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Old 04-10-2012, 07:44 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New Owner with questions

I recently acquired a white female hedgehog and have a few questions.

What is the safest way to handle her, if at all? She really doesn't seem to care for human interaction that much.
I don't have much experience with pocket pets but as a kid I had a G. PIg who was much more friendly then the hedgehog.

What do they eat? She came with a bag of crappy cat food, a brand with alot of grains/corn etc. No one in local petstores knows anything about hedgehogs.


Is there anything I can do about the poop on the wheel thing? Should I try to wash her feet?
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:05 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Welcome to HHC! I highly recommend that you spend some time reading through the stickies in each section of the forum. There's a TON of awesome information all over the place here. There's also a book written by a member of the forum, which contains most of the information, just conveniently gathered and organized. It's free to download here - http://www.hedgehogbook.webs.com/

The best way to handle a shy/grumpy hedgehog is to use a fleece blanket or an old t-shirt of yours (that smells like you) to pick her up. That'll help guard your hands from the quills, and you can let her hide under it once you have her out. Spend some time each night with her - at least half an hour, and longer if you can. The more time you spend with her, the likelier that she'll start to come out of her shell and be more comfortable with you. Sometimes it can take weeks, months, sometimes even years. Hedgehogs take a LOT of patience sometimes. Just go slowly with her - most of the time they're much more comfortable being covered by something. Let her explore you underneath a blanket, if she's so inclined, or she may go to sleep. If she does, that's great! It counts as bonding time too, and if she's sleeping it means she's confident enough that you're not going to eat her. Try not to force anything with her - let her get used to you, then let her get used to your hand being near her, then on her, and so on. You can also leave a blanket or t-shirt that you've slept with/in in her cage to keep your scent around her. Just make sure the t-shirt doesn't have any loose strings to catch on her legs.

Good quality cat food is the best thing for a staple diet. There's a list of good suggestions here - viewtopic.php?f=6&t=15 The main things you want to look for are meat or meat meal for the first ingredient, no corn, protein less than 35% and fat around 15% (lower or higher depends on her body shape and weight). When you change her food over, make sure you introduce just one new food at a time, and go slowly. Do 1/4 new to 3/4 old for a week or so, then 1/2 and 1/2 and so on. She may decide to do a quick change on her own, if she likes the new food better than the old (which is likely, if it's a crappy one). That's fine, as long as it's her decision. It'll just mean that she may have some green poop for awhile, from a little bit of stomach upset.

Nope. Hedgies poop as they run, so they'll poop on their wheel. There's not much you can do to change that. You can put a litter box underneath the wheel to catch poop/pee run-off, but you'll probably still have to clean the wheel daily. For her feet, most people do footbaths by just putting an inch or less of warm water in a sink or basin and letting the hedgie walk around in it. That usually gets the feet pretty clean. If water freaks her out a lot, you can make it a little less stressful by soaking a fleece blanket or a towel in warm water and letting her walk around on it. It won't work quite as well, but it'll still clean them a bit.

On the subject of wheels, what kind of wheel do you have? The only safe wheel from pet stores is a Giant Comfort Wheel, which is solid color, solid plastic and has raised ridges on it. It can be difficult to clean it well, with the ridges, and it has a tendency to be loud as well. If you're interested in a wheel upgrade at all, one of our forum members, LarryT, makes AMAZING cake cover and bucket wheels - http://www.carolinastormhedgehogs.com/t ... wheel.html They're silent, easy to clean, and completely hedgie-safe.

I hope all of the info helps, and hope you stick around! We'd love to see pictures of your little one.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Thank you for all the info I really appreciate it!

As for the kind of wheel I'm not sure, this is what came with her (thats the grumpy little thing in question in the pic as well)

Hopefully once I can handle her a bit I will be able to get some better pics.
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

ideally she shouldnt be in an aquarium they dont alow alot of ventilation. but the wheel is great. and whats the bottom of the cage ?
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Ah, that's a perfectly fine wheel! Looks like it might even be one of Larry's. If I may, I'd like to suggest a few things about her cage - it might be a good idea to give her an igloo or a fleece sleeping bag to sleep in - hedgies usually like to be covered up to sleep. I can't quite tell what's in the box there, but it looks like Carefresh or shredded paper? Both of those tend to be dusty and since hedgies already have dry skin issues, it's best to avoid dusty beddings. A large majority of people on here have found that fleece or fabric liners are the best bedding to use - they're washable and reuseable, they're soft and comfortable, and there's no risk of mites (as from wood or Carefresh). There's also less risk of allergies, if you wash with no-dye, no-scent detergent and softener.

The only other thing about her cage - tanks aren't really the best option for housing hedgies. They hold moisture in and don't have great ventilation, even with no top or a screen top. Some better options are plastic-bottomed wire small animal cages (single level - hedgies don't do well with multiple levels because most of them don't have depth perception and will walk off edges), Ferret Nations or Critter Nations, or building a C&C cage. Those are very easy to make, and the cheapest way to give your hedgie a lot of room. This site explains more about how to build them and the materials you can use - http://www.guineapigcages.com/

She does have an adorable bum! Can't wait to see more pictures, albino/white hedgies are just ADORABLE (it's the pink nose that always gets me)!
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Good to know, I'm very much learning as I go. The bottom is just green... stuff Like what you would find in the bottom of a reptile cage, it seems easy to clean.

I'm glad carefresh isn't the right type of bedding! She was living in a rubbermaid container full of the stuff and it just sticks in her quills like CRAZY and since I can't really handle her without being stabbed i have been using a toothbrush to scrape the fluffstuff off of her.



As you can see she doesn't have much in the way of toys, what is a good rule of thumb for next time I'm shopping, like if it's safe for hamsters will it be safe for the hedgehog?
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Old 04-10-2012, 08:41 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Yeah, that's another downfall of Carefresh.

For toys, I'd suggest looking for things you can hide treats/kibble in or under - small plastic objects, silk aquarium plants, etc. Avoid wood objects (can harbor mites, and hedgies don't chew wooden chew toys like you'd find advertised for hamsters) and other chew toys. The main thing to be wary of is things that they might get caught in their mouth (foam balls, or plastic cat balls that have holes in them - you'd want solid ones), or anything that could get toes or feet caught in them. Solid cat balls are sometimes played with, small stuffed animals (no loose threads or parts to bite off). There's not a whole lot of hedgies that will play with toys, to be honest, but it's worth a try! Sometimes they accidentally interact with them , and there's always the rare hog that loves to play with something. I found the best way to get Lily interacting with something was to hide frozen (and then thawed) crickets around her cage, next to/inside/under toys. She quickly learned where the hiding spots where and would make her rounds as soon as I put her away for night, snatching up all her crickets.
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Old 04-26-2012, 09:14 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Ok I tried to make some updates for Hedgie going off of you guys' advice. A better tank/cage is on my wishlist.

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Old 04-26-2012, 09:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Besides the tank (which you seem to know to change), you should get rid of the cat balls with slits in them. They can hurt a hedgehog's mouth badly, and they can even get their mouth stuck on them.

I see a food bowl but no source of water.
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:28 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Owner with questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by moxieberry
Besides the tank (which you seem to know to change), you should get rid of the cat balls with slits in them. They can hurt a hedgehog's mouth badly, and they can even get their mouth stuck on them.

I see a food bowl but no source of water.
Isn't that bowl you see the water bowl?
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