Hedgehogs have been around for millions of years and capture the attention of many people. Their small, cute, pointed faces capture the hearts of many as well. Their popularity as a pet is also growing mainly due to the fact that they're unique and relatively low maintenance. Another perk is the fact that they have no fur, which makes them a great pet for those with dander allergies.
- Skill level:
Choose your hedgehog's space. The cage is the main housing consideration. You should choose one that provides plenty of space to move and plenty of air circulation. Multi-level wire cages aren't a requirement, but they do provide extra roaming opportunities without taking up much more space in your own home. If you do use a wire cage, it is essential that it has a plastic bottom. For safety, the wires should be no more than 1.3 cm (1/2 inch) apart.
Provide comfortable bedding. You can use a variety of bedding. If you use wood shavings, stick with aspen or pine. Cedar shavings can cause respiratory problems in some hedgehogs. Other options are paper-based pellets, prairie hay pellets or fabric pads. If you use fabric pads, be sure to provide plenty of burrowing opportunities such as towels.
Give your hedgehog shelter. These are burrowing animals, so they need somewhere to hide for warmth and a feeling of security. You can use a small towel, a 10 cm (4 inch) wide tube, a soft fabric pouch (sometimes called "hedgie bags"), small shoe box or any similar hiding space.
Make ample exercise and stimulus opportunities available to your hedgehog. A solid surface exercise wheel is a great exercise accessory. Avoid wheels with metal or plastic bars since the hedgehog's legs can slip through the bars. Small cat or ferret toys provide stimulus and exercise as well.
Set aside an area for food and water. You can use either a water bowl or a water bottle depending on what works best for your hedgehog. Make sure your hedgehog has fresh food and water available at all times.
Offer your hedgehog a bathroom. You may be able to train your hedgehog to use a litter box.
Keep your hedgehog warm. They're desert animals and don't do well in temperatures below 21 degrees Celcius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). If your home is regularly below this temperature, be sure to provide your hedgehog with some source of warmth such as a heat lamp or reptile tank heater.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure it's legal in your state to have a hedgehog as a pet. A handful of states have laws making it illegal to own a hedgehog or requiring permits and fees to legally own a hedgehog.