Caring for a Hedgehog: Hedgehogs are naturally shy individuals that can live 5-7 years with proper care. They are nocturnal, sleeping during the day and becoming active in the evening. Hedgehogs are solitary in nature and seldom accept the company of another hedgehog.
General: When frightened, a hedgehog will roll tightly into a prickly ball so be sure to avoid sudden movements and loud noises. To pick up your pet, scoop it up gently from the rear and hold it underneath. When it feels safe, it will unroll and let you pet it.
Housing: A roomy solid bottom cage with a secure lid is ideal for hedgehogs. Take care to place the cage away from drafts, in an area between 65-80 degrees F. An under-cage heating pad may be needed to maintain a warm area. Cover the floor with safe bedding such as Aspen shavings or Carefresh. Hedgehogs frequently will use a litter box placed in a corner. They particularly appreciate a half log, tube or wood nesting box. A solid type exercise wheel will encourage your hedgehog to be active, but avoid wire wheels, like wire floors they can injure hedgehogs' feet.
Diet: Hedgehogs are omnivores. You can provide a balanced diet by combining commercial Hedgehog food and a good quality cat chow, such as Science Diet. Your pet will also enjoy the addition of a few mealworms or crickets and a small amount of mixed fresh fruit and vegetables, chopped up. Teach your hedgehog to use a water bottle and fill it with fresh water daily.
Cleaning: Remove soiled litter daily and replace all bedding three times a week. Remember to wash, rinse and dry the cage bottom, food dishes and water bottle each week.
Fertility: Hedgehogs reach sexual maturity at around two months of age. They should be housed alone to avoid fighting.
Health: Locate an exotics veterinarian to treat your hedgehog and be alert for signs of illness or injury such as: lack of appetite; diarrhea; scaly skin or broken quills, drooling; sneezing or wheezing; lumps, bumps or wounds; limping or lethargy.
Warnings: Pine or cedar shavings contain harmful oils and should never be used for a hedgehog.
Pine or cedar shavings contain harmful oils and should never be used for a hedgehog.