What To Consider When Prepping A Non-Natural Hedgehog Habitat?
Once you’ve decided that you’re ready to bring home a pet hedgehog, it’s time to prepare the new cage, as this will be his habitat!
Since your hedgehog will spend most of his time inside the cage, it is vital to ensure that it is set up correctly.
This ensures a comfortable sleeping arrangement, play area, and food area.
Now, we’ll look at the hedgehog cage itself, pricing, and the different areas and items you will need to fill the pen.
Choosing a Hedgehog Cage
The most common caging options are wire cages and plastic storage containers.
We’ll look at these options to find the best fit for your home.
How large should the hedgehog cage be?
At a bare minimum, the cage should be 2 feet by 2 feet in size, though 2 feet by 4 feet wide is preferable.
If you have room for a larger cage, fantastic! This will allow it more room to explore, move and play.
They are small, but they do stay active, so make sure that there is enough space in the cage for them to move around comfortably.
What type of cage should I use for my hedgehog?
Let’s take a look at two (2) main options:
Wire cages with plastic bottoms
Rabbit and guinea pig cages make great wire-cage options because they are made with plastic trays specifically for small pets.
In my opinion, these are the best alternatives because the wire allows for plenty of ventilation and allows you to see your hedgehog clearly.
You want to avoid a metal wire cage with a metal tray on the bottom because these are cold and slippery for hedgehogs and can rust. Plastic, on the other hand, is straightforward to clean.
If you can find a cage with a deep plastic pan, about six (6) inches, this is ideal for holding in the shavings or paper (discussed below) but is not required.
Plastic storage containers
Plastic storage containers are very inexpensive compared to the other caging alternatives, but they do require some customizing if you buy one.
It would be best if you did not leave the container with no cover on as hedgehogs are known to be little escape artists.
Since the lid is solid, you will have to drill holes into the top of the container to allow for ventilation.
Never leave your hedgehog in his cage with a solid lid on – we don’t want our hedgehogs suffocating!
Hamor Hollow Breeders suggests making the holes nickel-size so that the hedgehogs cannot get stuck in the gaps if they somehow manage to make it to the top in an attempt to escape.
Overall, we’d suggest going with the wire cage. It may be a bit more expensive up front, but it will save you from needing to customize a storage container, as mentioned above.
To browse for a cage and supplies within your budget, check out our Supplies + Resources section.
Lining the Hedgehog Cage
After you decide on the correct cage to use, the next step is to line the bottom of the cell.
The three (3) options you want to consider are:
– Fabric liners.
– Wood shavings, or
– Paper products.
Here, we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative.
Fabric liners can be made from fleece or a type of fabric called Vellux.
Other fabrics with loose threads should not be used because your hedgehog’s toes can become entangled and injured.
You can buy a piece of fabric at any craft store and cut them into the shape of your hedgehog’s cage.
Alternatively, you can buy quality pre-made baby blankets to use in the cage.
– Fabric is soft and allows hedgehogs to be more comfortable.
– It is easily washable and re-usable, meaning lower costs in the long run.
– Don’t have to clean up spilled shavings or dust from wood or paper shreds.
– Minimizes the possibility of your hedgehog catching mites since they typically are brought in through wood shavings.
– Fabric liners must be changed at least once per day if your hedgehog is not litter box trained because they do not absorb moisture, and urine will leave pools, which can cause odor and bacteria.
– Hedgehogs like to burrow, which may cause them to shove the liner around the cage and leave the plastic cage bottom exposed.
– Hedgehogs are very sensitive to smell, so you may have to buy special sensitive-skin detergent to wash the liners with to avoid irritating your hedgehog.
If you’re going to go with a fabric liner, we’d suggest buying or making at least 6 or 7 so that you have enough clean liners on hand to replace with dirty ones daily.
Pine shavings are the best wood option for hedgehogs, as they’re the safest, inexpensive, and easy to find in the market.
On the other hand, Aspen shavings are another excellent option, though they may be slightly more expensive and more complicated to find than the above alternative.
NEVER use cedar or dyed shavings, as they are known to contain toxic chemicals to hedgehogs and can lead to death.
– Wood shavings absorb urine reasonably well and should not need to be emptied and replaced more than once per week.
– Shavings allow for easy burrowing for your hedgehog.
– Since shavings have to be replaced weekly, we think the long-term cost will be more than that of fabric liners.
– Shavings can create a mess if they fall out of the cage and require disposal when you empty the cage for cleaning.
When it comes to paper, there are two (2) main types of products that work well for lining your hedgehog’s cage:
Paper pellets and fluffy paper products.
Paper options are more absorbent than wood shavings and, according to manufacturers, smell less and therefore can be changed less often than wood shavings.
Recommended brands include Carefresh, Purina Yesterday’s News, and Cell-Sorb Plus.