Petting a hedgehog has become quite a trend with the growing popularity of this cute creature. Hedgehogs are quite different from conventional pets as they require a suitable environment. Plus, it can be a bit daunting to befriend them in the beginning.
Hedgehogs often come from the wild and are used to a specific environment. They do not like being caged and may take a while getting used to their new surroundings.
When you purchase a hedgehog from a reputable dealer and bring the little pet home, the initial first month can be very difficult.
The hedgehog might act a little aggressive, scared, depending on the breed. Therefore, as an owner, one must take great care of these pets in every aspect. Provide them food on time, take care of their cleanliness, and give them time to play.
Let’s learn about the various ways in which you can take care of a hedgehog:
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How To Take Care Of A Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are not easy to keep, especially if this is your first time keeping one. You need to know about their likes, dislikes. If you’re a beginner and have already bought a hedgehog or if you are willing to get one then this guide will help you.
Pay attention to the following:
Give your pet a beautiful and comfortable home to live in. You must prepare the home before you bring the pet so that you do not have to shift the animal again and again.
Make sure to pick a cage that’s the right size for the pet. A small cage can make the hedgehog feel uncomfortable.
Here are a few things to consider when picking a cage:
When hedgehogs are in the wild, they travel and move around a lot in search for food. Hence, pick a cage that gives the animal enough space to move around.
It needs to have at least 2 square feet of empty space. Mind it that this is the minimum requirement. The bigger the cage, the better it is. Also, this is not the size of the cage but the empty space. Hence, if you choose to allocate a Ferris wheel or other such elements into the mix then the cage needs to be bigger.
On average, the ideal size for the cage of a hedgehog is around 4 square feet.
The cage must have good ventilation because hedgehogs prefer a warm environment (not very hot) to live. Good ventilation will not only keep your animal happy but also prevent ammonia buildup.
Go for wired cages as they offer good ventilation.
There are a lot of owners who neglect the importance of proper bedding for a hedgehog. It’s a prime factor that helps the hedgehog feel at home.
Never choose a cage with wired or meshed flooring. It could hurt the pet and even cause the animal to hurt you.
The bedding should be soft. There should be no sharp edges or gaps in the cage. The pet can get stuck if there are gaps in the cage. Hence, pay special attention to this factor.
A soft floor is the best option for a hedgehog is a soft floor. Hence, consider installing a warm nest for bedding.
A hedgehog, like any other animal, can fall sick if kept in an unhealthy or unclean environment. You need to pay special attention to this factor.
Hedgehogs urinate a lot as they drink at least 2 ounces of water every day. This is why cleaning can be difficult. However, you need to be quick as hedgehog urine can cause ammonia buildup that can contaminate the surroundings. It would be dangerous for the pet as well as you.
Other than this, you need to clean their mess and feces as well. A good option is to create a zone and train your little friend to use the area to urinate.
- Cage Options
There are a variety of options to choose from when it comes to picking a cage type for your hedgehog.
- Wired Cage: These have good ventilation and they are also readily available in shops. They are easy to pick, move around and clean as they are lightweight.
While they’re great, a caged with a wired flooring can be a bad option. Also, ensure the gaps are not too big as they can cause the pet to get hurt.
- Aquariums: You can use empty aquariums as a cage. A 30-gallon aquarium is big enough for a hedgehog. The only downside of using an aquarium as a cage is a lack of ventilation. Plus, aquariums can also be quite heavy to move, hence hard to clean.
- Container (Plastic): You may buy plastic cages or create your own cage by using plastic bins. There are many DIY ideas available on the internet.
2) Learn About Their Dislikes
- Hedgehogs do not like strong smells. You must make sure to not smoke when close to the cage as it can scare the pet and also disturb their routine.
Strong smells can cause hedgehogs to get scared and their reactions can often be severe. When a hedgehog senses danger, it will do one of two things: anoint or grunt and bring out its spikes by turning into a ball. Both the situations can be bad for you as a pet owner.
Stay away from your pet if it anoints or curves into a ball. Let it be.
- Hedgehogs are sensitive to light and do not enjoy bright or sharp lights. It distracts them and makes them angry. Install bulbs that can be dimmed so that you can reduce the light when the hedgehog is up at night and is in a playful mood. Opting for bulbs that produce a red light can also be a good choice as they seem to enjoy the warmth.
- Give your animal time to get comfortable around you. Do not try to pick the pet for the first few weeks. You’ll figure out when they start to get comfortable around you. They like to have their own time and may take about two to four weeks to get friendly. However, during this period you must continue to feed them so they know who you are.
3) Taking Care Of Their Teeth
Just like humans, hedgehogs can get tartar, plaque or calculus in their teeth. The presence of plaque can cause them to have stained teeth (blackish). This also indicates overall poor health and requires intervention.
Their gumline is quite prone to catching plaque. This is because plaque begins to form when saliva, food particles, and bacteria accumulate on the gumline.
Since the gumline of a hedgehog leads to the vital organs of the body because it serves as a blood supply pathway. Hence, it can lead to infections and get your pet sick.
Prevention: Brush their teeth to prevent plaque, tartar. Do not use a normal toothbrush because they have very sensitive mouths and bristles may cause them to get hurt.
Use a wet Q-tip to brush their teeth and do it in the most gentle way possible. Do not worry if the gumline begins to bleed. It may happen in the beginning, just like it happens with humans. However, if it’s excessive or continues after the first few days then take the animal to a vet as there might be an infection.
Also, home cleaning is good only to remove plaque. If your pet has calculus or tartar then make it a point to visit a professional as only a vet can help get rid of these issues.
4) Keep Mites Away From Your Hedgehog
Mites are tiny creatures that can invade a hedgehog’s cage and attack its skin. They are black or red in color and look like arachnids, ticks or spiders. Their bites can irritate the hedgehog’s spines, fur, hair or skin and also cause the animal to get sick or feel irritated.
The problem is that mites are not easy to spot, however, an easy way to identify mites is to look for spots on your pet’s skin.
Symptoms Of Mite Attack On A Hedgehog:
- Mites can cause hair and spine loss in hedgehogs. However, these symptoms occur when your pet has been under attack for a long period of time. In the early days, your pet would constantly lick scratch, and bite the skin. Other than this:
- The hedgehog might begin to lose weight.
- The hedgehog might seem upset or dull with no energy to play at all.
- The hedgehog’s skin might get flaky.
- There might be acumulation of dandruff on the hedgehog’s skin.
Dirty bedding and cage, leftover food, and the presence of other pets are some of the main reasons why mites may attack your hedgehog.
Clean the area, cage, and give frequent baths to the hedgehog. You need to make sure to leave no feces or food stuck to your pet’s body.
Keep an eye on the food that you give to your pet. A good tip is to freeze food for 24 hours before feeding the pet. It would kill the mites, present in the food, if there are any.
Clean the cage on a daily basis and make sure there no other pets around the hedgehog.
The only option you have is to take the pet to a vet where it will undergo a scrape test. The vet will scrape the skin of the hedgehog to determine the presence of mites under the microscope.
If the test comes out positive then the doctor will most probably use medication to treat the animal.
5) Tips To Follow
- Don’t wear gloves when feeding or holding a hedgehog because they recognize you with you smell. Wearing gloves can restrict them from smelling you.
- Do not hold them from the top part, always hold them from the bottom. This will keep you safe from getting poked with their spines.
- In the early days, if you want to pick the hedgehog, you can use a thick towel to do that. Wrap them up and hold them gently.
- Avoid touching them when you have lotion or perfume on you. Strong smells get them scared and they might attack you.
- Surprisingly, hedgehogs accept bribes, too. If they act stubborn and refuse to let you pick them up then presenting a mealworm might do thetrick.
- Let the hedgehog sniff your hands when they try to. It’s their way to get used to you.
This is how you can take care of a hedgehog. It’s not difficult, especially since they sleep during the day. You only ened to give your pet the right food and a clean environment and things will go well.