Where to begin.... There are so many options it's hard to know where to start. If I forget any or you come up with something new, e-mail me and let me know.
- Fish Tanks
- Fish tanks are readily available, fairly cheap, and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They even come with stands and bases that can make for a very attractive home. However, the absolute minimum (and I do mean minimum) size is a 20-gallon long aquarium. Bigger is definitly better. If you can't do any better, then make sure that your hedgie gets a lot of playtime outside of his cage.
- Rabbit/Guinea Pig Cages
- Also available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, they are usually cheaper then fishtanks, and offer more options and moving room. These are what I house a part of my herd in. Keep in mind that if the holes are too big a hedgehog could walk right through the gaps, and if the wire is small enough, they make wonderful ladders. In addition the bottoms and some of the sides will have to be covered with
something so that feet and shaving will not fall through. Vinly flooring works nicely, cleans easily, and sometimes you can get scraps, old samples or remnants free or dirt cheap from places that sell flooring.
- Wood Cages
- Like the way those nice spaceous wooden rabbit cages look or want to build your own? I would suggest that you don't. For one, many of them are made with cedar wood (a big no no) or have the possibility of splinters. In addition, they are really unsanitary and you're asking for your hedgehog to get sick. Please pick something else.
- Plexiglass Cages
- I have seen large plexiglass cages out there marketed for hedgehogs and other small pets. They are perfectly fine and safe, but keep a few things in mind. Are there anough air holes for ventilation? If there are ramps in the cage, are they too steep for a hedgehog to go up and down on? Are there any corners sticking out to catch a hedgehog on? In addition, they are usually cost prohibitive.
If you have the skills and the equipment to build you own plexiglass paradise, more power to you, just keep in mind the tips above.
- Plastic Critter Cages
- Most of you are going to think I'm repeating the plexiglass thing above, but I'm talking about those small plastic critter cages with the brightly colored snap on lids. Feel free to keep your crickets or mealworms in them, but I wouldn't feel comfortable putting hampsters in them let along a hedgehog. They're too small and lack adequate ventilation, even for travel. Please pass on these.
- Dog Kennels
- Use one for medium to large size dogs and let the games begin. Just keep in mind that if the width of wire openings is too large you and you're pet may be playing hide and seek real soon. you can even put them end to end and make a larger cage. Have fun, kennells come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and can be opened up and cleaned easily.
- Free Range
- Some owners let there hedgehogs roam free around the house or a particular room of their house.This is fine as long as a few details are taken care of. The same goes for any housing arrangement. Only one hedgehog allowed in a living area at a time. Two, get rid of hazards, like stairs, wires, and things that could trap or fall on them. Three, it would probable be a good idea to try and get them
litter trained before trying this, or it could turn your home into a hedgehog style minefield.
- Giant Tupperware/Plastic Bins
- You can also use large plastic bins (with lids) that look kind of like tupperware. Just make sure that you make plenty of air holes. They're very cheap, but make sure that you find ones big enough (no smaller then 20 gallons). These can be fun. Add a few bins together and toss in some tubing and you can have a hedgehog complex. Just make sure that the hedgehogs can fit in the tubing, and that the slope isn't too steep for them to manage. Huge storage bins can easily be found at home improvement stores and places like Walmart and Kmart for really good prices, so there's no reason to skimp on size. I also use plastic bins to house my herd in.
- Pet Carriers
- These come in all shapes and sizes. And if you have a hedgehog in one and want to give him more room, then take the top off, lay it upsidown next to the bottom hale with the openings facing each other, clamp the sides together, and voila, you have just doubled your space. Just make sure that the sides are tall enough to prevent escape (and remember that they will use anything as a ladder).
- Wading Pools
- These are large and have excellent ventilation. They are also usually just high enough to prevent escape provided that enough stuff isn't in the cage to make a homemade ladder out of. More them one hedgehog has made a comfortable home in one of these. They are usually pretty cheap, and sometimes you can even find them by the side of the road when people who are getting rid of them set them out for garbage collection. They also make great playpens
Just clean them really well before you out your pet in a used pool (or new for that matter, they can get dusty).
In several cases where a person has been allergic to hedgehogs, the bedding turned out to be the real culprit. Here is every single option that I know of. If you have a new one, let me know.
- Cedar Shavings
- Don't Use These. Cedar chips contain a large amount of phenols (the oils that make them smell good) which can kill small animals easily. Use something else.
- Pine Shavings
- These are cheap, easy to find, and safe. However, pine contains phenols just like cedar. If you can find a bag that says "kiln dried" on it, that process gets rid of the oils. Most kinds available in pet stores are not kiln dried, that's why they still smell piney. A good place to find the kiln dried variety is a place with horses and horse stuff. They use them in stalls and they are usually kiln dried (In addition, they are usually much cheaper then in a pet store).
- Aspen Shavings
- Although more expensive then pine shavings, these contain no dangerous oils. In addition, albino hedgehogs sometimes have very sensitive skin. I switched mine to aspen and the flakey skin disapeared. One more plus is that they are digestible if a hedgehog eats some.
- Green Chlorophyl Shavings
- Supposidly the chlorophyl in the shavings reduces odors. Frankly, I suspect that's it's really green food coloring and they're depending on the oils in the wood to get rid of odors. The only thing I noticed was a green tinge to the feet of my hedgehogs. I don't think it will do anything bad, but why bother?
- Shredded Newspaper
- This stuff can help you in a pinch, but please don't use it on a regular basis. It isn't absorbent enough and who knows what long term exposure to the ink might to (perhaps black feet?).
- Corn Cob
- I really can't reccomend this type of bedding. The pellets can get caught in some delicate places or cause chocking or impaction if swallowed. Corn cob litter gets moldy when it's wet, and it rots and smelld really bad. In addition, it harbors mites and other parasites too often for comfort. Use something else please.
- Terrarium lining or Astroturf
- This stuff gets rid of just about any problem with any other bedding. This is also the best alternative for people with bedding allergies. Buy two lengths for your cage. When you wash one and set it out to dry you can put the other one in the cage. Make sure to buy the kind that is almost like regular carpet. The tinsel-like stuff can actually cut their feet. As for ravaling edges, something hot (like an iron) can take care of that little problem.
- Care Fresh
- It's a pelleted beddeing made from reclaimed wood pulp waste. This is an option for those of you who are environmentally concerned. It's a little bit expensive and not always easy to find though. In addition, it can cause choking if swallowed (as with all pelleted bedding). So try to keep it away from the food dish and watch your younger hedgehogs.
- Yesterday's News
- This stuff is made out of pelletized recycled newspaper and works pretty good (I personally use it as litter in litter boxes). It comes in a ferret pellet size and a variety that is actually meant to be used as cat litter. I have heard absolutly no complaints whatsoever (from hedgehogs or their slaves) about this bedding. The cat litter size works a little better then the smaller ferret pellets. I would stay away from the Lemon scented variety though. Hedgehogs don't like citrus.
- Non-Clumping Cat Litter
- Don't use it. Ever. Period. It can get caught in delicate places and the dust is horrible.
- Aquarium Gravel
- This is the colored epoxy coated kind. It's not absorbent or warm, but it's fairly safe and doesn't irritate allergies like other beddings can. However, cleaning it can be an amazingly difficult task, and you still need to provide a soft and warm bedding area for your pet.
It's important to keep a never ending supply of fresh water available for your pet. I would suggest using a water bottle instead of a bowl unless you don't mind the bowl being tipped over all the time and swampy conditions in the cage. Check the water botthe regularly to make sure that the ball moves freely and water can get to your pet. In addition, find one that attaches securely to the side of their cage. It's not a fun task to pick shavings out of the nozzle of a water bottle.
Another thing to keep in mind is that in aquariums (which I no longer use), my hedgehogs all had this trick of grabbing the metal nozzel, pulling it away from the wall of the cage, and letting it go. It made a wonderfully loud thunk noise. I just thought I'd warn you.
There are as many options for feeding a hedgehog as there are people on this planet that know what one looks like. The ones below are only a few of the possible choices. My next project is to create a page just for feeding.
- Commercial Hedgehog Food
- There are quite a few varieties available, but not all of them are all that great, or readily available. In addition, most of them are still not complete, and still need supplementing.
- Cat Food
- Both dry and wet cat food are real options. Many a hedgehog has thrived on cat food. Dry cat food is a good base, and wet cat food can be used as a treat (or as an aid to weaning). Just pick a good quality one with real meat as its base. Supplementation is still required. One warning though, Iams cat food has been linked to Fatty Liver Disease in Hedgehogs. Although Iams is perfectly safe to use with cats, please don't use it with your hedgehog.
- Raw Meat
- NEVER EVER USE RAW MEAT. Always cook it first to get rid of bacteria.
- Cooked meat
- Cooked lean meat, or packaged lean lunch meats are ok, but they are better as treats or in supplementation to another incomplete hedgehog food.
Whatever you house your hedgehog in, it needs good ventilation. Without fresh air, sickness is sure to show up sooner or later.
Try to keep where your hedgehog is at between 70-75 degrees F. Anything much below that isn't healthy and can cause semi hibernation, and high temperatures can cause problems too.
Feel free to use your imagination. Let me know of any that I forget.
- See the section below about wheels
- Toilet Paper Tube
- Hedgehogs can keep themselves occupied with these for hours on end, but some tend to get stuck in them and need to be helped free. You might want to cut them from end to end to make sure that doesn't happen, just please round the corners so he won't get hurt on any sharp edges.
- Dig up a hunk of dirt/sod from outside with grass still attached that your hedgehog can root around in. They love it. There is a slight chance that parasites or pesticides could be brought in from the outside, but it's pretty slim. The choice is yours.
- Get 12" flourpot saucers and play sand that has had the silica washed out (silica can cause lung problems). Add one hedgehog and watch the fun. They do this with kitty litter too.
- You can use a kids wading pool or one of those large round plastic bins with rope handles, fill them with shavings and an assortment of toys, and they can have a good old time.
- Climbing Toys
- Hedgehogs like to climb over and under just about anything. Make sure that it doesn't offer an escape route for your hedgie to get out and about.
- Maybe you can let your hedgehog do some exploring? Just make sure that any hazards are blocked off and that he can't get into, or under, anything dangerous.
- Cat Toys
- You know those little round balls with or without bells inside? Guess what? They make really good toys. Try and stay away from the ones with catnip in them. And keep in mind that if they're the kind with slits in the side, shavings will eventually fill the entire ball.
- Guinea Pig Balls
- These are those large balls that people can stick guinea pigs in (or mice/hampsters/rats/etc in for the smaller sizes) and let them roll around in a large area without having to worry about losing them anywhere. Just make sure that they can't roll down any stairs.
- I don't think this one needs explained. Experiment and have fun. Just make sure that your pet can't get hurt on anything.
For most hedgehogs a wheel is a must. Just keep a few things in mind.
- 1. The wheel must have a solid running surface.
- Hedgehog feet will slip through gaps. And even if the gaps are too small for their feet to slip through, it can still cause sores and other injuries. Wire wheels must be modified.
- 2. Hedgehogs go on the go.
- It is a well known fact that hedgehogs like to defecate while on the move. Wheels can get really messy, and if you don't clean them your hedgehog will get just as messy. You have to clean them on a regular basis. This makes wood a bad choice for wheels (It sticks to wood like krazy glue).
- 3. Pad any spokes on the wheel.
- Hedgehogs have been known to look behind them as they run, only to look really startled as they find out two things. One, they haven't gone anywhere, and two, that something just hit them in the face and they don't know who did it. Padding the spokes can reduce or eliminate any chance of injury.
- 4. Wheels squeak.
- Petroleum jelly can cure this, and you don't have to worry about your hedgehog eating any of it either.
There are many places you can buy wheels, here are a few of them.
Haba Exotic Animals and Enclosures
For a litter box feel free to use anything that is large enough that they can easily get into and out of. You can get ones at pet stores or cut a door out of cheap tupperware. A word to the wise... Try and get it heavy enough so that they can't actually tip it over.
- Clumping Cat Litter
- Don't ever use this anywhere near you hedgehog. They are so low to the ground that wet litter will stick to their belly and form a layer of kitty litter cement that will prevent urination or get stuck in a male's penis sheath.
- Yesterday's News
- You can use it as regular bedding as well, but it makes a really decent litter.
- Corn Cob
- You shouldn't use this as litter for the same reasons you shouldn't use it as bedding.
- Feel free to try, but it will probably end up as a playbox. They love to root and sand is perfect.
- Alternate forms of bedding
- Pretty much any of the safe beddings in the bedding section can be used for litter. Experiment and see what works best for you, just try and keep any litter fairly low dust.