets will select a hiding spot or burrow deep to take a nap. 

Do Hedgehogs Need Lights?

Our hedgies are nocturnal creatures. It means the pets will spend the day sleeping. Their main activities start after dark. Because of their biological setup, hedgehogs can see in complete darkness. So, installing a nightlight will be a waste of money. 

Sure, you can put on a red or blue bulb with low brightness to observe the hedgehogs during late hours. But make sure the light does not disturb their lifestyle. 

In the daytime, hedgehogs need 12 to 14 hours of daylight. Natural sunlight is best for the creatures. The hedgehogs sleep inside a hut or a hiding corner. So, the brightness does not bother them much. We recommend installing a light only when you can not access natural daylight. 

What’s The Ideal Temperature for Hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs feel uncomfortable in too warm or too cold weather. The ideal temperature for a hedgie enclosure ranges from 72F to 80F. A warmer temperature will make the hedgehogs uncomfortable. Similarly, the pets might get into the torpid zone if the temperature falls below 70F

Maintaining humidity is also crucial in a hedgehog habitat. Our tiny quill balls prefer a low moisture content in their cage, below 40%. High humidity can dampen the substrate, promoting bacterial growth. Install a dehumidifier in the enclosure if necessary. 

What Do Hedgehogs Eat? 

In the wild, hedgehogs eat insects, worms, frogs, mice, and other small prey. In captivity, they require the same protein-rich diet. However, managing live protein every day can be a hassle for keepers. We suggest commercial dry foods to feed your hedgehogs. The high-quality packaged goods are nutritious and healthy for the hedgies. 

Though the quill balls are big fans of proteins, they also eat veggies. We often add leafy greens, carrots, broccolis, cucumbers, corn, etc., to their meal chart. On occasion, we feed our hedgehog fruits, for example, apple, banana, melon, berry, etc. 

Remember, these are not staple foods for these pets. Instead, veggies and fruits are their occasional treats. 

As hedgehogs are hunters, you must offer them live insects and worms from time to time. This boosts the appetite in hedgies and keeps them happy. 

Experts often ask to add vitamin and calcium supplements to the hedgehog meals twice or thrice a week. It backs up any nutritional deficiency in the hedgies. 

As for the feeding schedule, you should feed the hedgehogs twice every day. Many keepers offer the pets food twice at night. Again, others prefer feeding the hedgies once in the morning and later in the evening.

Furthermore, hedgehogs are happy with 2 tablespoons of dry food. Some might demand more. If the pet has a big appetite, offer 3 to 4 tablespoons of food. 

Special Note: Feed the hedgies solid food in heavy and shallow dishes. A hanging bottle is preferable as a water station. Clean the dishes and bottle daily to avoid growth. 

Do Hedgehogs Need Grooming? 

Hedgehogs surely need basic grooming sessions. For the starter, you must bathe the pet at least once a month. These quill balls hate being covered in dirt. 

Here is a reminder: Always use lukewarm water to bathe the hedgehogs. Do not soak their faces and ears completely. It can be very uncomfortable for the pets. You can use soap as long as it does not contain chemicals. Finally, do not forget to dry the pet with a towel. 

Apart from bathing, hedgehogs need regular nail trimming. Use a quality clipper and be gentle when clipping off their nails. 

Hedgehog Health Care 

A little inconvenience in the enclosure or weather can make our tiny hedgies sick. Ignoring any symptom might backfire on your pet’s health in the long run. To be on the safe side, just look out for the signs mentioned below, 

  • Tattered ears
  • Injury 
  • Less appetite
  • Fatigue 
  • Foul smell 
  • Weight loss 
  • Oversleeping 
  • Mucus discharge 
  • Green droppings 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Tick attack 
  • Trouble walking 

Contact a vet if you notice any abnormality in your hedgehogs. We recommend taking the quill balls to regular health checkups to prevent any unwanted situations. 

Special Note:

Hedgehogs mostly fall sick due to the filthy surroundings. We encourage you to maintain hygiene inside the cage. Start with removing the poop daily and changing the bedding once a week. Similarly, deep clean the cage weekly with soap, water, and disinfectant. 

How Do You Handle A Hedgehog?

One reason keepers are so scared of handling a hedgehog is the quills. But the spikes are not sharp enough to pierce through your skin. Most importantly, if you are gentle with the hedgie, it will never hurt you. 

So, how do you pick up a hedgehog? Put your hands on either side of the pet and just scoop it up. Simple! Though we suggest using bare hands, in the beginning, you can wear gloves or take the towel support. 

With time, you both will be comfortable around each other. Then, the hedgies will not mind you scratching their ears or stroking their quills. 


Conclusion

Hedgehogs with a fool-proof care sheet enjoy a longer life expectancy. Each hedgie has a unique personality. Hence, you must tweak the care sheet according to your hedgehog’s demand. 


FAQs

Are hedgehogs easy to care for? 

Hedgehogs are convenient pets as they have fewer demands. You can win them over with a decorated cage and protein-rich food. Though hedgehogs are shy and hard to bond with, with consistent care, you two will eventually become friends. 

Are hedgehogs expensive?

Hedgies are exotic pets, which makes them pricey. You can get a hedgehog for $250 to $450. Of course, the rate will go up with the unique coloration and breed. 

Do hedgehogs like sunlight?

Hedgies are nocturnal creatures and avoid sunlight as much as possible. It is advised not to keep the hedgehog under direct sunlight. The rising temperature can make the creatures uncomfortable. 

Should I buy 2 hedgehogs?

You can buy 2 hedgehogs, but please keep them in separate cages. Hedgies love solitude and can not stand a companion. In fact, they only socialize during the mating season. 

Are hedgehogs safe for kids?

If we are talking about young kids, hedgehogs might not be the right gift for them now. Though the hedgies do not bite, there is a risk of getting pricked by the spikes. However, the quills will not make the kids bleed. You can only expect harmless scratches and redness if they get poked accidentally.

About the author

Susana

Susana

Susana Jean, Pocket Pet Expert and Sugar Glider Aficionado Hi everyone! I’m Susana Jean, your go-to wordsmith and pet enthusiast who has a special place in her heart for the fascinating world of sugar gliders.…Continue reading

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