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Old 07-31-2011, 08:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

First of all I would like to introduce myself, my name is Sandy, my fiancée's name is Jesse. We currently have 6 gerbils. It has been Jesse's dream to own a hedgehog his whole life and we have decided that now is a great time to get one. I have been lurking around the forum for a while, getting the information I needed. One or two things have come up as questions that I hope you can help me clear up.
Let me tell you about the set up we have for our little girl who will come home on August 15th.
Wheel
We just purchased a CSW from Larry. And are very excited to get it.
Food
I have ordered a 100 crickets to gut load and freeze, I have made the baby food ice cubes, and meet balls (all receipts found on the forum). We are going to be switching the food that the little girl will be on slowly. We plan on offering her the current food she is on and a mix of two foods 1(Blue Buffalo Basics Turkey & Potato Recipe Cat Food) and 2(Blue Buffalo Spa Select Weight Control Formula Cat Food) and the plan is to slowly fazing out the food she is on. Is this going to be a good diet for her?
Housing, heating, and lighting
This weekend we set up the heating and lighting for our little girl to make sure that the temperature is a steady one for when she comes home. We have it at about 78 degrees is that ok?
She needs 12 hours of light correct?
We were planning on putting her in a large bin but then our girl gerbils declanded (decided not to like each other any more) and they had to be put into separate smaller tanks. So their plexi glass container became available (it is 8sq feet we made it our selfs). The fiancée thinks that this enclosure would be better for her because it would be larger, but the sides are solid making me worried that the ventilation will be an issue. His argument is it is the same ventilation that the gerbils got and they were fine, and the bin's sides were just as high so why was the bin ok but not the pled glass tank. Any thoughts on this would be great.
Water
The lady who we are getting the little girl from uses water bottles, so we were thinking of offering both dish and bottle to make sure she can figure out the dish before we take away the bottle does this seem reasonable?
Entertainment
Besides the wheel and a few cat balls (not the ones with the slats or the spongy ones) what other enrichment things can we give her? What are no-nos?
Bedding
This bedding has been a great debate between us, and we both keep flip-flopping on our choices and never end up on the same one on the same time….The women we are getting her from uses aspen bedding, the same kind we use for our gerbils. We have never had a problem with mites from our bedding, and we know that our little girl LOVES to dig in the bedding already. We planned on giving her a hid-a-house with fleece strips in it to make it soft for her. I suspect that this will be a pain to clean and I wont want to keep doing it…but should we stick with the aspen bedding till she gets comfy and then switch to the fleece when I get sick of picking wood out of the fleece strips, or should we go with the fleece right away? Any one use Aspen bedding?
Health
I know that hedgies need their nails trimmed sometimes, we have found with our gerbils that if we give them a flower pot to dig in they keep their own nails short. I wondered if anyone had tried that? Or using the grippy tape on the wheel to help file them down?
Also their teeth do not continuously grow correct? I don't think they do but, the gerbils do and habit dictates that I ask, or I will worry about it.
Last but not least, does anyone have a first aid kit type deal for their hedgies? Any thing that is really important to have on hand for them?

So now that I have written a small novel let me summarize my questions for you so you don't have to search though it again;
Is the diet we have planned out for her going to be a good enough?
Is 78 degrees an acceptable temp for her?
12 hours of light is the amount of light needed?
Why is a bin type enclosure ok but not an aquarium?
Offer both bowl of water and water bottle to make sure she understand the concept of the bowl?
Enrichment toy ideas? what should be stayed away from?
Anyone used Aspen? pros and cons?
Nail trimming ideas?
Teeth growing continuously?
First Aid kit items?

Thank you for reading and thank you for having this forum, it has been a wonderful help to us and planning for our new addition.
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

Wow, sounds like you did a lot of research and as prepared as anyone can get for a first time hedgehog owner. I can give you my opinions, and I'm sure others will pipe in.

Is the diet we have planned out for her going to be a good enough?
Sounds good.

Is 78 degrees an acceptable temp for her?
Yup.

12 hours of light is the amount of light needed?
Yup.

Why is a bin type enclosure ok but not an aquarium?
Not very sure, but I think bins are cheaper and bigger, which is easier to obtain and allows more air circulation. I'm sure your 8 sq ft plexiglass container is big enough. It'll probably be harder to clean though because of its weight.

Offer both bowl of water and water bottle to make sure she understand the concept of the bowl?
Sounds good. When I put my water bowl, my hedgie drank from it right away, so I didn't feel the need to leave the water bottle up. Your call, though.

Enrichment toy ideas? what should be stayed away from?
Wait on getting any extra toys. Many hedgehogs just don't play with toys. My hedgie prefers to hide in things, so PVC pipes (at least 4 inches), dig boxes, and tunnels are a safe bet.

Anyone used Aspen? pros and cons?
Sorry, I don't have experience with that. I used fleece, and she poops and pees in her wheel, so the fleece stays pretty clean.

Nail trimming ideas?
My hedgie has as flower pot, and it actually does work on the front paws, but not the back. It's easier for me to cut the back paw nails anyway. Some people do it while the hedgie is in the bath. I just put her in a snuggy bag and grab her back legs to clip.

Teeth growing continuously?
Their teeth doesn't grow, so no chew toys are necessary.

First Aid kit items?
I only have hand warmers in case the electricity goes out in the winter.
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

Hello and welcome to Hedgehog Central!

Hedgehogs are wonderful handfuls and I will answer your questions as best of my opinions and knowledge, please wait for others to comment as well

Food - If your getting a baby I would avoid weight control until they are 6 months old as they are considered adults at 6 months and the extra fat does help with their growth, cutting it down if you find you don't have a super active hedgehog do 8-15% would be wise after 6 months. Otherwise they are very good choices.

Be sure to have a balanced treats of meal worms and crickets and other insects bought and gut fed as this is important to their diet

Cage Setup - Sounds fine to me

Water - That's the right idea, I would do that most people here prefer the water bowl because its more natural a drinking position, just remember to change the water each morning

Toys - Kitty Kong or Small Animal Kong with treats inside, small toy trucks, toilet paper tubes cut down the middle, 4" PVC Pipes, Fun Tunnels, Dryer Vents (The wheel will provide most hedgies hours a night entertainment)

Bedding - Aspen is by far the best choice if you must use wood bedding breeder use it because it is pretty much easier for pregnant mothers nest to remain clean. As a non breeder fleece is a spot clean kind of thing and much cheaper in addition the while trust me its cute to see a little hedgie shark roam the great aspen sea, they can get pieces stuck in their privates that can become infections or other complications (Especially males with their penis sheath).

Either is okay its a personal preference I find fleece is much more active for hedgies as they tend to burrow and go right to sleep and knock everything over creating more of a mess.

Hedgehogs walk on their pads so I don't think those are good ideas, a flower pot is great for a cool of area for them (BTW your temp is fine I forgot to say that earlier) but any rough surface can agitate a hedgehogs feet pads as far as I have read/been informed

Hedgehogs have one set of choppers when they are gone they are gone they don't grow more nor do they grow back.

First Aid Kit? Unopened Pedalyte, at least $200 or more set aside for vet emergencies a good experienced vet with hedgehogs, exotics doesn't always mean experience and hot hand warmers

Nail trimming depends on personality some can be a real challenge and a few can take it easily. The most common practice is to snag them after a bath and be careful not to cut the quick there's plenty of topics you can look up on the subject here


There is so much more to say but I recommend you go through out pinned topics in each major section to get a general idea on more things about hedgehogs.
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:12 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

Is the diet we have planned out for her going to be a good enough?
Yup, it looks great to me! The only things I can think to mention is to make sure you're only introducing one new food at a time, whether it's a cat food, veggie, fruit, baby food, etc. That's great that you're doing the baby food and meatball things! But just make sure you're introducing the parts of those one at a time too, so you can catch any allergic reactions and you don't upset her stomach.

Is 78 degrees an acceptable temp for her?
Yup, that's a good temp. Watch her for cues as well though, I know there's a few hedgies on here that actually do like it cooler, around 74-75. 78 is usually good for most though.

12 hours of light is the amount of light needed?
Yup, and you'll want to make sure it stays the same each day, or close to it.

Why is a bin type enclosure ok but not an aquarium?
Most people who use bins for their hedgies drill small holes about halfway down the bin, all the way around, to help with ventilation.

Offer both bowl of water and water bottle to make sure she understand the concept of the bowl?
Yup, that'll work well. Most people who switch from bottle to bowl just put the bowl under the bottle spout and the hedgie usually catches on pretty quickly.

Enrichment toy ideas? what should be stayed away from?
If you look in the toy section, there's lots of threads and ideas! Some main ones are Easter eggs with treats in them, cardboard egg carton cups (treats hidden under), small action figures, small stuffed animals, 4-inch PVC pipes, small cat toys, etc. The main concerns are no strings that can wrap around legs, no holes where jaws, toes, nails can get caught in, and no small pieces where they might bite them off and swallow.

Anyone used Aspen? pros and cons?
Few pros, many cons. Hedgehogs can get mites from wooden bedding and often do. The mites are species-specific, which may be why you haven't had the issues with your gerbils yet. Wooden shavings are also messy, can be sharp, can get stuck in private areas, and you have to keep buying them for as long as you're using them. The preferred bedding on here is by far fleece liners. You can do just about whatever you want for them - one layer, or many. Fleece on top and denim or cotton on bottom, flannel on top instead of fleece, etc. They're clean, easy to change, you can wash and re-use, and you can make your cage look pretty with different fabric patterns. Also no risk of mites or getting stuck anywhere.

Nail trimming ideas?
There's also a lot of threads on this topic, I think mostly in the health forum, or perhaps general questions or behavior. If you use the search feature for "nail" or "nail clipping", you can find topics more easily. One of the popular methods is clip them in the bath, since most hedgies won't ball up in water to avoid water in their face. You'll have to wait and see how she does with nail clipping though...Some hedgies struggle like ****, some don't really care...I got lucky and Lily doesn't care too much. You can also help make it easier by playing with her feet during cuddle time as much as you can, just touching and rubbing them. It'll hopefully get her used to having you touch them more so that she doesn't mind so much when you're trying to clip.
Also, because they walk on the pads of their feet and not on their nails/toes, any kind of sandpaper or grippy paper or anything like that on their wheel is not a good idea. Any rough terrain on their wheel can shred their feet since they run so much in a night. Likewise, having a brick or stone in their cage isn't likely to help much.

Teeth growing continuously?
Nope, they don't, and hedgies don't have the urge to chew, so they don't need wooden chew toys or anything of the like.

First Aid kit items?
Nancy has a list right here as a sticky. viewtopic.php?f=5&t=38

Welcome to the forum and it's great that you're doing so much research beforehand! I highly recommend reading all of the stickies (all of the topics at the top of the list) in all of the forum sections, and reading as many topics as you can. The more reading, the more prepared you'll be...Though I know that won't make a bit of difference when you finally bring her home and are wondering what on earth you got yourself into.
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

I'm a new hedgehog owner, but I've got to add that flowerpots should be a must. My hedgehog LOVES her flowerpot, and I often find her in there and scratching away. Her pads are fine and healthy, and her front paws are always short and trim because of the scratching. The pot keeps her cool when the cage gets hot, and she feels safe being in the pot because she's not out in the open.
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:29 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

Everyone gave good advice so Im just going to say congrats about getting your first hedgie!
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

You've pretty much received excellent advice on all your questions, but I wanted to put in my opinion on the aspen bedding issue.

I also debated this issue. I use fleece liners for my rats (two males who live in a single level Critter Nation). I like that I can re-use the fleece, and it's also fun to decorate their cage with different patterns or colors. With my rats, however, I only get a couple of re-uses out of each fleece liner because they chew holes into it and I end up throwing it out. I don't know if this would be a potential issue with hedgies or not. I don't know that they are big chewers since they are not rodents and do not have teeth that continuously grow.





I used aspen bedding for my hamsters and gerbils in the past, and used it for my rats when I first got them (I switched to fleece after I moved them into their Critter Nation). I've also used CareFresh, which I really liked for my hamsters but not for my rats because CareFresh can cause upper respiratory infections in rats. CareFresh was one of the cleanest beddings I have ever used because it seemed to catch the urine and feces so well that when I took the bedding out, nothing had reached the bottom of the enclosure. I also think my hammies liked snuggling in it.

I wondered if CareFresh would be good for hedgies, but decided against it because it would get caught in his quills. I started off with aspen for my hedgie, who I picked up over a week ago, and I am still using aspen. I think one benefit of aspen is being able to gather up shavings on either side of the hedgehog when picking him up. I'm still getting used to the quills and when I try to cup my hands around him without a fleece blanket or lots of wood shavings, I get poked by his quills. They don't hurt but they are prickly when he balls up and pops. I don't like that wood shavings get everywhere though, and there is that chance of getting mites from the bedding. I've never gotten mites from using aspen with any of my pets, and I have now used it with four different types of animals.

I will probably be switching to fleece, though, when I have used up the rest of my aspen (I buy in bulk so I have a lot left over). My house is generally chilly and I have been having trouble keeping his area a consistent temperature so I like to think the aspen, plus fleece, plus t-shirt I have in his environment is enough to keep him warm if the CHE isn't providing enough heat (the temperature outside has been fluctuating like crazy so one minute my air conditioner is struggling to keep up and the house is still 90 degrees, and then the next day it's 60 degrees in the house because the temperature dropped outside). He seems to be doing okay, but his environment has been fluctuating between 71-77 degrees. It terrifies me because I've read that hedgies can try to hibernate under 73 degrees.

Anyway I like aspen and I like fleece. Fleece is just more fun, and more convenient as far as cleaning and investing goes. You won't have to keep buying new fleece as often as you would need to buy aspen, and you won't have to worry about wood shavings getting everywhere. As for comfort to your hedgie, I think either option is about equal. Obviously as humans, we would choose fleece for comfort, but I imagine lots of hedgies would enjoy burrowing in aspen. Since you have a female, you probably won't have to worry about aspen getting stuck in the privates, and I've never really noticed any injuries from cuts. I'm sure hedgehogs would endure worse than wood shaving cuts in the wilderness and be perfectly fine anyway.

Good luck!
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Old 08-02-2011, 09:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

Wow! I cannot believe how fast everyone replied!

We are going to stick with the plexi glass container for her it is bigger and actually really easy to clean. We have decided to go with fleece, a dig box, and a flower pot. We are also going to be buying a kitty kong for her after a few weeks of having her.

Thank you for pointing out that we should introduce the food one at a time, and we will not use the weight control food until she is older.

This is a great community. I am happy to have found you!
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Old 08-07-2011, 11:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Bringing our new hedgie home soon and have a few questions

I have a new question,


We are using two CHE 60 watts. We have it hooked up to a regulator that only has settings low, med, high. it was working fine, staying around 78 degrees, but then the air broke and the CHE's did not turn off and the temp shot up to 90 degrees. (we still don't have the hedgehog) I was hoping someone knew of a regulator that has a thermometer that can help keep the temp we want. I don't know the name of the regulator we have, but ill look when I get home.

Thank you!
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