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Hedgehogs are a fairly low-maintenance pet. However, if you’re getting a hedgehog for the first time you’ll need to acquire a few things before bringing home your new hedgehog friend.
1. A cage that is at least 18″ by 24″ in size. Yes, this seems large compared to how small hedgehogs are. The reason they need a large cage is to make room for the items below and to give them room to walk around. In nature, hedgehogs travel a large distance each day so putting them in a tiny cage would be unnatural for their exercise needs and unhealthy for them. Henry had the Super Pet My First Home in size large which is currently $42.95 on Amazon.
2. An exercise wheel. As I mentioned above, hedgehogs are used to traveling a large distance on a daily basis. As a result, an exercise wheel is an absolute must for hedgies. I had a hamster with a wheel as a child and only saw it run on the wheel once. My hedgehog ran on his wheel every single day – for several hours straight. A wheel with a 11″ or greater diameter is recommended (smaller wheels will cause your hedgies back to bend backwards when they run which isn’t healthy for their spine). If the cage isn’t in a bedroom, a wheel with a solid surface is best (such as the Kaytee 12-Inch Giant Silent Spinner Exercise Wheel is best). Despite its “silent spinner” name I found this wheel to be EXTREMELY loud – I couldn’t sleep with Henry running on his silent spinner in another room. So I eventually switched to the Super Pet Run-Around Giant Exercise Wheel, 11-Inch) instead. This wheel was truly silent but it isn’t as safe for hedgehogs because it has tiny holes in it that they can catch their nails/feet in and get hurt. Henry used it for 4 years without an issue but it’s a risk.
3. Food dish. Of course, your hedgehog will need a bowl to hold his food in. Even as a full grown hedgehog, their mouth will only be slightly more than an inch from the bottom of the cage so it needs to be very shallow. My hedgehog liked to push lightweight items around his cage and would spill his food all out with the first few food dishes that we purchased. So we tried a few bowls without much success until I was throwing out a scentsy warmer and realized the top of it was very shallow but VERY heavy. So I cleaned it thoroughly and then used it as a food dish which was perfect. Of course, most people don’t have a scentsy warmer top laying around so I would recommend going to a pet store and picking up a variety of hamster, mice, rat or guinea pig food dishes and buying the heaviest one you can find.
4. Water dish or bottle. Some people like to use water bottles (similar to a hamster or rabbit water bottle) for hedgehogs. My hedgehog would chew on the edge so I quickly got rid of it. Hedgehogs do NOT have an endless ‘supply’ of teeth so if they break or lose their teeth they will not regrow so its important to prevent your hedgehog from damaging his teeth. Like the food dish problem, I tried several varieties before finally finding the Petmate Pet Cafe Pet Waterer in the 1/4 gallon size wich is a gravity waterer like you often see for cats or dogs but it only holds 1/4 of a gallon of water so its small enough to fit in a hedgehog cage. The bowl portion is shallow enough for hedgehogs to reach. The 1/4 galon of water is heavy enough to hold it into place. See my full Petmate Cafe Waterer review for more info.
5. Liner, pee pads or bedding. To keep the cage clean you’ll need some sort of protection for the bottom of your hedgehog’s cage. Some people use wood shavings (like hamster bedding) but it’s important to avoid brands that are dusty because hedgehogs have sensitive lungs. It’s also important to avoid cedar-based shavings because cedar shavings contain toxins that are bad for hedgehogs. Most people I see on hedgehog forums use fleece liners which are sewn rectangles of fleece that are made to the cage size. Most people buy a couple and then rotate them when the other is in the wash. These can be found on Etsy or handmade (Be sure to check for any loose strings before putting in the cage to prevent a foot getting tangled in the strings. I personally opted to use doggy pee pads. Some people warn against these because some hedgehogs will try to chew/eat the pads which isn’t safe. In the 3.5 years that I had my hedgehog before he passed, he never once tried to chew the pads but it’s something to be aware of.
6. Food. Hedgehogs can eat cat food but only certain varieties. It’s important to research which cat food varieties have been approved for hedgehogs. We used Blue BuffaloWeight Control Dry Cat Food. The 3lb bag is around $12 at my local pet store and lasted over 6 months (maybe closer to 8?) per bag.
7. A moisturizing lotion or body wash with oatmeal. Several months after getting my hegehog, he started scratching CONSTANTLY. My first worry was that he had fleas or mites or something, but I quickly learned that he simply had dry skin (it was winter). To prevent dry skin in hedgehogs, use a natural oatmeal-based mositurizer in their bath water. I saw Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion recommended in hedgehog forums so that’s what I used. I put it in the water itself instead of directly on him and it stopped the itching.
8. Ceramic heat emitter. Pet hedgehogs are not designed for typical US climates. They are comfortable at temperatures much higher than we are and they can try to hibernate if left at a typical room temperature of 68-72 degrees. To keep them warm you’ll need a heat emitter that does not shine light (they are nocturnal and need the darkness) but instead just produces heat. Ideal cage temperature for a hedgehog is about 75-80 degrees. We used the Zoo Med Ceramic Infrared Heat Emitter 100 Watts.
9. Thermometer and Thermostat for the heat lamp. Hedgehogs can overheat if their cage reaches roughly 82 degrees or higher. To prevent the heat lamp from letting the cage get too hot, you’ll need a thermometer such as the Zoo Med Digital Terrarium Thermometer to keep track of the cage’s temperature. You’ll also need a thermostat such as the Zoo Med ReptiTemp 500R Remote Sensor Thermostat to regulate the heat emitter with.
10. A bed or igloo. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and they sleep a lot. They will want to cover up and hide to go to sleep so they need somewhere to hide. Many hedgehog owners use a plastic igloo such as the Kaytee Guinea Pig Igloo Hide-Out, Large for their hedgehogs. I tried an igloo at first but my hedgehog would try to crawl under his cage liner to sleep instead. So next I tried an etsy cuddle sack which is just a sewn fleece ‘bag’. My hedgehog wasn’t smart enough to use his nose to seperate the two layers of fleece and crawl inside. Next I fell in love with the hedgehog tents from Laurel’s Zoo because they were super adorable. My hedgehog would go inside while awake sometimes, but wouldn’t sleep in it. I think it was because it felt too exposed as a result of the opening. So I went back to Laurel’s Zoo on etsy for her stay-open sleepsacks and thos ewere a huge hit. I wound up with two fleece sacks and one cotton one and my hedgehog always preferred the fleece ones. I am not sure if this was because of the fabric or if it was because the fleece sack would stay 100% open and untangled, where as the cotton one would occasionally have the two layers of fabric catch on each other where I would have to put my hand inside to straighten it back out. Either way, I highly recommend the Laurel’s Zoo sleep sacks as we used ours for 2+ years before my hedgehog passed away so it was washed dozens of times but held up great. See my full Laurel’s Zoo review for more info.
Your wheel is going to hurt your hedgehogs feet
Yes, that is a risk. I mentioned that in my post “So I eventually switched to the Super Pet Run-Around Giant Exercise Wheel, 11-Inch) instead. This wheel was truly silent but it isn’t as safe for hedgehogs because it has tiny holes in it that they can catch their nails/feet in and get hurt. Henry used it for 4 years without an issue but it’s a risk.”
Thanks so much for all the info. My eleven year old son wants a hedgehog and thats all he talks about. I want to research as much as possible before the big day and this info was perfect!!!! Thanks again!!!! 🙂
Great post ! Would you consider updating the picture of the wheel you currently have posted to the one without holes ? Would not want a new hedgehog owner to assume it’s an ok wheel. I have pinned your post, love the info !
If you read the paragraph about the wheel it explains there is a risk with this type of wheel.
I have a bucket wheel that works great from Carolina Storm Hedgehog. There is no risk of foot degeneration or injury from this type of wheel. I tried to add a picture but I can’t figure it out.
I have that same wheel. Winston loves his. It’s easier to clean since it’s smooth, but my goodness does he make a mess with pee and poop on it every day. 😛
Yes I completely Agree don’t EVER!!! I mean EVERRRR use Wire Wheels is will Damage your Hedgies feet witch can cause for a Grumpy Hedgie because of Pain
We have own are little hedgehog, flower for a couple of months now, she is in a home made cage that cost use about $150.00 to make it’s a large home and she using ever inch of her cage at night running around and playing with her toys and she love her Carolina wheel. we us fleece as her cage liners and her wheels is placed inside of a cat litter box lined with pee pads. she is the best pet and she really only messes in her wheel and her cat box so very easy to keep clean. We live in Colorado and now that it’s getting cold we had to change her heat bulb to a 150. They make great pets you do have to hold them ever day so they stay friendly.
I really want a hedgehog for christmas but I am not sure if I sould but bedding of cloth. What do you think?
I was using aspen that I got online but what a mess! Now I just put down several thicknesses of newspaper. She poops near the wheel (and in it) so all I do is remove the soiled paper every morning…and clean the wheel. No mess, no smell. She also has a PVC tube with elbow to tunnel in, her fleece sleepsacks and a towel to crawl under. That seems to be her favorite place to sleep.
I have a hedgehog and if you use a fabric make sure it is fleece because the quills won’t stick to it. If you don’t want to use fabric, you can use newspaper. Just make sure you change out the bedding once a week.
I always use fleece blankets! He loves them and hides is them, then you can wash them!
What did you use to hang the heat emitter in the cage? Isn’t it just a bulb? I’m getting a hedgehog and am trying to find the perfect way to heat his cage, especially because winters are cold here.
Yes it looks like a heat light bulb like you’d use with chickens or something except it doesn’t give off light, it just gives off heat. It is attached to an electric cord so I put the bulb inside the cage and ran the cord through a hole in the top of the cage. Then I used zip-ties to secure the cord to the cage every few inches and that held it in place.
You can also buy a cheap dime from Walmart for less than $10.00 and just have it sit on the top of the enclosure. The bulb doesn’t touch the cage and the heat will emit into the openings just fine.
You can also buy the heat lamps that are 8.5′ that have a clamp attached that you can just attach it to the cage. I suggest at least a 100 watt bulb. If you do as you should and buy the thermometer and thermostat you can use up to a 150 watt bulb.
What about nail cutting?
You can use regular nail clippers and trim them back a little bit. If you do end up cutting into their nail bed, you should put on cornstarch or flour to help stop the bleeding. You can also go to the pet store and there are little sandpaper sheets that you can put in their wheel to keep their nails shorter.
Its best to cut their nails after a bath, their nails become really soft and easy to cut.
In UK it is very much recommended that you don’t use cages, as hedgies climb up and then fall down could potentially hurt themselves 🙁 First my little fella had setup in huge plastic container and now I got him reptile vivarium (don’t like the look of it, but it does the job).
Yes they can climb if the bars are too low. The cage I used is a little hard to tell from my personal photos, but it’s the same type of cage that is shown in full size with the purple bottom, except the bottom of mine was a teal/greenish. The plastic part went high enough above the hedgehogs body that he couldn’t reach the bars to climbing. The cages that have the bars all throughout would be dangerous.
My cage is the exact same as the purple one, and I’ve had no problems with daisy climbing out of it. When I clean out her cage(i use shavings) i will fill it up with water and a little all natural soap (it doesn’t harm her) and she will sometimes climb up the edges, but she isn’t tall enough to get out. Also we have a kitchen with nothing daisy can crawl under, so we set up a fence, food, water, puppy pads, and a sleeping hut, and let her run around at night. This is very helpful and a great way to let her get her energy in.
Can I use sand as bedding??
I have never heard of sand being used with hedgehogs. Mine liked to scratch/dig the bottom of his cage so I think he would have made a mess with sand. I would recommend using a fleece liner instead. Here is a tutorial for how to make your own pretty cheap.
Sand is really dangerous as it can get in their respiratory systems or genitals.
Can you tell what size of fleece liners would i get if i got the cage mentioned in to article :).
Hi Hailey. That cage is 40.5 inches wide and 18.25 inches deep so those would be the measurements for the bottom of the cage.
Hi there! I know this is an old thread but was wondering if you could elaborate on the fleece lining topic. Do you lay it throughout? Can the hedgies be “trained” to only soil in one area?! Thank you!!
Fleece liners are usually used across the bottom of the entire cage, for warmth and to absorb the mess. I have read that hedgehogs can be litter trained, but I don’t think anyone uses liners for that purpose. They make little trays and a certain type of pellets that they can be trained to use. I didn’t train mine, I just cleaned his cage regularly but I’ve read about it. If you google something like litter training hedgehogs you should find some results. 🙂
I use Arm&Hammer Feline Pine (dust- and chemical-free) in a corner litter box, and my hedgehog was litter-trained in days.
Thank you this was soooooo helpful!!!!🙃🙃🙃
Hi! I really want a hedgehog! I was wondering, would a hedgehog be a good pet for a very active and busy 11 year old?
Hello again😀 So we got our new hedgehog yesterday I was curious and excited so I volunteered to hold him first it went really well sniffed didn’t bite and tonight I got my hedgehog out again for some bonding time but… Each time my husband would approach me while he was on my lap he hisses at him and when he starts to pick him up he also hisses . Do I need to change what I’m doing maybe he’s not a fan of my husband??? Any thoughts???
If he is okay with most people but not your husband it might be your husband’s smell. If he wears cologne or uses hand sanitizer, hand soap, etc that could be what your hedgehog is reacting to. I know that some say you should use odorless soap before handling a hedgehog instead of scented and so on. Alternatively, if he’s only okay with you then he may have bonded better with you and may just need time to get to know your husband.
We just picked up our hedgie today and when I inquired as to types of bedding I could use, the pet store said they used ground corn husk. After reading about their issues with dust, I am worried that corn husk is not a good bedding. Any one with hedgies have an opinion/experience with this?
Hi I am about to get a hedgehog. If I am getting it from a breeder do I have to worry about it start quilling right as I get it?
These are all very good questions . This article taught me a lot !! Thank you for the info.
Hello, I am getting a hedgehog this Saturday, and I was wondering if I need a heater. I live in Madison wi. Also what should I make my bed out of??
Yes you need a heat emitter. Hedgehogs can try to hibernate if their cage is 72 degrees or cooler so the temps most of us keep our houses at is too cold for them. See points #8 and #9 of this post to see how I regulated my hedgehogs cage. I live in Michigan so fairly similar winter climate to Wisconsin I believe. For making a bed, cotton of fleece material is what most people make hedgehog snuggle sacks out of. I think the big concern is to make sure you trim the threads really well, as if you leave any stray pieces your hedgehogs nails or foot could get tangled up in the threads.
Okat, thank you!!