Hedgehogs can be wonderful pets!

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If you are adopting a hoglet from me, please read all of the care information on this page

All of those who adopt a hedgehog from me are required to read this information prior to adoption.By adopting a hedgehog from me you are acknowledging that you have read and agreed to all of the information provided on this website. 


Hedgehogs make wonderful pets for the right owners! If you spend time with your hog and provide him/her with proper care, you can develop a pleasant relationship with each other! Hedgehogs are unique and Curious animals that, when properly cared for, can recognize their owner's voice and prefer their owners over other people, a bond!

  Though hedgehogs are known as being solitary, the bond I've seen hogs have with loving owners is something truly special!

*The information provided here is not to replace proper veterinary care nor veterinary recommendation. *

** The word "bond" refers to the level of tolerance and acceptance your hedgehog develops with you in their environment.

 If you are interested in becoming a hog parent please view the" is a hoggo right for you?" tab to take a self answered questionnaire. This questionnaire will help you determine if a pet hoggo is right for you. 

What is a hedgehog?

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African Pygmy Hedgehogs are naturally found in Africa. They  have scattered populations that are primarily found in steppe zones. semi-arid dry grassy plains.

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The African Pygmy Hedgehog's Scientific name is:  Atelerix Albiventris.

They are also commonly called Four Toe Hedgehogs. They are mammals. They bear live young that suckle milk produced from their mother. The males are not involved in offspring rearing. Hedgehogs do not live in groups and are solitary and territorial creatures. 

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Hedgehogs are covered with between 5000-7000 quills. The quills are made of keratin and have sharp points. Quills are filled with air and protect the hedgehog from predators and falls.A hedgehog can raise and relax it's quills via muscles under it's skin. A hedgehog can not shoot it's quills at you and the quills are not venomous.

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In the wild hedgehogs enter a semi hibernation state every cool season.In captivity they do not. they must be kept warm in captivity all the time.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning they're active mostly at night. 

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In the wild hedgehogs only live 3 years on average. They usually succumb to predators, illness, or human error early in life. In captivity hedgehogs live an average of 5 years with older ages not uncommon!

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African Pygmy Hedgehogs are primarily insectivorous, meaning they eat mostly bugs. In captivity a diet of cat food is the closest commercially available food that even comes close to being appropriate for hedgehogs. 

Basic hedgehog care

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Basic hedgie care for new owners



  

Basic hedgehog care for new owners

* this information is not a substitute for veterinary care. Consult with your veterinarian on a care plan for your new pet*

 If your new hedgehog is 7-12 weeks of age, he/she will more than likely be experiencing a "quilling". This is a time in which a young hedgehog will begin losing baby quills and new ones will be popping on into take their place. This is a very normal process for hedgehogs to go through, in fact your hedgehog will experience quilling even as an adult, just at a lesser frequency. Adult hogs quill approx once or twice per year in comparison to a 0-1 year hedgehog who might seem to always be loosing quills. Though quilling is normal you should note any excessively irritated skin or extreme quill loss (sparse quills or noticeable bald spots) because they could be an indicator that your hedgehog has mites. Yuck! I'll cover mites more in depth at another time. They're gross, trust me. 

BONDING/THE RELATIONSHIP

Bonding is the level of tolerance your hedgehog develops to being handled by you and having you as an acceptable part of their environment. In humans we tend call these relationships or bonds, so those are the terms used here. 

Hedgehogs are prey animals and owners must develop a bond through initial frequent handling in order to imprint themselves in their 'mind as "someone whose not going to hurt them".

   Bonding with your hedgehog sounds fun doesn't it? It really is my favorite part of being a hedgehog owner. 

  All 40 of my hedgehogs frolicking to me every time I open their cage and covering me in hedgehog kisses.....oh wait....that's not how it goes at all....

 Hedgehogs are in reality not very cuddly by nature. Most hedgehogs will never seek out their owners. There are,fortunately,things you can do to strengthen your relationship with your hedgehog or at least keep it positive.

The Relationship you have with your hedgehog will be the result of the effort you put into forming that relationship. 

  Always keep in mind that Hedgehogs are considered bonding animals. This means they take quite some time to get used to new owners and will typically prefer one person over another if there are multiple owners/handlers involved in the hedgehog's life. 

             For example, I have 40 hedgehogs, most of which were born here and have seen my face and heard my voice from the day they could hear and see. I'd say they're pretty used to me. 20 hedgehogs don't give me a hard  time during grooming and handling. 15 out of 40 give me some difficulty during grooming and handling . The remaining 5 hedgehogs almost always give me a hard time during grooming and handling. I handle all of my hedgehogs in the same manner and socialize with them all on a regular basis. Some hedgehogs are just more difficult to work with than others are. 

   Hedgehogs tend to "pick" which person in the home they'll like and trust the most.

   When my husband, who hasn't been involved with the hedgehogs from day 1 ( and is hardly  within their presence ), assists with hedgehog care, 20 out of 40 of my hedgehogs are very difficult for him to handle. They don't know my husband well. They haven't grown used to his presence and the sound of his voice. So they're not bonded to him at all, hence the nervous behavior towards him. He is not his care taker and they don't trust him like they trust me. 

   A hedgehog will only be as bonded to you as long as you put in the work to form the relationship. However even then your never guaranteed to have a hedgehog whose always easy to handle. 

   Many owners use "bonding bags" or "bonding scarves" which essentially is a fabric sack you hold or wear around your neck that your hedgehog hangs out in. These bonding pouches are nice because they allow you to resume with your normal routine (tidying your house/watching tv) while getting your hedgehog accustomed to your presence, smell and voice. 

When handling your hedgehog, always keep interactions positive. You can offer tasty treats so that the hedgehog associate social time with delicious food. This will also help in the bonding process. 

HEAT

  Let's talk about heat for a minute. "Some like it hot, none like it cold". That's my motto when it comes to heating hedgehogs. Meeting heat requirements is the most vital component of hedgehog care. Just about any other incorrect care method can be corrected with little negative effect on a hog, except  heat. 

   Hedgehogs absolutely must be provided with a temperature of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit within their enclosure.

    If a hedgehog is kept at less than 75 degrees Fahrenheit it can attempt hibernation and die. The importance of proper temperature cannot be stressed enough. 

  Providing heat may sound like a scary overwhelming thing, but it's really not. 

Heat setups are super simple and very cost effective. You can provide heat using a ceramic heat emitter, a ceramic based dome lamp, and a thermostat set at 75*F- 80*F. You screw the CHE into the dome and plug it in to the thermostat, then plug the thermostat  the wall outlet.  The dome lamp can either clamp onto your cage (on the outside so the hedgehog doesn't get burned) or can rest on a heat safe screen cage cover.

You can also use heat mats or heat pads made for animal use to heat your hedgehog. Some heat pads are safe to go inside the cage. Some are not. Depending on what type of heat mat you buy will determine where you place it on/in the cage. A heat mat will also need to be plugged into a thermostat, just like the CHE above. 

FOOD

  You should always provide your hedgehog with fresh food and water. 

       Dry cat food is an excellent foundation to a hedgehog's diet. Be sure the ingredients in the food you select are naturally sourced. Many readily available cat foods are full of synthetic ingredients to the point that I'd consider them no better than feeding your hedgehog a diet of potato chips. They may taste good to your hog, but in the long run could cause health ailments.     

Also be wary of cat foods that contain a high content of peas. Peas are high in phosphorus and might effect your hedgehogs calcium utilization and cause health ailments. There  is no conclusive studies providing evidence of this, but it may be a good idea to use caution.

   When checking cat food labels aim for a protein percentage around 30%-  40%. 

There are a few dedicated breeders who are currently keeping their animals on a more naturalistic diet. This more natural diet consists of whole raw prey, whole meats, eggs, raw diets marketed for dogs/cats,loads of insects and a smaller amount of kibble than the traditional diet. If you are interested in keeping your hoggo on a more natural diet, I suggest speaking with your vet and researching raw diet food companies. www.omaspride.com is a good local raw food company that has quite a few "blends" that hoggos have been reported to love!  If you are leaning towards a more biologically based diet for your hedgehog, please check out this website www.hedgehogownersusa.com.

        Mazuri Insectivore diet is an okay addition to your hedgehog's diet. It's easily obtainable in pet shops for about 13$ for 2-3lbs. 

  You should also offer your hedgehog live or pre frozen insects. **never feed insects caught from outside!* 

   I like to offer my Hedgehogs a nice variety of meal worms, dubia roaches, superworms and crickets 2-3x a week. I prefer to freeze all the insects before offering them  to my hedgies. Sometimes feeder insects carry parasites inside them that could be transmitted to your hedgehog. Freezing can help limit the risk of a hedgehog catching parasites from feeder insects. 

 Some hedgehogs won't eat live insects and some hedgehogs won't eat pre frozen. Every hedgehog is different, it might take some diet trial and error to formulate the perfect diet plan for your hedgehog.

    **Some people like to offer vegetables and fruits as part of their hedgehog's diet. I Do not recommend feeding them fruits/veg. Feeding fruits/veg can cause your hedgehog digestive problems and belly pain. 

But If you choose to feed veg/fruit, please avoid the below listed plant matter.

(Hedgehogs do not have the organs within their body that is needed to digest fruits and veggies properly.)   

Never feed your hedgehog citrus fruits, dried fruits, nuts, garlic, onions, chocolate, candy, rhubarb, potato, bread or milk. Each of those items can make your hedgehog very sick and even cause death. 

HOUSING

HEDGEHOGS LIKE RELATIVELY QUIET ENVIRONMENTS. A hoggo in a busy room is probably a stressed out hoggo. A stressed out hoggo is more likely to be skittish. BE SURE TO PLACE YOUR HOG'S CAGE AWAY FROM very high traffic areas, loud rooms, and other pets that are loud or able to reach the cage. 

    Housing for your hedgie. I do not recommend free roam/free range keeping your hedgehog at all. It's a way of keeping hedgehogs that's too risky for me to even touch on. 

    You can easily house your hedgehog in a plastic steralite storage bin (tote). The bins come in many sizes and heights. I recommend a height of at least 13 inches and floor space of at least 3.5 square feet. The bigger the better of course! 

You might Also choose to use a commercially available solid bottomed wire sided cage from the pet store. These cages can also be used for hedgehogs, just be sure the gaps between the bars don't allow your hedgehog to slip through and escape. Also it is recommended to form a Barrier where the sides connect to the base, this is to prevent your hedgehog from climbing the bars. Hedgehogs are not good climbers and are rather clumsy. 

   Always provide your hedgehog with a solid bottomed running wheel. No metal mesh wheels or wheels with holes or gaps on the running surface! 

   There are 2 main types of wheels , the bucket and saucer, I have used both to varying degrees of success but strongly prefer and recommend the bucket wheels. 

  Also be sure to give your hog plenty of toys. No toys made of wood, containing sharp pieces, containing threads/yarn/hair, with holes, or with netting should be used. Some good toys are plastic balls with bells inside, rubber duckies, ball pit balls, and other light weight Smooth toys.

     If you choose to use fleece as a cage Bottom/substrate be sure to use anti pull/pill fleece. You can purchase a few yards of fleece from a fabric store, cut it to fit the bottom of your cage and it will last you a  long time. I replace fleeces when they seem tattered or stretched looking. 

  Be sure to change your Fleece Every other day or so to prevent bacterial build up and strong odor. Wash your fleece in a fragrance free detergent and sanitize it by washing with bleach. Hanging fleece to dry will help minimize stretching and tattering. 

    If you don't want to use fleece  you can certainly used wood shavings. Aspen is a nice  type of shavings that is pretty safe for Hedgehogs. I used to use aspen bedding until we had an outbreak of snake mites that tagged along in the shavings from the pet shop. Several of my snakes ended up getting mites and had to undergo extensive treatment to rid their parasite infections. I no longer use loose bedding of any type.

  If you choose to use loose bedding or shavings always freeze it for 2 weeks first to reduce the risk of parasite transmission to your hedgehogs. 

CLEANING

Keeping your hedgehog and it's cage clean is very important. A dirty cage will make an animal sick. It can also make people sick. Clean your hedgehog's entire cage at least one time each week. This includes; washing and disinfecting bowls, bottles, toys, wheel, and the cage it's self. Be sure to use an approved disinfecting method such as bleach solution. 

DO NOT USE EASY POUR,SPLASH-LESS, OR SCENTED BLEACH! These types of bleach do not disinfect. 

ONLY USE PLAIN BLEACH to make a bleach solution. A bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water is an approved disinfecting solution. 

Placing your Ceramic heat emmiter on your cage

Here you will see how I have placed a heat lamp on a cage. **These photos are of a lizard's cage with a heat lamp on it, however it's the same way that you'd put a ceramic heat emitter on top of your hoggo's bin**Ceramic heat emitters DO NOT produce light.

 

1.)A commercially available screen cover is place on top of the bin. These screen covers are manufactured for use on reptile cages and are heat proof. They can be found at most pet shops.

The heat source is then placed on top of the screen cover directing it's heat into the hoggo's cage. 

2.)This heat emitter lamp sits on top of heat proof screening that was purchased from a home improvement store. 

*make 100% sure that the screen you are using is heat proof.

The heat proof screen is attached to the hoggo bin's original cover. a large area of the cover was cut out, only the "frame" of the cover remained. The cut out area was covered in securely fitted sturdy heat proof screen. The heat source rests on top of this screen and directs it's heat into the hoggo's cage. 

****WHATEVER METHOD YOU USE ALWAYS TEST FOR SAFETY.****(disclaimer; You are the only one liable and responsible for any equipment used to care for your hedgehog. The information provided on this website is for entertainment purposes only and does not make any guarantees nor hold any responsibility in how this information is interpenetrated or used by anyone.)

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Here is a labeled photo of a heat lamp set up.  Setting up a heat system for your hedgehog  is super easy! 

Some folks like to clamp their heat lamp on the side of their hoggo's cage.

I don't like doing this because you can never really fully direct the heat into the bin due to the shape of the lamp's dome.

I do not advise doing this due to inconsistent heat distribution.

Products and supplies reccomended for hoggos

hog wash!

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I don't like to use anything with a strong lather on my hogger's skin, icluding shampoo. I have been using Renpure brand conditioners for about 3 years now in place of shampoos & body wash, I love it! It is non drying!

Fleeeece! so much fleece!

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Fleece is a great bedding choice for hogs. I love it! You can get a few yards of fleece from the fabric store & it'll last a very long time. It's easy to wash too!

you need to provide heat for the hoggos!

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The Fuker's sun dome clamp lamp is nice because it has a porcelain base and it will shut off if accidentally knocked over

heat part 2

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This ceramic heat emiter has a long life with a fair price in my experience.  Zoo Med also makes a nice one, as does Zilla.

heat part 3; you need all 3 parts

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You'll certainly want to plug your heat lamp into a thermostat. Zilla makes a good quality 500 watt thermostat that's very affordable. if you get the 500 watt thermostat I DONOT recommend plugging anything into it except your dome lamp. I have never seen an issue with over heating, but it's a very true worry of mine-you can never be too cautious. They also make a 1000 watt version that's great for plugging in  multiple units.

Good Cat foods to feed:

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Below are photos of some of the cat foods I feed my hedgehogs. I mix a little of each type together. By mixing at least 2 varieties together, you are offering your hedgehog a more enriching meal time and reducing the likelihood that they become a picky eater. There are many cat foods that can be fed to hedgehogs and the ones below are just a sample of them all. My animals eat a diet heavy in insects, unseasoned cooked meats and raw meats approved for the pet trade. They are written into my Vet Care Plan.

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A word on hedgehog and insectivore foods found in pet shops


   The story of a common hoggo diet myth: 
   As pets we typically offer our little prickle babies a diet of high quality cat food. It is thought that cat good best mimics their natural diet in comparison to commercially available hedgehog diet.  
   I was once fully opposed to a readily available diet called "Mazuri insectivore diet" as well as commercially available hedgehog food. However after meeting with a professional zoologist, my views on the mazuri insectivore diet have slightly changed. 
   It was once common knowledge (or more like a common rumor ) that the ground aspen in the insectivore diet is nothing but a filler. Lots of folks were spreading this rumor, but none of them called the manufacturer to ask what the science backing up the addition of aspen was. So I called. I wanted to know why the premier diet used in zoos and conservation programs was being discouraged online. 
      After talking to a professional zoologist who holds no stakes in the companies who produce or the sales of these foods, I was enlightened to discover that the aspen is actually an important ingredient. 
   In the world hedgehogs eat lots of insects. Their digestive systems have evolved to digest and require large amounts of chitin ( insect fiber). Aspen tricks the hedgehogs digestive system into thinking it's just eaten a bunch of chitin. It's the closest commercially available food that helps the hoggo's digestive system fiction the way it's evolved to. 
    Now I'm not exactly fond of feeding my hedgehogs aspen over insects.I will always recommend offering insects first.  But at least We now know the rumors floating all over the internet just aren't true. Insectivore diet isn't the filler-filled-evil it's made out to be. We also now know that insectivore diet may be a beneficial part of our hedgehog's diet, especially for owners who do not have access to the large amount of insects a hedgehog would need to fulfill it's high chitin need. 

    If we were to attempt to feed our hedgehogs the amount of insects they actually consume in the wild, we may need dozens of insects PER DAY. Plus we would need a variety of insects to keep nutritional balance. It's seemingly impossible. I breed my own colonies of insects and I still cannot produce the sheer amount of insects my hedgehogs need.
   It is always best to offer your hoggo a varied diet. Lots of insects in a variety of available species and whole prey items in addition to a nutritionally complete staple.  Mazuri Insectivore diet. It is a scientifically backed up formula that makes a decent replacement of the naturally high chitin food hedgehogs need.  I have begun offering it to my own animals and have noticed more predictable and healthy looking bowel movements. I feed Mazuri Insectivore diet in addition to quality cat foods. 

 Insectivore diet isn't horrible for hedgehogs, I firmly believe we will begin seeing a shift in how we care for our hedgehogs due to research that is in progress by a few dedicated individuals across the country.
  

   Variety is the key to life. Insectivore diet offered in addition to a good cat food is helpful to hedgehogs as it provides the chitin like fiber their digestive systems need.

    The lesson I have thankfully learned from this "hedgehog diet dilemma" is: Just because people are commenting about it online, doesn't mean it's true. Stay open minded my friends!

Always consult a professional instead of Facebook

I think it is important to mention that " just because it's on Facebook" doesn't make it true.  I think it's so important that I've decided to write an entire blurb about it and how it can effect hedgehogs.

      I'd like to start by saying that I have been working with these animals a very long time,  I have a few vets I work with as well as a professional zoologist as a very helpful associate. These are the individuals I consult if I have any questions regarding hedgehog care or feeding.  Zoos are very good resources to learn from as they often have access to how these species are kept not only in their establishments, but how they're kept in establishments all over the world! Veterinarians are also a wealth of knowledge. These are the folks who have formal medical training and can diagnose and treat an illness. A vet is a priceless member of the hedgehog care team!

   As a breeder I have experienced many trials and errors in my evolution of keeping hoggos. When I first started caring for exotic animals there was no Facebook and there were no Facebook groups to join and discuss animals with. now a days it seems as if Facebook group membership is an accessory to pet ownership.  I realized this and it concerned me due to the amount of strange advice I'd seen given online. Due to this I started a Facebook group of my own that my adopters and the public are free to join. This group is a little different in that medical treatment advice is not given, that's a Vet's job not the online community's. Medical advice seen online can actually be dangerous when applied to real life situations.     


       One example of this potential danger was observed when an owner of a hedgehog called me in hysterics. She had seen online that feeding bee pollen to your hedgehog is the new super healthy  thing being recommended in an online group. She bought the bee pollen from the health food store and gave it to her hedgehog. The hoggo ate the bee pollen readily and seemed to really enjoy it. A few minutes later the hedgehog began to get swollen on it face and forearms. The owner rushed the hedgehog to the vet. Unfortunately the veterinarian was not able to save the little hedgehog and he suffered respiratory failure despite the medical team's best efforts. 

      Another owner contacted me as she had a pet shop obtained hedgehog that she had thought to have a urinary tract infection upon purchase. She told me she had been treating the UTI with cranberry  tablets as suggested to her by an online group for a little over 14 days. Her hedgehog ultimately developed a kidney infection due to lack of proper treatment. I am unsure  if this particular hedgehog made a full recovery or not as the owner did not provide any additional updates.

       A final owner had been treating, at home via internet advice, scabbing on his hedgehog. The scabs were of unknown origin and would seemingly heal with hibiclease baths and neosprin applications. The scabs and red bumps would reappear a few days to a week later. Eventually  the bumps got worse and the surrounding skin was looking scaly. The owner decided to take his hog to the vet. This hedgehog had a Staph infection . The infection was effectively treated with a round of antibiotics and did not reoccur.  Poor online medical advice could have very well been the death of this animal. 

   

             Facebook groups can be great, but they can also be harmful. as I have experienced in my working with the above owners. I receive lots of calls from owners who did not get their animal from me, but are facing medical issues and want me to provide a diagnosis or treatment advice. I tell them the same thing I tell my adopters, I will be here to listen and support you through your hedgehog's treatment, but I will not give medical advice as I am not a vet. 


Now back to how it relates to hedgehog food....

 I see a lot of sketchy or dangerous advice given online and new owners adopt that advice into their care routines. 

   A perfect example of this is the advice of feeding your hedgehog a diet of cat food. There is no formal study done on the African Pygmy Hedgehog being fed cat food. It is important to remember that the European and African hedgehogs are different species with different needs. I have seen folks reference studies conducted on European hedgehogs when making care or feeding recommendations. Although these studies *might* be a helpful start, they are in no way to be taken as direct advice towards the African hedgehog's care. 

   From talking to other breeders who have been around a lot longer than I,  Imagine the cat food conversion went something like this: One day a breeder decided cat food was best, spread that information, and everyone readily accepted it. No formal study. nothing, Just the word of some breeder who was    looking for a cost effective readily available substitute to the once recommended hedgehog pellets.

            

        As a result we tend to forget that  hedgehogs need insects. In the wild they eat mostly insects. Cat food is made to fit the digestive need of an obligate carnivore. Hedgehogs are mostly insectivorous animals that occasionally scavenge  and catch whole prey such as rodents, lizards and snakes. 

     A hedgehog who lives on cat food alone probably will not be as vivacious as a hedgehog fed a varied diet. 

    I prefer my animals to thrive over just survive. Though a hoggo may survive on just cat food, they probably won't thrive. 

  I suggest my owners offer a variety to their hedgehog's diet. That variety does include cat food, but also includes insects, whole prey items and insectivore pellets/diet.

   

Frequently asked hedgehog questions

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Bringing home your hoglet can be very exciting. Through the excitement and joy of being a new hedgie parent, questions can arise. Here I will provide info and answer the most commonly asked questions i get from new hedgehog owners! If you have any additional questions that are not answered here, email thealternativehedgehog@gmail.com and i will be happy to answer your inquiry!

Day #1, to hold or not to hold?

Some owners wonder if they should hold and socialize with their new hedgehog right away OR if they should give a few days to allow their hog to adjust to a new environment. This is often a topic of debate among breeders as well. 

My advice is this: Hold your new hedgehog often from the moment you bring him/her home. 

How much should I feed my new hedgehog?

This is a very common question pondered by new hedgie owners.Here's my advice on feeding your new hogger: 

For hoglets I "Free Feed"- hoglets 5 months of age and under get all the food their little hearts desire. I keep their bowls full all the time and when they're near empty, I refill them. I don't exactly measure the food but there is always food present in the food dish. Growing hoglets need additional calories, fat, and nutrition to guide them through the pivotal early stages of development. Providing a 24 hr buffet will ensure they have constant access to the additional nutrition they need. 


For adult hogs: I offer my adult hedgehogs approx 1/8th cup of kibble per day. I'm not big on accurately measuring though, and often waste quite a bit of kibble!

 To determine exactly how much you should offer your hog, try varrying amounts of food each day for a few days ( starting with the least amount of food of course). when you've reached the amount that leaves only a few kibbles in the dish by the time the next feeding comes around, you've reached to magic kibble amount! 

As long as your hedgie isn't thin and can ball up comfortably with out big adorable (but unhealthy) fat rolls preventing him, he's most likely a good weight and can continue being offered the amount of food you've determined as the magic amount! 

If you've got a particularly active hedgehog- marathon wheel runner- you'll have to offer more food than f you have a more low key hedgie.

I just took my hoggy home, now he's got the sneezles!

Recently I was asked this question by a concerned hog mother who had chosen to use a loose bedding for a hedgie she's adopted from online, her hedgehog was not adjusting well to the new bedding and had to be changed to fleece bedding. After switching to fleece bedding her hog's symptoms of sneezing and itching disappeared. 

If your hog begins sneezing or periodically itching;

First, don't panic! Hedgehogs sneeze and it's just a biological function meant to clear nasal passages. sneezing every now and again is normal. But heavy sneezing, especially with mucus could mean something more than an occasional nasal irritant.

Evaluate the situation and determine if your hedgehog could be having a reaction to his/her new environment. 

If your hedgehog is sneezing with discharge from eyes and nose (think mucus) then he/she may have developed a respiratory infection and may require a vet visit. 

If your hedgehog is chronologically itching, or begins loosing lots of quills (different from quilling), your hog may have contracted mites. Mites often tag along in bags of loose bedding. If your using a loose bedding, freezing it first will help lessen (but not prevent) the risk of a yucky little mite tagging along and making it's way to your hog. 

When in doubt, Consult your vet!

How can I help my hoglet through quilling?

Just like most mammalian species, hedgehogs experience painful developmental stages. It's quite peculiar when you really think about it; puppies, humans and hedgehogs all go through strange development stages that often bring discomfort- teething, growing pains, puberty etc..

  Hedgehogs go through the process referred to as "quilling" , when they loose quills and grow in new ones. the process usualy beging at 6 weeks old and lasts for a few weeks. the process will begin again a few months later. the cycle will repeat throughout the first year of life. After 1 year of age, quilling is less occurring. Some hogs will continue to quill only once per year while loosing a few quills here and there in between, while other hogs will quill multiple times per year. 

    During quilling hedgehogs normally get a little cranky. it's normal. a hoglet that was open and curious may become huffy. Quilling is painful, I don't blame hoglets for becoming a little miserable! If you look closely at the skin and quills of a young hedgehog experiencing it's first set of quill loss, you'll see red irritation and sometimes blood marks from the quills breaking through the skin.

   Here are some things you can do to help your hedgehog through this process: keep your hog clean but don't over bathe. You'll want to keep the skin and environment clean to prevent any skin infection, but you'll also want to prevent over washing the skin, as this leads to dryness. 

   I'm not a big fan of lathering hogs when bathing them, I don't use an actual shampoo. I've found that lathering the skin can wash away protective oils and leave the hog skin very dry. So I use a conditioner instead. 

  Washing my hogs using conditioner has been pretty successful in limiting over dryness. I bathe by putting the conditioner in the water and then "waving" the conditioner over the hedgehog. If I've got a particularly dirty hog, I will use my hands to help loosen soil.  The hog is then very thoroughly rinsed with fresh water. 

    In addition to a conditioner bath you can apply add a little vitamin e, flax,or olive oil to your hedgehog's food. Fish/salmon oil can even be used, but can result in more stinky poops. It is always better to hydrate the skin from the outside comparable to hydrating it from the outside.  I say this because  applying oils and moisturizer topically helps "seal in" moisture. Sounds good right? Well, when you seal in moisture you also seal in bacteria and fungus. The held in moisture doesn't allow the skin to breath as it normally would either. This combination can cause a sticky bacterial infection or even a fungal infection. 

 Fungal infections can be very difficult to treat,. For these reasons I do not use oils or moisturizers on my hoggo's skin and cannot recommend it's frequent use to other. 

   Remember! Continue handling and bonding with your hedgehog during the quilling process. This is a critical point in development and you'll want o keep the bond growing!


Can I bring my new hedgehog outside?

 If you want to take your hedgehog outside, it is a good idea to use topical revolution for parasite prevention. Revolution requires a prescription and a licensed veterinarian can coach you in it's use.  The ingredients for revolution have changed. Most vets now carry Revolution Plus. The Plus variety may or may not be safe for hedgehogs. If you can only find Revolution Plus, ask your vet about a topical Ivermectin regimen. Ivermectin is an "old school" topical parasite preventative and treatment, but has been proven safe when applied to the skin properly in many species. 


Will my Hedgehog need vaccinations or to be neutered/spayed?


Hedgehogs do not need any vaccinations and do not need to be altered. 

Hedgehogs do not go into heat, spray, or have menstrual periods, so neuter/spay are not generally needed.

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Can I take my hedgehog swimming?

In the wild hedgehogs do not have much opportunity to swim. In fact, rain often signals them to move to higher ground to avoid the natural flooding that could result. 

I feel that forcing your hedgehog to go swimming is unnecessary and could cause your hoggo physical and psychological stress. We love our hoggos and certainly don't want to cause them harm! 

Some might say that swimming is okay because we do bath hoggos, and isn't swimming just a giant bath?

Bathing is a necessary part of hoggo ownership, swimming is not.

Are multi level cages okay for hedgehogs?

. Hedgehogs are not graceful animals and have poor eye sight, a potentially dangerous combination when navigating ramps, this can result in falls. Falls can result in injury. If you decide to use a multi level cage please apply "bumpers" or guards to the ramp and ensure that the ramps are not slick or do not become slippery when wet. 

Water bottels or water bowls?

Every hedgehog seems to have a preference in where they get their water from. I have some hedgehogs that will only drink out of a bowl and some that only use bottles. 

The best thing to do is to start off giving your hedgie the water source it has been used to at the breeders.

**All of my hoglets are given water bowls**

If you get a hoglet from me, start off offering a water bowl. If you'd like to switch him/her over to a bottle,start by offering both. 

Monitor how much water is gone each day from the bottle and bowl. If your hoglets been drinking from the bottle for two weeks consistently, they should be fine using just the bottle.

Be sure to refill the bottle daily during the test period to be sure your hoglet is actually drinking it and it's not dripping or evaporation instead!*

Tip: if using a bowl, check the water or bowl for crumbs- a tell tale sign your hoggo has been drinking from it.


There's a lot of info on heating your hoggo in winter, but are there any special summer tips?

We talk a whole lot about properly heating our hoggo's cage and ensuring they're kept warm enough during New England's chilly winters.

 One may wonder, are there any special care tips to be considered during the hot summer months? 

  In the summer it's important to continue providing your hoggo with a heat source.  Keeping your heat source (CHE) plugged into the thermostat will ensure it stays at it's set temperature and doesn't over heat your hoggo. 

If you're running an air conditioner in the same room as your hedgie, bump up your heat source's temp a few degrees to be sure it's heating the cage despite the ac.

Never place your hedgehog's cage in front of the a.c. or any drafts produced from it. 

If you do not have an a.c. in your home and it's getting super hot, greater than 85 degrees, you'll have to provide your hoggo with some relief. 

a ceramic tile placed in the cage will stay a few degrees cooler than the air and offer your hedgie a nice place to get a little relief. 

in more extreme temperature increases, a cool water bottle can be place outside of the cage to cool one side. monitor the cage temp and adjust from there.

Placing an oscillating fan in the room is a good way to increase air circulation and cool things off a bit. Do not blow a fan into your hedgehog's cage, that will certainly cause stress. 


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Why does my hedgehog nibble and lick me?

 Hedgehogs display an unusual behavior called 'self anointing' or 'anointing". 

The hoggo will explore and sniff it's surrounding per normal but will suddenly stop, lick or sniff extra curiously, then like a contortionist lick it's self (usually on it's back).

It is a very peculiar thing to witness at first and may sometimes concern an owner. 

Rest assured this behavior is normal.

Science has yet to prove why hoggos anoint. but there a re a few theories floating around;

1.) The hedgehog likes the scent of it's environment (or an object in it) and wants to  take along the scent as a "keep sake".

2.) The hedgehog self anoints with the scent of objects within it's environment in order to smell like it's environment  and stay hidden from predators. 

Personally, I think it's the first theory.

When your hoggo anoints it will produce a frothy foam from it's mouth. this is normal. it's a foamed up wad of saliva that holds the scent and allows the hog to apply the scent it it's self.


Hedgehogs explore the world using their mouths, they do not have hands nor the ability to pick items up and explore them using their paws.

Young hedgies  grab their owners often. They're exploring you. A scared hedgehog will often ball up so rest assured that nibbling is not an aggressive behavior. 

Think of the way a human baby will grab and chew it's mothers fingers, exploratory nibbling is the hoggo equivalent.

Hoglets as young as 10 days old will bite and lick items (and your fingers) and they may continue it throughout their lives!


 Hedgehogs have the ability to bite when stressed, scared or threatened. When you own a hedgehog you have to be aware of this. Some hoggos are also less tolerable of handling and will bite when they are "done with being held".If you have other animals in (particularly cats, dogs and noisy animals such as birds) your hedgehog may bite. Hedgehogs will also likely be more afraid and likely to bite when around loud children/people/t.v or vibrations such as a vacuum cleaner or stereo system. 

HEDGEHOGS LIKE RELATIVELY QUIET ENVIRONMENTS. A hoggo in a busy room is probably a stressed out hoggo. 

Potty and litter box training

Now I hate to be a Debbie Downer but I have never had any success in litter box or potty training. 

You can certainly attempt to accomplish owning a potty mannered hoggo if you'd like, I've just never seen it done with any success.

If you want to give it a go, provide your hoggo with a corer litter pan and see if he/she uses it.

Boys will be boys

Male hedgehogs will stimulate their own private parts with their hands and mouths. 

This is normal and nothing to worry about.

There is no way you can stop this behavior. 

If you go to pick up your hedgie and he is having "boy time" just leave him alone until he is finished. 

Attempting to move your hoggo while he's doing this could result in him injuring his private parts.

Do female Hedgehogs go into "heat" or have menstrual cycles?

Nope. 

Hedgehogs do not go through heat cycles nor experience a menstrual cycle...thank goodness. 

What are some snacks/treats I can give my hoggo?

While there are things that your hoggo can have occasionally as a treat, the most important thing to focus on is a good quality diet. I have seen a few owners that focus so much on treats that base diet is neglected, resulting in a malnourished and/or obese hedgehog.

Provide your hedgehog with a balanced kibble and insects, supplemented with whole prey and even meats! Whole prey and meats are so relished by hedgies that  one could even consider them treats!

Treats really aren't necessary and are more of a human behavioral need than an animal's dietary need (sorry to be a party pooper).

If your insistent upon giving your hedgie treats, stick to plain cooked chicken, cooked ground beef and scrambled eggs. There is info regarding this topic further on the progressive hogparenting page.

Do hedgehogs need chewing blocks or salt licks?

Nope. Hedgehogs aren't rodents. They do not need to wear down their teeth. In fact you want to preserve the quality of their teeth, just like in humans!

Hedgehogs will not chew on items to dull their teeth and they do not need a salt lick to stay healthy, if provided with a salt lick it most likely won't be used or if used can cause dehydration. 

My hoggo hasn't eaten since coming home

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If your hoglet hasn't eaten since coming home with you, don't panic!

There are a few things you'll want to double check and try.

1.) Is your hoggo warm enough? Check the temp throughout the cage and be sure it's at least 75 degrees. 

2.) Your hoglet might be stressed and may need a day or two to really feel comfortable.

3.) Your hoglet might not be eating due to the bowl you're using.  I use small clear glass dishes for all my hogs. It makes the food source easily identifiable for them. Try a clear glass food dish and see if that helps stimulate eating.

4.) Check your hoglets mouth for any blockages. Sometimes hedgehogs, like all animals, eat something they shouldn't and it could be stuck in their mouth.

5.)You can try mixing in a little wet cat food to make the kibble more enticing. Gradually decrease the amount of wet food added though, as you'll want to transition your hoglet back over to dry food for long term use. 

6.) if all else fails see your veterinarian.

My hedgehog seems like they need a friend

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Hedgehogs are solitary and do not need friends (kinda like me! haha).

In fact, getting a friend for your hedgehog can actually do a lot of harm. Same sex pairs can fight. Males will fight each other to the death of the weaker male. Males will also bite and harm each other's genitals. 

Females can also fight with each other. It IS possible to keep a pair of females together but they MUST be a mother & daughter OR sisters from the same litter. If keeping two females together, you'll have to provide 2 water/food bowls, 2 wheels and 2 hiding places. If any fights or over competition over resources is noticed, you'll have to remove the females from each other and provide separate cages.  I have a few hogparents who have been housing two females together  for quite some time with no issues. **Updated Sept 2nd 2019:


Can I switch my hedgehog's diet?

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You certainly can switch the brand and flavor of your hoggos food! 

Start gradually with a 50/50 mix of the new and old food at first. over the course of a few days increase the amount of the new food while decreasing the amount of the old food you are offering. In a few days your hoggo should be switched over to your new food. 

* Remember to continue offering a mix of different kibbles, even when switching. This helps prevent picky eating and can help ensure nutritional balance.

** Some hedgies seem to be "brand loyal" and will only eat one type of kibble. If your hoglet is a brand loyal hog,be patient. I have had a few hoggos like this and there is hope! You can request samples from pet shops and food manufacturers to help you find the perfect food without breaking the bank or wasting big bags of food. Most major pet shop chains will also allow you to return bags of food that your animal doesn't like and exchange it for a different variety!  

Do I absolutely have to hold my hoggo everyday?

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Simply put. No.

Hedgehog brains primarily develop within the first few months of life During the first 5-6 months of life is the period in which a hoglet will learn what is acceptable and what is not acceptable within it's environment.

 This is why holding your hedgehog when you first get it is so important. You want our hedgie to become used to your handling in order for it's brain to accept that "it's okay for this person to hold me, feed me, and bother me with love". You are literally leaving a lasting imprint on your hoglets brain every time you handle it. 

You'll want to create a positive imprint of course because this imprint is the same this we refer to as "the bond"!


  Older hedgehogs already wear the imprint in their minds and have developed a tolerance for you in their environment. This is not to say that you should not continue to handle your hoggo though! You absolutely want to maintain the bond through handling, it just doesn't need to happen as often.

Is Each hedghog's personality different? My hoglet isn't "friendly"

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Yup.

Every hedgehog will develop it's own unique "personality".

For the most part hedgehogs are a product of the handling they've received and care they've been given. 

However, handling and care are not the only factors that help develop "personality".  

Primitive biological hard wiring also plays a role. Hedgehogs are prey animals and often display prey animal behavior such as; running and hiding, balling up, and avoiding open spaces/ noise.

Hedgehogs are not truly domesticated (yet) and are pretty much "watered down versions of their wild counter parts. 

Every do often there will be a hedgehog whose biological prey animal instincts show a little more than others. We commonly refer to those animals as being "more on the shy side".

Sometimes animals that are more shy can adapt and alter their "personalities" (behavioral response) If the owner handles them more frequently and for longer periods of time. 

If your hoggo is more on the shy side, amp up handling sessions and keep them positive- in a quiet area and offer treats. 

Can my hedgehog wear a leash or harness?

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We've all seen the adorable pictures and videos of hedgehogs wearing little leashes and harnesses. 

Even I'll admit that hoggos look absolutely adorable being treated like little prickle-dogs, but reality is, harnesses and leashes are very dangerous for hedgehogs.

they can cause lasting damage to the neck, spine and legs. 

Please never use a leash or harness on your hedgehog.  instead you can get a nice snuggle pouch to carry your hedgehog in that will be both fashionable and comfy for your hoggo!

Cool weather Considerations

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Keep your hoggo warm and safe

Hedgehogs need warm temperatures to survive. It is best to keep low humidity as well. High humidity in your hoggo cage can cause fungal infection and respiratory illness.

 Temperature is the most important part of being a successful hedgehog parent (in my opinion),which is why it is mentioned so many times on this website.

** Proper temperature is important ALL the time, but especially important in the fall and winter months!**

Fall into Winter...


         Right now in the hedgehogs natural habitat it is (what we call) summer. Here in little Rhode Island USA, we're coming into winter.  Be sure to increase your temps in your hoggos cage slightly to help prevent weather related medical issues. 

   Sometimes the cooler weather can cause hedgehogs  to become less active, eat less, and even succumb to hibernation attempts. Hibernation attempts are usually fatal in hedgehogs, so proper temps are important.

    It's a good idea to bump your hoggos cage temp a few degrees during the winter months.

  In the wild, hedgehogs go into a state of lessened activity when the temps cool.      However, in captivity we haven't yet mastered the ability to help our hedgehogs through a state of torpor/semi hibernation. 

  Naturally their temps would gradually decrease along with light/dark ratios (hrs of day light/ night darkness). The hedgehog would slowly begin to eat less and sleep more while becoming sluggish..the metabolism would slow down as well. A delicate balance of many factors will take place in order to keep the hedgehog alive during this period of scarce food and weather change. 

    As pet owners/breeders/ hedgehog fanatics we haven't had enough conclusive reasearch provided to us to completely understand this complicated process.

    So for now, our beloved hoggos remain temperature sensitive. 

   Now that winter is upon us, please bump up your temps & provide your  hoggo with a few extra hours of light per day. You may also find that your hoggo will benefit from a slight boost in fat  intake this winter. Offering more feeder insects or a food with a higher fat content can help accomplish this!

How to: Increase lighting hours

It is a VERY good idea to offer your hedgehog an extended lighting period during the cool months.

In the wild, light cycles trigger a hedgehog to start preparing for a cool season hibernation/torpor. 

By increasing the amount of time our hedgehogs receive light each day, we can decrease the chances of a hibernation attempt or a preparation for a hibernation attempt- such as decreased food consumption. 

   You can increase light hours by putting a lamp next to your hedgehogs cage and leaving it on for 10-14 hours per day. 

If you have over head lighting, you can simply leave that on for 10-14 hours per day. 

I find 12 hours of light to be a good number. Some people do 10- 14 and have equal success. 

10 hours of light is probably the easiest to manage for most pet owners. 

I average 13 hours of light during the cooler months. 

  **if your schedule does not permit you to be home to turn lights on and off at 10-14 hour increments, you can use a timer. A time is a power outlet that allows you to set a timer on it that will turn a light on and off after a preset amount of time. These timers are available at home depot and petco. ***Be sure NOT to plug your heat lamp or source into the timer outlet! You DO NOT want your heat source on a timer! You want your heat source on all the time!***

A little fat will go a long way

When fall begins to creep in you may want to increase your hoggo's fat intake. 

This does not require a drastic diet change! 

Additional fat in the diet during the tricky cool months can help provide your hoggo with a little extra "buffer" should temps suddenly drop. In the wild hedgehogs will stuff their faces with extra food items in preparation for their yearly semi-hibernation state. Having extra body fat allows the hedgehog to sustain it's self better during this period. 

Pet hedgehogs do not hibernate and are encouraged to stay slender with little excess body fat. Therefore if temps suddenly drop and a hibernation state is educed, the hedgehog has very little fat reserves to keep it's metabolic processes functioning. This is most likely why most captive hedgehogs who undergo a hibernation attempt tend to have long term issues such a repeated hibernation attempts, heart issues, and kidney issues. Their little body never fully recovers due to a depletion in organ health. A small fat reserve can help prevent that depletion.

You can increase your hoggo's fat consumption by: offering a wet food with a fat content higher than your regular kibble 3x per week.

OR

You can offer a pre-killed pinkie mouse every week.  You can buy these at reptile/exotic animal stores and pet shops such as Pet Co and Pet Smart. 

In Rhode Island you can support a local business by purchasing your pinkie mice and feeder insects from Sabrina's Reptile Kingdom, located in Cumberland Rhode Island. 

OR

Offer  feeder insects, particularly wax worms a few times per week.

OR

the simplest yet stinkiest way to increase fat intake is by adding fish oil to your hoggos kibble 2-3x per week. Fish oil will cause your hedgie to produce stinky bowel movements. 

Only a very small amount of oil is needed, if gel caps-1/2 of a capsule can be used and the other half can be used at the next offering. 


   Most owners like to use a mix of all of the above listed fat intake increasing methods. 


Increasing your hoggos fat intake should usually occur mid October-March. 


Some owners do not increase their hoggos fat intake at all and do just fine.

My hog room is light, temperature and humidity controlled so additional fat isn't particularly necessary for my animals. However, most pet hog owners may find a slight fat increase very beneficial to their animals.

(This information is not medical advice. This information is not a substitute of veterinary care. Always present all care changes to your licensed DVM)

What if your hedgehog attempts hibernation?

A hibernation attempt can be super scary. I have seen a few in my time. 

If your hedgehog's cage temps are too low (or lighting is not enough), you may witness the events that can lead up to a hibernation attempt such as ; decreased appetite and mild lethargy- your hoggo will seem more sleepy than usual.  *hedgehogs are noctural. it is normal for your hog to be sleeping during the day. it is mportant to know your hedgehog's normal habits so monitoring for changes can be less challenging*

If you are noticing increased tiredness and/or lessened appetite try boosting the temps and increasing lighting hours. 


A full blown hibernation attempt will present it's self as: A hedgehog that is cool to the touch (especially the belly area), a hedgehog that is staying balled up and cannot unball, if the hedgehog unballs it is usually wobbly and seems disoriented.  


What to do if you suspect a hibernation attempt: 

Don't panic but act swiftly.

Hold your hedgehog against your skin to raise body temp. 

Increase the temp in the room by a decent amount(if room temp is 70 increase to 80).

DO NOT put your hog in hot water- this can lead to shock. 

DO NOT apply a blow dryer to your hedgehog. this too can cause a state of shock. 

Contact your veterinarian for further advice.

Some hedgehogs survive a hibernation attempt, some do not. Some of those that survive suffer long term organ functioning issues.


The best way to handle a hibernation attempt is to prevent one!