The most important thing to do before making any preparations for a pet hedgehog is to make sure that you can legally have one in the state in which you live. Start with state law and then work your way down to city or county levels. Remember, a hedgehog might not be legal in all areas of the same state.
Once you know that hedgehogs are legal where you live, and that you have all the necessary permits to keep one if they are a requirement, you can start to prepare a home for your new pet.
The necessities that your pet will need are:
1. Cage Your hedgehog cage should have a solid bottom and wire sides. The bottom should be made of wood or a hard plastic and not metal as the metal can begin to rust and become dangerous for your pet. Also, any cage with a wire bottom should be avoided as small feet can fall through and the wire is hard on delicate feet. Standard one-half inch to one inch gaps between wires for the sides will be fine to keep your pet within their cage, anything wider and a young hedgehog might get their head stuck in the side. It is also important to have a securing lid on the top of your cage as hedgehogs are excellent climbers.
A good rule of thumb is to provide two square feet of living space per hedgehog. Although it is always recommended to get the largest cage you can depending on your budget, space available, and your ability to maintain a clean living environment. Aquariums should only be used as a last resort because it is hard to properly ventilate an aquarium. In addition, aquariums become heavy and more difficult to clean as they become larger. It is also not necessary to provide your pet with a multi-level cage. Most hedgehogs will not use an additional level and others have a tendency to walk off the edges of the second level instead of using the provided ramps.
2. Bedding It is important to line your pet’s cage with a kind of bedding that is safe for them to live in and easy for you to find and work with. You want to purchase bedding that is available locally in a large enough size to be affordable yet small enough that you will have someplace to store unused bedding, especially if you live in an apartment or other small dwelling. The recommended bedding types are either aspen wood shavings or recycled paper bedding. For more information on choosing the right bedding please click here for an informative article.
3. Food Hedgehogs require a diet that is rich in protein but low in fat. Around 30 percent protein and less than 15 percent fat is an ideal diet for hedgehogs. Although hedgehog specific foods are becoming more wide spread and available, commercial cat and kitten foods can also be used. Hedgehogs should be given as much dry cat or hedgehog food as they would like to eat each day, usually around one to three tablespoons. Hedgehogs can also be offered live bugs, cooked meats, cooked eggs, vegetables, and fruits as treats and as a way of supplementing their diet.
4. Food Bowl A ceramic, food safe, non-tipping bowl would be best for a hedgehog. The main requirements are that your hedgehog can access the food within the bowl and that the bowl is large enough to hold an adequate amount of food.
5. Water Bottle/Bowl A specific kind of water source is not required for hedgehogs as long as they are receiving fresh, clean water everyday and are able to drink all they want. A water bottle that attaches to the side of a cage is the most common type of watering accessory. Make sure it is large enough to hold an adequate amount of water and that it seals securely to keep water from leaking into your hedgehog’s cage. If you choose to go with a water bowl, follow the same guidelines for choosing a food bowl and remember that you will need to check the bowl frequently throughout the day as it will become soiled often with bedding and anything else your hedgehog decides to throw into it.
6. Litter Pan The best litter pan will fit into one of the corners of the cage, preferably the corner your pet likes to use, without taking up too much space, is easy for your pet to get into and out of (some pans have a tendency to tip over when your pet tries to get out of them), and is easy to change. A non-clumping, low dust cat litter can be used or a recycled paper based litter can be used.
7. Nest Box A nest box is an ideal place for your hedgehog to find a quiet place to nap or just to spend some time to themselves. The box should be made from untreated wood or heavy plastic and should be big enough for your hedgehog, or hedgehogs, to fit into comfortably. Remember to give the nest box a good scrubbing each time you clean out your hedgehog’s cage.
8. Exercise Wheel It is important to make sure you get a wheel that is large enough for your hedgehog. A wheel that is too small could cause problems for your hedgehog or discourage them from using it. The wheel should be available to them at all times within their cage so that they are able to use it at their discretion. The wheel should have a solid construction so that your hedgehog’s foot can not slip through the wheel while he is running. Your hedgehog would also enjoy having a large, enclosed ball with which they could use to explore their new home under their owner’s supervision. These balls should be about the size of a basketball and should only be used under supervision.
9. Toys Hedgehogs are quite playful and would appreciate any toys that are made available to them. In general, any commercially made toys that are designed for cats or ferrets that do not have sharp edges, small pieces, or are small enough to fit within a hedgehog’s mouth would make great toys. Also, plain toilet paper tubes, empty boxes, and small paper bags also make for entertaining toys.
10. Accessories These depend on what you plan to do with your hedgehog. If you travel frequently and would like to take your pet with you than a travel carrier is a necessity. If you are a bit of a due it yourselfer, or if you hate those expensive trips to the vet, a pair of small animal nail clippers would come in handy to keep your pet’s nails trimmed to an appropriate level. There are even hedgehog carriers on the market that you can strap to your chest and use to take your little pal with you where ever you go.