Arizona Breeder Sonoran Desert Hedgehogs

Caging


Hedgehogs require a minimum space of 4 square feet. This can be achieve through a variety of cage set ups. If you are looking at a store bought cage, that will be a guinea pig/rabbit cage 30" x 18" (which is just under 4 square feet). A C&C cage (stands for crates & chloroplast) is a great option (we make them on site in many sizes) 4 square feet is easily achieve by doing a 2x2 set up which is actual (28"x28"). We recommend doing a minimum of a ten inch chloroplast side to prevent climbing. Another easy cheap option is storage bin cages. The 110 qt bin is the size we recommend. The measurements on that bin cage is 35"x18". We have seen storage bin set ups that include a ferret cage tube that connects two cages together, which is another great option. We do not recommend glass aquariums. They are designed to hold in moisture which can lead to health issues such as upper respiratory infections. Any cage with multiple levels will need to be secured well to ensure the hedgehog cannot accidentally fall off the ramp or second level. The ramps need to have high sides so they cannot walk off the side. All cages will need a heat set up to ensure there is not a hibernation attempt. We will talk more about this in our heat section below. Cleaning chemicals used for any part of your cage should be a natural cleaner such as vinegar and water. Avoid most store bought cleaners as their fumes and ingredients can be to harsh for your hedgehog!

Heat

Are you prepared with a CHE set up?
CHE stand for ceramic heat emitter. That is a heating element that does not put off light. They will need to be used with lamps that are approved for ceramic heat emitters. Most of these supplies can be found at your local pet store and of course online. See example of both below.


These two together are not enough, you will need a thermostat and thermometer. These will ensure your hedgehog stays at the correct constant temperature. It will also ensure your CHE will not stay on and make it too hot for your hedgehog.  The thermostat will allow you to set the temperature and will maintain it, but I would rely on the thermometer to ensure you get the temperature correct.

​​These two together are not enough, you will need a thermostat and thermometer. These will ensure your hedgehog stays at the correct constant temperature. It will also ensure your CHE will not stay on and make it too hot for your hedgehog.  The thermostat will allow you to set the temperature and will maintain it, but I would rely on the thermometer to ensure you get the temperature correct.​​

I personally prefer thermometer with a probe, the reading can be outside of your cage and you can check on the temperature without disturbing your hedgehog.
Something else to keep in mind is the wattage of your bulb and your set up. Cages on the guinea pig size such as 30inx18in or 36inx18in (or anything around these measurements) and storage containers can many times get away with a lower wattage such as a 75 watt. Bigger cages and C & C cages will require a higher wattage. We run 100 watts at our house. I have also found that I have to wrap fleece around my cages to keep some of the heat in. The key thing in the setup is figuring it out where it hits the temperature you want and double/triple checking during the colder times (like night time). Once it is set up you should be able to keep them set up even in summer time to ensure you never have to worry about hibernation attempts.

*It is important it does not put off light, even red bulb can disrupt their night time cycle and will prevent them from being active at night. (My first winter with my first boy hit fast I put a red bulb on him to prevent him from getting too cold and a few days later realized he had stopped using his wheel. I switch to a CHE and poopy wheel was back!)

*Depending on your cage you may have to add a second heat set up on the other side of the cage. I haven’t personally had to do this when I wrap the side with fleece to keep the heat in.

*Hedgehogs are best kept between 75-80 degrees (My kiddos do fine at 82 in this Arizona summer heat but I do not let it get above that).

If you are looking for specific recommendations or questions that this does not touch on, do not hesitate to shoot me a message I love to help!

Bedding

There are many preferences on what to use as a base. We personally love fleece. It is easy to clean and reusable. Many others use a paper or wood based bedding. These beddings can contain mites and should be put in the freezer first to help kill off anything it may have. We recommend freezing bedding for at least 24 hours to help kill off anything that may have been in the bedding to be on the safe side. Never use any form of cedar bedding and only a pine that has been kiln dried. Hedgehogs do enjoy digging if you choose a fleece option be sure to supply fleece strips for digging. Stuff their hide houses full of fleece strips to dig. We also provide dig boxes for more mental stimulation.

Wheel

Hedgehogs have to have a wheel. They can run distances of at least 10 miles (this can vary a ton between hedgehogs and the mileage will vary a ton). We have seen when they do not have a wheel (even when given time to roam during the day) they get anxious and will attempt to do things out of character such as climb the sides and falling. The wheel will need to be a minimum of 10 inches and a solid wheel. The only store bought wheel we recommend is they kaytee comfort wheel/ all living things exercise wheel. They are virtually the same wheel the all living things wheel is Petsmart's version of the kaytee comfort wheel. Bucket wheels/cake top wheels are amazing options. They cannot be bought in store. They are made in a ton of colors and are easy to clean. We make bucket wheels on site and they can be shipped anywhere in the United States. Either of these two options are solid wheels and great options for hedgehogs. The kaytee comfort wheel/ all living things exercise wheel are not always great options for bigger hedgehogs. Our 600 gram boy flipped his on its side while he was running because his weight was too much for it. We do not recommend the kaytee silent spinner! We have seen a ton of injuries occur with this wheel. It has a tendency to split while the hedgehog is running
which can catch there a paw causing severe injuries. It also has slits in it to allow urine to drain and hedgehogs even with well clipped toenails have gotten them caught while running and injured themselves. We are not a fan of the silent runner by exotic nutrition. The holes they have to use to enter and exit the wheel could cause injuries. It also does not drain well which can cause urine burns as the hedgehog runs. Finally, never use any form of wire wheel mesh or straight wire. These are not in anyway safe for hedgehogs and do cause injuries. Their small toes can easily fit in the mesh holes and cause horrible injuries. There is occasions where a hedgehog is not a runner. If you find your hedgehog is not using a wheel it is vital to their enrichment and health you give them plenty of time to exercise outside of their cage.

Litter boxes

MOST hedgehogs can be litter trained. We say most because we have had some stubborn hedgehogs who just will not go in one spot. We find placing a litter box under their wheel helps with a majority of the waste issues. Hedgehogs tend to potty as they run. The litter box under the wheel will catch most urine and poop. Another litter box is a great option to have. We have both in our cages. We have found once they smell their poop in the litter they continue to go back to that spot. While potty training we will move their poop to the litter box. This will help encourage them to go in that spot. Never use any small grained litter clay or natural. It can make its way into spots that could result in a vet visit. We recommend a pine pellet or a paper pellet. It is easy to clean and not too expensive.

Hidehouse

Hedgehogs need somewhere to hide. They are nocturnal by nature and like dark spots. The hide house will need to be big enough for them to nest. We do not recommend anything wood as it cannot be properly cleaned if it gets pee on it. If you look on etsy there are many that make covers for igloos to give them more of a dark hide then the igloos provide. Many hedgehogs love snuggle sacks. The link on our website to an etsy supplier we love has some great options and will do some custom orders!

Toys

Hedgehogs love toys. There are a ton of options and a lot of things cats play with are great options for hedgehogs. Many of the jingle bell ball toys are great and the cat nip toys. I avoid toys with loose strings and feathers. Loose strings are a hazard for limbs. They can get wrapped around their legs cutting off circulation leading to a costly and or devastating vet visit. A lot of toys for preschool children can work for hedgehogs. We give ours cat toys, preschool toys, rubber ducks and even hot wheel cars. Avoid all toys with bigger holes such as the lattice style jingle balls for cats. Hedgehogs have been known to get their jaw stuck between the open resulting in awful injuries.

Bonding

Hedgehogs are not like your average smaller pet. They require attention every day to stay social (Though many other pets require attention daily). We recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of bonding time a day. We also recommend getting them out of their cages to explore to expand their daily world sights. We have exercise pens to allow them to be monitored outside in our yard or at parks. This gives them opportunity for new sights and smells. We also recommend getting a bonding bag to help get them more use to your scent and presence. In addition to this, we highly recommend providing an old shirt that you have slept in that smells of you to help them get use to your smell. Bath time can be another great time for bonding. Hedgehogs are less defensive during bath time, which makes it easier to get use to handling them. Even a hedgehog who is being defensive needs to be handled daily. This type of handling (forced love or manhandling) is essential to help a hedgehog come out of their shell. Many rescues are hedgehogs that were originally bought on a whim from a source other than a licensed breeder. Many of these hedgehogs are not handled enough while they are younger. This can result in a hedgehog who is much more defensive than a hedgehog that comes from a breeder who spends time with them since they were 2 weeks of age and ensure their new home is educated on their care. Keep in mind rescues deserve loving homes too! We firmly believe that rescues deserve homes that will give them the attention they deserve, but those hedgehogs will require a lot more force love or manhandling to help them open up. We actually take in rescues when we have room and help find them homes. No matter where the hedgehog ultimately comes from you will have to spend time bonding with them to get them use to you. Each hedgehog will take different amount of time to bond. The key factor is time!


Traveling with your hedgie

Traveling with your hedgehog can seem like a scary thing to do, but they are actually pretty easy to travel with. When we are going far distances we pack them in a hard carrier as it is the safest for the car. We secure them in by placing the seat belt through the handle. We pull the seat belt out as far as possible to engage the locked seatbelt. The weight of the carrier is not enough to set off the response of the seatbelt. By having it locked it will hold the carrier in place if you have to slam your brakes or get into an accident. We put a bunch of fleece in the carriers so they can burrow in to be comfy. We always keep hot hands (hand warmers) with us for emergencies. If we are traveling long distances we let them stretch their legs at the hotel in the bathtub (it is easy to clean up after). If you are going out and about, for example, to a community event. We recommend for the car they travel safe, but then you can have them in a snuggle purse/ scarf. We take them all sorts of places! Always be mindful of the temperature when taking them out bring if you are worried about it being chilling place a hand warmer in a sock in the carrier/bag with them to keep them warm.

Bath Time

We give our hedgies full baths about once a month. There are some in our herd who manage to get poop everywhere!!! They get baths a little more often. When we do full baths we use aveeno baby wash (not shampoo it will dry out their skin) and finish off the bath with a coconut oil rinse. We use a toothbrush on the quills to help get them clean. We use a baby nail clipper on their nails. We do nails about every week to two weeks depending on growth. We do foot baths as needed. Foot baths are simply as it sounds. We fill the sink with just enough water to cover the feet to get those poop boots clean. Just like other animals it is not good to over bath your hedgie it will dry out their skin.

Vet

It is important to have a vet you trust. There are a few locally here in Arizona. We have a list of them on our vet page. We recommend having a yearly check up done on your hedgehog. We also recommend keep a record of their weight so you can monitor any changes. It it often hard to see issues that may be occurring health wise, but a significant change in weight can be cause for alarm and a reason to see your vet.






If you have any questions that was not covered please email us at:

[email protected]l.com 

with care questions. Our care outline some basics, but we love talking hedgies and will try to respond within 48 hours!