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Hedgehog Care Tips

May 15, 2021

There’s a pretty cute little critter that has been melting hearts all over the world: the Hedgehog! There are actually 17 types of hedgehogs, but it’s the African pygmy that is most commonly kept as a pet. A Galena, MD vet discusses hedgehog care below.

Don’t Scare Him

Hedgehogs can’t see very well: they mostly navigate the world by smells and sounds. It’s very easy to startle these guys. Just the sight of your shadow can frighten your tiny pet! Take care not to scare him.

Offer Great Food

Diet is crucial for all of our animal companions. We recommend giving your buddy a quality hedgehog kibble. You can supplement this with things like waxworms, mealworms, and other ‘yummy’ treats. Ask your vet for more information.

Get A Great Cage

A good cage is very important. Choose one with a solid floor. Wire floors don’t hold substrate, and can actually cause injuries.

Honor Hedgie’s Schedule

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they tend to be quite active and frisky at night. This is something to keep in mind if you are getting Hedgie for a child. Make sure to put your prickly pal somewhere that he can sleep during the day and play at night if he wants.

Offer A Wheel

Hedgehogs are naturally quite active, and they can get quite sad and depressed if they don’t get enough exercise. A running wheel is rather like the hedgehog version of a treadmill. Just be sure to choose a solid one: the wire ones are actually dangerous.

Tame Hedgie

Hedgehogs are quite timid by nature. Give your little buddy time to get used to you. Hold him gently, and talk to him. He may curl up in a ball, especially at first. That’s fine! Give him time to relax.

Adopt A Baby

If possible, adopt your little buddy when he’s still young. It will be easier for little Hedgie to bond with you and feel safe if he grows up in your care. Adult hedgehogs can still be tamed, it just may take longer.

Keeping Hedgie Healthy

Just like any other pet, hedgehogs can suffer from a variety of illnesses and injuries. Take Hedgie to the vet regularly for exams. This is a great chance for you to get specific care tips.

Our Advice on Hedgehog Care Tips in 2024

What makes hedgehogs unique as pets, and which type is most commonly kept?

Hedgehogs are unique as pets due to their distinctive appearance, spiny coats, and curious and solitary nature. Unlike more common pets, they have a unique way of interacting with their environment, mainly relying on their sense of smell and hearing, as their eyesight is relatively poor. The type of hedgehog most commonly kept as a pet is the African pygmy hedgehog. These small, nocturnal mammals are known for their manageable size and relatively low maintenance needs, making them a popular choice for exotic pet enthusiasts.

How should you approach a hedgehog to avoid startling them?

Approaching a hedgehog without startling them requires a gentle and patient approach. Since hedgehogs have limited vision and rely heavily on their sense of smell and hearing, avoiding sudden movements or loud noises is essential. Approach them calmly and let them smell your hand first, giving them time to recognize your scent. Speak softly to reassure them of your presence. Move slowly and predictably when handling them. It’s also helpful to approach from the side rather than directly above, as shadows or looming figures can be frightening. This respectful and considerate approach helps in building trust with your hedgehog.

What is the recommended diet for a pet hedgehog?

The recommended diet for a pet hedgehog primarily consists of high-quality hedgehog or insectivore kibble, which should form the basis of their nutrition. Supplement this with various protein sources like mealworms, waxworms, and crickets. You can also offer cooked lean meats and small amounts of fruits and vegetables in moderation. Avoid fatty, sugary, or highly processed foods. Fresh water should always be available. It’s essential to balance their diet to prevent obesity and ensure they receive all necessary nutrients. Consult with a vet familiar with hedgehogs for specific dietary recommendations tailored to your pet’s needs.

What are the key features of a suitable cage for a hedgehog?

When selecting a cage for a hedgehog, key features to consider include size, safety, and comfort. The cage should be spacious, with a minimum size of 2×2 feet, allowing room for movement and exercise. A solid floor is essential, as wire floors can cause injury to their delicate feet. Ensure the cage has proper ventilation, but avoid drafts. Include hiding spots like small shelters or igloos for security and privacy. The cage should also accommodate a running wheel and have space for food and water dishes. Avoid multi-level cages, as hedgehogs are not adept climbers and can fall. Safety and room for enrichment activities are paramount in choosing a suitable habitat for your hedgehog.

What are the best practices for taming and bonding with a pet hedgehog?

Taming and bonding with a pet hedgehog involves patience, consistency, and gentle handling. Begin by allowing your hedgehog to get accustomed to your scent; you can do this by placing a worn shirt or cloth in their cage. Spend time each day near their cage, whispering to familiarize them with your voice. Do so gently and confidently when handling your hedgehog, but avoid sudden movements. Offer treats during interaction to build positive associations. Respect their comfort level and retreat signs, and never force interaction. Over time, regular, calm interactions will help build trust and strengthen your bond with your hedgehog.

Please contact us for more information on hedgehogs. As your Galena, MD veterinary clinic, we’re here to help!

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