Their prickly exterior may suggest otherwise, but hedgehogs are warm, friendly creatures that can make great family pets.
They may be small animals, but hedgehogs actually need plenty of room to keep them occupied in their pet cage.
Pet owners, before you bring your new hedgehog home, make sure that their new hedgehog cage needs are met. A hedgehog cage needs to be stocked with everything necessary to keep them happy and healthy.
Hedgehogs need a minimum of 2.5 to 3 square feet of floor space to explore. You can purchase larger wire cages from the pet store, but you can also build your own. You could also use a guinea pig cage or rabbit cage since they can accommodate most small pets.
You actually don't need a new cage. Many hedgehog owners choose to use a large tub or storage container rather than a store-bought small animal cage. They may not be as pretty, but you get more space for your money. Just make sure there's enough room for all the hedgehog essentials!
There are many different options when it comes to small animal bedding, and most of them are fine for hedgehogs to use. Whether you choose wood chips or a recycled newspaper-based bedding is up to personal preference.
The only type of bedding that should be avoided is any type of woodchip with cedar in it. Cedar has aromatic oils that can cause respiratory problems in hedgehogs that can lead to death.
For water, you can choose between using a water bowl you place in the cage or a water bottle that attaches to the side of the cage. Again, the decision is based on personal preference, cage size, and what your hedgehog is used to.
Like hamsters, hedgehogs run a lot. Hedgehogs can run up to 12 miles a night, making an exercise wheel a critical item for their cage. When choosing a wheel for your hedgehog, stick to the plastic ones with the flat bottoms, not the wire ones. The reason for this is that hedgehogs actually have very small feet that can become stuck between the wires while running, resulting in serious injury.
Due to their size, the wheel you choose should also be 12 inches in diameter or larger. Even if this seems pretty large for your baby hedgehog, they will quickly grow into it.
Unlike their wild relatives, pet hedgehogs do not hibernate. In fact, hibernation can be deadly to pet hedgehogs. This is why you want to make sure that your hedgehog's pet habitat is in a nice, warm location.
If you're worried about them being too cold in the winter, you can add some additional bedding or blanket into the area they sleep. Sleeping sacks are great for providing additional warmth and an additional place for your hedgehog to hide out.
Hedgehogs also like tunneling and exploring, so including different climbing structures and larger tubes is also a good idea.
If you're looking for a way to encourage your hedgehog's natural burrowing behavior, try filling a small container with pieces of material and hiding pieces of food in it. Your hedgehog will enjoy digging through the materials to find the tasty food.
Once the cage is filled with these necessary items, you're ready for your new hedgehog.
Enjoy your new homes, spiky friends!
This post was originally published on April 2, 2016.
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