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Old 12-17-2011, 12:02 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New to Hedgies.

Hello all! I am new to the fourm, and new to hedgies!I am planning on getting a hedgehog in a year or two, and will be doing research until that time. However, I have come across a few things that may not make a hedgehog the best fit for my lifestyle, and had a few questions. First of all, I have two parakeets right now, and understand what it can be like to have a pet that will hide illness until the last moment, and then rack you up a huge vet bill. However, although I would have the funds for vet bills, it wouldn't be ideal for me to have to go to the vet very often, so do hedgies need regular check ups, and other than cancer, are there any other diseases that will make trips to the vet very costly? Second, I realize that there is a lot of poop involved, and believe me, I'm used to that with having the birds, but other than that are there any other cons to owning a hedgie? Are they as low maintenance as everyone says? And do they smell? Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 12-17-2011, 12:12 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New to Hedgies.

Hedgehogs aren't quite as bad at hiding illness as birds are (at least in my limited experience with birds). There's some pretty basic signs to watch for that will give you early warning of the most common problems - like sudden loss of weight, sudden decrease in food intake or exercise, unusual looking poop, sniffly nose/sneezing/wheezy breathing, and problems moving. As long as you're paying attention to them and doing things like weighing them regularly (once a week or a couple times a week) and keeping track of how much they eat (either weighing the food or counting kibble), you can generally spot problems in the early stages.

However, it is best to take them in for yearly check-ups, or even twice a year. The reason is because they're so small and problems can come up so quickly. The main thing that gets hedgehogs is tumors, like you said - they're very prone to getting them and they often grow fast once they get started, especially oral tumors. So it's good to get them checked out by the vet regularly to catch things like that early. But I can sympathize with the concerns on cost, since exotic vets are so much more expensive most of the time.

I'd say the main cons are the cost of vet bills, the heating concerns, the poop, and the possible attitude problems. They do require special heating set-ups because they need to stay 73-78 degrees at all times and you want it to stay steady. Space heaters and CHEs are the most common heating methods. The poop requires cleaning the wheel nightly for most people, which some new owners aren't ready for. And the attitude problems...Those depend on the hedgie. You will want to get your hedgie out for bonding time every night, for at least a half hour. You can change that up once you've had them for awhile and they're more used to you, but for a lot of hedgies, if you go too long without some snuggle time, they'll start to get defensive again. It can take weeks or even months for a hedgie to become comfortable with you, and some never warm up to being handled at all. That can be disappointing for some people, to have a pet that is nothing but a cactus ball whenever they touch it.

I'm glad you're doing your research, there's so many people that get hedgies on an impulse, then put them on Craigslist or Kijiji a month later. Even if you decide they're not the right pet for you, welcome to HHC! Feel free to look around and read as much as you can, the threads on here have a LOT of information.
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