How to Care for Pet Hedgehogs

Pet hedgehogs adopting can be a joyous experience, but it also comes with responsibilities. Hedgehogs require proper care and attention, just like any other pet. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to ensure your pet hedgehog’s health and happiness.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understanding the basics of pet hedgehog care is essential for their well-being.
  • Creating a suitable environment, providing a healthy diet, and regular exercise are vital aspects of hedgehog care.
  • Monitoring hedgehog behavior and maintaining their health through regular veterinary check-ups are important.
  • Traveling with hedgehogs requires preparation, safety measures, and stress management.
  • Ensuring a comfortable temperature in their habitat and taking care of their grooming needs are crucial for hedgehog care.
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Creating the Perfect Hedgehog Habitat

As a responsible hedgehog owner, it is important to create a suitable habitat for your pet to ensure their well-being. Here’s what you need to know:

Ideal Cage Size

The size of your hedgehog’s cage will depend on its age and type. Younger hedgehogs require a smaller cage, while adults need more space to roam. A cage size of 4ftx2ft is ideal for adult hedgehogs.


Provide your hedgehog with appropriate bedding to ensure their comfort. Avoid cedar and pine shavings, as they can cause health issues. Instead, opt for paper-based or aspen shavings, or fleece liners.

Temperature and Lighting

Hedgehogs need to be kept in a temperature range of 72-80°F (22-27°C). Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature, and provide a heat source such as a ceramic heat emitter. For lighting, provide a 12-hour light/dark cycle with a full-spectrum bulb.

Hiding Places

Provide hiding places for your hedgehog to reduce stress and promote natural behavior. Use PVC pipes, plant pots, or commercial hedgehog houses to create a cozy retreat for your pet.

Exercise Space

Your hedgehog needs exercise to maintain good health. Provide an exercise wheel, tunnels, and climbing toys in their cage to encourage physical activity.


Make your hedgehog’s cage more interesting with accessories like a hammock, food dish, water bottle, and litter box.

Comparing Hedgehog Enclosure Options

Enclosure TypeProsCons
C&C CageCustomizable size, great ventilation, easy to cleanCan be expensive, requires DIY skills to build
Glass TankGood visibility, easy to clean, no smellPoor ventilation, can get too hot/cold
PVC CageGood insulation, sturdy construction, easy accessCan be expensive, heavy to move, limited ventilation
Plastic BinEasy to clean, affordable, portableCan be small, limited visibility, poor ventilation

Remember, your hedgehog’s habitat is crucial to their health and happiness. Take the time to create a comfortable, stimulating environment for your pet, and they’ll reward you with years of companionship and joy.

Feeding Your Pet Hedgehog

Feeding your pet hedgehog requires a balanced and nutritious diet to keep them healthy and happy. Their diet should consist of high-quality, lean proteins such as cooked chicken or turkey, unseasoned scrambled eggs, and insects such as mealworms or crickets.

Vegetables are also an essential part of a hedgehog’s diet and should consist of about 20% of their food intake. Some good options include peas, carrot, sweet potato, bell peppers, and squash. Avoid fruits as they are high in sugar and can upset your hedgehog’s stomach.

Additionally, it’s important to feed your hedgehog on a schedule. Aim for providing food in the evening or night as hedgehogs are nocturnal animals. Adult hedgehogs should be given one to two tablespoons of food daily, while babies require more frequent meals.

Ensure your hedgehog has access to fresh water at all times, either through a water bottle or a shallow dish. Change their water daily and keep it clean to avoid any bacterial growth.

Overall, providing a well-balanced diet and a consistent feeding schedule are crucial for your hedgehog’s health and well-being.

Exercise and Enrichment for Hedgehogs

For a healthy, happy hedgehog, exercise and mental stimulation are essential. Hedgehogs love to play, and there are several ways to keep them active and entertained.

Exercise wheels

An exercise wheel is a must-have for any hedgehog habitat. Hedgehogs enjoy running on wheels, and having one in their cage will keep them active and help them burn off excess energy. Choose a solid-surface wheel with a diameter of at least 12 inches to prevent back injuries.


Hedgehogs love to explore and create their own space. Adding tunnels to their habitat will give them an exciting new place to adventure. You can buy readymade tunnels at pet stores or create your own from PVC pipes or cardboard boxes. Just make sure the tunnels are large enough for your hedgehog to move around comfortably.

Puzzle toys

Hedgehogs enjoy puzzles, and puzzle toys are a great way to keep them mentally stimulated. You can find hedgehog-friendly puzzles at most pet stores or create your own using PVC pipes and treats. Puzzle toys will keep your hedgehog occupied, and help to prevent boredom and destructive behavior.

Interactive toys

Interactive toys such as ping pong balls or crinkle balls are great for stimulating hedgehogs’ natural hunting instincts. Make sure the balls are large enough and safe for your pet’s teeth and health.

Remember, keeping your hedgehog active and entertained will help them live a long and healthy life.

Grooming and Handling Hedgehogs

Proper grooming and handling practices are essential for the health and happiness of your pet hedgehog. Follow these best practices for hedgehog grooming, bathing, nail trimming, and handling.

Hedgehog Grooming

Hedgehogs require regular grooming to maintain healthy skin and fur. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently comb through your hedgehog’s hair, removing any debris or loose quills. Check for any signs of dry or flaky skin, which could indicate a health issue that requires professional attention.

Tip: Hedgehogs are prone to anointing, which involves them saliva-foaming and spreading it on their spines. This behavior is natural and helps them mask their scent to deter predators.

Hedgehog Bath

Hedgehogs should be given a bath every few weeks to keep their skin and nails clean. Fill a shallow tub with warm water (not hot!), and add a few drops of a gentle, unscented shampoo. Gently support your hedgehog in the water, taking care not to submerge their head, and use a cup to pour water over their body. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and pat dry with a soft towel. Avoid using any hairdryers to dry your hedgehog, as the noise and air pressure can stress them out.

Nail Trimming

Regular nail trimming is necessary to prevent your hedgehog’s nails from getting too long and causing injuries or discomfort. Use a pair of small nail clippers to trim the tips of the nails, avoiding the quick (the pink area inside the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves). If you’re unsure about how to trim your hedgehog’s nails, ask your veterinarian or a professional hedgehog groomer for assistance.

Handling Pet Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs can sometimes be shy or defensive, so it’s essential to handle them with care and patience. Start by offering your hedgehog treats, such as mealworms or chicken, to gain their trust. Then, use gentle and slow movements to pick them up, supporting their body and legs with your hands. Ensure that you’re sitting on the floor or a bed, providing a safe and secure environment for your hedgehog to explore. Avoid sudden movements or loud noises, as they can startle your hedgehog and cause stress.

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Maintaining Hedgehog Health

Your hedgehog’s health is essential to its well-being, and as a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to take care of it. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to prevent and address common health issues. Some of the most prevalent hedgehog health problems include obesity and dental problems. Here’s what you need to know to keep your pet hedgehog healthy:


Hedgehogs are prone to obesity and can become overweight quickly, leading to various health issues. To prevent obesity, ensure that your pet hedgehog receives a balanced diet, regular exercise, and an appropriate portion size. If you notice that your hedgehog is gaining weight, talk to your veterinarian about possible dietary adjustments and exercise routines to help your pet get back to a healthy weight.

Dental Problems

Dental problems are common in hedgehogs, and they can cause significant pain and discomfort. To prevent dental issues, provide your hedgehog with dental-friendly chews to help wear down their teeth and avoid giving them any hard or sticky treats that can cause damage. If you notice any signs of dental problems, such as reduced appetite, excessive drooling, or difficulty eating, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Veterinary Care

Regular check-ups with a licensed veterinarian are essential to maintaining your hedgehog’s health. Hedgehogs require veterinary care, just like any other pet. A qualified veterinarian can identify potential health issues early and recommend treatment to prevent or remedy any problems. Make sure to find a veterinarian experienced in exotic pet care, including hedgehogs.

Temperature and Climate Considerations

As native to the African savannahs, hedgehogs require a warm and consistent habitat to thrive. The ideal temperature range for a hedgehog habitat is between 23-25°C (73-77°F). As with all livestock, hedgehogs can suffer from heat exhaustion, so it’s crucial to monitor their body temperature throughout the year.

Hedgehogs are highly susceptible to hibernation, which can be dangerous if their habitat is not suitable. A temperature below 15°C (59°F) can trigger hibernation, which can cause serious health problems for your pet hedgehog, including dehydration and hypothermia.

So how can you ensure the right temperature for your hedgehog’s home? Invest in a reliable thermometer and heating source, such as ceramic bulbs or heat mats. Be mindful of the humidity level and provide a shallow, heavy water dish to prevent spillage.

Seasonal Considerations

During the winter, hedgehogs may enter a state of hibernation for several weeks. Check your hedgehog daily for weight loss, and provide extra food and warmth as needed. If you find your hedgehog hibernating, it’s crucial to take them to the vet as soon as possible.

During the summer, hedgehogs can easily overheat, so it’s essential to keep the temperature in their habitat under control. You can achieve this by placing the cage in a shady spot, providing proper ventilation and keeping them hydrated.

Hedgehog Temperature RulesBest Practices
Temperature range for hedgehog habitats23-25°C(73-77°F)
Temperature to prevent hibernationAbove 15°C(59°F)
Monitoring temperatureUsing a reliable thermometer and heating source that can be controlled with a thermostat
Preventing overheatingPlacing the cage in a shaded spot, providing proper ventilation, and keeping hedgehogs hydrated.

Keep your hedgehog’s home temperature-controlled throughout the year with careful monitoring and a little bit of planning. Your hedgehog will be healthy and happy with your attention to their needs.

Handling Hedgehog Behavior

Hedgehogs are fascinating creatures that communicate in various ways. Learning how to read and respond to their behavior is crucial for a happy and healthy life with your pet. Here are some essential tips to help you better understand hedgehog behavior:

  • Body language: Observe your hedgehog’s body language to understand its needs and feelings. For example, a hedgehog that curls up into a tight ball might be feeling scared or stressed, while one that unrolls and stretches out is likely comfortable and at ease.
  • Signs of stress: Keep an eye out for signs of stress in hedgehogs, such as excessive quilling, loss of appetite, or lethargy. Providing a comfortable and safe environment and reducing stressors can help maintain your hedgehog’s well-being.
  • Hedgehog communication: Hedgehogs communicate through vocalizations, scent marking, and body language. Listen for chirping, hissing, or squeaking sounds, and observe how your hedgehog interacts with its surroundings.
Hedgehog behaviorWhat it means
Excessive scratching or lickingMay indicate external parasites or skin issues; consult a veterinarian for treatment
Restlessness or pacingSigns of boredom or discomfort with the environment; consider providing enrichment activities or adjusting the habitat
Increased appetiteMay indicate hunger, stress, or illness; monitor eating habits and consult a veterinarian if necessary
Aggressive behaviorMay be due to fear or territoriality; respect your hedgehog’s boundaries and try to create a calm and safe environment

By understanding your hedgehog’s behavior, you can build a strong bond and create a comfortable and enriching environment for your pet.

Traveling with Your Hedgehog

Transporting a hedgehog requires careful planning and consideration to ensure its safety and well-being during the journey. Here are some essential hedgehog travel tips that you should bear in mind:

Choosing a Hedgehog Carrier

Investing in a comfortable and secure hedgehog carrier is vital for safe travel. Look for a well-ventilated carrier that is spacious enough for your hedgehog to turn around comfortably, but not too large to prevent the hedgehog from being jostled. Some good hedgehog carrier options include:

Carrier TypeFeatures
Plastic pet carrierSturdy, lightweight, easy to clean
Soft-shell carrierFlexible, great for air travel, easy to store
Homemade carrierCustomizable, cost-effective, and easily replaceable

Preparing a Travel Kit

When traveling with your hedgehog, ensure you have all the necessary items in a designated travel kit. Pack your hedgehog’s food, water, litter box, litter, toys, bedding, and any necessary medicines. Additionally, pack a spare carrier, in case of emergencies, and an exercise pen or playpen to give your hedgehog sufficient space for movement and activity during rest stops.

Managing Your Hedgehog’s Stress During Journeys

Hedgehogs can experience stress during travel. To minimize stress levels, provide frequent breaks during the journey, and ensure you are always around to monitor their well-being. Also, keep their habitat and environment stable, and provide familiar toys and bedding to create a sense of comfort and calmness. Be attentive to your hedgehog’s behavior and take the necessary steps to address any signs of discomfort or anxiety immediately.

With the right hedgehog travel tips and equipment, you can make traveling with your beloved pet a comfortable and happy experience.

Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Hedgehogs

Are hedgehogs good pets?

Yes, hedgehogs can make wonderful pets for the right owners. They are low maintenance, quiet, and have unique personalities.

What do hedgehogs eat?

Hedgehogs require a balanced diet of protein, vegetables, and insects. High-quality cat food can also be included as a supplement.

Do hedgehogs hibernate?

Yes, hedgehogs are known to hibernate in the wild. However, pet hedgehogs should not be allowed to hibernate as they can become dangerously cold and may not survive.

What is the lifespan of a pet hedgehog?

Hedgehogs can live up to 5-7 years in captivity with proper care.

Can hedgehogs be kept with other pets?

Hedgehogs are solitary animals and can become stressed if housed with other pets. It is best to keep them in a separate enclosure.

How often should I clean my hedgehog’s cage?

Cleaning your hedgehog’s cage once a week is recommended to ensure a hygienic environment. Spot cleaning can also be done as needed.

How can I tell if my hedgehog is healthy?

A healthy hedgehog will have bright, clear eyes, a clean nose, and ears, and healthy skin and fur. They should be active and have a healthy appetite.

Do hedgehogs need a lot of space?

Hedgehogs require at least four square feet of space in their enclosure. The bigger, the better, as they need room to explore and exercise.

Can hedgehogs be trained to do tricks?

Yes, hedgehogs can be trained to do simple tricks with patience and consistency. However, it is essential to keep their safety in mind and avoid training them to do behaviors that may put them at risk.

How do I handle my hedgehog?

When picking up your hedgehog, use gentle and slow movements to avoid startling them. Support their body and avoid grabbing their quills. It’s essential to build trust with your hedgehog through regular handling and gentle socialization.

Should I take my hedgehog to the vet?

Yes, regular veterinary check-ups are essential to detect and prevent health issues. Hedgehogs may require specialized care, so it’s best to find a veterinarian that has experience with exotic animals.


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