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Old 03-29-2012, 10:56 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy New Hedgie Mom Questions.

Hi! I'd been waiting to get a hedgie when I got my little guy Merlin from a family who could no longer put the time in to take care of him properly. I've got a cage set up that has over 4 square feet of floor area in it, but it seems like it's way too small. I forget the exact measurements, but I think it's about 18 inches wide and 40-something long. By the time I put his hut, his litter box, his wheel, and his food dishes in, it seems like there's not enough room for him to move around. I can't even fit the tunnel I bought for him in there! I want to give him more toys (right now he's just got a toilet paper tube split down the middle) but there doesn't seem to be enough room. From what I've read on here, more people seem to use the C&C cages. If that seems like a better option, I can make one of those, but I don't know what measurements would be best.

Also, he seems to be a little bit chubby because the family who owned him before was just filling up his bowl whenever it was empty, and feeding him huuuge amounts of meal worms. Is there any way to get him to lose a bit of weight or will feeding him properly and him running on the wheel fix it itself? I'm feeding him a mix of Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Light and the food that he was eating with his old family.

He seems to be really cuddly at certain times of the day, but extremely standoffish at other times. For instance, I got him out when I woke up at about 9am on Tuesday and gave him a bath and trimmed his nails, and he cuddled right up to me while he was drying off, then later roamed around my bed, burrowing in my blanket. Yesterday, I took him out in the afternoon and it took him about two minutes to stop shaking and puffing up. After that, he would do the same after every small movement, even just the blanket moving. This is abnormal for him, and he usually just puffs up when I get him out of his cage, and then goes back to normal right away. Is this because of the time of day?

Finally, I just wanted to know if there's anything else I can do to help with bonding? He's about a year old (the family didn't know exactly how old) but there was a while where he went without being handled. I've already got one of my old, worn shirts in his hut with him, which he burrows into and sleeps under, and I try to take him out for at least an hour every day. Hand feeding was suggested to me, as it seems to work to build trust with other animals, but most times he seems utterly uninterested in his food and puffs up when I bring my hand too close, and Petsmart has been out of meal worms for days. Would hand feeding actually help, and is there a way to do it properly without him becoming scared or uninterested?
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Old 03-29-2012, 11:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Mom Questions.

I have a C&C cage that is 2x3 cubes. I can't give you the exact dimensions as I am absolutely terrible with numbers, but I have a hut, a CSW, food dishes, toilet paper tube, snuggle sack, tshirt, and a small stuffed hedgie in there and Diggory still has plenty of room to roam around.

A lot of hedgies look very round but are not overweight. If your hedgie is chubby he will have extra fat rolls around his legs and have trouble balling up. Hedgehogs come in all different shapes and sizes so even weighing him isn't a good way to tell if he is overweight or not. If you don't see fat rolls and he can ball up, he is most likely normal. Also a lot of people on here suggest free feeding which is what you say the owners before you were doing with the hedgie. That is normal and shouldn't really make him overweight unless he has a bit of an eating problem or is on food with too high of fat content. Start counting the kibble or weighing it each night to see how much he eats, the experts on here can tell you if it sounds about normal or not.

As for being standoffish, you may have just woken him up in the middle of a good sleep and he was grumpy about it. A lot of people play with their hedgies around 8 or 9 at night when they've had time to sleep all day and should be well rested and happy.

It sounds like you are doing the bonding things right and all I can really suggest is sitting with him under a blanket or in a snuggle sack on your lap and letting him just get used to you. Even if he is sleeping it counts as bonding. I wouldn't suggest hand feeding him though, that can cause him to begin to associate your fingers with food and nip at them whenever he wants a treat. most people feed the mealworms with tweezers or chopsticks. I am not squeamish with worms though so I just pick them out and set them on the floor in front of my hedgie, he never gets one straight from my hand.
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Old 03-29-2012, 01:44 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Mom Questions.

I have a 2 X 3 cube C & C cage and it works out to 42" X 28", which is over 8 square feet.
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Old 03-29-2012, 02:37 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Mom Questions.

That size cage is what I have for Archimedes - it's plenty of room. A C&C cage is a good option, and if you want to do that you should go for it, but definitely don't feel like the current cage is too small. The recommended floorspace for a hedgehog is 4 square feet, and the size of cage you have is a tiny bit under 6 square feet. For us, it's plenty to hold Ares' well (a fairly large homemade bucket wheel), litter tray, food/water bowls, a few toys, dig box, hedgie bag, and an elbow of PVC pipe - with room enough for him to move around however he wants to.
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Old 03-30-2012, 01:14 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Mom Questions.

Thanks for all the advice! I re-arranged his cage after I cleaned it this evening and there's a bit more space now. I think part of the problem is that my litter tray is too big. It takes up a huge portion of the cage. I've managed to fit a dig box in there for him, and his tunnel at its smallest size. It doesn't seem to stop him from using his food dish as a stepping stone, though I'm still thinking of putting a C&C cage together because I think it might be easier to reach into to get him out. The one I have right now is awkward to reach into, especially if he's off in a corner.

He balls up just fine, so maybe I'm just worrying too much hahaha. He doesn't seem to eat a lot here, but I'm hoping it's because he's still wary of his new environment.

I'm trying to get him on a schedule now. I took him out at 8 tonight and he burrowed under my blankets and went to sleep by my for about half an hour before getting up and running around, exploring like a maniac.

Are there any stores that sell the hedgie bags, or are they something I'd have to order online? I can't sew to save my life, so I can't make one myself. I'm not sure if it would really help with bonding, because I think he'd probably just wiggle out of it and burrow in the blankets or run all over the bed. I didn't think the hand feeding sounded like a good idea, thanks for confirming!
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Old 03-30-2012, 11:16 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Mom Questions.

Is the litter box underneath the wheel or somewhere else? If it's not underneath the wheel, I would suggest that - they poop and pee as they run, so it'll run off onto the litter tray, and that way it's also not taking up extra room.
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