Home, sweet home! We hope your hedgehog can proudly feel that about their cage. In this post, we’ll go over all the main requirements of a hedgehog cage along with useful tips on how to make it as safe as possible.
In short, hedgehogs need a safe, spacious, and ventilated cage. They spend most of their life inside the cage. It needs to support their quality of life, instead of damaging the health and harming their well-being. Most owners agree that wire cages are the most practical and safest solution out there.
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Why is cage selection so important?
Your hedgehog will spend most of their time inside the cage. This is their home. You wouldn’t randomly pick an apartment or a house to live in, right? Well, you need to put the same kind of thinking behind the cage buying decision. When your hedgie lives in a nice environment, it will benefit their health, quality of life, and might even affect their longevity. A small cage that’s full of unnecessarily dangerous objects is not a way to design your hedgehog’s lifestyle. In the following section, we’ll look at all the main requirements of your hedgie’s cage, in-depth!
What should the cage look like?
Every hedgehog cage should have enough room inside for the prickly family member to move around. They may be small in size, but they sure move around a lot during the night. In the wild, they could easily walk over 5 miles a night. That’s a lot of travel for a small hedgehog! Therefore, it’s mandatory to have enough space and provide an exercise wheel as well. The cage should be nicely ventilated, have storage space for the necessary extras, and come with a closed top. The latter is useful to avoid the situations where your hedgehog escapes the cage. They are quite good climbers!
Sometimes you need additional heating. The cage should support this. In other words, your hedgie’s cage shouldn’t be made of materials that could easily catch fire. The minimum recommended size for a hedgehog cage is four square feet. That number is quoted in many hedgehog owner guides. Do consider the fact that it’s the minimum size. You’d always do well to provide more space than the bare minimum. Especially, when your hedgehog is a bit larger than the average ones.
What are the main types of hedgehog cages?
In the following section, we’ll go over the main types of hedgehog cages. Note that some people improvise and build their own cages that don’t fit under any of the following categories. While we do understand that some people know exactly what they do as they are professionals, we don’t recommend any experimental cages without in-depth knowledge about hedgehog needs and safe construction principles.
Some owners use aquariums made of glass. Usually, these aquariums are originally meant for housing fish or reptiles. Evidently, one of the biggest fallbacks of the aquariums is their shape. They tend to be tall, not wide. But hedgies need plenty square feet for roaming around. Also, cleaning the aquariums can be quite time-consuming. When you use a fish aquarium, it’s important to ditch the glass cover. The glass cover is very bad for ventilation.
This is a decent option for a cage. Opt for transparent plastic tubs, not the colored ones. Note that it may be hard to find plastic tubs that are wide and tall enough to be suitable for a hedgehog case. Apparently, online, you can find examples of owners’ creativity: you can connect a few of these tubs to create a fun cage system. If you have enough room in your home, go for it!
Attention! Plastic tubs and heating devices don’t go well together. The heat could easily melt the plastic, causing serious injuries and fire hazard.
Wire cages are the classical choice for many hedgehog owners. These cages provide safety, plenty of space for moving around, and enough ventilation for your hedgehog. It’s better to have a deeper as opposed to a shallow pan. Then your hedgehog won’t have a chance to climb and injure themselves. Also, the bedding will stay intact for a longer time. While the wire cages deliver a great housing experience, you should steer clear of any wire floors. The wire floors are outright dangerous to hedgehogs. Never have them in the cage!
Comprehensive list for things to consider when picking a cage
- Safety and security are top priorities.
- Strong, well-built cages make for a better investment.
- Try to get a cage that’s chew-proof.
- The cage environment should be stimulating, not dull (but still safe!).
- Consider the easiness of cleaning the cage.
- Do you need to carry it around a lot for some reason? Consider its weight.
- You might also think about the aesthetic appeal.
Are there any temperature concerns?
Of course, hedgehogs need a constant ambient temperature. The most suitable temperature in and around the cage is 73-78° F. You might be able to keep this temperature without additional heating devices. However, if you need a complementary heating solution, make sure that your hedgie’s cage isn’t negatively affected by the extra heat.
What kind of bedding to use in the cage?
The number one thing to avoid in hedgehog bedding is cedar wood. These shavings pose a significant health risk to hedgehogs. You are able to pick between many benign materials, such as recycled paper, safe wood shavings, and even fabric. You can test out different bedding types to see which ones are the most suitable for your hedgie.
How to serve food and water in the cage?
You need two food bowls. One for the dry food and the other one for wet food. Definitely opt for a heavy bowl to prevent spilling. Like any other animals, hedgehogs need a steady supply of water. Therefore, you can buy a bottle that comes with a stopper or just use a drinking bowl. Sometimes it’s not even your own choice. Your hedgehog might prefer one solution over the other. For example, they might ignore the water bottle and only use the drinking bowl.
Does the cage need an exercise wheel?
Yes, the exercise wheel is a mandatory part of every hedgehog cage. They need to move around in the nighttime, it’s in their blood. When hedgehogs don’t get that exercise, they start pacing in the cage, which makes them more susceptible to injuries. Moreover, not getting enough exercise raises the risk of obesity and is bad for stress management as well.
What else could you put inside the cage?
Nowadays, experts talk more about animal enrichment. While zoos conduct animal enrichment activities and programs, you are able to ‘enrich’ your hedgehog’s life at home, too. All sorts of toys are a good idea. Any toys sold for rodents and small animals should be fine for hedgehogs. Just watch out for any small parts that could become dislodged and create a choking hazard. Also, you could add tunnels, ramps, and even PVC pipes inside the cage. Hedgies love to explore!
How to clean the hedgehog’s cage?
Change the bedding and wash the cage’s bottom. The exercise wheel and some toys might need cleaning almost on a daily basis. Bedding and cage depend on the particular hedgehog and their hygiene. Usually, once a week is good enough. But if you sense any foul smell, you are already late! Nobody likes to live in a dirty place that smells and your hedgehog isn’t an exception. And try not to use perfumes in the cage. These could be irritating to the hedgehog while masking the natural scent of a cage begging to get cleaned.
Should the cage have a litter box?
This choice is up to you. Not all owners litter train their hedgehogs. And many owners don’t succeed in litter training. Hedgehogs don’t have any natural inclination towards using a litter box. Hence, it’s a skill that can be taught, but there’s no guarantee it will work in the end. You may try litter training your hedgehog. If that’s the case, then yes, you could put the litter box inside the cage. But if there are no results in 1-2 months, then you can just finish the Mission: Litter Box, and call it the day by removing the litter pan from their home.
The bottom line: what kind of cage does a hedgehog need?
Hedgehogs need a cage that supports their health, safety, and quality of life. Mainly, wire cages are the most popular option as they tick the most important boxes in hedgehog needs list. Every cage needs stuff inside to be complete. You need to have bedding, food and drink bowls, an exercise wheel, toys for enrichment, and enough space to move around in the cage. A litter box is an optional extra if you decide to litter train your hedgie.