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Hedgehog Care Sheet

A hedgehog needs the correct food and a proper habitat to live a long happy and healthy life. Before bringing your hedgehog home you should have his cage set up and ready and food available. Below is a list of items you will need to care for your pet.


Habitat - Cage Placement - Place your hedgehogs new home in a comfortable, warm, well lit area that is free of drafts and direct sunlight. They are most comfortable at temperatures of between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. (18-27 degrees Celsius) The basic rule of thumb is, if you are comfortable without a sweater, they will do just fine.

A cage that is at least 4 feet long and 2 feet wide. That is the minimum size so go with the biggest cage possible. Multi-level cages are a good way to increase your petís space. The basic cage for a Guinea Pig. Plastic bottom covered wired slot tops are perfect.
Bedding for the bottom of the cage. Bedding made from recycled paper types, or Aspen wood shavings is a good choice.
A hide area where you pet can go to feel safe and secure. A Plastic big Cave for small animals work well and wash easy.
A small animal litter box
Litter for the litter box. Litter that is basic clay litter, no fragranceís, no fresh steps. No chemicals. Basic plain cheap litter.
A stoppered water bottle. A good water bottle they canít chew on. A heavy bowl can be used as an alternative if your hedgehog doesnít like a water bottle.
A couple of bowls for dry and moist food. The bowls should be attachable to the cage or heavy enough to prevent spilling.

An exercise wheel, preferably one with a solid wheel to prevent possible injury. Use a silent spinner if you intend to sleep at night!

A variety of toys and decor to keep your pet entertained. Examples are pipes, tubes, tunnels, ramps, ledges, balls, and bells. Bird Toys, Cat toys work well.
A small animal playpen for when your hedgehog is out of his cage keeps him safe.

Food - A dry hedgehog food or cat food that is high in protein and made from meat or chicken. An adult is offered about 1/4 cup a day.

I feed Hedgehog Diet from Exotic Nutrition. This is what I recommend. People do use cat food. The food should be high in protein and made from meat or chicken. I do NOT recommend this. But in a pinch I would use it if there is no other choice.
Fruits and vegetables that can be added to your petís diet. beans, peas, cilantro, parsley, basil, apples, grapes, and carrots are some of the foods you can feed your hedgehog in small amounts. Every hedgie has a treat they go gaga for, find yours! Try things. About a teaspoon a day.
Adding Protein to their diet like treats of insects -  mealworms, small super worms, crickets, and cooked food like turkey burger, chicken, or eggs. Cut into small pieces and feed cold. About 6 mealworms, 3 supers, 4 crickets, a teaspoon on meat a day.
Obesity - Since a healthy hedgehog is a bit on the plump side naturally, determining the difference between a healthy animal's "chubby" condition and obesity can be somewhat difficult. Since there is such a wide variety of size in domestic stock these days, an obese hedgehog can be as little as 8 ounces to as much as 2 pounds in weight, so weight guidelines are of little use in identifying a fat hedgehog!
Of far more use to you than a set of scales is a weekly or monthly visual inspection of your pet's front legs and chin. While a hedgehog in its normal trim will be a bit chubby in these two locations, an obese specimen will have a double chin and "ham-hocks" for legs and sometimes even rolls of fat under the arm-pits. Such animals will be so fat that they will even be incapable of rolling themselves into a ball! 
If your pet should become this fat eliminate all treats from its diet but do not reduce the amount of dry food - the primary source of necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals. If after a month you see no evidence of weight loss, change the type of dry food that you are feeding to one that has a fat content of at least 20 percent. The theory is that the added fat will cause your pet to "bulk-up" and eat less and will actually help it to lose weight.

Grooming - Hedgehogs do a fairly good job of grooming themselves but sometimes, there are things they need help with. If you wish, you can bath your hedgehog a couple times a year. Here is what you will need.

Assemble the following items at your bathroom sink:
  • cat shampoo- I use oatmeal sensitive skin
  • a cup (unless you have a sink with sprayer hose)
  • a toothbrush
  • a towel at the sink or bathtub
Run an inch (no more!) of lukewarm water into the bathroom sink. Next, place a drop or two of the cat shampoo into the water. Now, place your hedgehog gently into the water and wet him thoroughly by scooping water from the sink with the cup onto his back. Using the toothbrush, gently and slowly scrub his spines from front to back and in small circles, making sure not to get any of the soapy water in his eyes. Once his back is clean, reach underneath and wash his tummy by gently running your fingers over the fur, but do not flip him over. After he has been thoroughly scrubbed, remove him from the sink, drain the dirty water and once again refill the sink with an inch of lukewarm water. Then, place him back in, thoroughly rinse him off, remove him from the sink and then gently towel him dry. If the room is cool, you can use a hairdryer to dry him off, but do not use it above its lowest setting.
After he has dried off, check his toenails to see if they need trimming. If you are not familiar with how to trim toenails, I strongly recommend that you take your hedgehog to the vet to have him do this for you. Each toenail has a large blood vein running through it and, by cutting too much of the nail off, you can easily cause your pet to bleed. This bleeding can quickly be stopped by using a commercially available blood-stop powder or caustic stick (available from your vet) or by dipping the affected toenail in corn starch. If not treated, the bleeding will eventually stop, but not before the animal has lost a considerable amount of blood. To make matters worse, your hedgehog may protest against having his nails trimmed and will make the task difficult, if not impossible for you to perform on your own. Again, if you are unsure about doing this, have a professional do it for you!
For those already familiar with the task, a pair of ordinary fingernail clippers will do the job. If he protests, which he very well may, you will have to be very patient with him. First, try to firmly but gently grab hold of one foot and maintain that hold until he relaxes a bit. Then, quickly trim the toenails making sure to avoid cutting into the quick. After finishing, give him a bit of a break or a nice treat as a reward and proceed with the next foot. In most cases, you will be unable to do more than one or two of his feet at a setting before he says enough is enough, so it may take two or three days to do all four feet. The toenails need to be checked for over-growth every couple of months. There are some hedgehogs that never need them trimmed, however, so don't automatically assume that they need doing.
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