Are you planning to get a pet hedgehog? They are different from many other pets. But these spiky and furry balls of joy make for great companions if you do all the necessary homework before getting one. A part of this planning concerns hedgehogs cages. Obviously, your hedgie needs a place to live. But how to know what your prickly buddy needs inside? In this post, we’ll cover everything you’d want to know about hedgehog cages.
Your pet hedgehog needs the following items in their cage:
- Food & Water
- Exercise Wheel
- Hiding Area
- Thermometer (outside, next to the cage)
- Litter Area
Table of Contents
In-depth: what does your hedgehog need in its cage?
Now, we’ll look at each item in a more in-depth fashion. Keep in mind that most of these things are necessities, not a choice. For example, your hedgie needs an exercise wheel. Otherwise, they could face illnesses and obesity.
A very important part of every hedgehog’s cage is adequate bedding. Most of the bedding types that are marketed towards small animals are fine for hedgehog use. However, you have to steer clear of any bedding that has cedar inside. The cedarwood contains essential oils that cause health complications for hedgehogs. In serious cases, death may follow, so be cautious about this.
There are many different types of bedding available. You may use products made from wood chips or recycled paper. Trying out various products is a good idea. You might discover that your hedgie likes one over the other. How can you tell? When walking on certain bedding types, your pet hedgehog may look more relaxed or happy. In the end, it’s really about the owner’s intuition.
Having a running wheel is extremely important for hedgehogs. As they are nocturnal animals, nighttime means being extra active. Research shows that hedgehogs may run up to 10 miles during a single night. Not a small feat for any animal this size. When they can’t run this much, health issues arise. Plus, there’s always the risk of obesity.
Picking the correct exercise wheel is as crucial as getting one in the first place. Wire wheels are off-limits. It’s very easy for hedgehogs to get hurt running on an exercise wheel with the wiring. They have tiny feet. These get stuck between the wires. Instead, buy a wheel with a flat plastic bottom. Choose a wheel that has a diameter of 12-13 inches. Any smaller won’t do.
Enriching your hedgehog’s daily life is a mandatory step for all owners. One of the ways to do this is to have appropriate toys around. By appropriate, we mean toys that wouldn’t hurt or injure your hedgie in any way.
You are able to use a variety of toys, including household objects that work as enrichment material. For example, finished toilet paper rolls are great for hedgie. Also, any small balls are fine. Your hedgehog will love to pull and push these items around the cage.
Hedgehogs love burrowing. You could hide the food under a blanket of materials that allow for burrowing. Just make sure that these materials won’t irritate your hedgie or pose any risk of injuries.
Another thing to keep in mind is that hedgehogs love two things: roaming around and tunneling. That’s why it’s such a good idea to have larger tubes in their cage. Just make sure that these are big enough so that they wouldn’t get stuck.
Every hedgehog cage needs a digital thermometer. Your hedgehog needs a constant temperature between 73-78 degrees Fahrenheit. Serious fluctuations can endanger their life. When it gets too low, they face a dangerous state of hibernation. When the temperatures are too high, on the other hand, they can easily experience a heat stroke.
The digital thermometer needs to be as close to the cage as possible. Having one in the other end of the room or in an entirely different room won’t work at all. In many homes, the temperature may vary wildly. Sometimes, these variations are due to less isolation in parts of the building. Or there are heating sources, even unknown ones, that raise the temperature in secluded spots.
If your hedgehog’s cage isn’t in a spot with optimal temperature, but you can’t find a better one, then you need heating equipment. Most hedgehog owners use a ceramic heat emitter. Whenever you buy a heater, then learn about the potential hazards. The setup needs to be as safe as possible for your little hedgie.
Food & Water
Your hedgie needs to eat and drink, right? Well, in most cases, the best choice is getting a ceramic crock dish. The sides keep the unfinished food inside the dish. And while it’s not too heavy, it’s not light enough for your hedgehog to randomly flip it over.
Many owners decide to get a water bottle. You can hang it on one side of their cage. It’s just important to get a vessel that isn’t easily tipped over. When you get a lightweight water dish, you’ll soon have to deal with your hedgie constantly tipping it over. Not much fun!
The litter area arrangement depends on your hedgie’s litter training. A tiny proportion of hedgehog owners are able to litter train their pets. Most owners fail in this. If you are lucky to have your hedgie litter trained, then this means that you’ll have a smaller designated litter area in one part of the cages.
All the others have to make do with this: spread the litter across most of the cage bottom. Opt for litter that is free of dust and absorbs a lot of eliminates. Also, try to get a brand that’s organic. These precautions are for a reason. Hedgehogs have sensitive airways and lungs. Strong chemicals and dust results in serious irritation and inflammation.
Hedgehogs, like many other small animals, get easily startled. The best way for them to cool down and relax is to use a hiding spot. You can find many hiding area solutions in well-stocked pet stores.
You can pick between a variety of designs. Some of these hiding areas are very cute. Your hedgehog climbs into a big, pink stuffed animal looking type of structure, for example.
But how to pick the right cage?
We covered everything you need inside the cage. But what about the actual cage itself? Many new owners aren’t sure what kind of a cage to buy for their hedgies. The situation is complicated because the pet care market has more products than ever.
First, let’s look at what types of cages are out there. Here are the main categories:
- Aquariums. Not many owners opt for glass aquariums. But if you properly fill it with needed hedgehog items, it’s still a good bet. The size has to be at least 25 gallons for providing enough space to move around. However, these aquariums are unpopular because they are quite heavy and expensive. Also, you’ll find them much harder to clean compared to regular cages.
- Wire cages. These are the most popular option. The bottom is solid. Usually, it’s made of hard and durable plastic. But the sides and top of the cage are made of wire. This is definitely the cage type that allows for the best ventilation. Plenty of fresh air reaches your hedgie.
- Pans. These are common, yet arguably less popular than wire cages. Pans are made of metal or plastic. But when they are made of metal, it’s a lightweight type of metal, so you won’t have any difficulties carrying the pan around. Still, plastic is even lighter and the upside is that you won’t face any risk of rust forming on the pan.
How big should the cage be?
Size considerations are important. Your hedgie needs room to roam around and live its nocturnal life. Actually, there isn’t any guideline set in stone. When you look at different owner manuals, you’ll see various approaches. However, you should never have a cage smaller than 4 sq ft. The more, the merrier.
At the same time, bigger cages mean more cleaning. The maintenance is a bigger chore for owners who opt for XXL-sized cages. Still, it’s not a bad idea to consider larger cages. After all, you aren’t buying this cage for yourself. It’s your hedgie’s home. And when you buy a bigger cage, you send a clear message that you love your prickly buddy.
Also, picking a larger cage lets you have more stuff inside. By this, we don’t mean stuffing your hedgie’s cage with random things. Instead, it’s an opportunity to create an environment that’s full of enrichment objects. Pet enrichment is a big trend, and for a good reason! Proper enrichment toys stimulate your pet and raise their quality of life.
The bottom line: what do hedgehogs need in a cage?
There are some things that are absolutely essential in any hedgehog cage. Here is the low-down on the must-haves in your hedgie’s home.
- Food & Water for daily sustenance
- Exercise Wheel for nightly running and calorie expenditure
- Bedding for comfort and safety
- Toys for enrichment and quality of life
- Thermometer (outside, next to the cage) for temperature control
- Litter Area for droppings and pee
- Hiding Area for calming down after agitation or stress