FIRST DAY WITH A NEW BABY! - So, it's your first day with your new baby hedgehog. Now that you have committed to a 4-7 year lifespan, it's all about the love and the bond you two both share. Spend at least 1-2 hours a day with your new baby. Let him/her get to know your scent and other people you live with in your home. It's very important that you socialize your hedgehog not with only yourself, but the others that are around you. The more social your hedgehog is with people the more accustomed he/she will be to being handled. To help your new baby cope with your new scents, leave a used t-shirt with him/her in their cage to snuggle up to when they are sleeping :) SOCIALIZATION IS KEY!
Happy Hedgies: Basic Hedgehog Care
· Your hedgehog’s cage should be no less than 4 square feet. Despite things you may have read, hedgehogs DO need that much extra space. A 2x2 or bigger C&C cage or XL metal or plastic cage (like those made for rabbits or ferrets) works great. Make sure that the cage’s floor has a bottom with a solid surface and that the sides have no wire grates that hedgehogs can climb or escape from.
· Hedgehogs need to have a hiding place or cover to sleep under. Providing such a hiding place will reduce nervousness. Large igloos or huts, fleece hedgie bags or blankets and XS sized plastic storage totes with a hole cut out the side is fine. We don’t recommend shoe boxes, as they can invite cardboard mites into your pet’s sleeping area.
· You will want to place your hedgehog's cage in a warm area of the house. Hedgehogs need to be kept in a room with a temperature of 74F to 82F (22C to 27C). If a hedgehog gets too cold it will attempt to go into hibernation. Hibernation can be fatal for the domesticated African Pygmy Hedgehog.
· Unless you are attempting to breed hedgehogs, please keep males and females separated. Please leave all breeding practices to the professionals. There are many factors and complications that can happen while mating and during birth.
· Tidy the cage daily and clean the cage whole cage at least once to twice a week and odour won't be a problem.
· We highly recommend using fleece and flannel liners. There are many beneficial reasons why bedding made from fabric: Dust free, washable, reusable, absorbant, comes in a variety of colors and patters, so you can deck out your hedgehog’s cage with style, will save you hundreds of dollars in bedding materials. There is also variety of other beddings that are available for hedgehog use as well, such as: Recycled paper products and aspen shavings.
· A little warning about wood beddings, even though they say they are “dust free” 100% of the time they aren’t. Hedgehogs have very sensitive respiratory systems and too much dust can cause a respiratory infection. Wood beddings have also been known to carry mite eggs which could hatch and infest your new pet, wood beddings and corn cob bedding also can become lodged in sensitive areas of your hedgehog. Be certain to inspect your hedgehog daily for redness or swellings.
· We don’t recommend using Carefresh as we have witnessed our hedgehog eating it and became very ill. There have been reports of Carefresh causing internal blockage, causing the hedgehogs to pass from ingesting it.
· In the wild hibernation is completely natural for a hedgehog, however, for domesticated hedgehogs, hibernation can cause illness and possibly even death.
· Hedgehogs must be kept at a temperature between 74F to 82F. To ensure a stable temperature, you may need a heat source. Heat sources include CHEs (Ceramic Heat Emitter), heating pads or space heater. CHEs can be found at most pet stores in the reptile section or ask one of the staff. Heating pads and space heaters can be found at Wal-Mart, Zellers, Canadian Tire ect.
· To stabilize and know what your cage temperature is at a thermometer placed inside the cage gives the most accurate reading. Be sure it’s high enough where your hedgehog can’t grab it.
· Diet is an area where there is considerable controversy. We still don't know exactly what a hedgehog needs, but there have been lots of preliminary studies.
· What you feed your hedgehog is very important to what your hedgehog might smell like, how they act, how their quills look ect. So a good diet means a very healthy and stable hedgehog.
· We now know that hedgehogs require a high premium quality cat food with high protein (not less than 28%) and low fat diet (not higher than 15%), fibre should be above 5%. Too high of protein and fat can cause fatty liver disease, gondis, an obese hedgehog and possibly shorten the hedgehog’s life.
· Kitten food is never recommended for an adult hedgehog 1+ years old. Kitten food is only ever used for pregnant mothers, nursing mothers, weaning babies and ill/sick hedgehogs.
· Never feed your hedgehog “Hedgehog” specific foods such as “Hedgehog Diet” “Insectivore Fare” “8in1” “Vitacraft” ect. These hedgehog specific foods contain lots of fillers, by-products and don’t provide enough nutrition that a hedgehog needs in their daily diet.
· Hedgehogs don’t have very large stomachs, so they only require small amounts of food. Never “free-feed” your hedgehog as this results in stale food that won’t be eating and just go to waste.
· A hedgehog eats about 1-3 tablespoons per night. Start with 2 tbsp and if you notice there is food left over decrease by a tablespoon, if all the food is gone, up it by a tablespoon.
· Hedgehogs should have fresh food and water given daily!
Water dishes or water bottles?
We like to think of hedgehogs as marathon runners. Think about it, you go for a very long run on your treadmill (running wheel for hedgehog), you are running your heart out and suddenly you are craving for a nice big glass of water. Would you rather be drinking out of a nice open glass (bowl of water for hedgehogs) or a sippy cup made for children where only a few dribbles at a time come out (water bottle for hedgehogs).
We also find water dishes are a more natural way that a hedgehog would drink in the wild. If you decide to go with water bottles, they still must be changed and cleaned daily with a scrubber to prevent any algae from growing in the bottle.
· There are various amounts of different treats you can provide to your hedgehog, but please remember these are only treats and cannot be their main diet source.
· Proteins – mealworms (regular or jumbo), butter worms/wax worms, crickets, unseasoned cooked chicken, unseasoned cooked egg
· Fruits – cherry, apple, watermelon, banana, pear, strawberry, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, peaches, pumpkin, squash, honeydew, cranberry, raspberry, blackberry, plum
· Veggies – carrot, sweet potato, radish, turnip, green pepper, asparagus, unseasoned corn, broccoli, peas (no shell)
· Make sure all seeds are removed!
· Hedgehogs need 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night. It’s recommended to have a light source like a lamp shine down on your hedgehog’s cage during the day, and then turned off at night for them to wake up.
· Hedgehogs are nocturnal therefore they sleep during daylight hours and wake up when it’s dark.
· A good lighting schedule is good for their health and internal clock. Too much sleep and they can become obese, too much darkness they can become confused and possibly go into hibernation. An appropriate lighting schedule would be 8am-8pm or go with your daily work schedule 7am-7pm or 9am-9pm. As long as it’s 12 hours of daylight and night.
It’s recommended if you have trouble adjusting to your hedgehog’s light schedule, purchase a timer to set your hedgie’s light to and you will never have to worry about forgetting to turn on or off their lights!
· Hedgehogs need lots of exercise, as they tend to become obese with inactivity or poor diet. A XL wheel (11" in diameter or more) is recommended. Be sure that the running surface of the wheel is solid, so that the hedgie is not at risk for slipping and breaking legs or toes getting caught.
· There are many varieties of wheels out there: Comfort Wheels, Flying Saucer wheels ect. Some people even make and sell their own bucket wheels! Do not use Silent Spinners; there was just a recent accident that has happen where a hedgehog’s toe and toenails had been ripped off getting caught in the holes of the wheel.
· Wheels made for rodents with metal bars should in no case be used, as a broken leg may result.
· Many owners report that their hedgehogs enjoy anything that they can push or manipulate. Examples of toys that owners have reported their hedgehog enjoying are: toilet paper tubes, brightly colored plastic toy trucks, cat balls, and various stuffed animals, jingle bells, card board boxes, PVC piping and fun tunnels.
· Hedgehogs need to have footbaths almost daily, bathed monthly and nails clipped regularly.
· To bath your hedgehog you will need: soft bristle toothbrush, Baby Aveeno Oatmeal wash, a plastic cup and a warm dry towel.
1. Fill your sink with warm water so your hedgehog can’t touch the bottom
2. Keep your hand under them to comfort them and be sure they are safe
3. Use your other hand and pour water over their quills to get them wet. Try not to get water in their eyes, ears and nose.
4. Put some of the Baby Aveeno Oatmeal on the toothbrush and brush down with the quills, never up. Don’t forget to brush and clean their feet.
5. Rinse thoroughly!
6. When you are done, place your hedgehog in a warm towel and cuddle until completely dry. This is a good time to bond with your hedgehog.
· If skin looks irritated or dry, apply some drops of Vitamin E oil or Flax seed oil. Never tea tree oil as it’s lethal for hedgehogs.
· To clip a hedgehog’s nails, we find cuticle clippers work the best. You should be able to see their quick for an easy cut. Make sure you don’t cut the quick! You might want to ask someone to hold your hedgehog for you while you clip their nails as hedgehogs can be squirmy at times.
· The more you handle your hedgehog, the more it will get accustomed to you. Socialization is Key!
· At first, your hedgehog may be scared. It may ball up or puff air and click its tongue to scare away any potential predator, including you. Approach your hedgehog slowly and quietly to gain its trust. Pick up your hedgehog by taking both hands underneath the sides of the belly to avoid the quills. Let them smell you first.
· You shouldn't need gloves to pick them up, even if it is scared, since you can slide your fingers underneath to distribute the weight. If you are afraid of being pricked, then take a pair of gloves and get them smelling like you so the hedgie will associate your smell with being picked up.
· Remember, hedgehogs are nocturnal and sleep during the day. If you wake up your hedgehog during the day, expect them to be a little cranky at first. It’s best to save play time for later on in the day when they have had a more of the day’s rest, so any time after 5:00pm would be a more suitable time.
· To let the hedgehog get accustomed to your scent, let them sleep in a worn t-shirt of yours that smells like you.
· Don't be surprised if your hedgie starts shedding a lot of quills when it is about 6 to 12 weeks of age. This is a normal process, and is known as "quilling." The hedgehog is simply shedding baby spines and you should be able to see new adult’s spines pushing through the skin.
· To be on the safe side, though, you may want to check for mites or fleas. Signs of mites include crustiness around the quills and seriously dry looking skin. Both mites and fleas can be treated effectively with Revolution drops, available from your vet.
· When adolescent hedgies are "quilling" they may be somewhat grumpy, but should return to normal temperament once the quills are in.
· To help your hedgehog deal with this painful process, let your hedgehog soak in a nice oatmeal bath to sooth and soften their skin, but please keep full baths to a minimum as their skin is prone to dryness.
· Vitamin E oil and Flax seed oil can help reduce a hedgehog’s dry skin, but only a couple drops. Too much and your hedgehog will look greasy and their quills may stick together.
· Hedgehogs go through two sets of quilling, one when then are 6-12 weeks old and then again between 6-12 months old. This is a completely natural occurrence all hedgehogs go through.
· Throughout a hedgehogs’ life, hedgehogs shed quills daily, just like humans shed their hair. You may want to be concerned if your hedgehog loses more than 15 quills per day or if you notice your hedgehog’s quill density is thinning.
MORE THAN ONE HEDGEHOG:
· In the wild, hedgehogs are solitary animals. In captivity, some hedgehogs will accept or even crave the companionship of other hedgehogs, but don’t always necessarily assume this is the case. However, some females prefer the company of other females. So, sometimes it’s okay for females to be housed together.
· Males should never be housed together as it can result to fighting, injury and even death.
· Male and Female hedgehogs should never live together as it can result in pregnancy as the two hedgehogs will breed. In the wild, hedgehogs only come together to breed, but live solitary. If the hedgehogs bred and babies were born, there is a big chance the babies will be killed by both parents if housed together.
· Hedgehogs can have lethal roommate disputes, so if you decide to try to house two hedgehogs together, be sure to observe them closely (or at least be within earshot to separate them in case of fights) for at least the first 24 to 48 hours. Hedgehogs can emit a bloodcurdling scream when upset or hurt, but they can also get into fairly quiet tussles, so be careful.
· Since hedgehogs are considered exotic, you must search for a vet that deals with exotic animals. Please remember, considering a hedgehog is exotic, the vet bill can be expensive at times.
· Questions to a vet to be sure they are familiar with hedgehogs:
1. Do you deal with hedgehogs often?
2. Do you recommend another vet that might know more about hedgehogs?
3. Explain what your hedgehog might have or what you think the problem is and see if they come up with any solutions or see if they want you to bring your hedgehog in to see them.
· There isn’t a really good way to tell a vet is good with hedgehogs unless you are there to watch and experience how they handle and treat your hedgehog. If you don’t think they look experienced enough to deal with your hedgehog then keep searching.
· Some good vets that are good with hedgehogs in the Vancouver area are:
1. Whatcom Veterinary Hospital, 2100 Whatcom Road, Abbotsford
2. Eagle Ridge Animal & Bird Hospital, 2599 Runnel Drive, Coquitlam
3. Bird and Exotic Animal Hospital, 7380 King George Hwy, Surrey
HEDGEHOGS ON THE NET:
· There are several active hedgehog forums and sites where loads of information by experts who have experienced hedgehogs almost all their lives. Some of these websites include Hedgehog Central and Chins-n-Hedgies.
· These sites provide a large group of owners consisting of new owners, experienced breeders, and rescues, and are a good place to turn first for help in caring for your hedgehog. Additional groups exist devoted to hedgehog caretakers and their interests.
· A search on the word 'hedgehog' in any search engine will turn up many different sources of information, some good, and some bad. As we learn more and more about our spiny friends, older information may be found to be incorrect. Newer sources should contain updated information. The sites mentioned above have frequent updated information.
OUR BREEDER SUPPORT:
· As a hedgehog breeder, we believe it is our sole responsibility to make sure that you’re happy with your hedgehog and that you constantly gets updated information about hedgehog care.
· If there is anything you are unsure of or if you have any questions what so ever, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can provide you with answers and information very quickly as we have lots of connections in the hedgehog community.
You can always reach us by our e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.happyhedgies.webs.com and find more contact information there.
We sincerely hope you enjoy your new pet and the best wishes to the starting of a wonderful bond and an ever lasting friendship.
Vanessa & Stephanie
**For more information and details about hedgehogs please visit Hedgehog Central Forums to get all the in and outs of raising a pet hedgehog**