Hedgehogs (often affectionately referred to as hedgies) are very interesting, fascinating pets to own. They are adorable, fun to watch, and can give you a lot of enjoyment. Before bringing one home, however, you need to know how to care for it, so your pet will always be happy and healthy and at its best!
The first thing you will need for your hedgie is a cage. The minimum cage size is 24″ by 24″. If you keep them in a smaller cage, they may become fat, bored, and sick. This is because hedgehogs are naturally active animals who run a lot in the wild. Often, they don’t even run for a reason–they just run for the joy of it. So, in addition to a large cage, your pet hedgehog also needs an exercise wheel (use a wheel with solid floors, so your pet’s feet don’t fall through the bars, since this can hurt him).
Hedgehogs cannot tolerate cold climates so be sure you keep yours warm. If they are kept in temperatures below 70 degrees F, they can become seriously ill or even die. You will also need to provide a shelter for your hedgehog inside the cage, since hedgehogs are burrowing animals. There are many acceptable shelters sold at pet stores, but a small box will do. Use some kind of comfortable bedding in the cage, preferably a type that will adjust to the shape of your pet’s body.
Some hedgehogs can be litter trained, but others cannot. Watch your hedgie and see if he uses the same spot to relieve himself on a consistent basis. If so, then he’ll likely use a litter pan, which will make cleaning the cage a lot easier.
Your hedgehog will need to have food and water available at all times. A water bottle works better than a water bowl for most hedgehogs, and is cleaner. You can buy commercial hedgehog food for your pet, or feed him meal worms or other small insects. Hedgehogs are omnivores, so a combination of meat and produce is your pet’s ideal diet.
Toys are important to your hedgehog’s mental health, since without something to entertain them, they can become very depressed. Try to get a variety of toys, such as tubes, boxes, and balls. You should also spend as much time as you can with your pet.
Get the cage and other supplies BEFORE you bring home your hedgehog, so you’ll be prepared when he arrives. Once he’s home and settled in, he won’t require much maintenance. Just make sure to clean his cage once a week and clip his nails when they get too long. He shouldn’t need a bath too often, maybe once or twice a year to clean off any visible dirt or grime.
Overall, hedgies make great pets. If you give yours a proper environment and handle him regularly, the two of you will get along wonderfully. You can expect a lot of enjoyment from a well-cared for hedgehog!