HEDGEHOG CARE:

Food ~ VERY IMPORTANT PLEASE READ

In the past we have always heard that Hedgehogs need a diet that is high in protein and low in fat and that high quality cat foods should list ingredients such as real meat, like chicken, lamb, or turkey, as the first ingredient. According to the internet a hedgehog's best diet consists mainly of chicken and to avoid foods that have fillers such as corn, wheat, rice, or meat by-products if it is the first ingredient on the list. In the past we used 2 specific brands:  Blue Wilderness Chicken for Kitten  that is high protein/low fat.   I would also would feed my mama's Purina One as Chicken is listed as the 1st ingredient and the high fat content was "supposed to be" good for nursing mamas and young babies that are weaning. .....  however, over the last several years and lots of professional opinions and studies done on hedgehogs life span we now understand the damage that processed crunchy cat food has on our hedgehogs' little intestines and instead of recommending that cat food be the main ingredient, and that insects be a supplement to the hedgehogs diets,  we have reversed that and made insects their main course!  We find that our hedgehogs are now living longer, healthier lives and less vet visits /problems later in life.  We encourage our clients to do the same.  We have a special blend of bugs that is freeze dried and natural to these little critters.... after all, they are insectivores!  We have created a QR code for easy re-order and mail it out daily.  Below is a video going over more specific information.  Please watch.  

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             INSECTIVORE FOOD

PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO 

Temperature

Depending on the temperature of your home, you may also need a heat source for your hedgehog. Hedgehogs need temperatures of at least 72 degrees at all times to prevent hibernation (both in the wintertime when our homes can be drafty and also in the summertime when we run air conditioners).  We recommend an 11 inch x 16 inch reptile heat pads and have them available in our store to purchase.       

SETTING UP YOUR HEAT PAD

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PLEASE WATCH THIS VIDEO !

At the time this video was taken I mentioned we were out of stock.         NOTE: These heat pads are BACK IN STOCK!

Message regarding Heat Lamps: 

I do NOT support heat lamps ... each year, unfortunately we are contacted by families that have owned a heat lamp that did not shut off properly and over heated their habitat causing their hedgehog to have a heat stroke.    

                                        Please choose a safer option.     

Toe Nail Care

Nail trims should be done as needed. Most often the front nails are worn down from running on the wheel but the back nails can grow uncomfortably long.  A human nail trimmer, or better yet a cuticle scissor can be used.  Cut only the tips to avoid the quick.  The picture on the right here is what can happen if proper monthly grooming of toenails is not done.  (The pinky toenail grew out and curled under and was poking in the bottom of the hedgehogs foot causing him pain to walk and to run on his wheel.)
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Grooming / Bathing / Itching / Dry Skin

Hedgehogs are fairly clean animals, but like any pet, they do need occasional grooming.  I recommend bathing your hedgehog at least once a week.  Fill a sink with 3-4 inches of warm to hot water and use a toothbrush to gently brush the quills and feet clean. Make sure to get under the toenails as litter can get stuck.   Plain water is all that is needed, but a drop of Dawn dish soap is okay too. Dry your hedgehog off with a towel when finished and keep warm.  If you notice your hedgehog is itching and scratching excessively then add a teaspoon or so of Aveeno oatmeal bath powder (available at Target) to the bathwater. At different seasonal times of the year, a hedgehog can show dry flaky feet and ears,  a remedy for that is a little coconut oil rubbed on them will help sooth the itcheys away.

Handling & Bonding 

The correct method for picking up a hedgehog is to place your hands, palms up, on each side of the hedgehog and gently scoop them up from underneath.  Allow them the opportunity to smell you before petting.  Their bellies are soft and covered in fur, not quills.  Baby hedgehogs go thru  quilling (loosing sharp baby quills and re-growing softer adult quills) 4 x the first year of life so the sharpest a hedgehog will be is when they are a baby and still learning how to lay their quills down.  Quills are not actually sharp enough to cause any real injury.  Remember to always wash hands after holding all kinds of pets.  Hedgehogs have been found to be able to carry salmonella and washing hands will prevent from sickness. 

Handling Techniques, Care Tips, Cage Setup

Here is a video we made to assist families in handling a hedgehog.   

Another video on picking up a hedgehog and petting the forehead   

Accessories

Hedgehogs need plenty of exercise, so an all plastic wheel is necessary.  The wheel should have a solid running surface and a sturdy base.   Do not use the wire wheels commonly sold for hamsters at pet stores.  Hedgehogs enjoy going thru tubes and tunnels along with burrowing.  Your hedgehog will also need a cozy place to sleep.  Plastic pet igloos are popular. 

12" Giant Wheel

Large Igloo

Bedding 

Hedgehogs like to burrow so add a thick layer of bedding to your habitat. Aspen, pine  or paper bedding are great choices.  Cedar shavings must be avoided as they are toxic to hedgehogs.  We use pine shavings as we find it easy to clean, inexpensive and I enjoy watching hedgehogs burrow, roll and play in the shavings. Some people may have allergies to pine shavings and Carefresh paper bedding is a great alternative that still gives the hedgehog the ability to burrow, play and tunnel around their habitat. I purchase pine bedding from WALMART as it is much cheaper than pet stores!

My personal thoughts on Fleece......after 13 years of raising hedgehogs.

Some people want to use fleece and I try to encourage them NOT to.  Hedgehogs love to burrow and play in shavings.  I use the example of taking trees away from squirrels, but besides that fleece has a very bad odor if your baby hedgehog has an accident.  In general hedgehog habitats (with bedding) do NOT stink.   If you choose to use fleece,  I would suggest cutting up a multitude of pieces piled in your habitat 2 to 3 inches throughout the entire habitat so your hedgehog can still burrow and keep warm.  The fleece must be spot cleaned daily, and all of it should be washed every 1-2 days to eliminate the odor that will occur. 

Litter

Otsego Hedgehog's babies come mostly potty trained.  Our mama's start carrying them to the litter box at 3-4 weeks of age and teach them to potty there.  We use a low dust, clumping cat litter and find it makes their habitat cleaner and easy to maintain.  I have not experimented with pellet litter or paper shredding's as I have found cat litter to be very effective.   This litter is sold at WALMART & MENARDS and is sold in handy 4 packs. 1 pack fills our custom litter box perfectly.

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Habitat advice:

I recommend not placing your habitat on the floor.  Floors can be drafty in the winter time but more so that we can appear to be giants looming over a hedgehog's cage and may cause un-necessary fear and anxiety to a hedgehog. 

 

Walmart and Menards both sell an adjustable leg 2' x 4' table that fits our habitats perfectly.  It puts the perspective from a hedgehog much less threatening.  It is also good if you have other pets so that they are not looming over the top of the cage as well.

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Recommended Veterinarians

Finding a "HEDGEHOG EXPERIENCED" exotic Vet is recommended. Hedgehogs do not require vaccinations nor do they need to be spayed or neutered, however an annual checkup could be beneficial and in the event of an emergency it is good to have had your hedgehog seen by one.  We have a couple of Vets located in the Twin Cities that we recommend that have excellent experience with Hedgehogs! In the event you think you may need to contact an event, please contact me.  I have 13 plus years of experience and can offer insight.  My daughter Morgan is a vet tech and has given many clients free advice. 

COMO PARK ANIMAL HOSPITAL 

comoparkanimalhospital.com

1014 Dale Street N, St. Paul, MN 55117

(651) 487-3255

HERITAGE ANIMAL HOSPITAL

heritageanimalhospital.com

12624 Bass Lake Rd, Maple Grove, MN 55369

763-559-7387

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Habitat Set up Video for blue habitats with Food tray