Bedding is an important part of any small pet’s cage. Hedgehogs aren’t different in this aspect. But the main question centers on all the different bedding options available on the market. Did you know that some bedding variants can even be dangerous to your lovely hedgie? In this post, we’ll take a closer look at all of the bedding types available today and try to guide you to the ones that offer the best value to your hedgehog.
So, do hedgehogs really need bedding?
Yes, hedgehogs really do need bedding as it’s part of their basic care package. On the outside, hedgehogs look sturdy. But not having bedding can start to seriously damage their delicate underside. Also, their tiny feet may be quite easily injured. That’s another potential issue you should look at when deciding which particular bedding will work the best for your hedgehog.
What kind of bedding is unsuitable for hedgehogs?
The number one type of bedding to avoid is made of cedar shavings or just contains a certain amount of cedarwood. These are really toxic to hedgehogs and many other pets. The reason for this includes plicatic acid and other phenols contained in the cedar shavings. Exposure to these chemicals may lead to the development of some cancers and respiratory diseases. Also, some hedgehogs develop serious liver problems that can become fatal in the long run.
The other type of bedding to avoid is made of sawdust. It’s irritating to the eyes and lungs. When you hedgie is out and about in the cage, all the roaming around will cause the sawdust to fly around in the air. Breathing this sawdust in the lungs can result in many lung diseases and problems. Also, don’t use soil and leaves found in the wild. It’s highly likely that they harbor malignant bacteria and parasites.
Hay and gravel are unsuitable for hedgehogs as well. Both types of beddings might only work in theory. Hedgies have a very high risk of injuring themselves when walking on these proposed bedding types. Gravel is especially wearing on their feet that actually have quite delicate soles. Their bodies don’t adapt to constantly moving on sharp or rough surfaces.
What kind of bedding should I get for my hedgehog?
Now that we’ve seen what types of bedding make for the worst choices, it’s time to take a look at the usual suspects in the bedding market. There are quite a few categories, including products based on wood or paper. All of these bedding types have their pros and cons. For example, even if paper products are nowhere as dangerous as cedar wood shavings, using them still puts your hedgie at a higher risk of experiencing some medical emergencies. In the end, it’s all about finding the right balance between the price, risks, comfort, and availability.
Bedding made from paper
Recycled newspaper makes for great use in small animal bedding products. While it’s quite cheap and environment-friendly, there’s a big risk involved. When you hedgie eats this bedding, it might start to expand in their stomach. This can be fatal. There are other bedding types made from paper on the market. Actually, this niche is constantly expanding because of the ‘green mindset’ penetrates more and more households. You might want to opt for brands that use non-toxic, heat-treated, and recycled paper in their products.
Bedding made from wood
We have already explained the biggest risk with wood beddings: you have to make sure it’s not made from cedar. Another wood to watch out for is pine. While many people use pine shavings, professionals warn about similar risks. Namely, pine shavings contain abietic acid. If the shavings aren’t heat cured, similar risks to cedar shavings apply to bedding made from pine as well. Also, they might be cut in a fashion that could hurt your hedgie’s feet. Aspen shavings are much finer, but sometimes too dusty. It tends to cover everything and anything in its way.
Bedding made from corn cob
When people want a really cheap option, they might opt for corn cob. It might be cheap, but it sure raises the risk of hosting mold colonies inside the cage. These molds might become quite dangerous to your hedgehog’s respiratory system. Some people argue that constant attention to keeping the bedding clean and dry will counter this risk. Still, you should consider the fact that this bedding type has the risk potential to injure your hedgehog’s sexual organs. Sometimes it’s better to pay a bit more for a superior grade product instead of falling for the issues that come with the cheapest options on the market.
Bedding made from fabric
The fabric is not too popular, but it’s still an alternative to all the other bedding options. The fabric bedding choices include towels, fleece blankets, and even pillowcases. The best aspect of fabrics is their ability to absorb liquids. And once they have absorbed a lot of moisture and liquid, you can just wash and reuse them. It’s definitely an eco-friendly solution. At the same time, fabric beddings tend to have loose threads. Hedgies can easily get stuck this way and hurt themselves in the action. The worst ones are made from knitted fabrics.
How often do you need to change the bedding?
No hedgehog will change their own bedding. You need to keep an eye on how they are doing inside their cage. There are many variables affecting the particular time periods between the changes. For example, the cage size, eating habits, and bedding type all contribute to the different turnaround times. Most of the owners do some daily cleaning. This means taking out parts of the bedding that have been completely ruined by feces, spills, and accumulated dirt. In this fashion, people will completely change the bedding once a week. But when the hedgehog tends to be particularly detrimental to the cleanliness, owners might have to do the big cleaning process at least twice a week.
What people don’t think about when picking the bedding…
There are some aspects that people commonly don’t think about when deciding upon the appropriate bedding. But they should! The color and scent of the bedding pose a major issue. The colors used in the bedding material need to be as natural as possible. If the company uses artificial dyes, there’s a great chance that these could become toxic to the hedgehog.
The aroma carried by the bedding is another important thing to consider. Most of the products on the market are fortunately unscented. Yet, every now and then, some producers create products with an artificial smell. This is bad for hedgehogs. They have really sensitive olfactory glands. If they start smelling the strong scent, they might get stressed or confused. Plus, some of the scents may be toxic under long-term exposure. That’s the same reason why you shouldn’t use commercial air fresheners in your hedgie’s cage.
Another thing to consider is how much dust does the bedding produce. Aim to have bedding in your hedgie’s cage that has as little dust as possible. The dust particles are notorious for irritating the hedgehogs’ airways. At the same time, dust exposure can create inflammation in the eyes as well. While no bedding is 100% dust-free, compare the different materials to see which one has the least potential to irritate your hedgie’s respiratory system.
The bottom line: do hedgehogs need bedding?
Yes, all domestic hedgehogs need bedding. It’s essential for their health and wellbeing. There are many varieties of bedding available in pet stores and supermarkets. You have to ignore certain types of bedding, though. If it contains cedar shavings, it’s absolutely mandatory to steer clear of these products. Beddings containing cedar wood shavings are very toxic for hedgehogs. Among other choices, you may pick between bedding materials made from corn cob, fabric, paper, or wood. The particular choice depends on your own preferences. Also, keep an eye out for any problems that your hedgehog might have with any single product. If you discover that they are having a bad time with paper bedding, for example, then it’s time to try out wood pellet bedding products.