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Old 05-09-2012, 10:15 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

I'm totally new to the hedgehog scene. My boyfriend got me one for my birthday without talking to me about it first and so I'm learning on the fly. His intentions were good and I absolutely adore little Arya, so no worries about her not getting enough love or care. He also did a ton of research beforehand so I'm not totally in the dark. I'm a zookeeper and I work at a rabbit farm so I know enough to cover the basics, but I'm still unsure about some things so feel free to inform and correct me whenever necessary. I'm just going to describe her set-up and behavior with as much detail as possible so that anyone who reads this is as informed as possible and can better answer any questions I have. I'm noting any questions in the following paragraphs with ** so it's easier to find them.

Arya is an African Hedgehog who was born on 3/11/12, putting her at about 8 1/2 weeks old. I've had her for 2 days and she's being housed in a 40 gal breeder glass tank with a fine wire mesh lid on CareFresh Ultra bedding. She has a bucket-type wheel. She is being offered free choice Innova Reduced/low fat cat food. I have mealies for her, but I'm gonna hold off on those until she gets used to this new food because he didn't get any of the stuff she was on and we can't find it anywhere, and I'm sure it'll be hard on her digestive system. I have a water bowl for her and I think I'll keep that unless she starts making a mess of/dumping her water more than once a day (it's a heavy bottom glass bowl, so it'll be hard for her to do that, but I want to have a plan for any potential problems) and then I'll try a lixit bottle (**is the traditional ball in straw version or the lixit type of bottle better for hedgies? I know that they can cut their tongues on the ball in straw kind, but hadn't heard about the other) I have a corner litter box for ferrets in there for her with non-scented, non-clumping cat litter in it and I've put her fecals and urine soaked bedding pieces in it. **Is the kind of litter I have safe? I know that males tend to get it caught in their sheath, **but as a female will she have any problems? (She started anointing as soon as she smelled the litter, which was interesting) I've been considering shredded paper from the office as well, **but will the ink be safe? I have a fluorescent strip light on a timer and a 50 watt heat bulb on her because the room she's in doesn't always have a light on and there are no windows and I wanted her to have some consistency. I have one of my sleep t-shirts in with her that I had worn for a few nights along with one of those plastic expandable tube that are sold for rats and guinea pigs. I'll likely need to get a larger one when she gets older, but I got it cheap so it works well for her now. It's scrunched up at the moment with the shirt over it. She seems to like burrowing in both her bedding and the shirt and was exploring the tunnel when I went to bed. I know she'll sleep most of the time as a baby, and she's been eating. There was a 9 g difference in food offered and food remaining after the first night, but I know some of that was lost as crumbs as I noticed some around her dish and in her water bowl. Yesterday morning she weighed about 150g. She doesn't appear to be quilling right now, but I also don't really know what to look for. She is losing some smaller quills infrequently. **Are there any tell-tale signs of quilling? Her temperament is wonderful! She's definitely an explorer. She huffs and puffs a little when I first wake her up, but if I talk to her and wake her up without touching her (moving some bedding near her) she doesn't do it at all. She'll even climb right up into my hand, so YAY! **With her needing so much sleep is it better to pull her out once a day for a little bit longer or a couple of times a day for shorter spans? I really want to bond well with her and she's adjusting well, but I don't want to lower her immune system by keeping her up too long. Because I have to work I'll likely be working with her for a little early in the morning, late afternoon, and later evening for about 10-15 minutes at a time. The morning may not be much more than tank cleaning and replacing food & water, but I will pull her if I have time. **Also, in the future would the rodent balls they have for the animals to run around it be safe or would a play pen be better? I would be concerned about the air holes in the ball catching toes, but it would be the largest one available that I would get for her if and only if it's a good idea.

I think that about covers it, but let me know if any more info would be good and please answer any of my questions. I have no intentions of breeding or getting a second one, but it wouldn't surprise me if Arya convinces me that I'm as much a hedgehog person as I am a dog, cat, horse, and snake person. =]

Thank you,
Zookeep
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:33 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

first thing is i would nix the glass tank if you can, they dont allow enough ventilation. Do you have a thermometer in your cage?
Water bottles can cut tonges but they are also an ackward angle to drink from and they can break teeth on the metal spout.
the ink from newspaper and printed paper can produce fume which can be toxic if the hedgie pee on it.
if shes wuilling youll notice alot of loose quills falling off into her cage and when you play with her, if she not grumpy its a good thing
with taking her out, you can hold her while shes sleeping but try to limit the amount of time shes out during the day.
Rodent balls arnt good because they can catch toes in the slits and there isnt any way for there pee and poop to go and they often eliminate while they are running
I would recomend owning a hedgehog through there life or at least for a few years before considering breeding. ive been preparing for 2 years and thought i had everything down, then my mentor just disapeared and all the research in the world doesnt completly prepare you.

arya is gorgeous love the pinto
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

is the traditional ball in straw version or the lixit type of bottle better for hedgies? I know that they can cut their tongues on the ball in straw kind, but hadn't heard about the other?
Water bowl is fine. I don't like using any kind of water bottle because of the chance of chipping teeth, since they aren't rodents.

**Is the kind of litter I have safe? I know that males tend to get it caught in their sheath, **but as a female will she have any problems? (She started anointing as soon as she smelled the litter, which was interesting) I've been considering shredded paper from the office as well, **but will the ink be safe?
Honestly, torn up paper towels are your best bet. Anything heavily scented (yes, clay has a scent) will be most likely annointed with. Don't use shredded paper. When urine hits the ink, it creates a gas similar to ammonia.

**Are there any tell-tale signs of quilling?
Hedgehogs drop quills like humans drop hair... few per night can be normal. When you see this increasing, it's when they're quilling. Some have a positive experience, others have terrible quilling cycles, and their personalities may change because of it.

**With her needing so much sleep is it better to pull her out once a day for a little bit longer or a couple of times a day for shorter spans?
Pulling out once a day for a nap on you in a snuggle sack is a great way to bond and for her to get her beauty sleep.

**Also, in the future would the rodent balls they have for the animals to run around it be safe or would a play pen be better?
Stay far, far away from those balls. They're terrible for any animal. Playpens are much better. I posted a review of one in the product review section that is nice and big and can't be climbed out of.

I personally hate using Carefresh. I always have a reaction to it when I would change it for my hamsters when I had them, and I couldn't imagine how bad it is on a hedgie's lungs. Fleece liners are the best and most recommended lining.
Also, get rid of the tank. There's not enough ventilation, and it's hard to clean.

Cute hog, btw!
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

Thank you, Lillianna and Christemo for the info! I'll keep the water bowl then, she only seems to drop food in it overnight, which isn't a problem if it's changed daily. Good to know about the ink, that was my main concern. With paper towels do they need to be just folded in the bottom of the litter box or torn up (I would think she might try to burrow in a pile of torn up PT's).

Also, good to know that the rodent balls are bad news, I'll look for that review on the play pen. I saw one at the store yesterday and liked it, but I wanted to do some more research first as to what requirements there were.

As for the tank. I'll work on finding something better, and maybe use a fan above her tank to improve ventilation in the mean time (I know this will affect temps, but she is kept in a warm room. I do have a thermometer in there and it's kept at about 76 degrees Fahrenheit with the small bulb. I'm looking at making my own out of sterlite containers and 4in pvc pipe like I've seen on here and in other places due to cost and preference. I'm assuming they're better ventilated due to holes drilled in the sides of the containers? Do you have any comments or suggestions for this type of setup? I'm on a budget so I'll be acquiring the supplies as I have the money. I'll work on the fleece as soon as I know what size of containers I'll be switching to. Is a pile of fleece scraps sufficient for burrowing in with liners? Are there any other options for promoting burrowing? I'd like her to be as happy as possible.

I did get to spend some time researching hedgie stuff as she cuddled in my lap so that was nice as well. =] And thank you for the compliments on Arya, she is quite the little beauty and character, much like her namesake.
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

Fleece scraps are fine. Mine gets scraps from the liner and bag orders. A sheet of paper towel is fine.
Google on how to make a C&C cage. I built mine for about $30 and it's huge and nicely ventilated.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:12 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

Thank you for the suggestion. I like the idea, and it's relatively cheap (always good for the zookeeper/college student). Much faster and easier to set up/break down than the storage bin version. Is 1.5x1.5 inch mesh small enough, especially while she's small? There should be 17 14x14 in panels in a $20 box at bed, bath and beyond. So I'm thinking 2 boxes would easily cover a 42x56 in space (just over 16 sq ft) with a lid which should be more than adequate for her, or is that a little much? I have a 4.5x4.5 ft square piece of fabric laid out in my room to give me a visual, and it's a lot, but I can do it easily. Flooring seems to be more the issue. Would a shower curtain work? I've seen that and it seems like an okay idea, but all the sources say for guinea pigs, not hedgies. I'll go looking tomorrow for linoleum and price it. If I do this would fleece work as a good side cover (only about half way up)? I'd secure it with zip ties, I know she can climb fabric, but with a top it shouldn't be a problem, please tell me if I'm wrong. I'm more worried about her falling from the top if she climbs. Is there a different option for the sides that would serve the same purpose? I can see the top working well as a flip top concept and using bread ties or some other sort of clip to secure it. I'm just thinking out loud so to speak, so please share any tips/info you can!

I just want everyone to know that I really do care about Arya and want her to have the best possible life with me. I know it sounds like I'm cheap and I am (frugal doesn't even cover how crazy I am about saving money), but my pets do come first and with the exception of a beta fish she's all I have to focus on now. I do have a fair amount of money saved up for emergencies and an emergency vet visit would qualify as an appropriate use of funds. I know an exotic vet I trust so I have that covered. I am just days into learning about all this, so every new idea is a little bit overwhelming and I don't want to sound impulsive or indecisive because that's not me at all. I am thinking everything over before I actually do anything, so hopefully it will work out for the best.
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Old 05-10-2012, 09:58 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

The ones at Bed, Bath and Beyond are fine. As long as they have 9 squares across. Some Mine is set up as a 4x1, but a lot of people's here are 3x2 and then with a lid. For an active climber, I would say run coroplast up ten inches up the sides. The coroplast is what'll run the cage's price up, but it's the best thing. Shower curtains won't give a good walking and running surface and can buckle under the weight. They sell coroplast at Home Depot for about $7/sheet, and you'll probably need 2-3 sheets. I would just do fleece along the bottom, and nothing on the sides, but thats just my opinion. Why give her something to grab onto?
Zip ties will always be your best friend through this. For when she had a lid, i just took fabric scraps and tied it down.

Edit:
This is mine. I have 5" walls, since Amelia isn't much of a climber.
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:18 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

Okay, I got the cubes and coroplast, and it's almost all assembled. The coroplast sheets are smaller than the dimensions of my enclosure, so I need to splice two pieces together. Would it be okay to duct tape them together? I figure the liner will keep her away from the tape or I can just tape on the bottom, but I'm worried that will leave a seam for toes and nails to get caught in. What say you?

Thank you for all the wonderful help!
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Old 05-11-2012, 12:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

part of my cage has the seams sealed with packing tape and its worked well . i think duct tape fould be okay but id be prepared to replace it if needed
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Old 05-11-2012, 01:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie baby! Info & Questions

I use packing tape, but that's what I usually have on hand. I do a 4x wrap around to get it more stable, then the fleece will keep her out.
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