Care

Basic Hedgehog Equipment

Here are the most important things you need to know before you bring pet to his or her new home:

Temperature

Unlike European hedgehogs – who have evolved to accommodate a Northern European climate – African Pygmy Hedgehogs need to be kept in a warm environment at all times. The ideal temperature is between 24°C and 26°C. As we keep all of our hedgehogs in a small room, we use an oil filled radiator to keep the animals warm, and a thermostat to regulate the temperature. We have found this type of heater to be the safest and most cost effective method – it doesn’t pose a fire risk, nor does it incur enormous electricity bills. Moreover, it’s inexpensive to purchase – prices typically range from £14.99 to £29.99, and you can buy them from supermarket chains, and high street retailers, such as Argos. However, there are alternatives – if, for example, you are keeping your hedgehog in a larger space, then you can instead purchase a cage with a heat mat, like those for lizards.

For the winter months – or in case of an emergency – we also recommend that you purchase a ‘snuggle-safe’ (pictured below). This is a heat pad which you put in the microwave. It comes with a cover, and with full instructions. You can purchase these on www.amazon.co.uk for approximately £10.00, or from a pet shop.

Living Space

All of our hedgehogs live in cages that are 100cm (l) x 50cm (w) x 40cm (h) – we wouldn’t recommend anything smaller. Unlike other small pets such as hamsters, it is extremely important that hedgehogs have a lot of space in their enclosure, so that they can forage.

Exercise

It is also essential that you purchase a wheel for your hedgehog to run on. The types that we use are flying saucer wheels (pictured below), which can be bought for approximately £12.50 from www.amazon.co.uk, or your local pet shop. For those with a little more cash to spend, there is also the option to purchase a bucket wheel – you can purchase these at www.carolinastormhedgehogs.com. With postage and packaging (from the USA), they cost in the region of £40.

Sleeping

Your hedgehog will need an enclosed space within their cage, where they will typically sleep. You can either purchase an igloo for small animals (pictured below) – available at any pet shop – or, for those on a budget, a shoe box with a hole for the entrance/ exit works just as well. Within their bedroom space, you will need to put a worn t-shirt. This is important, so that your hedgehog gets used to your smell, and doesn’t feel threatened when you handle them. We will provide you with a t-shirt that will smell of the hoglet’s mother for the first couple of days, which will ensure that your hoglet settles in quickly.

In terms of bedding for your hedgehog’s cage, female hedgehogs are happy with sawdust. This can purchased from any pet shop, online, or in supermarkets. We have found the latter to be the most cost effective, with a large pack of sawdust – which will last up to five cleanouts – costing approximately £5.00. Male hedgehogs, however, cannot use sawdust bedding, as this can get caught in awkward places! For the boys, you need paper bedding. Again, this can be purchased in all your major pet stores and online – we would recommend www.petsathome.com. Hedgehogs need to be cleaned out once every fortnight, with the occasional poop-scoop recommended in between, when necessary. For this, you will need to regularly purchase kitchen roll, and antibacterial spray/ hand-wash – hedgehogs go to the toilet a lot! Finally, in the wild, hedgehogs spend much of their night foraging – deep bedding provides extra enrichment for them, and it is therefore recommended that you provide them with plenty of it.

Diet

You will need to purchase two small bowls: one for food, and one for water. In terms of what they eat, we feed our hedgehogs cat biscuits, mixed with dried mealworms. As occasional treats, we feed them kitten milk, wet cat-food, fruit, vegetables, chicken, or live mealworms. Some also like scrambled egg with honey. In terms of where to purchase your pet food, you find the majority in any supermarket chain. The best places to buy dried mealworms are Poundstretcher – where you can pick up 500g bag for £9.99 – or Wilkinsons. Live insects can be purchased from most pet shops. Foodstuffs to avoid are grapes, nuts, and chocolate, all of which can be poisonous to hedgehogs. So as to settle your pet in, we will provide you with some food for the first week.

Handling

It is important that your hedgehog gets regular handling sessions with you, which should occur every day. You should do this with bare hands, so that they can get used to your smell. Like humans, hedgehogs vary in their personality – some will like being handled, whereas some will prefer to roam about on their own. The key is patience – although a hoglet will come to you fully socialised, they can often be shy and scared for the first few days in their new home, so you may need to persevere.

Bathing

Hedgehogs are excellent swimmers, and most really enjoy splashing about in the tub – a plastic baby bath is perfect for this. Not only does this keep them clean and well groomed (it is much easier to cut their nails post-bath), but it is good exercise for them. It is important to carefully regulate the bath temperature (not too hot/ cold), and to ensure that they are properly dried afterwards, to prevent them getting cold. We recommend using a hairdryer – which all of our hedgehogs love – on a medium setting, and then keeping them warm afterwards with a cuddle, or by placing a snuggle safe in their bedding area.

Quilling

Quilling is a process in which hoglets lose their baby spikes, and grow adult ones. This can happen up to four times in the first six months of a hedgehog’s life – most commonly, it occurs at 2 – 3 weeks, 5 – 6 weeks, 8 – 12 weeks, and occasionally at 24 weeks. They should not shed all of their spikes at once – if they do, then this can be a sign of problems with baldness. Instead, over a period of approximately one week, they should lose quills sporadically, whilst simultaneously growing new ones. Like when babies are teething, this can be an uncomfortable time for them, and you may find your hoglet to be slightly grumpy.


Self-Anointing

Hedgehogs also do something called ‘self anointing’. This is when they smell something new, lick/ bite the object, and spit the scent over themselves. Don’t be alarmed if your hoglet does this frequently when they first arrive – everything will smell new to them, and it is natural for them to want to surround themselves with familiar scents.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: