|Shopping Guide | Cage Options | Bedding Choices | Accessories | Toys
- Unfortunately, we have yet to find the perfect bedding to use with our hedgehogs. Almost every hedgehog owner and veterinarian has slightly different recommendations and opinions.
- Keep in mind no bedding manufacturer is going to label their product as inferior or dangerous to your pet. All bedding packages will say that particular bedding is healthy and safe.
- One needs to evaluate each type of bedding’s benefits as well as its risks and problems. Factor’s to take into consideration include: accessibility, toxicity, appearance, frequency of cleaning, and costs.
- The type of bedding you choose and use is one of the key factors in helping to determine the overall health and happiness of your pet.
- Most wood, paper, or other processed bedding can be dusty. Each brand will have different amounts of dust but handling practices and use can affect the amounts of dust in individual bags.
- Fluffy beddings tend to stick to your hedgehog and make quite a mess on the floor and are hazardous to your vacuum!
- We suggest avoiding fragrant bedding or bedding that has added chemicals.
- A deep layer of bedding will provide room for you to scoop under your hedgehog and it will provide a burrowing opportunity for your pet.
- Keep in mind some hedgehogs (and humans) are allergic to different types of bedding. If you notice a rash or skin irritation and you have eliminated mites as a source of the problem you may need to change the type of bedding you are using.
- Any bedding that you purchase can harbor mites. Mites can contaminate bedding at the source, at the distribution warehouse or at the pet store. A manufacturer can create a product that is mite free but it cannot control the environment from its facility to your home. It is always a good idea to inspect each new bag of bedding to make sure there is not contamination. One of our customers purchased a bag of quality bedding that was contaminated mites when the bag was first opened. It never hurts to be too careful.
- Hedgehogs are low to the ground so bedding can come in contact with their genital areas. You will need to monitor your hedgehog for signs of irritation or infection. Small particles can cling to these opening and cause urinary blockage.
- Dark colored bedding may disguise the true color of hedgie poop. Observing hedgie bowel movements is an important and simple way to monitor your hedgehog’s health.
- Soft woods such as pine are common but contain a certain risk because of the chemical components in the wood.
- Hedgehogs have a tendency to taste new beddings as part of their inquisitive nature. A small bedding sample typically isn’t harmful, but hedgehogs can develop bowel impactions from eating too much litter. It is difficult to determine exactly how much is too much but more than simple exploration would warrant removing the new bedding.
- Almost every brand and type of product will tell you THEY are the best. I have yet to see a product say they don’t work well but try them anyway. You will have to decide what product is best for you.
- We suggest starting out with the same type bedding that we use. The fewer changes for your hedgie in the beginning the better but once your hedgehog is acclimated to its new home it will accept changes much easier.
- We have seen young hedgehogs ingest copious amounts of new bedding simply for the sake of curiosity. This strange behavior is relatively rare but please be observant of your new pet. Remove your bedding immediately if you notice your hedgehog eating more than a sample “taste test”. Hedgehogs use their mouth and noses to explore so it is natural for them to sample new bedding. Try introducing new bedding slowly to see how the hedgehog reacts.
- Hedgehogs enjoy rooting around in bedding.
- A two to three inch thick layer of bedding is recommended for many types of pelleted litter and shavings.
- Only the soiled portions of the litter need to be removed on a regular basis. How accurate your hedgehog is with the litter pan and the type of bedding you are using will determine how frequently you will need to clean. Cleaning frequency can be as often as daily spot cleans or monthly complete bedding exchanges.
- Deep bedding may seem wasteful but some bedding brands recommend it to improve the function of the litter and rooting is a good enrichment activity for your hedgehogs.
- Any type of wood and most processed paper products in the form of shavings or flakes can be dusty after they have had a chance to break down. Excessive dust in shavings can cause pets sneeze or cause respiratory problems.
Types and Brands
Bedding to AVOID
- Cedar Shavings
- One doesn’t have to search very hard to find numerous warnings and studies showing the dangers of using cedar for animal, reptile or bird bedding. NEVER use cedar shavings because they contain a toxin called Plicatic Acid and other aromatic (volatile) hydrocarbon or phenol compounds.
- These phenols are what give the shavings their scent and what repel fleas and moths but they are the same compounds that lead to numerous problems in small mammals.
- The use of cedar shavings can lead to respiratory illnesses, liver problems and some types of cancer.
- To our knowledge the only recommended use by veterinarians is for filler in dog beds.
- Hay and straw
- Garden soil and leaves
- Bedding should be properly cleaned and processed to remove the risk of mites and other parasites.
The Cedar and Pine Debate
- Pine shavings and related products are by far the most common bedding material used in the pet industry.
- Pine shavings are easily accessible, are processed and packaged by numerous pet supply companies, and sold at almost every store that carries pet products.
- They are inexpensive to purchase compared to almost all other forms of bedding.
- Pine shavings do a relatively adequate job of absorbing urine
- Most brands are comfortable for small and large animals alike.
- Even though there are adverse effects of pine on animal health, the convenience and cost factors make it the top choice for many animal owners. One can compare it to the average American and our aversion to fast food. We know it isn’t good for us but we eat it anyway.
- Pine shavings and their derivatives are the LEAST recommended by veterinary professionals.
- Pine shavings do not contain the harmful Plicatic Acid that cedar shavings have but they contain high levels of Abietic Acid when not heat cured which can cause similar problems after lengthy exposure.
- The quality of shavings varies from manufacturer to manufacture. The size, shape, and texture of the chips play an important part in the effectiveness and safety of the product.
- Most bulk packages of shavings sold for livestock are not as meticulously dried and packaged as the smaller bags sold for smaller pets.
- Some shavings are dusty and they can make you and your pets sneeze or cause respiratory problems.
- If using pine shavings make sure they are kiln dried.
- The hedgehog’s cage is well ventilated.
- Other types of shavings contain lower amounts of aromatic hydrocarbons and are less toxic
- Aspen shavings are relatively safe bedding material.
- It is relatively inexpensive and available at most pet retailers.
- Aspen is typically a better choice than other wood shavings.
- This form of bedding is often reported to be better for hedgehogs with skin sensitivities but hedgehogs can have sensitivities to this bedding as well.
- Aspen is not as absorbent or as effective at odor control as many other bedding options.
- The texture is often course and rough and is therefore not as comfortable for many pets as some of the other options.
- Some aspen is so rough that the wood is almost spear-like splinters which can injure hedgie eyes when they are curling into a ball.
- Large flaky shavings are softer and ideal but are extremely difficult to find.
Pelleted Wood Bedding
- Pelleted pine is our current bedding of choice. There are some long-term health risks but when evaluated against effectiveness, accessibility, costs, and comfort the benefits outweigh the negative aspects for us.
- We use only pelleted 100% pine horse bedding or pelleted pine kitty litter with our hedgehogs.
- There are different brands of wood pellets and we suggest evaluating them before use. Not all wood pellets are 100% pine and some may contain a blend of soft woods. Some wood that is irritating to your hedgehog.
- The two best horse beddings we have tried are Equine Pine and Woody Pet. We prefer Equine Pine to Woody Pet. Pestell also has a brand of pelleted pine. It is also acceptable but we have found it to be not quite as good as Equine Pine.
- Woody Pet’s website states:
- “Raw White Soft Wood Shavings and Sawdust undergoes extreme processing which extracts most of the resins, oils, tars, acids and water from the wood fiber. Exiting the milling process the product is completely sterile in granulated form and has become an extreme absorbent. Looks like, but does not taste like Granola. We have eliminated the Dangerous Aromatic Hydrocarbons . There are NO ADDITIVES of any kind in this product, it is 100% Biodegradable Sterile Wood Fiber.”
- Brands of pelleted kitty litter include but are not limited to: Gentle Touch, Feline Pine, and Cat Country (Critter Country) Organic Litter.
- Aspen pellets are another excellent option and are found in many pet stores. Aspen Supreme is a common brand of pelleted Aspen.
- We do take care to use a four-inch crock, which helps to keep the bedding out of the food.
- We believe the biggest benefit of the wood pellets is that it draws the moisture out of feces eliminating much of the odor.
- It breaks down into a sawdust type material when it gets wet. The finer dust tends to settle to the bottom leaving the larger pellets on top.
- It is fairly easy to spot clean without cleaning the entire cage. Only the dirty areas need to be cleaned instead of an entire cage cleaning so it allows you to clean the cage less frequently than some of the other types of bedding.
- Another big benefit is that this bedding does not stick to your hedgehog the way shavings do so you don’t have bedding all over the floor around your hedgehog’s cage.
- Should the hedgehog eat a significant amount of the bedding the bedding could cause very serious problems such as intestinal blockages.
- It may become a little dusty if a majority of the pellets are broken down.
- Again, since this is a wood product there is some concern about toxins within the wood.
Pelleted Newspaper Products
- Pelleted newspaper products are generally made from recycled newspaper.
- They have little odor and have are generally the size and shape of rabbit pellets.
- Purina’s Yesterday’s News is a popular pelleted kitty or ferret litter.
- Second Nature Dog Litter is similar to Yesterdays News only it is cheaper. It is reported to work well at controlling smell but we do not have personal experience with this product.
- One must take care to ensure that the hedgehog does not ingest this product. It will expand and swell and could seriously harm or kill your pet.
- The dark gray color of this product may make the cage look dirty or disguise abnormal hedgie poop.
Fluffy Paper Products
- Some products like Care Fresh are made out of 100% wood pulp and is light and fluffy.
- It is very absorbent and doesn’t disintegrate when wet.
- We have had some reports that it is virtually dust free as well as conflicting reports that it is very dusty. We have found it to be just slightly dusty and the amount of dust depends on handling and burrowing of the animal.
- Several colors and varieties are available.
- Many veterinarians recommend Care Fresh Ultra.
- The traditional gray color is not very attractive and may make the cage look dirty or disguise abnormal hedgie poop.
- .We have found for best odor control and appearance cages should be cleaned twice a day.
- There is a small risk of the hedgehog ingesting this material with food or out of hedgehog curiosity.
- Paper swells when wet and can cause an intestinal blockage.
- This product is so lightweight that it may be kicked out of wire cages. It is clingy and can be difficult for a vacuum cleaner to sweep up.
- Cell-Sorb-Plus is SAFE GREEN PRODUCT. Cell-Sorb Plus is heat treated and made with recycled paper and a non-toxic, patented, neutralizing chemical (gypsum). There are no enzymes or biocides in the paper bedding to control odor. The ink in the paper is soybean based. . (http://www.cell-sorb-plus.com).
- The pieces are about 1/2” long and are quite chunky and heavy so they are heavier than Care Fresh but flakier and softer than a pelleted product.
- It is virtually dust free but the pieces can crumble.
- The manufacturer claims it completely eliminates ammonia levels for up to 3 weeks. Cell-Sorb Plus is 400% more absorbent than wood shavings. It absorbs urine; neutralizes urine odor and allows the liquid to evaporate. It even pulls the moisture out and dries the feces. (http://www.cell-sorb-plus.com).
- According to the manufacturer it is more economical to use than wood shavings. You don't have to change it as often so you use less and you have less to dispose of. Also, it can be flushed (in moderate quantities). . (http://www.cell-sorb-plus.com).
- Cell-Sorb Plus is environmentally friendly because it is biodegradable and can be used as a landscaping fertilizer and soil conditioner. (http://www.cell-sorb-plus.com).
- The dark gray color of this product may make the cage look dirty or disguise abnormal hedgie poop.
- It may be hard to find.
- We found that our cages needed to be cleaned more frequently when compared to pelleted pine.
- Plain, unprinted newsprint can be used in sheets to line the bottom of the cage.
- Most newspapers will give away or sell very cheaply the paper at the end of their newsprint rolls.
AirLite Critter Chips
- Critter Chips is AirLite’s small pet bedding. It is “double cut” to produce a smaller sized, randomly shaped chip. Virtually dust-free and very absorbent, all their bedding products absorb up to three times their weight in water.
- Low-dust environments reduce the likelihood of wood-dust induced respiratory irritations and allergies, in both the animal and caretaker.
- All AirLite’s products are produced with recycled cardboard. They proudly pursue adding to the environment by recycling, composting and other means rather than encroaching on nature's habitat.
- Critter Chips are a great bedding for a wide assortment of small and medium size animals including but not limited to: birds, cats, dogs rodents, cavies, ferrets and pot-bellied pigs.
- Packaging: 7.3 Liter (1.75 lb) Bag 26 Liter (1 cu ft) Bag 30 lb, 7 cu ft (shop) Bag
- The above information was taken from their website www.airliteusa.com
- At this time we have not been able to try this product for ourselves.
- Different types of fabric are good options for people with allergies or hedgehogs with bedding sensitivities.
- Many owners like the fact that the bedding is recyclable and stores easily.
- Fabric is less likely to harbor mites than other products.
- There are no wood splinters, dust, or small pieces to get on the floor.
- One must be diligent to watch for any loose threads that can wrap around toes or feet. Beth Ann Breitweiser, DVM, at All Wild Things Exotic Animal Hospital in Indianapolis, IN, spoke to me at length about the dangers of loose threads and small fibers from fabric. A small fiber or thread can cause permanent damage to a toe or foot in less than six hours. She has amputated many toes and feet at her practice due to this type of injury.
- Be careful with woven or knit materials. Loose strings or threads can get wrapped around hedgies legs and toes.
- Always check handmade items for loose threads at the seams and all bedding for holes or other potential dangers.
- This type of bedding may not be a good idea for hedgies who are not litter box trained. Fabric absorbency can be affected by fabric softeners and how new the material is at time of use. New material and fabric washed with fabric softeners may cause the urine to puddle.
- The relatively smooth surface may allow for accessories to slide and be tipped by your hedgehog.
- Some hedgehog owners choose to wash their hedgie laundry with Dreft or other detergent for sensitive skin just to be on the safe side and to reduce the possibility of fragrance irritations.
- You will want to provide your hedgie extra pieces of material to burrow under or snuggle in so that the hedgie doesn’t burrow under the fabric cage liner.
- Light weight accessories may need to be anchored to the bedding with Velcro.
- We suggest using light colors of fabric so that you can detect changes in urine and stool color or consistency that darker fabric colors may hide.
- Bleach will break down the fabric so other antibacterial cleaning methods should be explored.
- Many hedgehog hobbyists prefer to use Vellux blankets (found in the bedding section of Wal-Mart or similar store) in the bottom of hedgie cages as an alternative to bedding.
- One vellux blanket can be cut into several small pieces to fit the size of the hedgehog’s cage.
- The blanket pieces can be changed every two to three days, washed, and reused.
- Vellux will generally hold its shape for many washings, will not unravel, and will hold up to hedgies scratching it.
- Do not use bleach on vellux because it can break down the blanket fibers.
- Fleece is relatively inexpensive and can be found most places where fabric is sold.
- The anti-pill varieties might last longer and wear better than traditional fleece.
- Do not bleach because it may cause break down of the material. Follow manufacturer suggested washing instructions.
- Fleece is relatively inexpensive and can be found most places where fabric is sold.
- These thick pads are found in the baby section of many department stores.
- They are excellent options for families who no longer need them.
- Corn cob is relatively inexpensive but care must be taken to keep the cage clean and dry.
- Corncob bedding has a tendency to retain liquids and it molds very quickly. Many molds are respiratory toxins. Frequent cleaning can decrease the potential of this problem.
- The corncob can stick to the genitalia of male hedgehogs.
- It can get caught in the penile sheath and be dragged up inside, and cause great irritation, raw sores, infection and an inability to urinate.
Pelleted Straw or What Grasses
- Oxbow Hay’s Eco-Straw is made out of 100% wheat straw.
- Citter Country is made from Western Red Winter Wheat Grass and several other fibers.
- Critter Country is safe if ingested, as it contains NO chemicals or additives that could be harmful.
- These products are highly absorbent, relatively dust free, and are heat treated to eliminate mites and other pests.
- Both are biodegradable and can be composted or flushed down the toilet.
- Veterinarians highly recommended these products over wood pellets based on the qualities mentioned above.
- Mountain Meadows Pet Products, Inc. was gracious enough to allow us to try Critter Country. We were very happy with this product but cages did need cleaned more frequently than with pelleted pine.
- Since we are maintaining multiple animals this product is not a feasible option for us but we highly recommend it for pet use.
- Some customers have had success using this indoor outdoor carpet as a cage liner.
- These liners can be easily cleaned but this type of bedding works best with pets that are litter box trained.
- One must be very careful that the edges don’t ravel. Loose strings can easily wrap around a leg and cut off circulation.
Disposable cage liners
- Pooch pads that are used for housebreaking puppies are designed to combat odor and germs.
- Chux are human bed liners and can be found at home health care stores.
- These products are wonderful for sick or injured animals.
- Tortoise, bearded dragon and other herp owners frequently use rabbit or guinea pig pellets as bedding and the trend has carried over to other pet owners
- If the hedgehog should eat the pellets there is less chance of impaction than with other bedding.
- Soiled bedding is great compost and environmentally friendly.
- Bedding MUST be kept dry because mold, mildew and bacteria can become a dangerous problem with damp or wet bedding.
- This confetti like products is commonly used in laboratories.
- This is a high quality product but it is also more expensive than other bedding options.
- You can call 1-800-881-1930
- A clean cage is essential to health and well being of your pet.
- The general rule of thumb is that if the cages stinks to you it is going to smell a whole lot worse to your pet.
- We do not recommend the use of perfumes or deodorizers because they can encourage us to be more lax in cage cleaning.
- Dirty cages can cause respiratory and skin infections for your hedgehog. Our rule of thumb is that if the cage smells bad to use it probably smells really bad to our hedgies!
- The average hedgehog cages needs thoroughly cleaned once a week but spot cleaning may extend the life of the bedding.
- Different types of bedding have different absorbency levels so your cage may need cleaned more of less frequently depending on the size and general messiness of your hedgehog.
- Please refer to our Hedgehog Cage guide for more cleaning information.