CAGE & BEDDING
Careful consideration should be given to the size of accommodations for your new hedgehog. Although they are small animals, they do need a lot of room to move around. When choosing a cage for your hedgie, there are several things to keep in mind. It should be the largest you can fit in the space available. We suggest the absolute minimum size to be 18” x 36” (or roughly 5 SQ FT). Be sure the cage has a solid bottom and is tall enough to accommodate a wheel (which is necessary for a hedgehog). Please refer to the Wheel section of this page for more information. Do not be afraid to get creative with it!
suggested cage specs
Minimum size: 18”W x 36”L x 11”H
Vertical COVERED bars/glass or plastic sides
concerning horizontal bar wire cages
Hedgehogs are terrible climbers but some will still try and climb out of their cages. Several breeders who used the standard horizontal bar small animal cages, sold in most pet stores, have experienced hedgehogs either severely injuring themselves or strangling themselves to death.
QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE TO BEDDING
We recommend Equine Pine pellet bedding available from Tractor Supply for $4-$6 for 40 lbs
Pine or aspen shaving
Carefresh or Kaytee Clean and Cozy shredded paper bedding
Yesterdays News Paper pellet litter
Fabric liners cut to fit your cage bottom. Make sure there are no loose threads that could catch on a hedgehog’s nail
DO NOT USE CEDAR BEDDING!
It will kill your hedgehog as it contains carcinogenic phenols that are known to cause respiratory illness and even death in small animals. Never use terry cloth towels since their nails can get caught in the cloth loops. Never use clay clumping litter, corn based litter, or crushed walnut shells litter. Never use reptile substrate.
There are pros and cons to every bedding type. Fabric liners need to be washed in very hot water with vinegar about every three days or they get very stinky and may harbor mites. Liners also do not give the hedgehogs their natural burrow instinct, therefore they require a DIG BOX. ANY kind of litter or shaving bedding requires careful attention to be paid to the hedgehog’s genitals. Bedding can get stuck to or in their penile shaft or vaginal opening causing discomfort, infection, and UTI’s. Paper bedding (shredded or pellet) can smell horrendous, can become moldy, and gnats and flies love to nest in it. Natural paper or wood bedding can contain mites and mold from manufacturing. Wood shaving litter can become stuck in the quills and cause discomfort. Wood pellet bedding is susceptible to mold from manufacturing or a dripping water bottle, and can be sharp on the feet (human’s and hedgies). Hedgehogs like to burrow and be underneath of everything so take this into consideration when choosing a bedding.
Create a ‘potty area’ in the cage (not possible outside of the cage)
DO NOT USE clay/clumping cat litter, walnut shells, sand, or granulated corn litter.
POTTY TRAINING YOUR HEDGEHOG
Some hedgehogs can learn to use a litter box. Begin by choosing your hedgehog’s litter box, which can be any container that the hedgehog can easily climb into and that is large enough for him/her to turn around in, and which is resistant to moisture. Corner ferret litter boxes work very well. Add some sort of litter such as pine or aspen shavings or recycled newsprint cat litter to the box, but remember to avoid cedar (see above) and clumping type cat litters as these may clump on or in the hedgehog's genitals. Next, place a few stools in the box and reward your hedgehog for eliminating in the box. If your hedgehog makes a mistake, move the refuse into the litter box and NEVER EVER punish him or her. Not all hedgehogs will learn to use a box, even though they are clean animals and like to keep their waste away from living areas. If your hedgehog does not take to the litter box, you might place a small pan containing litter, or use folded paper towels under the base of his or her wheel and just clean the wheel daily.
A plastic pet igloo makes an excellent hideaway and place to sleep for your hedghog. Most pet stores carry them. Just place a nice warm fleece blanket or old t-shirt inside, and he or she will stay nice and cozy. You can also use hedgie snuggle bags, fleece beanies or just a pile of fleece blankets. Just remember that hedgies want to be covered, so they have to have a secure place to sleep. We find a combo of a plastic igloo and fleece blankets to be the best, cut to 12”x12” or 14”x 14” sizes. You can get quite a few blankets out of a yard of fleece. Once again, don't use anything with loose threads.
QUICK NOTES ON WHEELS
11” minimum diameter MINIMUM
A messy wheel is a good thing
Avoid wire wheels or wheels with open slats
A good wheel is a MUST for a hedgehog! It will provide hours of entertainment, and is good exercise for your pet. We offer different kinds of wheels that can be purchased with your new hedgehog. All of them are silent and made right here at Hedgehogs of the Hills!
When choosing a wheel, you want to look for a wheel with a minimum diameter of 11”. You also want a wheel that has a solid running surface. Wire wheels or wheels with open slats can cause your hedgehog’s feet to get caught while running, leading to risks of injury.
It's perfectly normal (and healthy) for a hedgehog to poop and urinate while running on the wheel. Place a litter pan beneath the wheel to catch the runoff, and encourage your hedgie to use the litter pan. Scrub the wheels daily (if needed), or at least once a week.