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Some of the things you may need to buy for your pet

The following are not all must haves for every hedgehog owner

but are some things we may want to consider.

Open-air Cage- NO plastic bins, NO aquariums, NO wire bottom cages and NO wooden cages!

When we choose which cage is best to house a Hedgehog, we prefer open air, wire top cages that are equipped with solid floors and bases. Ideally the sides are four to five inches deep which helps to minimize the mess by preventing shavings/bedding from being scattered outside the cage.

Hedgehogs climb but they are not always good at it. To help avoid serious injury the wiring should be spaced far enough apart that an average adult humans’ fingers could easily slide between the bars but not too far apart that one’s knuckles can fit through. To prevent escape, the cage should be equipped with a tight-fitting lid.

The larger the cage, the better! The cage should be large enough to allow ample room for your pet and his cage accessories. But not so large that it is unmanageable when trying to keep it properly cleaned. The minimum size of any cage used for a single hedgehog should be around 25" x 17" = 2.9 sq. feet

Water Bottle - Eight ounce, leak proof, plastic water bottles are ideal. We like using the ‘Oasis’ brand water bottles because they are made of a hard plastic with a stainless-steel spout. These don’t tend to leak as much as other styles of water bottles do and they attach to the pet cage quite easily.

There are many other brand names & several styles to choose from. If you get one that leaks you may want to try and tilt the bottom of the bottle outward. A lot of the time, leaks are caused by slight slopes in a room or cage and not so much because of the bottle.

All of our babies are introduced to an open crock style bowl of water and we continue offering them both a bowl and a bottle until we are sure they are comfortable using a water bottle.

Exercise Wheel -… A MUST! - All animals need exercise! Hedgehogs like and need to run!

We probably own or at the very least we have tried using just about every wheel design ever marketed. Except wire rung wheels, most modern styles will be put to good use by your Hedgehog. The more common wire wheels, that most of us are familiar with: the type with the rungs (bar) that were promoted in the 80’s, can be dangerous. Runged wheels are suitable for small rodents which have dexterous toes as they can grip the rungs but Hedgehogs are not able to grip and therefore can get injured. Rung style wheels are not suitable for Hedgehogs.

When choosing an exercise wheel, it is important that it does not easily tip. Also, we need to consider the ease of cleaning, squeaky wheel noise, ease of access, how it attaches to the cage and the size. Will the animal be comfortable in it and able to fully stretch while running in it every night, for hours at a time?

There are many exercise wheel designs to choose from. If the wheels are solid or are designed with tightly screened floor for safety and it is large enough for them to fit in comfortably most styles are fine. While we like the concept of a solid wheel it seems that we always go back to using the "Round -A-Bout” for babies. It is a screen mesh style wheel that allows urine to escape through the screen. Babies run and defecate a lot. They think they left the mess behind not knowing it is going to come back to them full circle. It has a practical design. It easily clips to the side of the wire cage. It is made of durable steel and has a fine metal screen mesh as the running base. The mesh weave is tightly woven and is small enough to stop the animals’ feet from going through it but still allows the urine and feces to escape. Babies have a lot of bathroom accidents and we find this style more hygienic and very practical!

Bedding - There are many choices of bedding that can be used to place on the floor of your pet’s cage. Aspen, Pine, Yesterdays News, Carefresh all work fine.

Avoid using products and bedding made out of cedar because cedar is an irritant and it can be toxic. It can cause breathing difficulties and eye problems.

Avoid using corn cob or pelleted types of bedding. These tend to harbor mold and fungus quickly. They can be accidentally ingested and they are also very uncomfortable for hedgehogs to walk on.

Unless there is a need to use them, we do not recommend using cage liners unless you are willing to change and replace it everyday. However, fabric cage liners are sometimes beneficial for people who are allergic to dust. The drawback when using fabric liners is that the cloth liners get soiled very quickly. Unless you are sure that they will be changed and replaced daily, we suggest choosing something more natural and environmentally friendly.

Hiding Hut - We use Guinea Pig size ‘Igloos’. They work great! They are made of plastic, which is easy to clean, and they are bottomless so you have easy access to the little guy and you won’t have too many issues removing him when it is time to clean his cage. Some people use hide-sacks or fleece bags, which the Hedgehog will use, but it can be a bit of a challenge getting a sleepy Hedgehog out of it when you need to check on him. Cloth sleeping bags need to be laundered regularly.

Food Dish - Hedgehogs like to root and shove things in their cage. We find that heavy, ceramic, non-tip, crock style, food bowls are the best choice. They are a little heavier and seem not to tip so easy.

Some people prefer food dishes that clip to the cage. These types of cups work fine but they need to be able to be secured low enough in the cage for the hedgehog to have easy access to them.

Hiding Hut - We use Guinea Pig size ‘Igloos’. They work great! They are made of plastic, which is easy to clean, and they are bottomless so you have easy access to the little guy and you won’t have too many issues removing him when it is time to clean his cage. Some people use hide-sacks or fleece bags, which the Hedgehog will use, but it can be a bit of a challenge getting a sleepy Hedgehog out of it when you need to check on him. Cloth sleeping bags need to be laundered regularly.

Toys- Hedgehogs enjoy rooting and moving things around. Ping Pong balls and lightweight solid plastic toys like small Kong toys, and small animal treat balls that dispense goodies help stimulate them and keep them busy.

Most Hedgehogs enjoy plastic tubes and tunnels for crawling through. Just be sure they are large enough that she can fit through them easily.

Litter Pan and Litter- "if you are lucky enough to have one that is litter trained, consider it as kind of a "bonus".

The litter pan should be low enough for the animal to walk in and small enough to fit into one corner of the cage.

It is better to use a natural unscented litter but one that is a little different from the one you use as a bedding.

Avoid clumping cat litter.

Supplemental Heat Source-

Most Hedgehogs do just fine living in a home where the ambient room temperature is between 21 to 25 degrees Celsius. When sudden drops in temperatures occur, Hedgehogs can go into a state of Torpor. (The word hibernation is often used to describe Torpor) When small animals go into and out of torpor too often, it can be very stressful on their body; it can weaken them, which can result in extremely unhealthy consequences (even death).

Therefore, we suggest that if you live in area where temperature fluctuations are common and cool spells are unpredictable that you always have a supplemental heating source available.

A microwaveable 'snugglesafe' warming disk can help warm a hedgehog if it becomes chilled and there are several types of products that are available that can provide extra heat for prolonged periods, when needed. We have found that when used properly, heat lamps are probably the most convenient way to provide an extra heat for your pet.

Always use caution with these heating products. If they are not used and cared for properly, heat lamps have been known to cause overheating and eye damage. Never place any light too close to the animal. If you do need to use the heat lamp or other heat source, make sure that it only heats one side of the cage. This allows the Hedgehog to move away from the heat to cool down at the other end of the cage.

Pet Carrier-

It is advisable to have a pet carrier available for travelling with your pet. It will also come in handy when you pick up your pet, from the breeder or whenever you have to take it to your Veterinarian and for overnight getaways.

The carrier should be large enough to be equipped with food and water utensils. Typically, the size should be just large enough for the Hedgehog to stand up, turn around and get to the food and water dish. Any larger and the Hedgehog might get too jostled around when it is being transported.

If you intend on shipping your Hedgehog by air, then there are a variety of carriers to choose from but when air shipping the type and style of the carrier needed is very specific and individual airline stipulations need to be followed. Not all airlines have the exact same requirements and their requirements do change regularly.

It is advisable to check with the airlines prior to making your purchase.

Grooming Aids

(previously mentioned)

Nail Clippers-Small ‘Cat Claw Scissors’ will do the trick but to us just your typical small human fingernail clippers are better. They are more maneuverable and to us are easier to use.

Pet Shampoo- All natural, vegetable-based organic pet shampoos are inexpensive & safe. Important…Do not use products containing Tea Tree Oils. In a pinch,  Dawn original which is used to help save wildlife, can be used.

Chamois or a "CHAMWOWS" - is by far the best type of cloth to use on your Hedgehog after he or she has had a bath. They are inexpensive and seem to be extremely good at extracting and absorbing most of the excess water after he or she has been bathed.

Exercise Pens- Not a “must have” but very convenient!

There are several styles of portable exercise pens that can be purchased or of you are handy you may be able to construct one out of chloroplast or plexi-glass. These pens should be able to be folded to be put away when not in use and they need to be roomy enough to allow your pet to play in a safe and secure space while you are not able to watch him. Some have solid plastic walls and others are made of thick gauge wire. They need to be tall enough that the hedgehog can not climb over it. If it is wire you should also have a secure lid so that the hedgehog can not escape .

When choosing to use FABRIC CAGE LINERS for pets

there are a few things to consider.

Furnishing and accessorizing your pet’s cage with items made of fabric can be fun. The fabric or cloth that is used must be safe. Some cloth items certainly add a ‘human feel’ to the overall look of the cage. Many Hedgehogs easily adjust to fabric liners and will use snuggle sacks and other cloth items.

Fabric liners are not dusty and because they need to be changed daily, perhaps for a few of many pet owners, who suffer from allergies, products made of cloth may be a bit more allergy friendly.

If you are set on using any cloth products be sure to use those that are safe and that don’t shed threads. Loose threads that can get ingested by your pet or become entangled in your pets’ feet, quills, or mouth.

Cloth snuggle sacks are appealing to a lot of pet owners  and they are often promoted by a lot of breeders who sometimes attempt to humanize all of their pets and they are also available at pet store who are trying to make a little add-on sale. It is important to note that cloth gets dirty quickly. It absorbs urine, feces and saliva which if it is left unchecked, provides a perfect dark, warm, humid environment, which can accelerate the growth of molds, fungus and bacteria. All cloth items need to be changed and washed/disinfected daily, so be prepared to do a lot of laundry.

I can not stress the importance of practicing good hygiene. It is especially important to educate our children regarding proper hygiene because they often don’t realize the importance of washing their hands, after playing with a pet.

Fabric cage liners and other items, when used properly can be a nice finishing touch to a Hedgehog’s habitat, but for us considering that we have numerous pets, the time needed to maintain each cage everyday with fabric products, it is not practical. Being that baby animals poop a lot and to reduce some of the health risks that could result from poor sanitation, we prefer to use recycled paper or natural wood and biodegradable grass products that we scoop and completely change often. We find natural bedding products very easy to scoop and less expensive to use. The bonus to us is that when they need to be replaced these products can be disposed of by putting into our gardens or compost bins.

If you are dead set on using fabric in your pet’s cage there are some fun, safe products that are made of good quality fleeces, that don’t shred. Buy many and change them often!

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