Hedgehog Care

African pygmy hedgehogs are nocturnal and solitary animals that can make for great pets. Their quills are not barbed and do not detach, and when used to human interaction from an early age they learn to lay their quills back making them easy to handle. Even though they are most active at night, it's not uncommon for many hedgehogs to wake during the day and happily interact with you.

The average pet hedgehog lives 3-5 years.

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Diet

In the wild hedgehogs are insectivors that use their keen sense of smell and pointed nose to root out bugs from the ground. In captivity they require a diet that is high in protein and low in fat. As with any animal, it is important to provide your hedgehog with clean water at all times, whether in a dish or water bottle. Many hedgehog owners choose to feed dry cat food but there are also many brands of specially milled hedgehog food available. It is important to find a food that is 30% or more protein content and 15% or less fat content. Small amounts of vegetables and fruits can also be offered as enrichment to your hedgehog as well. Mealworms are a tasty treat, but are too fattening for a hedgehog to eat on a regular basis. Obesity is a common health problem for hedgehogs and we recommend feeding at most 1/4 cup of food each day and some hedgehogs may need a special weight management diet as adults in order to maintain a healthy weight. 

We feed our hedgehogs Spike's Delite from Pet Pro Products and sell it within our store. You can order online and receive 10% off of your order by letting them know you were referred by Even Keel Exotics. 

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Housing

Hedgehogs like to roam and are not very good at climbing, so a wide and flat space is best for their captive habitat. A guinea pig style cage where they can burrow into their bedding works well. As for bedding, we recommend using shredded paper (not glossy), paper substrate (such as Carefresh), fleece, aspen or pine. Oils in cedar bedding can cause irritation to a hedgehog's skin and should be avoided.

Within their cage a hedgehog needs a food dish, water bottle or dish and a house where they can sleep and feel safe. A wheel is a great way to encourage your hedgehog to get adequate exercise each day. Make sure to pick a solid wheel as ones with bars can cause injuries.

Most hedgehogs will naturally pick one area in their cage to use as their "bathroom" and so many people choose to litter train. By placing a different type of bedding in a shallow pan in the area your hedgehog uses most often, it will signal to them that is the spot to go.

 

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Health

Hedgehogs are normally pretty clean animals but a monthly bath helps break up any dirt or debri that can build up on their skin. And did you know, hedgehogs can actually swim and many of them enjoy bath time? Start off with an inch or two of warm water (make sure your hedgehog can touch with its head above the water) and gently break up any debri with a toothbrush. After a bath is a great time to gently trim your hedgehog's nails with pet clippers while they are softened by the water.

Mites can sometimes be an issue for hedgehogs. Don't worry, they cannot live on humans or in your home, but they can be very irritating and cause health problems for your hedgehog. Bathe your hedgehog, clean their cage and sprinkle a natural sediment called diatomaceous earth on your hedgehog and bedding and the mites should be gone.

Hedgehogs prefer warmer temperatures, usually 72F or warmer. If you feel that the area that you keep your hedgehog is too cold, a heat lamp on one side of the cage is helpful so that your hedgehog can self-regulate their body temperature.

Hedgehogs do not require any vaccinations, but having a vet for well checks and emergencies is important.