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Old 03-04-2012, 07:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thinking about getting a Hedgie

I am considering getting a Hedgehog and wanted some information. I read the care sheets on here and learned a lot, but it made some more questions pop up. Here's what I learned. Hedgehogs should never come home before 6 weeks of age. If gotten from the breeder past 8 weeks of age, they should have already been seperated by genders. They are solitary creatures. Premium cat food is best (I was thinking about feeding Blue Buffalo wilderness chicken formula). They need a minimum of 2 ft x 2 ft (I have a cage that is those dimensions, but has 1 inch bar spacing, so I was planning on zip tying 1/2 in by 1/2 in wire over top of it). Aspen shavings are best, and there have been reported cases of ingestion with Carefresh, so that should not be used? Why do they not ingest Aspen? Cedar and pine should also not be used. Yesterday's New OK in litterbox? Must use a water bottle and a low food dish. Mealworms and fresh fruits/veggies should be offered no more than 2-3 times a week. They are somewhat lactose intolerant. They cannot regulate their body temperature well, but I've found varying info on what to do about that...?

Here's more questions... Male or female? Which is calmer? Which smells worse? How bad do they smell? Do they use the restroom as much as guinea pigs and rabbits? I read somewhere soft food is better than hard? Do you spay/neuter hedgies? Their teeth don't continuously grow right? Do they use hammocks or do they prefer sleep sacks on the cage floor? Anything else I missed?
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

Liners are actually considered the best choice. Aspen shavings are acceptable, but have some downsides. Water bowls are a better choice, instead of bottles, because the bottles have a small risk of chipping a tooth or catching the tongue, and in general they tend to not drink as much with bottles.

As for fruits/vegtables and mealworms, plenty of people include these every day, and some people feed their hedgehogs only holistic diets. A mix of high-quality cat foods will satisfy their dietary needs, but there's no need for the produce and mealworms to be limited to only a few times per week. I'd have to look at that particular version of Blue Buffalo, but the wilderness BB tends to be too high in protein. Their food should be under 15% fat (except for especially active hedgehogs, pregnant females/nursing mothers, or babies) and 25-33% protein. If the protein is too high, it can cause liver problems. Blue Buffalo is a good quality cat food overall, but depending on the exact percentages, it might have to be combined with something else so the overall percentages are in the right range. Most people use a mix of 2-4 different kibbles.

The cage needs to be warm. Generally 74-80 is the normal range of what's good for hedgehogs, though there shouldn't be that much actual variation in the cage's temperature. Some will like it more on the warm side or the cool side, it depends, but around 75-76 is a good place to aim for.

Generally they don't have much smell. The poop and urine can smell, but if the cage is cleaned regularly, there's not really much odor overall. There's no difference between males and females except for boys being inclined to engage in 'boy time', as well call it.

They're not rodents, so no, their teeth don't continuously grow, nor do they chew things the way rabbits and guinea pigs do. They do fine with normal hardness cat kibble, though their teeth can get worn down by it sometimes.

They shouldn't have hammocks. Any lofts in their cages have to be enclosed. Hedgehogs like to climb, but they're no good at coming down, and they also have poor depth perception. Because their feet and legs, especially, are very delicate, even small falls can do a lot of damage. They use various hideaways/houses on the floor of the cage, such as igloos, sleeping bags, etc.

I would definitely suggest looking around the forum, especially at the stickies in the various forum sections. Don't hesitate to ask any other questions you have! :]
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Old 03-04-2012, 07:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

Liners meaning fleece? I'm guessing they can't have corn in the food? What is recommended for maintaining that temperature? "Boy time" as in they love you a little too much?
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

Foods that I found that seem to fit.
http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.j ... =Lifestage
http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.j ... =Lifestage
http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.j ... =Lifestage (this would be exceptionally great if it's good because I get coupons all the time at my work)
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

Check out the stickies in the Housing/Accessories section. There's a lot of information about heating the cage. A lot of people use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), but there are other options too.

There can be corn in the food, but it's basically a filler and not very nutritious. A lot of cat foods will have corn meal or something in there, but the first few ingredients should be meat (i.e. "chicken" or "turkey") or meat meal (i.e. "chicken meal"). All of those that you linked to are good choices, though the Wellness can be too rich for some hedgehogs. You catch on quick! Another popular brand is Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul, but that isn't stocked in chain stores.

Liners are often fleece, which is the easiest way to do it yourself because you can just cut out sections of fleece without worrying about the edges unraveling and creating loose threads (which are dangerous for their feet). Some people will sew them, either a combination of fleece and flannel, or something similar with a more absorbent material in the middle. Whatever works for you, yes, fabric ones.

Boy time isn't so much loving you a little too much, just themselves. Basically they'll masturbate. Some more than others, and often it's a phase when they've recently hit sexual maturity. A lot of times it's not something you'll be very aware of, except maybe for occasional 'substances', but behaviorally it's the only difference.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:34 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

It's not that I catch on fast, but rather that I work at Petsmart and have to make food recommendations all the time. I've also had a cat and ferret with food sensitivities and had to shop around to find a food they could handle. My go-to foods for dogs and cats are always Wellness, Blue Buffalo, Nutro and Innova, though there are some Petsmart knockoffs that are decent if money is an issue, but I didn't see any that seemed like good hedgie food. I liked when I read the ingredient list for the only Hedgie food we sell... It listed about 8 ingredients and then said "and more"... I was like "wow... yeah about that..." What about Spike's Delite? That was an actual hedgie food that was recommended to me. I was looking at the "Pet diet" formula.

What do you know about "whisper wheels"? Are they safe?

My male rabbit, Emmett, did that for a while. I had to keep lubricating it with this stuff I got from the vet because it would get stuck out and dried out and... it still makes me cringe to think of his discomfort. I got him neutered and it calmed down, but didn't completely go away until I got my females spayed and moved him to a different room. He thought my male Chihuahua was his girlfriend too.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:52 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

I've never heard of a whisper wheel, and didn't find anything when I tried to google it. Can you give a link to one?

Unless there's something new out there, the only safe store-bought wheel is the comfort wheel, though it can be noisy. The best wheels for them are bucket or cake topper wheels, which are easy to make, and there's also someone on here who sells them - though personally, instead of paying 30 + shipping for a premade wheel, I opted to spend 15ish for the supplies, do it myself, and put the saved money toward other things for my hedgehog. :]

Honestly, a lot of petstore employees don't know very much, so kudos to you for being well-informed about quality foods, etc. The commerical hedgehog foods out there range from 'so-so' (but not comparable to a quality cat food) to downright awful ones that contain ingredients such as seeds/dried fruit/raisins that hedgehogs absolutely shouldn't have. (I actually visited a local store I hadn't been to before, a day or two ago, and saw a container of hedgehog treats with sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and raisins in the first 5 ingredients.) Of the commercial hedgehogs food, Spike's Delight and the Vita Exotics one are at the top of the heap, and they can be okay when included in a mix with better cat foods, but if you have the cat foods available to choose from, I would say just don't bother with those anyway.

I haven't heard of anyone having any particularly bad problems with the boy time. The stuff is known to be very hard once it dries, though.
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:03 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

http://hedgehogsbyvickie.com/whisperwheels.htm

What size comfort wheel? I found a 9 month old female for sale nearby. Said she's timid, but will still let you handle her. She's salt and pepper.
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

Those wheels by vickie seem to be good. They look the same as the CSW that Larry makes. Except his have better colors
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie

What is CSW?
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