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|Shopping Guide | Cage Options | Bedding Choices | Accessories | Toys
- Choosing a cage is one of the important decisions you will have to make for your pet. Your hedgehog’s home and environment are one of the keys in determining the quality of life and longevity of your pet.
- In the wild hedgehogs are reported to travel 4-7 miles per night so it is best to provide the largest space possible for your new pet. Hedgehogs with plenty of room tend to be healthier and happier because they can exercise and explore.
- Hedgehogs need plenty of room to move about and play. The minimum size recommended by most hedgehog enthusiasts is 24” x 24” or four square feet. Your cage should have enough room for a wheel, litter box, and sleeping bag or nest box, and eating area.
- Smaller cages have been recommended over the years but they are certainly not the ideal and will not accommodate the recommended accessories.
- There are many options for types of enclosures for hedgehogs. The cage should provide sufficient room, be well ventilated, easily cleaned, and be able to accommodate additional heat sources if necessary.
- Some enclosures have an open top. An adventurous hedgehog may try to escape. We believe it is easier and safer to prevent an escape than to locate a missing hedgehog.
Our personal favorite and what we offer in our cage combination packages:
- Wire cages with a solid bottom and a deep pan are often used as hedgehog cages.
- They are well ventilated and easy and safe to heat with a ceramic heat emitter.
- One advantage of wire cages that are specially designed for ground dwelling animals such as guinea pigs, rabbits, and hedgehogs is that there is more floor space than in an aquarium, birdcage and some modified cages.
- Cages of this type are strong enough to adequately house hedgehogs and most are able to protect them from other pets and small children. There is however, a huge difference in quality and some brands are easily damaged in daily maintenance.
- Pans that are six inches deep or deeper are preferred to more shallow pans. Deep pans not only contain the bedding within the cage but they also prevent the hedgehog from climbing.
- Plastic pans are generally preferred over metal pans. Both are light weight but plastic will not rust and plastic will maintain it integrity over time. Metal that has begun to rust is harder to clean and disinfect than plastic. Metal will also conduct heat much differently which may be a problem when trying to provide additional heat sources for your pet.
- Wire floors are NOT acceptable for hedgehogs. Their tiny feet can get caught in the wire and it is very difficult for the hedgehog to walk.
Plastic Storage Containers
- This style of cage is popular with many breeders.
- Clear plastic tubs can be purchased relatively cheap.
- They are lightweight and easy to transport.
- Storage containers can be easily cleaned and disinfected.
- Lids can be left on, drilled or cut in the middle for ventilation
- One problem with plastic tubs is finding one large enough and tall enough to accommodate the wheel and other accessories without customizing your cage.
- Some hedgehog owners connect several tubs together to create a habitat large enough for their pet. This option works well if you have creativity and plenty of space.
- You can purchase “clear” cages but even the clear style does inhibit easy viewing of your new pet. Many of our customers enjoy watching their hedgehogs, which is difficult to do with this style of housing unless you are standing directly over the cage.
- Solid color storage tubs are often larger and sturdier than the plastic tubs but we recommend against them because they have practically no visibility for your hedgehog. One must also take into consideration the hedgehog’s need for environmental stimulation when choosing housing for your pet.
- You must be careful when using additional heat sources with these cages.
- Under-tank heaters can melt the bottom plastic.
- Heat emitters or heat lamps may cause problems with the top of the cage.
- The tall sides may block heat from a nearby space heater.
- Lids can be left off if you know the hedgehog cannot escape but solid hiding places or hanging water bottles can be used to give your hedgie a boost up and over the top.
- Large aquariums can be used to house hedgehogs.
- We recommend at minimum of a 20-gallon long size but the larger sizes are much better. A 20-gallon aquarium will not accommodate an appropriate sized wheel.
- The main drawback of using a glass aquarium is that most aquariums are narrow and tall in order to best display fish or reptiles. Hedgehogs need lots of floor space and in order to have the floor space you will need a large aquarium.
- The larger the aquarium the more costly, heavier, cumbersome, and difficult it is to clean. For this reason they are not ideal unless you already have a large aquarium in your possession.
- It is important to use a screen or wire top and NOT the glass covering used for fish. This will allow better ventilation into the aquarium.
- Children’s wading pools can be ideal housing if you have plenty of space and take a few precautions to prevent escapes.
- These pools have plenty or room for hedgie play and some people use these pools as a supervised play area.
- You must make sure there are no accessories that can be used as ladders to boost your hedgehog up and over the top of the pool. One way to make the sides taller is to cut out the bottom of a second pool and invert it over the top of the first one. The edges can be riveted, stapled, or screwed together.
- The disadvantages of this style of housing are that they are cumbersome and that they will block the view of your pet.
Climbing Objects and Multi-Level Cages
- We feel that multi-level ferret or rabbit cages, climbing branches, ramps, and ladders are only a good idea for your hedgehog only if you take several precautions.
- We recommend avoiding the above situations because providing more floor space with accessories or toys is a much safer alternative.
- Hedgehogs are quite capable of climbing up, but they are not so graceful in the descent.
- Their toes are fairly short and are not made for grasping and hanging on.
- Their legs are relatively small in comparison to their body mass. They simply do not have the strength to resist the pull of gravity.
- Their eyesight is very poor and so they have very little depth perception.
- The most natural way for hedgehogs to get down from a high place is to curl themselves into a ball and free-fall.
- Many claim that hedgehogs have naturally built in “shock absorbers” and that their spines will protect them in a fall. However, hedgehogs may still bruise him self or break a bone from an ill-fated fall.
- It has also been reported that spines can actually puncture backward into the animal.
- In order to provide a safe climbing experience some hedgehog owners use multi-level ferret or rabbit cages and line the ramps with plastic mesh or cover with an all-purpose carpet. This keeps little feet from being injured but might be quite messy if the hedgehog is not litter trained.
- The bottom pan of multi-level cages should be padded with several inches of shock absorbing bedding.
- Most hedgehog experts would agree that tree branches and ladders are NOT a good idea.
- Try think of ideas that encourage your hedgehog to burrow or tunnel instead of climbing. New material, sand (clean and disinfected such as what is used for reptiles) in the corner, or other ideas would stimulate burrowing.
Cage Placement and Temperature
- Cages should be placed in a warm, comfortable room in an area that is free from drafts and should not be placed in direct sunlight. Normal sunlight in a room is fine but temperatures in direct sunlight can be much higher than in the rest of the room.
- Millermeade Farms and our customers have found that hedgehogs seem to prefer the warmer end of the temperature range and are most comfortable between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Some references indicate that hedgehogs can tolerate temperatures as low as 65 degrees Fahrenheit but it is our experience that temperatures this low can be dangerous for your pet. A chilled hedgehog will attempt a false hibernation and that can be deadly. Lower temperatures can be an environmental stress for your hedgehog which will affect the overall health of your pet.
- We have found hedgehogs tend to be healthier, more active, and eat better in warmer temperatures.
- Refer to our Keeping Your Hedgehog Warm guide for more information on this subject.
- We do not caution when using perfumes or deodorizers because they can encourage us to be more lax in cage cleaning.
- Dirty cages and resulting build up of bacteria can cause or increase the risk of respiratory and skin infections.
- Our rule of thumb is that if the cage smells bad to use it probably smells really bad to our hedgies!
- The average hedgehog cage 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.
- Refer to our Bedding Guide for more information on types of bedding available.
- Pelleted beddings may allow you to sift the good bedding from the soiled bedding to be reused after the bottom has been cleaned.
- It is a good idea to thoroughly wash or soak the plastic bottom when doing a complete bedding change. Plastic can absorb odor and a good disinfection will help to eliminate lingering odors.
- Almost every cleaning product should be thoroughly rinsed from your cage before putting your hedgehog back into the cage.
- Nolvasan is a popular cleaning product used by veterinarians and breeders of various kinds of animals. It can be purchased online or through your veterinarian.
- A two step cleaning process with hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar is reported to kill more bacteria and is much safer than bleach. It is non-toxic and effective at eliminating odors. The hydrogen peroxide must be stored in the original dark container and should not be premixed with the vinegar. Either the hydrogen peroxide or the bleach can be sprayed or wiped on with a rag and then the other product applied when the first is still wet.