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jkwan 04-26-2012 06:11 PM

Ideas and questions before I adopt!
First I'd like to say that I have been doing research for about a month with books, Google, everywhere, and I keep coming back to this forum and website! I've spent days just reading through here, and am so happy to see that everyone is so helpful and friendly! None of the pet stores in my city carry hedgehogs (which I'm actually happy about), but that means I have no one here with firsthand experience to talk to :(.

Anyway, I am planning to adopt within a few months, and have found a vet and contacted a few breeders. I have my C&C cage mostly assembled, got most of my CHE setup (on sale!) and have fleece for liners. I just have a few questions:

1. How often should I be feeding non-staple foods? Such as fruits, vegetables, mealworms, etc.
2. Plastic caps from cans (like hairspray, aerosol cans, etc.), are they safe to play with if I wash them thoroughly first? I have been saving TP tubes, my boyfriend thinks I'm crazy haha.
3. I have a lot of extra grids, and was thinking of cutting some up and making a 'ball/digging pit' maybe two or three grid squares high, so it would be a corner of the cage I could fill with ping pong balls or fleece bits (maybe both?). If I use a ramp to get in/out what should I make it with, and will it be too steep? I was thinking of using coroplast-covered grid, as tubing may get blocked by ping pong balls.
4. I am having a hard time finding a thermostat for my CHE setup in Canada. I have been to three chain pet stores (Petcetera, PetSmart and Petland), and none even carried heat mats, only substrate heaters. I don't really want to order online unless I have to, is there another source anyone can suggest?
5. I am using fleece liners and plan to hand-wash them (my bf thinks they will be icky and refuses to let them launder with our things *sigh*). I have read here a 50/50 vinegar and water solution should be fine for disinfecting and sanitizing? Also, do I need to do any special sewing for them? I was planning on just cutting them to size...
6. Would it be helpful/detrimental to put a layer of foam between the coroplast and liner? I would probably sew it into a tarp or something first to make it waterproof.
7. I was planning to buy a big hamster ball for (as-yet-unnamed) hedgie, so that I could put him/her in while I'm doing a full clean. A co-worker who's owned a hedgehog before said all the ones she's seen do not like the balls, any suggestions? The only place in my apartment not carpeted is the kitchen, which is small and where I would be cleaning the cage.

Where I live, getting a hedgie will be the hardest part, but I'll have plenty of time to source supplies, and the wait will definitely be worth it!

HedgieGirl519 04-26-2012 06:53 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
1. There isn't a specific amount, some people don't feed extra things at all. Mealworms are high in fat, so you want to make sure you don't feed too many. Crickets are a good option, since they are low in fat. The people that I personally know feed a few insects daily, and treats (veggies, fruit, meat) about every other day.

2. It can be VERY hard to get the smell out of those. Hedgehogs have a MUCH better sense of smell then us, so personally, I wouldn't do it. Instead try washing a prescription bottle, putting beads, rice, tiny rocks, etc. in the bottle and closing the lid. Make sure you cut the toilet paper tube down the middle so they don't get stuck.

3. Making a ball pit would be hard. The hedgehog won't want to walk on top of the balls, so you could really only have a few so he/she could push them around to walk on the ground. But dig pits works really good. An easy method is to put fleece strips into something, such as a kleenex box, litter box, cardboard box, or making a box out of coroplast. Keep in mind, if you use anything that is cardboard, it will need to be replaced. I think a section of the cage with a few balls would be a good idea, but not a lot. If you hide treats in there, he or she can push them around to find the treats.

4. You do need thermostat. So if you can't find one you will have to order online. I live in Canada and I've seen them at Petco, Petsmart, Petland, Petcetera and other small pet stores. I guess you're just don't carry them. But you do NEED a thermostat. Also, you don't want a heat mat, they only heat the floor, not the air. Hedgehogs need the air to be warm. You also need to have a thermometer in the cage.

5. If it's fleece you don't need to sew. But if you use other fabrics you will need to because they fray and the strings get caught around the hedgehogs foot which can lead to amputation. Honestly, so many people wash them with their things. There is nothing gross about it. Before you wash them you either take them outside and shake the poop off, hold it over a garbage and shake the poop off or pick the poop off with a kleenex. They aren't going to be gross. But if you do wash them in the wash you, you have to use non-scented laundry detergent.

6. You don't need to do that. I don't know anyone who has. Fleece is soft and absorbs well. When you put the fleece in the cage, make it a double layer instead of a single layer. So when you cut it, cut it twice the length of the cage. Tip: You might need to put heavy items around the edges or corners to prevent him or her from going under the liners, such as rocks or tiles.

7. Never use hamster balls, they are dangerous for hedgehogs. They get trapped in the smell of their pee/poo, their feet can get caught in the slits and they can't get out of the ball if they want. Instead, but a small animal playpen and put him/her in there while you clean.

Also, almost all of the books and other websites will give you wrong information about hedgehogs. This is really the best website to be learning from.

moxieberry 04-26-2012 07:39 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
1. Hedgehogs don't need extras, as long as the kibble is good quality. Some people also go with fully holistic diets, so it's personal preference. Generally my advice, is that meat (unseasoned, cooked - steamed or boiled is best) and vegetables can be added daily. Around a teaspoon of meat is good, and more than that is fine for vegetables. Fruits are typically high in sugar, so they work better as treats than daily parts of the diet. For instance, a frequent hedgehog favorite is watermelon, which is essentially water and sugar. I give this to Archimedes, about a teaspoon of it once a week, and without fail his poop is squishy the next day, haha. Something less sugary, like apple, would be fine to offer more often - just keep the sugar content in mind. Make sure you look up the list of fruits/vegetables that are safe for them. (No acidic/citrus, no grapes, etc.) Mealworms and crickets are the most common for hedgehogs - mealworms are higher in fat. Use live or frozen-then-thawed, not freeze-dried, since freeze-dried can easily cause constipation. Depending on the hedgehog, anywhere from two or three to 10+ can be good for daily insects; the higher end applies to the very active hedgehogs that require a higher fat diet.

2. I don't think that kind of thing is the best, for the reason already stated. Some other basic toy ideas (besides toilet paper rolls): prescription bottles (as already described), Hot Wheels or similar small toy cars, cat balls (make sure there are no slits in the sides), small stuffed animals.

3. Fleece strips would work better than balls for that. Make sure any second level has the sides and ramp enclosed so there's no risk of falling. Similar to what HedgieGirl said, another idea along those lines is to put large aquarium stones (big enough to not be a choking hazard) in a shallow bowl or plate. You can hide treats in there and your hedgehog can forage/dig for them.

4. Try Amazon. The prices are sometimes cheaper on there, too. You definitely need a thermostat if you're going to use a CHE set up.

5. Haha, if I were you, I'd make him do the hand-washing then. Honestly, there's nothing gross about it. Most of the poop ends up on the wheel or in the litter tray under the wheel. The stuff that doesn't you can easily pick off the liner (when it's dry) because it's just little turds. You can try to appease him by washing it separately from your clothes, in which case, it would make sense to have enough liners for a small load, instead of doing a load of just one or two. If you're really going to do hand-washing, just use a little bit of the same (unscented) detergent you would use in the washing machine. Make sure you rinse very thoroughly. Vinegar solution works fine for cleaning/disinfecting wheels, etc. Personally I use Simple Green. Fleece doesn't fray at the edges, so it doesn't need to be sewn. I find one layer to be adequate, but folding it over to make two layers also works. Either way, I suggest adding a few inches to the dimensions of the cage floor - that way it's all still covered if you don't place it exactly. Also, when the extra bit at the edges curls up against the wall, it can make liner-diving a little more difficult.

6. Foam isn't necessary. Liners are plenty. Some people sew liners with batting in the middle for added absorbancy.

7. Get a small sterilite bin to put him in when you're cleaning the cage. Personally, I know Archimedes will just stay in his sleeping bag, so I take that out and leave it on my bed when I have to work on the cage. But, if you want your hedgehog to definitely not be able to get away, just put him in a bin, or even just the bathtub if the walls of it are high enough. Generally if you clean the cage like that in the middle of the day, you can expect them to stay asleep if at all possible. Putting a hedgie bag or blanket with them will help that.

jkwan 04-26-2012 08:13 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
Haha moxieberry, when I asked what my bf thought of getting a hedgehog he said 'indifferent', so I'm completely ok with doing all the work :lol: BUT, if he does fall in love with it (and I think he will), rest assured I will expect him to put in his share! :D

I was able to get two 100w CHE bulbs, and I'm wondering if I should put two lamps on simultaneously? Petland is looking into ordering a thermostat in, but if they can't, I will order one online, but I definitely will use one. My C&C cage is three grid by two grid, and I am on a second level apt, will I need two?

Thanks for the tips on toys and play areas! Is weight a factor in toys, do hedgies try to lift things? I have some unused golf balls lying around...trying to repurpose things to cut down on costs :)

moxieberry 04-26-2012 08:30 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
For a cage that size, you'll most likely need two.

And what I meant is that him being squeamish is making you have to wash liners by hand, which is silly. If he doesn't want them going in the washing machine, he should do the hand-washing, not make you do more work, haha.

Golf balls can work also. Some hedgehogs like the bell sound of cat balls, some might prefer a ball that doesn't jingle. Weight isn't an issue one way or another. Just avoid sharp/pointy edges, anything they could get their mouth stuck on (which is why I said cat balls shouldn't have slits in the sides), or anything small enough that it could be swallowed. Keep in mind a lot of hedgehogs have minimal interest in toys, just like some have no interest in any foods besides kibble. (My Archimedes is one of them, in both cases.)

HedgieGirl519 04-26-2012 08:40 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
Needing two lamps depends on the temperature of your apartment, where the cage is, and how high your coroplast is.

If you have two lamps on, make sure you buy a thermostat that can hold two CHE's. The ZooMed Reptitemp 500r holds two. Otherwise you'll need to buy 2 thermostats, which is expensive.

The taller your coroplast, the more heat it will keep in. Fleece is also warmer than say cotton or flannel.

jkwan 05-10-2012 02:19 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
1 Attachment(s)
So I have started to set up my cage:
I am not sure yet if I am going to use the loft area, but if I do I will probably put the wheel up there. I have some fleece for lining and will be collecting more, and plan on doing some sewing for bags/hats/etc. There's an outlet on the wall behind the end of the cage, so I plan to hook up a surge protector and all my devices to that outlet. I also have a set of black grids, which I'm going to use to make a lid; I just liked the coloured ones for the cage itself :)
I have two CHE bulbs and lamps, and have still been looking for a thermostat. I may need to head up to northern Alberta May long weekend, so if I do I will stop by some pet stores in Edmonton to see if they have some (and pay no shipping and one less tax!). If not, I will order online.
I have a few more questions, though (sorry!):
-Zoo Med 500R vs Zilla 1000w? Is one better than the other, or is it personal preference? I know the Zilla has 3 ports, but I don't need the third (unless I get another hedgie & cage later on)...
-It got up to 82F here yesterday, and my apt got up to 86F. I plan on setting up the thermometer a few weeks before I get my hedgie to find out exact cage temperatures. If I were to put a flower pot or tile under the loft area in the shade, would that be sufficient to keep him/her cool until I got home from work (6 P.M)? If not, I have an A/C in my apt, but it's loud and energy guzzling, and I myself prefer a warmer apt. I was hoping to put the cage on a table, but I think it might be better on the floor to keep cool.
-I use this lamp http://www.walmart.com/ip/Hometrends-We ... p/16543271 in my living room, and there is a smaller table lamp the same style as well. The floor lamp is about 3' away from the cage. The large uses a 100w bulb and when it's on, there's enough light to read, do crafts etc., but it's not as bright as the foyer overhead lamp (due to the paper shade). If I set up the timer to the lamp and moved it right next to the cage, would that be bright enough? I bought a clamp style desk lamp, but the light from the lamp is more even, instead of shining directly in the cage. If it's not bright enough, I will hook up the desk lamp instead :)
- I am making a dig box to put some fleece and stones in out of extra coroplast. How high should I make the lip? is 1" enough?
I'm so excited, waiting to hear from the breeder that my name's come up on the waiting list...I'm so worried that I'll have the cage put together and waiting, only to hear I won't be getting a hedgie this year... :(

jkwan 05-10-2012 02:27 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
Super sorry, I thought of one more! :lol:
- in the summer, is just one layer of fleece lining OK, or is it not absorbent enough, and I should stick with two? Is flannel significantly cooler, and worth sewing some 'summer liners' for him/her, or is the difference negligible?

GoodandPlenty 05-10-2012 03:43 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
1. I don't give Sophie a lot of treats. She eats see so little, anyway. I was giving her 4-5 mealies about every other night which she absolutely loved to eat, but I didn't think that she digested them so well. Now I offer her banana fairly regularly. It took her awhile to come round to deciding she likes banana. On a big night, she still eats very little. I only offer treats if she is out of her cage. If she says no, then she doesn't get any. A new treat should be offered until you are sure that she just doesn't want it, and that can take time. Often, they just take time to trust a new food that they will come to really like.

2. Plastic caps should be fine. Too big to swallow. Sophie has a 'road course' in part of her play area made out of plastic bottles and jars. I've secured a good size space behind my desk. Some nights she zooms around everything. Other nights it is a demolition derby. Be careful about metal things. Hedgies, and my Sophie among them, are attracted to biting at metal.

If you slit tubes open, it might be a good idea to round off the edges. Hedgie eyes are vulnerable.
The light is mostly flash. The only light in the room is from computer monitors and TV. Sometimes I put out her wheel, but usually not now that she is less shy about being seen running.


3. The ball pit that you describe is interesting. You should try it. If only about 3 squares high, I would not worry about an enclosed ramp. (Others may feel differently.) Be prepared for her to ignore it, just as children sometimes get more fun from the empty box, than the present that come in it.

4. You really have to have a thermostat to go with the CHEs. I got a Zilla (1000 watt/3 outlet) from the evil Amazon. It's a pretty specialized item. Online was a lot easier for me.

I have two 150 watt CHEs for a 2 grid x 4 grid C&C.

5. Tell BF that if he does laundry, then he can wash them separately. There is no harm at all in washing them with your stuff. I shake her fleece stuff out first. Plus, in a week there is enough that she gets her own load: two cage liners, litter pads, hedgie sack, fleece strips and squares . . . . I use 50/50 vinegar for her cloroplast and items that don't get washed and then finish with a water rinse. Everything else gets washed once a week with soap and water: igloo, PVC tunnel, litter pan . . . . Be sure to wash the fleece a couple of times before cutting. There is lots of stuff that is not supposed to shrink - but does.

I sometimes put the cage liners in the dryer with other stuff, because they are bigger and thicker than anything else. Everything else Is spun out really well in the washer and I just lay it out to dry. Some fabrics/fleeces will curl from being in the dryer. Not a problem with air drying.

I've had the cage liners and litter pan liners made a bit big and just turn under any extra material.

6. I don't think that a layer of anything is needed between cloroplast and liner. She gets one liner change during the week. Sometimes no change. My liners are three layers and the cloroplast is in perfect condition at the end of the week. It probably doesn't even need to be sanitized weekly, but I do it anyway. Only takes a few minutes.

7. I don't know that a safe 'runaround ball' exists. When I do a full clean (every Monday) Sophie gets a foot and belly bath. She likes to be left alone for a bit after that, so she gets put in a hedgie sack in her play area to 'recover' while I do the cleaning.

I prefer a two or three layer liner. It's not adding heat in any way. You can use fleece, flannel, cotton, whatever - just be sure to monitor loose threads and trim as needed.

I use two 60 watt bulbs in lamps over the cage. I've got them running into a timer with two outlets. On warms days I have to adjust for the fact that even though they are about 55" above the cage floor, they add about 5 degrees of heat. I keep a thermometer on the cage floor and another in the room. I've got a 'portable' AC in the room and set the thermostat to 79 degrees.

jkwan 05-10-2012 04:25 PM

Re: Ideas and questions before I adopt!
GoodandPlenty, I didn't think about the heat added by a lamp...in the summer, that may be an issue...I think maybe I would try just using the floor lamp first, I think it would produce less heat since it's not direct lighting. Is there a way to tell if a hedgie is not getting bright enough light?

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