Frequently Asked QuestionsFor the full FAQ See Hedgehog FAQ.
Please submit all questions to the above FAQ as it is the master copy.
Supplies and Equipment
What kind of cage should I use for my hedgie?There are many suitable cages for hedgehogs. Make sure to stay away from wire floors, wood, cages with shelves or ramps (unless completely enclosed, hedgies will fall off and get hurt), and glass tanks. Tanks or aquariums will retain moisture, do not allow adequate ventilation, and are heavy and difficult to clean. A suitable cage will have 2 square feet (preferable more) of free space after the wheel, dishes, igloo, etc. have been put in the cage. Total space should be at least 4 sq. ft. There should be good air flow, and be easy to access and clean. Common cages are plastic bottomed-wire topped cages such as for guinea pigs, C&C cages, or plain sterilite tubs. The C&C cages need a lid as a hedgie can climb right out.
How often should I clean the cage?You should clean the cage completely about once a week or bi-weekly. This means washing/replacing all bedding, cleaning the wheel, scrubbing dishes, cleaning toys… Liners and shavings should be spot cleaned daily. Fresh food and water should be offered daily, and any uneaten treats should be removed the morning after offered. The wheel should be cleaned as often as needed, which is likely to be daily or every 2-3 days.
See Daily Care Routine
What can I use for bedding?You can use fabric liners, kiln-dried pine or aspen shavings, or a no-dust paper product, such as Carefresh or Yesterday’s News. Don’t use corncob bedding, it will get uncomfortably stuck in private places.
Are shavings/other or liners better?Liners are the best bedding to use.
Do hedgies need a wheel?YES! Wheels are an absolute necessity.
What kind of wheel should I use?There are many wheels out there, commercial and handmade. The highest quality, safest, and most silent ones are handmade by other breeders/rescues/owners.
Does my hedgie need a hiding place?Yes. Hedgies need a hiding place, whether it be an igloo, PVC elbow tube, tissue box, or simply a pile of fleece scraps. You can also us a pocket-like hedgie bag or hat. Just make sure he has a safe and secure place to hide and sleep. Many hedgies like to burrow under their liner.
See Hiding Places?
Can I have a loft/ second floor in my hedgie’s cage?It is possible, but you have to do a lot of alteration. The entire thing needs to be enclosed, from the ramp up to the loft itself. A hedgie falling only a few inches can get badly injured.
My wheel rattles a lot when my hedgie runs on it. How do I stop this?The best way to stop the rattling is to put a hair scrunchie on the back, so it is in between the wheel and the piece it is rattling against.
My hedgie is always burrowing under his liner. Can I discourage this?Lots of hedgies like to sleep under their liners. They feel more secure that way. The best you can do is put weights (such as heavy river stones, smooth and clean) around the edges, or Velcro the liner down. (using the sticky Velcro on the cage, and sewing on coordinating pieces on the liner) I tried this, and Inky just pulled up the Velcro and moved the rocks. I ended up letting him sleep wherever he likes.
What supplies do I need for my hedgehog?The main necessities for owning a hedgehog are a cage, method of heating, bedding (liners or shavings), exercise wheel, food and water dish/bottle, and food.
Should I use a water bottle or a dish?There is much debate over whether a dish or bottle is better for a hedgie. Here is some of the arguments on both sides.
What temperature does my room need to be?Hedgehogs Require an ambient temperature of 72 to 80*F. It is recommended that you provide your hedgehog with a temperature range of 74 to 78*F as hibernation attempts can appear as low as 72*F and aestivation can occur over 80*F.
How can i heat my Hedgehogs Cage?There are a number of ways to heat a hedgehogs cage.
Some owners use space heaters pointed away from the cage (pointing at the cage causes a draft) to keep the entire room at an appropriate temperature.
Other methods are ceramic heat lamps with a thermostat, a human heating pad under HALF of the cage, increasing the ambient temperature of the entire house, baseboard oil heaters or pet safe heating disks.
What do i do if my hedgehog attempts hibernation?Put your hedgehog against your stomach to start warming it. Do not place it in warm water as this could cause shock.
See Hibernation and follow all of the steps listed to revive your hedgehog from its state of hibernation.
My hedgie is lethargic and unresponsive, and has a cool tummy. What’s wrong?Your hedgie is most likely beginning hibernation, which is very dangerous. Warm up your hedgie ASAP and keep the heat at least at 74* F.
What gender is my hedgehog?Hedgehogs are easy to sex. Males have a prominent “belly button” (the penile sheath) located about half way up the abdomen, whereas females do not. Both genders have nipples, so that can’t be used to help find your pet’s gender.
Are there differences between genders?Besides anatomical differences, male and female hedgies are pretty much the same. Each individual hedgehog has its own personality. No particular gender is a better pet. Males also do not produce a stronger odor than females.
My hedgehog is losing lots of quills. What does this mean?Your hedgie most likely is quilling or has mites. If you know your hedgie is over a year old, it is most likely mites, or another insect/fungus related disease. Very flaky skin and bald spots indicate mites or a fungus. A vet can diagnose and treat mites. Quilling is perfectly healthy and all hedgies do it. They basically are shedding baby quills and getting adult ones, and is sometimes compared to human baby teething. It occurs at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and sometimes again at a year. Your hedgie will most likely be a bit more temperamental and uncomfortable. You wouldn’t like needles poking through your skin either! A warm oatmeal bath helps, and make sure you are extra gentle.
Handling and Behavior
How do I pick up my hedgie?The best way to pick up a hedgie is to scoop him up with both hands under the belly, like a cradle. If the hedgie balls up quickly or already is in a ball, the best way to pick him up would be to use your hand or a blanket to roll him into your hands or the blanket.
My hedgehog hates me.How do I get it to like me?-No hedgehog hates humans. They may be scared, or angry, or have had a bad experience. The first thing to do to get a hedgie comfortable around you is to put a worn shirt that smells like you in their cage to sleep with. If you’ve just gotten your hedgie, let it settle into its new home before handling too much. Then, you can start off by placing hedgie in a blanket in your lap. Usually quiet, dark rooms will help them relax. You can gradually build up handling time from there. Also, new smells (such as other animals) may frighten your hedgie. Make sure you wash your hands before handling, as hedgie may not recognize you if you smell like a big scary dog.
My hedgie is foaming at the mouth and spreading on his quills! Does he have rabies?Nope! This is called “self-anointing”. No one knows why they do it, but it has been compared to “anting”, a behavior done by some birds. When a hedgie finds a new smell, or one they just like, they will froth at the mouth, contort themselves, and spread the saliva mix on their quills. Some hedgies do this often, some, never at all. Hedgies especially like to do this with new food. Be careful if you are feeding strawberries or something similar, you may end up with a pink hedgehog!
My hedgie’s got a bald spot on his head! What’s wrong?Nothing is wrong! This is called a “reverse mohawk”. There are no quills there because there are muscles which help the hedgie roll into a ball.
How do I trim my hedgehog’s nails?Nail trimming can be a challenge.
If you have a well-behaved hedgie, you should be able to simply grab each foot and cut the nails. This can be done when hedgie is on his back, standing, however you find comfortable. Many hedgies don’t like nail-trimming time, and will ball up. The best thing to try is to give his a warm bath, because they can’t ball up in water. You should be able to grab each foot and trim from there. If you can’t finish all the nails, don’t worry! You got this far, and just try getting the rest later.
Knowing how far to cut can be a bit difficult as well. You should be able to see the small pink blood vessel (the quick) in the nail. You want to cut just after that. Be careful not to cut too close, you may cut the quick, which is extremely painful, or put pressure on it, which hurts as well.
See Grooming or Toenail Clipping
How do I give my hedgehog a bath?Hedgies don’t need baths very often, but do get dirty feet from running on their wheel. If this is the case, a foot bath is better than a whole bath. To give a foot bath, simply run an inch or 2 of warm (not hot) water in the sink or tub, and let hedgie walk around. This will loosen and wash off the residue.
To give a whole bath is only a bit different. Fill the sink or tub with warm water to about belly level, so they can wade but do not have to swim. Gently pour the water over hedgie, and lather some soap on the fur and quills. Recommended soaps would be Aveeno Creamy Oatmeal Wash (baby) or any unscented colloidal oatmeal product. Remember that there shouldn’t be any drafts in the bathing area, and you should completely dry the hedgie before returning him to his cage.
See Grooming or Bathing
Getting a Hedgehog
Should I buy from a breeder or a pet store?Most will solidly say no to buying from a pet store. However, you have to realize that a hedgie in a pet store is going to be bought some time or another. You would be doing it a favor by being giving it an loving, educated home. However, by purchasing from a pet shop you are also encouraging them to get and sell more. The majority of pet store hedgies are sick and unhealthy, and many come from lines with genetic diseases and inbreeding. Buying from a breeder, you should be guaranteed a healthy baby with a lifetime warranty, pedigree, and post-sale support.
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