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Old 10-29-2012, 11:39 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

Hi there, Hedge-heads! (I hope that's the right term... and if not, missed oppertunity, people!)

I am considering a pet hedgehog, but before I do anything like run out and buy one, I'm looking to get some information that I think is best answered by keepers.

First of all, I have a rat cage that I thought might work, but it has levels that a hedgie could fall from. I'm not a handy person so I don't want to alter it- are there any comercially available cages suitable to a hedgehog's needs? What came to mind first is one of those guinea pig starter cages that are all one level, and have more floor space. Would this be appropriate for a hedgehog?

The breeder is sending with them a hedgie 'starter kit', a 1 sterelite tub tank, som

Second, and importantly for me, as it would be living in my room, would there be a strong odor associated with a hedgehog when the cage is cleaned weekly and a litter box is offered? For instance... I personally love the natural musk/odor that ferrets carry with them, so natural odors aren't my worry. My worry is that ammonia/poop smell... I've had rats and mice and I know it can get pretty bad pretty quick if you don't stay on top if it. Is there a difference in male/female odor?

For reference's sake, I plan on using aspen shavings for bedding out of conveience- I use them for my blue tongue skink.

As far as temperment goes, hedgehogs get the grumpy end of the stick from what I hear... but the one I handled at the pet store which was professed to be the grumpiest of all settled down in my hands once I had him in them, spread out so he'd feel comfortable sitting. The hedgehog I am planning on buying if I get one is hand raised from a local breeder (she is having a litter in 4 weeks and another in 6) and I am curious if this will affect temperment- being hand raised? Will it be more comfortable, or even seek out human affection? My reason for buying a mammal pet is because I want a pet that is snuggly and would like interaction... My skink gets plenty, but she only likes so much. I'd like an animal that, when Misha is in her cage, can come out, sit with me while I work on art or play video games, or will sit with me while I watch the tele. Can I expect this from a hedgehog- the actual enjoyment of human interaction? Or are they the sort of pet who like to be left alone? Keeping in mind each one is an individual, of course.

What are the CONS of owning a hedgehog? I see a lot of pros, but I want to know the bad before I get one, to make sure I can provide the best possible home for my potential pet! What would you tell a potential hedgehog owner to make sure they are ready? Stuff like "they bite really hard and will draw blood", or "they smell terrible and need a room to themselves", stuff like that! Basically, if you were writing a website called "what they don't tell you about hedgehogs!" what would you include!!

(For the curious, the breeder I found through a local online classifieds, something like craigslist: http://saintjohn.kijiji.ca/c-pets-other ... Z425832432 )
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Old 10-29-2012, 12:44 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

I love the term Hedge-heads
It's good that you're doing so much research and ask questions before getting a hedgie! For the cage, you could buy a big rabbit/guinea pig cage, but a lot of people build their own C&C cage which is really easy and I think even a not so handy person could do it. Some people keep them in big sterilite bins which is easy as well. There's a thread on here with cage examples you could take a look there to get some inspiration.

The poop smells, I find baby poop smellier than adult poop and it also depends on what you're feeding but if you clean it regularly (especially the wheel since they poop on it a lot, you best clean it every day) it doesn't smell that much in my experience. My current hoggie smelled awful when he was little but now he's an adult I rarely smell him. And they don't have a body odour (neither males nor females). The urine doesn't smell that bad (I find mice/rats way worse) it's mainly the poop. But you can try to litter train the hedgehog and if you succeed (not all of them get it) you can just clean the litter box as often as you need/want to without having to clean the whole cage.
For the bedding, most people recommend fleece liners, there are a lot of downsides to aspen shavings (sharp, pieces can get stuck in nasty places like the penile sheath, it's quite dusty, and more expensive). I myself use finacard. Fleece is save and cheap since you buy it once and just wash it so you can use it a lot of times.

About their character - if you want a pet that really enjoys/craves your interaction - like a dog - then you probably shouldn't get a hedgehog. Of course every hedgehog is different but from my experience and what I see from others, they don't really need you in most cases. They can warm up to you, they can snuggle with you but most of them are not pets that are happily waiting for you in their cage until you take them out to play. I think a lot of them don't really seek human interaction, they're fine with it, but if you leave them alone they're fine as well. So don't be disappointed if your hedgehog doesn't seem to "like you". I've seen a lot of posts on various sites about "my hedgehog hates me/doesn't like me" or something like that from disappointed people.
Hedgehogs from a breeder who handles them a lot can surely make a difference because they get more used to being held, but some hedgehogs are just sweet and easy going and have no problem with you while others might never really care at all and stay always a bit huffy. I've heard a person describe it as "Russian roulette" once; you can have a hog that likes cuddling with you, but you can also have a hog that doesn't care that much about your attention.
So it really depends on what you're searching in a pet. Mine is a very easy going guy. He likes tummy rubs and I take him out every day and we watch series or films together. He usually just sleeps on my lap but he also likes to explore my room or I let him play with some toys. So they're really independent, but they can definitely warm up to you. I find that owning a hedgehog is actually really rewarding because of this. Something so prickly and defensive can become sweet and relaxed in your presence. My first hedgehog was just sweet and I got her when she was a little older, but I got my current hedgie when he was young and we've made so much progress. At first he slept always curled in a ball, now he just splats out on my lap with his legs sticking out to all sides. I can give him a "quill massage" now, which he enjoys, same for tummy rubs. So it can take a lot of patience (with some hedgehogs more than with others) but that's the thing I like about them; it's not like a dog that's always happy to see you when you come home, it takes a bit more time for them to trust you and I find that all those little things like splatting for the first time etc. make it so worthwhile to own a hedgehog. But it certainly need to suit you, I can imagine not everyone feels the same about it.
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:18 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

Hm, either or works for me. I have some sterelite bins left from when I kept snakes in them, before I built my display cage- I will take a look at the example thread! I'm glad to hear there are various options- I've been tossing between sugar gliders, hedgies and a few other things, but sadly my ferret cage won't fit in my room with the arrangement I am in now, so large/medium exotics are out for now!

I'm a bit biased against fleece, to be honest. I found it smelled worse, and was harder to spot clean, because my rats (the animals I had with the fleece) would go all over it and didn't like their litter box. I'd also like to allow for natural burrowing behavoiur. I would not be averse to trying it at first to see how it works out and keeping if it does though!

The behavour definately sounds like a mix of cat and skink, haha! Misha will come out and settle on me but she doesn't NEED it. This is the part that goes most into consideration for me, especially right now. I love the lil guys but are we compatible at this point in my life, is the big question!

I hope to hear more input to steer me one way or another!
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

I found that with the fleece, Auri's cage smelled far better and it was easier to clean. You save money by being able to wash the fleece vs buying bags of bedding. I don't recommended the shavings, as they can get caught in bad places and can also harbor mites. With Auri, I put a cookie sheet ($1 at walmar) under her wheel with some paper towels, and when she poops/pees on her wheel, I found that the tray catches it just fine. She rarely, if ever, poops on the actual fleece itself.

As far as temperament - some can be cuddly, and some can be huffy. Each hog has their own personality - and it's not likely to change because you want it to :P

How are you with temperatures? They constantly have to be at 72-80 degrees F or they will attempt hibernation and that is not good for them.

Cage wise, they need a hide away, and a wheel (I have a 12inch wheel and an igloo) - some can use water bottles, while other prefer bowls. As for their food, some of the foods are expensive to get, but last a while considering they only need to eat about 2 tbsp of food a day. I use a smart pet rabbit cage for Auri - she likes it, but I feel it's a bit small, so we will be building her a C&C cage soon. They cannot be in wire cages if there isn't a solid bottom and sides that they cannot climb, and solid glass tanks are terrible for them because of bad ventillation. If you have the time, building the C&C is best

And as a typical pet owner, you know that hedgies require the same amount of attention and love as a cat or a dog would. They have vet bills, and they aren't very willing to tell you when something is wrong! They are nocturnal, so if you're never around at night, or can't give them their attention when they are willing to be awake, a different pet option might be best!

Good luck!
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

I found the fleece smelly as well since mine refuses to go on his litter box and he poops a lot in his cage. The positive side is he doesn't poop much on his wheel since he usually stops to poop somewhere in his cage. I use finacard.
There are a lot of options when it comes to the cage, but they need quite a lot of space for such small animals (I can see mine really enjoys his current cage more than his first one, which was smaller - 40x20 inch). The wheel and everything takes up a lot of space.
Some people connect 2 bins with a pipe. For the burrowing behaviour, I have fleece strips in his sleeping hut and he has a dig box with small river pebbles. He doesn't dig much in the substrate.

Good luck with making your choice
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Old 10-29-2012, 01:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

Regarding heat, it isn't a worry with me- I have several heaters on at all times in my room for the reotiles within, so it hovers between 80-90 degrees, the lowest is around 75. Nocturnal or dinural pets are definately for me, an office worker! haha!
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Old 10-29-2012, 02:03 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

Good Just remember though, higher than 80 heat can be just as bad for a hedgie as the low temps, so be careful
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

A rat cage with many levels isn't really going to work unless you modify it with barriers and ramps because they will fall off. I personally use a large rabbit cage. A guinea pig cage is going to be too small, unless you get a very large one?

As for the smell, it really depends. I've had three hedgehogs, some had poop and were smellier than others. The one I have now works fine with fleece liners as she only poops on her wheel and in her litter box, but I had another guy who would just crap all over the place regardless and that didn't really work for him. With wood shavings you have to be a little careful cause they've been known to get caught in sensitive areas. The worst smelling thing is when they poop on their wheel and then run on it, sometimes that smell can linger is it's fresh but you'll probably be sleeping when that happens. They aren't like rats or bunnies though where you can just smell it coming out their cage after one day.

Some hedgehogs can be super grumpy, or super friendly, or somewhere in between. In my experience, I have had two rescues, and one from a breeder. The one I got from the breeder has been the friendliest hedgehog I've had, I'm sure because of all the handling she got as a hoglet, but she can still be grumpy.

As for snuggly? I wouldn't count on it. Most won't cuddle with you, unless you consider them sleeping in a bag on your lap snuggling. I don't find much interaction either, with all my hedgehogs when I'd take them out what would usually happen is they would run away from me looking for a place to sleep. If you pick them up, they will usually just try to get down. I would definitely say that most "tolerate" human interaction as opposed to actually enjoying it. They will "sleep" while you watch the tele, work on art or play video games but they probably won't just sit there. I think most of the time they'd rather be left alone, lol.

As for cons, sometimes they can draw blood when they bite, you have to clip their nails and its a huge pain in the ass (some are better than others), and I find them to be illness prone, a lot of them get tumours/cancers when they get older, or have quill loss, mites etc.

BUUUUUUT after all that they are still awesome pets! and I'm sure you would enjoy one if you got one
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:55 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

I'll add my two cents. It's personal preference. Are you a night person, then yes. Do you want something that sleeps in your lap while you do things, then yes. You can also use a "baby" pouch to help you bond while your at home.

I play with my bird and geckos between 7-11pm and then my hedgehog after that. Mornings are for spot cleaning cages, cleaning the wheel/litter pan, spraying water in the geckos and red-eyed tree frogs cages, changing out water dishes and fresh foods in all and then checking the cricket/mealworm/waxworm cages for water gel and food.

I personally like the fleece. Mimzy usually uses the wheel and litter pan (lined with paper towels). She only sometimes poops on the fleece. Easy to spot clean with a baby wipe. Sometimes, her poop will stink and sometimes not. I guess it depends on what she's been eating.

Mimzy is grumpy when I first wake her up but she gets over that quick - and she is doing her 8 wk quilling! I spot clean spines too.

It all depends on what you will put up with and it sounds like you've had reptiles and small animals b4 - so good luck!
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Old 10-29-2012, 08:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's

Personality varies a lot, but in general babies from breeders have good temperaments - though it may not be apparent right away since when you get them at 6-8 weeks, you'll have to deal with some amount of quilling. If you want to be sure about the personality you're getting, go for an adult. Breeders often will have retired breeding females available for a reduced price, and their personality will already be "set" - you won't have the quilling period. Usually even adults, as long as they're not very grumpy and defensive adults, are just as capable of bonding as babies are. With a baby, a lot of it is the amount they were handled as babies, before going to a new home, but also how much you handle them in the first few months as they're going through quilling and still developing their adult personalities. I like to think of it as similar to socializing a puppy - if you expose them to all sorts of different places, sounds, smells, people, etc, you'll have a much more relaxed and less defensive hedgehog. Some of them will still have a grumpy streak regardless, but for me it's the distinct personalities that make hedgehogs so lovable.

Even "good" temperaments have a wide range from cuddly to insanely active and adventurous, and everything in between. We have 20 right now - five of those are downright cuddlers and never raise their quills, two are very similar but with a little bit of prickle, six are very friendly but more active and less snuggly, two are currently fairly grumpy from quilling, and the others are some combination of friendly and independent - happier doing their own thing but not "grumpy" by any means. Archimedes, my first hedgehog, was incredibly well socialized as well as being from a fantastic breeder, and he manages to be something of an "ambassador" while still being kind of territorial of his cage and having more of a grumpy streak than most of the others. We still adore him, and even he has his cuddly moments and will "splat" and fall asleep on one of us. There's definitely not a single "type" by any means.
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