Properly caring for a new pet is always important. Most people know the basics for caring for a common pet like a cat or a dog. Less is known about proper care for more exotic animals, like our dear little hedgehogs, so we are here to help!
You will most likely house your hedgehog in a cage similar to that of a hamster or guinea pig. However, the way you line the cage will differ for a hedgehog.
You’ll have a choice between using a fabric/absorbent hedgehog cage liner and traditional pet cage shavings/pellets when you first assemble your habitat. Let’s go over each type of cage filler to determine the best option for your pet hedgehog.
Shavings as hedgehog cage lining
Wood Shavings: You should NEVER use wood shavings in your hedgehog’s cage. Treated wood shavings made from cedar or pine will harm and potentially kill your hedgehog. The risk is simply not worth it. Not only can the wood shavings be poisonous, but they can get stuck in your hedgehog’s quills and prove to be quite uncomfortable.
Small Pet Bedding: Instead, you should use soft shavings made specifically for small caged animals, such as Carefresh Ultra Pet Bedding. The advantage to using pet shavings is primarily that they are easily disposable and secondarily that they may mask odor better than a fabric liner.
However, continuously replacing cage shavings can become expensive. Shavings can be very messy, and most concerning, one never truly knows how prepackaged animal habitat shavings are treated. They are all treated with something, natural or otherwise. Mites may also live within shavings and can infest your hedgehog quickly if not managed.
Newspaper Bedding: Newspaper shavings are an option that some hedgehog owners consider. If this is a route you pursue, it is important to make sure that the newspaper shavings are unprinted. Traditional newspaper shredded may contain toxic ink that can harm your hedgehog.
If you choose to use disposable shavings as bedding for the bottom of your hedgehog’s habitat, you need to ensure that those shavings do not have a chemical smell, that they have ingredients that you are familiar with, and that the company is a trusted brand who created their shavings specifically for small animals like hedgehogs.
If all of these precautions are firmly in place, then you are ready to line your hedgehog’s cage with shavings.
Pellets as hedgehog cage liners
A second disposable cage lining option is to use pet pellets, such as Green Pet Aspen Supreme Pellets. This gravel-like substance is a good option because it absorbs liquid and odor.
Like soft shavings, pellets are messy, perhaps even more so than shavings can be because they are so small. While pellets do not attract mites as readily as shavings do, pellets can potentially become painfully stuck between your hedgehog’s quills. This is also a concern to be aware of when using any shavings.
Fabric as hedgehog cage liners
The alternative to using disposable shavings or pellets is to use or make a washable fabric cage liner, like this lovely Fleece Fabric Blanket.
You may already know that your hedgehog enjoys feeling secure and cozy. You may have seen and considered purchasing or making a small fleece pouch for your hedgehog to cuddle up in. The same comfort will be desirable for your hedgehog when selecting a liner.
You may wish to select a fleece and/or regular quilting fabric for the two sides of your cage liner and fill the middle with a layer or two of machine wash and dryable batting. The purpose of the liner is to absorb any liquid and catch any fecal matter as your hedgehog goes about his life.
The benefit of using or making a machine washable liner is that you can reuse it over and over again, and you know that it will not have been treated with any harmful chemicals.
The downside of using a reusable fabric liner is that you’ll have to wash it instead of just tossing it when it’s dirty. You will also need to routinely inspect the liner to make sure that there are no thread snares upon which your hedgehog might catch and entangle his foot.
If you do decide to use a fabric liner, it is a good idea to have a handful of them, so that your hedgehog is never left without a liner to his cage.
Additional hedgehog cage filler options
Finally, as you are outfitting your hedgehog’s habitat, you may want to consider a small machine washable small critter tent or igloo (like this adorable Double Fleece Hang-N-Tent) where your hedgehog may enjoy sneaking away to curl up and sleep.
These cozy domes are available for sale or can be made oneself like the fabric cage liners and cozy pouches.
Always remember, regardless of your liner choice, that what you see as a cage for your hedgehog is your hedgehog’s home where he will spend the majority of his time. You want to help make his habitat as comfortable as possible!
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