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Old 02-16-2012, 09:32 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

So, after several long weeks of waiting and over four years of wanting one, I finally got my first hedgehog last night! Naturally, I'm freaking out a bit.

Since the breeder lives very close to me, she offered to deliver the hedgie. Upon opening the container she was transported in, we discovered a spikey ball of rage; she huffed and she puffed and made oh-so-scary noises. But a few minutes after being put in her new cage, she snuggled up in tank top of mine I left in her igloo and started anointing. I don't know if that's normal, but it was rather adorable. And then...she curled up and went to sleep. She's barely moved in the last 24 hours, as far as I can tell.

Some questions:

1) Her food and water are untouched. How long can a hedgie safely go without nourishment?
2) She's used to drinking out of a water bottle, but I got her a bowl. Will she figure out how to drink from it on her own, or will I have to show her somehow?
3) Her temperature dropped to 72 last night. :\ The thermostats in my apartment are, unfortunately, very unpredictable...I have two CHE's on full-blast, but I guess the heat in the room must have turned itself down/off during the night. Is there any chance she could have tried to hibernate at 72?? I really, really hope not, but seeing as she has barely moved since I got her I can't help but worry. Her temperature has been between 75 and 77 since early this morning, and my boyfriend said he saw her moving a little bit (breathing, shifting her weight) inside the igloo so she is at least alive. I'm probably panicking for no reason.
4) Just to be extra-safe, I got a large reptile heat pad for her today. Has anyone (who happens to be reading) used these with a Critter Nation cage? I'll probably just affix it to the bottom of the plastic tray in the cage, unless anyone tells me that's a bad idea.
5) Is tonight too soon to take her out for the first time? I'm dying to make sure that she's okay, and to actually get a good look at her, but I don't want to rush things.
6) When I do take her out, do I need to make sure that it's 73+ in the room where she'll be? That's probably a stupid question. I will try to keep the whole place warm, but I may periodically be thwarted by my apartment's useless excuse for thermostats.
7) I have three cats, and I'm sure EVERYTHING in my apartment smells like them -- my clothes, the carpet, towels and blankets, you name it. Will she be able to smell MY scent even if I recently picked up or petted a kitty? Is it something I should be worried about?

Um, I think that's it for now. Thanks for reading, and I would very much appreciate any input!
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Old 02-16-2012, 09:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

1) Given that she's just come to a new home, the lack of eating/drinking isn't immediately worrying. Make sure she eats/drinks something tonight, though.
2) She should figure it out on her own, I would think. Might take a couple of trial-and-errors (I think I've read of hedgies accidentally sticking their snout into the water too much or too fast ), but just keep an eye on the water and see if she drinks.
3) I would get her out and feel her belly. If it's cool, then she did try to hibernate, and you'll want to hold her and warm her up before putting her back. What wattage are the CHE's? And do you have anything helping to insulate the Critter Nation? 72 is a little low, especially if it's dropping that much from 75-77. A big drop in temperature can cause a hibernation attempt just as easily as a lower temperature on its own. You may need to get a higher wattage of CHE to keep her cage warm enough, but first try putting blankets or clear plastic on the back and sides of the cage (if you don't already do this) to help hold heat in.
4) Heating pads aren't a good idea other than for sick/older hedgies. If you have it under her sleeping area, she may refuse to leave it since it's warm in there and cooler outside of it. Heating pads can also contribute to chilling/hibernation attempts because they're going from a warm area to a cool area and back again. I would try to get the cage temperature up to a steady, safe temperature, and not bother with the heating pad. I also don't trust reptile heating pads - the ones I know of (that we sell at the store I work at) can get very hot if they're not used with a thermostat. Small animal ones are better, as they don't usually get as hot. The one I have doesn't get hotter than 102 degrees (I think), and it only feels pleasantly warm when I have my hand on it at the hottest temperature. The reptile ones, you can feel how hot they get once they're plugged in for a bit.
5) Like I said above, I'd get her out soon and check her belly just to make sure she's warm. She's had some time to settle in and rest, so go ahead and get her out for a bit. I'd limit the time to 20-30 minutes, but a quick check over and a little cuddling won't hurt. You could also offer her food and water bowls while you have her out to see if she'll eat and drink.
6) Make sure it's not too cool, but it doesn't have to be as warm as her cage, really. Having her out for a bit with it a little cooler won't hurt, especially if you have her around or on you, since you basically act as a heating pad. If she's going to be out and exploring for awhile though (in future sessions), I'd try and make sure the room is on the warmer side, just to be safe.
7) With their sense of smell, I'm sure she'll smell both you and the cat. I would wash your hands before you handle her anyway - it'll get rid of any tasty smells she might want to try nibbling at. But with the cats being a part of her new environment, she should get used to their scent. Just make sure they're not around her and can't bother her at night when she should be out and about.
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Old 02-16-2012, 11:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

Thanks for the advice!

Alright, I'll ditch the heating pad idea...I was hoping I could find one that would cover the entire bottom of the cage, but I'm afraid this one doesn't even come close. I would need two of them...and it gets to around 105, which is probably too much. Oh, well.

The CHE's I have are both 100 watts, but I'm afraid I don't have any insulating material on her cage. I may invest in some plexi for that purpose soon, but for now the temperature seems to have stabilized at around 76 thanks to me turning the heat up in the room... I'll be monitoring it closely for the next week or so.

Her light should be going off any moment now, and I'm going to take her out for a bit and see if I can't get her to show some interest in her food and hopefully take the first steps towards socializing her. I'll post an update on how that goes.
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Old 02-16-2012, 11:18 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

CHEs have a harder time if the temperature of the room is too low. Depending on various variables (wattage, lamp size, one or two CHEs, size of cage, etc.) they typically are able to raise the temperature of the cage about 5 degrees above the room temperature. So if the room is prone to dropping below 70, the CHEs will have a hard time keeping it as high as it needs to be. From my experience, rooms that aren't actively getting heating during the nighttime in the winter can drop down to the mid 60s. This is especially true with larger rooms, because big open spaces don't hold in heat as well. If possible, I would suggest having the cage in a smaller room; we actually keep it in a little hallway outside our bedroom, since our bedroom doesn't have enough floorspace and the living room/kitchen/dining room is pretty much one huge cold area in our house. You might also want to get a small space heater, which will help raise the temperature of the room a little bit; for instance, if you can use a space heater to keep the room's temperature around 70-72 degrees, the CHEs will easily keep the cage itself around 75.

Depending on the size of the room and how strong the space heater is, you might not need to have it on constantly. We have a small one, which we got for around $17 at Walmart, which is left on low during the night and during the day only occasionally needs to be turned on. The thermometer is an inside/outside thermometer, so it gives a temperature for where the thermometer itself is located, and also where the probe is located. The probe in the cage tells the temperature in there, and the thermometer is set on a bin of hedgehog supplies outside of the cage, so we know the general temperature of the room and can turn it on/off as necessary. When we're gone from the house we just leave it on as a matter of course, but it's nice to save energy by just checking it occasionally when we're around and turning it off if the room temperature is adequate. For the little hallway space where the cage is located, it's small enough that heat stays in for a while; once the heater gets the room temperature to 72, it stays at 72 for hours with the heater off, so we only need to have the heater running for maybe an hour at a time a few times a day (and then on steadily during the night). Obviously a different room and set-up won't work exactly like that, but heaters are definitely handy.
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Old 02-17-2012, 01:50 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

The room that her cage is (my bedroom) is medium-sized; it heats up rather quickly if I turn up the temp on the thermostat. The only issue is that the thermostat is pretty inaccurate. If I set it to ~65, it will quickly get up the the upper 70's and feel uncomfortably warm. However, if I lower the dial to 60 or 55, it may regulate itself more accurately and shut off the heat. :\ Are there any space heaters with built-in thermostats? Because that's what I need! Right now, her temps still seem stable, but I worry about fluctuations. Unfortunately, I'm really not able to move her to a different room.

Anyhow, I took her out while I watched a movie tonight, and i don't think it went too badly. She balled up at every single small disturbance, and she huffed a lot when feeling threatened by said disturbances (me moving my leg slightly, my boyfriend reaching for a glass of water, etc.), but she actually calmed down enough to show some curiosity at times. She licked me a bit, and nibbled me once, but spent much of the time curled up in my lap with her favorite blankie (my recently worn tanktop, haha). Overall, I think she seemed fine for being terrified in a new place. I just hope she eats and drinks something tonight.
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Old 02-17-2012, 07:43 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

Yes, most space heaters have thermostats that monitor the room so that it doesn't get too hot Just watch out because some are really loud! Mine heats my room up in no time, but it is so loud that I can't keep it on at all times. Luckily, Kashi's cage is inside my room which is the warmest place in the house.

A tip for making sure she is eating is counting the kibbles you put in her bowl the night before and checking in the morning. I also find it's good to offer them some kibbles inside their igloos/blankets, and when they are out with you (under the blanket). She will probably be more inclined to eat if she feels safer
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Old 02-17-2012, 03:05 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

Cool -- I'll keep my eye out for a good space heater.

I heard her drinking her water last night, and it seems that she ate a little too. I did put a few pieces of kibble inside her igloo, but I think she took some from the bowl as well.
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Old 02-17-2012, 06:55 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

Good girl! Sounds like she's starting to settle in a bit. Keep us updated on how she does!
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

Well, she's doing about the same. Hasn't eaten much since I brought her home, spends almost all of her time in her igloo, but I hear her making a bit of noise early each morning (for a few minutes only). As far as I can tell, she hasn't ventured anywhere near her wheel.

Last night was her second time out with me, and she behaved much the same way as the first time. She spooks SO easily, but if I stay perfectly still she seems okay with me. I can't get over how flippin' cute she is!









Any idea what her coloration would be called?
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: New owner questions (with a dash of paranoia)

Awww what a cutie <3 Sounds like you're doing everything right Bonding with a hedgehog takes lots of patience, and so far you're doing a great job!
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