Bringing your new baby home can be exciting and also
a little nerve racking especially if you are a
first time hedgehog owner.
When choosing the right cage for your hedgehog avoid rabbit cages that have mesh or wire grates across the floor of the cage. I recommend using a ferret or guinea pig cage that is no smaller than 30" x 18" x 16". Plastic sterilite tubs have become popular as a cost effective way to provide your hedgehog with more room, but you should steer clear of them unless you plan to drill holes for ventilation.
I use water bottles to supply my hedgehogs with a clean supply of water. I have used dishes in the past but they just end up dumping the dish or playing in it and then you just end up with a big mess in the cage so I recommend water bottles.
Hedgehogs are extremely active at night and a wheel is a must for every hedgehog! There are several different types of wheels for you to choose from and it really depends on your preference. I use 12" wheels but anything above 9" will work just fine. It is common for your hedgehog to potty while they are running on the wheel, which can cause them to get dirty feet. I recommend washing the wheels frequently to keep your hedgehogs wheel sanitary. An easy way to clean dirty hedgehog feet is to grab a small pan (I use a dish pan with sides that are tall enough so that they can't climb out) and pour just enough warm water in the bottom to cover their feet. While the hedgehog walks around in the water it will clean their little toes!
In order to provide your new baby with a comfortable bed you should purchase a small shelter, snuggle sack, or blanket for your hedgehog to curl up in while sleeping. Every hedgehog will have their own preference, but I provide both an igloo house and fleece blanket for each of my hedgehogs. I have some hedgehogs that despise the igloo houses and I have some that love them.
The type of bedding that you use for your hedgehog is very crucial. Cedar shavings should NEVER be used as bedding for your hedgehog! Pine shavings can be used but I have heard of the strong odor from pine shavings causing upper respiratory infections so if you are going to use pine shavings make sure the cage has plenty of ventilation. I use a mixture of half aspen and half pine shavings but a lot of people prefer Carefresh, however all of these types of bedding have the potential of harboring mites and through personal experience I do not recommend Carefresh. I received a tip from another breeder that if you put your bedding in the freezer for 48 hours before using it, that it will eliminate any stowaways in your bedding.
Please see the tab in the upper left corner labeled Our Hedgehog Diet. Here we will go over everything you will need to know about what to feed your hedgehog! I have also listed under this tab a list of foods and products that can be harmful to your baby.
You will want to keep the room where your hedgehog is being housed between 75• F - 85• F. Domesticated hedgehogs are not meant to hibernate. If the appropriate temperatures aren't maintained and it is too cold your hedgehog might try to hibernate and the result can be fatal if it isn't caught in time.
Hedgehogs love bath time but due to their dry skin I don't recommend giving the baby a bath more than once a month unless your hedgehog is visibly dirty. Make sure the water is warm and that you never leave your hedgehog unattended during bath time. Don't be alarmed if your hedgehog relieves himself in the bath water it is normal, just empty the dirty water and replace it with fresh water.
I use and highly recommend Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo Tear-Free Natural Oat Formula. The Aveeno helps clean the baby without drying out the skin and it is also hypoallergenic. Lather the shampoo/body wash in your hands and then apply to the hedgehog. Some people use a toothbrush to brush the quills and get any food particles out of the quills from their self-annointing. Make sure that you get all of the shampoo off the hedgehog before taking them out of their bath tub. Now that bath time is over wrap your hedgehog up in a warm towel or blanket and snuggle with your little hedgie!
Babies First Week Home
The day has finally arrived for you to take the trip and pick up your little hedgie! The bonding process is very important between you and your new baby. The hedgehog will huff and puff a little when you first wake them up, which is normal. Just dig your hands into the bedding underneath the baby and scoop both the bedding and the baby up. This is the best technique to use until your hedgehog learns to trust you. Once you pick the baby up you can gently roll him from hand to hand while you get all of the bedding off of the baby.
The hedgehog's defense mechanism is to roll up in a ball when the baby feels threatened. Don't be alarmed if he immediately rolls up in a ball for the first 3-7 days once the baby is taken out of the cage. The baby is only acting on instinct and within a minute of bringing the hedgehog out for bonding the baby will unroll and start exploring the new smells and surroundings. Hedgehog's have a very inquisitive nature and can get themselves into trouble if you don't keep your eye on them.
The baby will potty several times almost immediately after being taken out for play time so it might be a good idea to allow the hedgehog to potty. Allow the baby to crawl over you and explore. If your hedgehog is being grumpy don't put the hedgehog back into the cage immediately, if you do then the hedgehog will learn that if they want to be left alone all they have to do is be grumpy and they get what they want. Instead try offering some of their favorite foods.
To help with the bonding process allow the hedgehog to smell your hands so they associate your distinct smell as non-threatening. You can also give the baby any of the treats that are listed as healthy in the diet section of the website. You can also try Gerber baby food as a treat as long as the list of ingredients are not harmful to your hedgehog.
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