Petting hedgehogs are not the same as petting a cat or a dog. They strive on a unique diet and have a unique sleeping and eating routine. A hedgehog sleeps from morning to evening and requires food at least 5 times a day.
Moreover, it can take them a lot of time to get accustomed to you. They can get scared very easily and roll up into a ball of spikes when they feel threatened. They may also hurt you in such situations.
Other than this, they also depend a lot on their sense of smell. The use it to recognize people and also danger. Spend more time with your pet to ensure it gets used to you and develops a relationship.
This is why it can be a bit complicated to care for a pet hedgehog. Let’s have a look at this hedgehog care sheet that covers all that you need to know about caring a hedgehog.
Hedgehog Care Sheet: Bedding Options For Hedgehogs
Choose the right bedding option for your pet. Their requirements are quite similar to that of a rat or a pig. You can choose from several bedding options according to their size and needs.
While you can get ready-made bedding from a store, they often lack the element of comfort. To provide your little friend with the best bedding to sit, walk, and sleep upon, you can consider these DIY bedding options:
Paper Bedding: This type of bedding is soft, lightweight, and suitable to house a hedgehog. You will need several newspapers or paper directories to prepare it.
Start by merging two to three newspapers on top of each other to make it thick. Continue to join more papers side by side up to the point that it covers the entire ground. You can glue or tape the newspapers together so that there are no gaps in between.
This bedding is cheaper than most options as you can easily find recycled papers. Apart from that, it is absorbent and will also prevent the accumulation of dust.
While the bedding is easy to build, it does have a drawback. It does not look very attractive. The solution lies in painting the papers. However, remember that they are not very durable as the spikes of your little one can damage the paper and even get stuck to it.
Wooden Bedding: A wood bedding is stronger and more long-lasting than paper bedding. You can choose from a variety of woods with cedar and pine being the two most popular options. However, we’d recommend you to steer clear from them as cedar can cause allergic reactions in your pet and pine shavings might cut open their feet.
Aspen shavings are your most suitable option. It is absorbent and gives off a good aroma that your hedgehog will adore. On the downside, it can be a bit difficult to clean.
To make an aspen bedding, keep laying aspen shavings until the entire ground is covered.
Hedgehog Care Sheet: Hedgehog Diet
Hedgehogs are insectivores and love to eat crawling and creeping tiny insects. However, those insects do not provide them with complete nutrition. A hedgehog’s diet must contain at least 20% protein, 5-15% fats, and some amount of fiber. Choose the right option for your Hedgehog
The Balanced Diet For A Hedgehog: It’s important to give your little pet a balanced diet to ensure it stays healthy.
Feed them insects and small animals including bones, fur, intestines, etc. This will provide them with all the vital minerals, calcium, and vitamins.
A moist chicken, for example, can be a good option. It will provide your hedgehog with a good amount of proteins. You can feed the pet with chicken almost every day because it is very easy to digest.
You can also give cat food to your hedgehog. However, always choose cat food that has a higher ratio of proteins and less amount of fats, ideally 2:1.
Also, include fruits and vegetables in your hedgehog’s diet. They offer them with several vitamins and minerals that help fight back diseases. You can give them apples, pears, bananas, watermelon, and many more fruits.
Other than this, vegetables can be suitable as well. Some good options include broccoli, sweet potato, asparagus, radish, turnip, etc.
Lastly, do not forget the importance of water as your pet may easily get dehydrated. They can be very choosy about water and may only prefer specific tastes. A 250ml water contained may be enough for your pet.
What Things You Should Look After When Petting A Hedgehog?
Pay attention to the following factors:
- Cage: The cage of your hedgehog should be big enough so that your pet has enough space to roam around. The cage shouldn’t have wires or gaps on the sides as they can hurt your little friend. If the cage is wired then make sure to cover the pointy ends with a thick cloth.
- BEDDING: As discussed earlier, aspen or paper bedding are two of the best bedding options for your hedgehog. However, make sure to clean the bedding at least twice a day because your pet’s feces and urine can give off ammonia which can be harmful.
- Food Container: Feed your hedgehog in a food bowl. It makes it easier for them to fully reach inside and eat. Also, make sure to fix the bowl properly or choose a bowl that’s heavy so that the animal cannot dump the contents out of the bowl.
Choose a container that’s at least 3-6 inches in diameter and 4-6 inches in height.
- Water Container: Do not serve them water in the same container as you serve food in. Use a clean and separate bowl and give your little pet fresh water to drink. Also, do not feed them using water bottles as it can make it difficult for them to drink.
- A Spot To Hide: Hedgehogs are playful by nature, therefore, consider providing them with a small hiding spot. They will play and sleep in this spot.
You can prepare a hiding spot by using logs, racks, sacks or igloos. Moreover, they enjoy burrowing so pay attention to this factor as well.
You can prepare a 12×12 fleece spot to help them hide and sleep.
- Litter Box: It’s important to train your pet when it comes to pooping and urinating. You can make a litter box by using paper and towels. A litter box of two-inch depth and 6 inches in height will suffice.
- Wheel: Hedgehogs can gain a lot of weight if they keep eating and sleeping all day. Therefore, place a small wheel inside the cage for them to run in. It will help them maintain their weight and will also serve as a toy for them. Pick a wheel keeping the size of your pet in mind.
- Warmth: Hedgehogs can’t bear the cold which is why they often hibernate. You can install a low power bulb on the top of the cage to keep them warm in the night and in winters.
Hedgehog Care Sheet: FAQS About Petting Hedgehogs
Do You Need To Brush A Hedgehog’s Teeth?
Yes, you need to be careful about their 44 teeth. They can suffer from dental diseases if you do not take care of their teeth.
Tartar, infection, and fractured teeth are some of the most common dental issues that hedgehogs face. Try brushing their teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Consider taking your pet to a professional if you see major problems such as black teeth.
Can Hedgehogs Fall Sick?
Yes, they can. Hedgehogs can pick up several diseases due to poor diet, poor environmental conditions, and poor hygiene.
- Reproductive Diseases: A female hedgehog can uterine cancer and mammary tumors. These are fatal diseases and need care. To prevent the occurrence of such diseases, make sure to perform an ovariohysterectomy on them when they reach the age of 8 months. Similarly, male hedgehogs must be neutered at the same age to prevent testicular cancer.
- Severe Itching And Scratching: It’s common for hedgehogs to itch. Doing so might also cause them to lose some of their quills. However, if the itching is severe and your pet is losing quills faster than ever then it might be due to mites.
Mites are found in places that are not cleaned on a regular basis and they will not miss a chance to attack a hedgehog. They invade the pet’s skin and cause it to get dry and severely itchy.
As a result of which, the quills on the pet will begin to come out quickly. Make sure to waste no time and take your pet to a vet if you see such signs.
Apart from that, make sure to keep your pet’s cage and living area clean so that no mites can invade.
- Neurological Disease: Your pet hedgehog may suffer from the Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome which can cause the pet to get seizures and even get paralyzed. There is little information on this type of diseases and sadly, so far, there’s no cure as well.
- Kidney Stones: Like humans, hedgehogs can also suffer from kidney stones. It is caused by infections or cystitis in the urinary tract. This can be a very painful condition and may require radiography or bladder ultrasound to identify the problem.
Can You Keep Other Pets With Your Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are not harmful unless they are provoked. They are not the attacking animals but their defense mechanism is strong. It can take a lot of time for your hedgehog to get friendly with other animals.
The best pet to keep with your hedgehog is another hedgehog, preferably of the opposite genders. Keep them together but keep an eye on them as they may fight over small things. With time, two hedgehogs can grow closer to each other and even mate.
Some other animals that may gel well with a pet hedgehog are cats, dogs but it may take a while for the two animals to get close to each other. However, make sure to keep big animals away from your hedgie.
Can A Hedgehog Hurt Their Owner?
They can if the owner is not careful. Hedgehogs will fear almost everything when you take them home from a store. Give them space and avoid touching or holding them until they get used to you.
The best thing to do here is to feed your hedgehog every day so that they can recognize the scent of your hands. When they get accustomed to your scent, they won’t poke you.
You can also hold them in your palms but make sure they are calm when you do so. Stay away from them when they roll into a ball.
Does A Hedgehog Need A Bath?
Hedgehogs can keep themselves clean and do not need regular baths. However, they may need one if you see crap stuck to their body. Moreover, if you do not clean their mess immediately, they will get all the dirt and debris rubbed over their skin and will smell bad.
A warm bath can be a good solution to the problem. Avoid using cold water and cause them to point out their quills. Use mildly warm water and give them a bath in a tub. Also, make sure to be gentle when cleaning their back and belly.
Hedgehog Care Sheet: Mistakes To Avoid
Make sure to be careful with your pet dog and to avoid the following mistakes:
- Ignoring Your Pet: Like all other pets, hedgehogs have a heart, too, and they need your attention. A lack of attention can upset them.
They give signals that can help you identify their mood. For example, they make huffing and puffing sounds when they are happy and like the place. However, if he makes a sudden lunging motion and gives out hissing sounds then he may not be very content.
- Not Letting Them Sleep In The Morning: Hedgehogs sleep from morning till evening and wake up at night.
When they wake up, they will need food immediately. So make sure that you’ve already filled up their bowls with food and water.
You must respect the sleeping hours of your hedgehog and not disturb the pet while he’s asleep.
- Never House Two Hedgehogs Unplanned: You need to understand one thing that two male hedgehogs and two female hedgehogs won’t survive in a single cage.
You cannot keep two same-gender hedgehogs in the same cage, even if there are two pairs unless the cage is very big.
If you have hedgehogs of two opposite genders, you can place them in a cage. However, take note that they will breed at a point. So make sure that you can handle that.
If you do not want baby hedgehogs, then you may place a bachelorette pad on the male hedgehog.
These are some of the most important tips that you must keep in mind when petting a hedgehog.
Feed them the right diet and on time, clean their cages, and keep them protected. Soon enough, your baby will grow used to you.