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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 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 to keep clean. The minimum size should be around 25" x 17" = 2.9 sq feet

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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. Lots of time, leaks are caused by slight slopes in a room or cage and not so much because of the bottle.

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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. Hedgehogs like to root and tend to move things around so bowls that are a little heavier seem not to tip so easy.

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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 Cedar).

Unless there is a need to use them we do not recommend using cage liners. However, they are sometimes beneficial for people who are allergic to dust. Cloth liners get soiled very quickly. Unless you are absolutely sure that they will be changed and replaced daily we suggest choosing something more natural and environmentally friendly.

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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 hedgehogs 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.

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Exercise Wheel … A MUST!

All animals need exercise and hedgehogs like and need to run!

We probably own or at the very least have tried using just about every wheel design ever marketed. Except for the more common wire wheels, (which most of us are familiar with: the type with the rungs (bar) that were promoted in the 80’s,) which can be dangerous, most of the other designs are suitable. When choosing a wheel it is important that it does not easily tip. We also need to consider the ease of cleaning, squeaky wheel noise, ease of access, how it attaches to the cage and size. Will the animal be comfortable and able to run it every night, for hours at a time.

There are many exercise wheel designs to choose from. As long as the wheel have a solid or tightly screened floor for safety and it is large enough for them to fit in comfortably most styles are fine. Runged wheels are suitable for small rodents but are not suitable for hedgehogs. While we like the concept of a solid wheel it seems that we always go back to using the "Round -A-Bout" , which is a screen mesh style wheel. 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 this style wheel is very practical!

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Toys

Hedgehogs enjoy rooting and moving things around. Ping Pong balls and lightweight solid plastic toys like small Kongs, 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.

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Litter Pan and Litter

Some breeders and pet store employees promote hedgehogs as the type of pet that is easy to litter train, but we can tell you that hedgehogs are "creatures of habit", litter training a hedgehog is not easy. Some hedgehogs will learn to use a litter box and if you are lucky enough to have one that is litter trained, consider it as kind of a "bonus". Caring for the cage is so much easier and a lot less time consuming.

Some of our hedgehogs are very clean and take to litter training fairly easily. Others just do not care and are either hard to train or they will never use a litter box. This trait does not seem to be a genetic/family trait but more of an individual animal’s preference.

Litter training a hedgehog takes perseverance and a lot of luck but if you succeed the benefits are certainly worth a try. We suggest to people who purchase one of our hedgehogs to try to litter train their pet and ‘just maybe’… you will be lucky and get yours trained.

To train a hedgehog you’ll need to place a small litter pan with low sides, with a bit of litter in it, in the corner of the cage. We suggest using a different litter than what it is used to having, as it’s normal bedding. Often, the feeling of the a different litter, sometimes entices the hedgehog into using this particular spot as it’s litter box. For the first while during the training period, clean the litter box regularly but if possible try to avoid changing the litter entirely. When possible spot clean and top up with the fresh litter. The smell (although we may not be able to notice it) might be just enough to attract your hedgehog to that area. Never let a litter box sit too long between totally disinfecting it, just long enough to see if the hedgehog is attracted to it. As soon as you notice that your pet is using it regularly, totally wash and disinfect the litter box often.

~ Good luck!

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Hedgehog Diet - Cat food versus hedgehog food

After 25 years of trying various foods and constantly analyzing/studying them … WE ARE NOT CONVINCED AND PREFER NOT TO USE ANY PET STORE BRAND OF HEDGEHOG FOOD!

For so many reasons we feel that prepared premium quality cat foods are a better choice when considering what to feed hedgehogs. Hedgehogs thrive on a diet similar to that of a carnivore, which consists mostly of protein that they get from consuming other animal matter. Typically insectivores and carnivores do not eat grain. However, hedgehogs do eat a bit more fruit and vegetable matter than some of the other types of other carnivores.

We recommend a premium high quality, fish protein based, grain free and low fat cat food that is age appropriate.

We suggest offering

  1. KITTEN FORMULA cat foods to hedgehogs under 16 weeks of age or to pregnant and nursing mothers.
  2. ADULT CAT FORMULA if over 16 weeks of age. (Except to pregnant and nursing mothers).
  3. ADULT LIGHT CAT FORMULA or SENIOR CAT FORMULA may be a better choice for hedgehogs that have obesity issues. Obesity is very common in hedgehogs, although it can be controlled, it is usually a direct result of quality, quantity and a lack of exercise.

Ultimately the decision on what to feed your hedgehog is up to you. If you choose to feed hedgehog food or any food to your pet, always be sure it is fresh by being sure to check the expiry date. (If it has one!)

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Treats

Treats are not a meal replacement and because hedgehogs have such tiny stomachs treats need to be strictly rationed. We prefer using organic whenever possible when we offer freeze dried liver treats, kiln dried chicken, shrimp, salmon etc..

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Grooming Aids

  • 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 fairly inexpensive & safe. ImportantDo not use products containing Tea Tree Oils.
  • 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.

For tips on grooming, please review our Grooming a Hedgehog page on this site

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Pet Carrier

It is advisable to have a pet carrier available for travelling with your pet. The carrier should be equipped with food and water utensils. There are a few types to choose from. Plastic or cloth, both types are handy as long as it isn’t too large. 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 very specific stipulations that 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.

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Exercise Pens

Not a must have but very convenient! There are several styles of exercise pens that can be purchased that will allow your pet to play in that is 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.

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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.

There are several types of products that are available that can provide extra heat 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 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.

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Exercise Pens

Not a must have but very convenient! There are several styles of exercise pens that can be purchased that will allow your pet to play in that is 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.

FABRIC ...Something else to consider

Cage accessories made of fabric: Furnishing and accessorizing your pet’s cage with items made of cloth certainly adds a ‘human feel’ to the overall esthetics of the cage. Many hedgehogs easily adjust to fabric liners and will use snuggle sacks and other cloth items. Perhaps for some of the pet owners who suffer from hedgehog and dust allergies, products made of cloth may even 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 that can get ingested or become entangled in your pets’ feet, quills, or mouth.

IMPORTANT …Cloth snuggle sacks are appealing to a lot of pet owners. They are often promoted by a lot of breeders attempting to humanize the pet and by pet store people trying to make an add-on sale. It is important to note that cloth gets dirty quickly. It absorbs urine, feces and saliva very quickly and if it is left unchecked it 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.

At heritage-pets.com we know that a lot of our pets go on to live with families who have small children and that sometimes these children don’t always realize the importance of washing their hands after playing with a pet. We know that fabric items when used properly can be a nice finishing touch to a pet’s habitat. But based on the health risks that can result from poor sanitation and animal husbandry combined with the possible risk of injury resulting from shredded and poorly kept cage accessories, we choose not to use or recommend products made of natural or synthetic fabric for pets. Instead, we prefer recycled paper or natural wood and biodegradable grass products. They are easy and fairly inexpensive to use and when they need to be replaced they can be disposed of into our garden or compost bin.

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

We are hobbyists who specialize in raising specialty pets. Being that we are a private home not a pet store we do not sell supplies and we do not keep regular hours; all visits are by appointment only and all appointments need to be scheduled via a phone call (not an email or text). We need to talk to you before we will commit to a sale of any animal.

Do to time constraints, we are not scheduling visits to our home in Mississauga however we still welcome visits to our home in beautiful Niagara Falls, Ontario. (Just under an hour from Mississauga)

If, after reviewing our website should you still have questions that have not already been addressed on the site or if you would like to book a time to visit us at our home in Niagara Falls please call us instead of emailing us at 289-990-hpets (289-990-4738) in Niagara Falls or 647-725-1111. (We try to keep our phone lines open from 10AM until 10PM daily.)

(secondary email critterscanada@cogeco.ca)

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