The cage should be a minimum of 24″ x 24″, or four square feet. Bigger is always better, so go for the largest cage you can!
Cages made for rabbits, ferrets, and guinea pigs often work very well for hedgehogs. We use this type of cage for our own hedgehogs. Make sure the cage has a solid plastic bottom. If the cage has high levels or platforms, remove them. Hedgehogs do not have great eyesight and can easily fall and injure themselves.
If your hedgehog likes to climb, choose a cage with solid walls rather than wire to prevent injury. A glass aquarium that is 30 gallons or larger may be a good choice.
Plastic storage containers are another extremely popular option. They are very cheap and easy to make. The bin should be clear, and 90 quart or larger in size. Drill multiple holes in the lid and sides for ventilation.
Hedgehogs need plenty of exercise, so a safe wheel is necessary. The wheel should have a solid running surface and a sturdy base. Bucket wheels are a popular option. Do not use the wire wheels commonly sold at pet stores, as they are not designed to hold the weight of a hedgehog and can easily tip over, causing injury.
Some hedgehogs enjoy playing with toys. Small plastic toys made for dogs and cats are a great choice, as are toilet paper rolls. Make sure any toys you choose do not have small parts that could potentially be swallowed.
Your hedgehog will also need a cozy place to sleep. Plastic pet igloos or fleece sleep sacks are popular options.
Line the bottom of the cage with either a fleece liner or a loose bedding. If you choose to use fleece liners, they must be spot cleaned daily, and washed every 1-2 days. If you choose a loose bedding, it will need to be discarded and replaced about once a week. We use Care fresh recycled paper bedding. Aspen and kiln-dried pine shavings are another great choice. Cedar shavings should be avoided as they are toxic to hedgehogs.
Depending on the temperature of your home, you may also need a heat source for your hedgehog. Hedgehogs need temperatures of at least 75-80 degrees at all times to prevent deadly hibernation attempts. If your home is kept colder than this, invest in a space heater, heat pad, or ceramic heat emitter.
Hedgehogs need a diet that is high in protein and low in fat. We recommend feeding a mix of 2-3 high quality cat foods. The mix should have about 30-35% protein and 10-15% fat. Before purchasing a food, make sure to check the ingredient list. High quality foods will list a real meat, such as chicken, lamb, or turkey, as the first ingredient. Avoid foods that have low quality fillers or meat by-products as the first ingredient on the list.
You may supplement the diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, and insects several times a week.
Avoid feeding toxic foods such as grapes, raisins, citrus, garlic, and onions
.Make sure fresh water is available at all times!
Hedgehogs are fairly clean animals, but like any pet, they do need occasional grooming. To give your hedgehog a bath, fill the sink with 1-2 inches of warm water and use a toothbrush to gently brush the quills clean. A few drops of a mild baby shampoo can be used if needed. Do not get soap in the eyes or ears. Rinse well, and dry your hedgehog off with a towel when finished.
Bathing too often can cause dry skin. If you notice your hedgehog itching and scratching, add a couple drops of olive oil to their next bath to prevent drying of the skin.
Nail trims should be done about every 2 weeks, or sooner if needed. You can use nail trimmers made for pets or humans. Cut only the tips. If you cut too far you may hit the quick, which will cause bleeding. Luckily, hedgehogs have opaque nails, which makes it very easy to see how far to trim.
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. Their bellies are soft and covered in fur, not quills.
Do not use gloves when handling your hedgehog. Although they look sharp, the quills are not actually sharp enough to cause any real injury. It is absolutely essential for your hedgehog to recognize your scent in order to bond. Hedgehogs by nature are shy and timid creatures, so you will need to interact with your new pet on a daily basis. The more you handle your hedgehog, the faster you will bond!