Hedgehogs need a constant temperature to keep healthy. Inadequate heat or too much warmth may cause hedgies to fall into a state of inactivity. This state can be dangerous for pet hedgehogs. But is a heat lamp really needed to keep a constant ambient temperature? In this post, we’ll find out how to keep your hedgehog warm and whether a heat lamp is the best option out there.
Hedgehogs need temperature regulation. Heat lamps are only one of the possible solutions. Compared to heating pads and space heaters, lamps provide a significantly worse performance. You are better off exploring the alternatives if you want to keep your hedgie safe and sound. The most important things to look out for in a heating device are…
- Constant temperature, no extreme ebbs and flows
- Low risk of burn damage for the pet
- Low fire hazard risk
- Economical for your wallet and environment
Well, this is only the short answer. Now, we’ll go over all the necessary details to understand better the relationship between hedgehogs and the surrounding temperature. Also, we’ll take a look at the possible heating mechanisms besides heat lamps.
What kind of temperature do hedgehogs need?
Hedgehogs are quite specific when it comes to ambient temperature needs. African Pygmy Hedgehogs live naturally in an environment that doesn’t experience wild fluctuations in the temperature. That’s why it’s essential to keep their cage’s temperature between 73-78° F. Any more than that and they might get serious overheating issues. Temperatures below 65° F could even lead to death.
When you use heaters, it’s mandatory to heat only part of the cage. Your hedgehog needs to have the possibility of leaving the heated space. They might get overheated and leaving the heated area is the only way to escape. And when the temperature gets too cold, you need to warm up the animal. Do it too quickly and you could cause even more damage. When your hedgie is cold, then use your own body heat. For example, put the hedgehog under your shirt.
What are the pros and cons of heat lamps?
Heat lamps can be quite cheap, but they might not be the best solution for hedgies. Out of different overhead heating solution, a heat lamp isn’t the owners’ favorite device. It works great for reptiles because they love to bask in the sun. The same doesn’t go for hedgehogs. Moreover, hedgehogs depend on the cycles of night and day. When you turn on the heat lamp for a long time, it will start to create problems for the hedgie’s internal clock mechanisms. While the relatively cheap price is an important pro, there are strong negative sides to using heat lamps. Fortunately, there are alternatives that help to create the perfect temperature for your hedgehog.
But some people are using heat lamps for their hedgehogs?
Definitely, it’s possible to use the heat lamps. It’s just that compared to the alternatives it might not really measure up in terms of safety and efficiency. If you really insist on using a heat lamp, then opt for the ones that use a red or black bulb. White light is the worst when it comes to ruining the hedgehogs’ natural light cycles. Also, using them in plastic cages isn’t the smartest idea. In fact, it could become outright dangerous. The continuous influx of concentrated heat could easily start melting certain types of plastic. Hot and dripping plastic becomes an undeniable hazard for your hedgehog.
What kind of alternative exists for heat lamps?
Heat lamps clearly aren’t the only option to keep your hedgie in a comfortable environment. We’ll take a closer look at some of the alternatives being sold on the market. Be attentive with any heating device! Think about the possible scenarios where your hedgehog could get hurt in order to prevent any accidents from happening.
Central heating system
Some people opt to make their whole house warm enough for the hedgehogs. Keeping a constant temperature of 75° F may not be the best idea, for example, during a hot summer. Compared to using a heating device, this option may create way higher electricity bills. Still, there are some scenarios where this is doable. When you live in a small apartment in a colder climate, this might not be such a bad idea after all. You just need to ensure that the temperature is being kept constant and there aren’t any sudden, extreme fluctuations.
Heating pads created for people could work for hedgehogs as well. You could install the pad under the spot where your hedgehog tends to sleep. It’s important to check whether the particular heating pad has an automatic feature for turning the heat off. In such a case, you shouldn’t use the heating pad. Your hedgehog would get cold.
The other side of the coin is overheating. For example, if your hedgehog is a bit sick, they might not realize the temperature is too high. Unable to move, they will get serious burns or even die when their internal temperature rises above an acceptable limit. There are cases when the damage isn’t visible from the outside, but the vet can see internal issues. You need to make sure the device is properly maintained and new to avoid any sudden drops or spikes in the provided heat.
Usually, these devices are used to keep reptiles warm. They aren’t the best option for hedgehogs. The regulation of the temperature isn’t as straightforward (or sometimes even possible) as in more traditional heating devices. Also, the shapes are meant for reptile aquariums, which means that it’s quite uncomfortable to sleep on them when you aren’t a lizard or a snake. Some of the heat rocks may get dangerously hot for hedgehogs. Better to leave these rocks to boa constrictors and geckos!
The most important thing with space heaters is to keep an eye on the cycles. All of these ceramic heaters have built-in ebbs and flows in the provided temperature. The whole output should provide constant temperature, but you can never be sure before testing the particular device. Make sure that the drops or highs in the temperature aren’t extreme.
Emergency heating solutions
Sometimes power outages happen. In this case, you are responsible for providing emergency heating solutions for your hedgehog. First, you could use instant heat packs. Stock some of them in a place where you can find them in an emergency. Do note that if they have been stored for a long time, they might not work properly. Keep them updated and throw out the old ones.
Body heat is one of the easiest solutions available. You just need to put a few layers of clothing between you and the hedgehog. Then cover the hedgie with more loosely fitting layers. Make sure to allow enough space for the hedgehog to properly breathe. This can be a very effective solution because we are creating quite a lot of body heat on a constant basis.
Of course, if you have the possibility, then use backup generators in your home. These are not only beneficial to keeping your hedgie warm, but it’s also an investment for the whole family. But do note that the generated heat may not be enough for your hedgehog, especially, if the power outage is for a long time. In such a case, you still need to use other alternatives to maintain the proper temperature.
Any heating solution needs attention
Considering safety, none of the devices mentioned in this post is complete without risk. When you plug something into the electrical grid, there’s always a certain risk of overheating, fires, and just plain failure to start or continue the
You are best off trying to balance the risks. Heat only part of the cage, for example. When the hedgehog feels overheated, she can easily trot to the other side of the cage where the atmosphere is a bit more bearable. Another sure-fire way for keeping everything in check is to keep the room’s ambient temperature in a suitable range. Still, that might become intolerable for the people living on the property. A higher room temperature might be nice in the deep winter, but when you have the hot summer outside, then 75° F for the room temperature may be far from perfect.
Bottom line: do hedgehogs really need heat lamps?
No, they don’t need heat lamps, but they do need an adequate temperature regulation. The temperature in the cage must be kept in the range of 73-78° F. Anything more or less can become a significant danger to your spiny family member. That’s why you are able to use heating pads or space heaters to keep the cage’s atmosphere acceptable for your hedgehog. Furthermore, plan for the worst and have some emergency heating solutions ready at hand. When your house experiences a power outage, your hedgehog still needs a steady temperature. As a last resort, you could use your own body heat to keep your hedgie nice and warm.