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Old 04-30-2013, 04:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Intro + other questions

Hello everyone, I have wanted a hedgehog for a long time but life circumstances prevented me from getting one until now. First we were living overseas and I wouldn't commit to a pet I couldn't bring home to the US when we left plus I also had very young children, no good for a delicate animals with lots of sharp spines. Finally we are back stateside and I am in a position to give a hedgehog a safe stable home. I did a lot of research, found a reputable breeder I was comfortable with and put a deposit on a litter that was planned in several months. I could have gotten one sooner but I like time to plan and make sure I have the proper set up especially since hedgehogs are exotic pets with certain needs. I've been lurking on this forum for awhile and finally decided to sign up and put all my questions in one spot.

2 weeks ago my little prickly was born and I couldn't be more excited! I've named him Jinx and sometime in June he will be coming home!

Now for my questions

First I have two cats, one of whom is old fat and lazy and probably won't bother with the new addition. The other is still young and despite his small stature thinks he is a cougar. Jinx's cage will be in a spare room I can close off during the night but during the day he will be out cuddling (obviously not unsupervised) and/or exploring if he feels like it. Should I put my cat up during those times or try to make introductions? What is the best way to go about introductions should I go that route?

Next I was wondering about heating lamps and lighting. Should I use a heating lamp during the summer months when the temp in the house varies between 70-75? Do you use the heating lamps constantly? Do they need "night time" hours in the dark or will a lined hidey hole provide enough "night" if they need it? Where should a digital thermostat be placed within the cage? Under the lamp or in a cooler area out from under the direct light? Should I use a heating pad under the cage as well? How close should the heating lamp be placed? This is the cage I purchased.
http://www.amazon.com/Midwest-Interacti ... lies_img_z

Also should I make some sort of railing for the ramp? What materials would you suggest I use if so?

Cuddle sacks. Can they be too warm? I had several "pee pads" I kept from when my children were young, the small cloth ones used mostly in cribs or wherever you didn't want a diaper overflowing. I bleached them, then washed them in plain hot water several time and then sewed them inside the fleece layers. The result was a thick waterproof cuddle sack with a layer of fleece outside, the waterproof pad in the middle and fleece lining the inside so three layers on the top and bottom, six total. Will that be too warm if I only use this particular sack inside my air conditioned home? I also made several thinner ones with just the fleece.

Are you still with me? Sorry for the novel, just one more question I promise.

I will be traveling this July to my parents home and plan on bringing Jinx with me. My father doesn't use AC and his home can get quite warm in the summer months. His basement stays quite cool though so I was planning on letting him stay down there mostly. When he is upstairs do I need to find some way of keeping him cool and how would I go about that? The trip will be quite long, 2-3 weeks so I want to be fully prepared for anything.

Thank you for any answers you can give and if you have any other advise or tips you can give I would very much appreciate anything you want to throw at me!
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Old 04-30-2013, 04:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intro + other questions

Hi there! Welcome to the forum and congrats on your soon-to-be baby...you must post pictures when you get him!

You had a lot of questions in there and while I do not have experience with all of those issues I will lend my opinions to anything I can so here goes...

As far as your cats. I do not currently own cats but I grew up with them my whole life and I would say the bottom line is that if your hedgie is out it is ALWAYS a good idea to keep playtime supervised, especially at the beginning to see how they do. Even without cats I think that having a lid on your cage is a must. Hedgies are excellent climbers and of course for added safety when cats are around and you are not it's probably best. I have friends that live nearby and my boyfriend and I were cat-sitting for a few days just last week and we decided to bring Henry over to see how they would do. We sort of helped take care of these cats since our friends got them a few months ago so we felt comfortable around them and know their personalities. Anyways I was so surprised at how great their little meeting went. Both cats and hedgie were curious of each other and there was no agression. At one point a cat sniffed close to Henry's face and Henry balled up for a second...needless to say the cat learned quickly of his spikes and didn't bother him again. I've watched lots of videos on youtube of cats and hedgies cuddling if you are curious in looking that up. All that being said be aware that every animal is different and to be safe I just don't think I would ever leave the room if hedgie is out of the cage. Honestly that's my general rule even when it's just me and hedgie. They are fast and if they fall (which poor eyesight often leads to) they can get very hurt.

For heating: There is a lot of info on the forums if you want to search and read through some of the threads. There is also a long-standing thread called "cage setup discussion" that has tons of pictures and great info about all that stuff. I will say I suggest having the heating lamp on constantly, at least I do. Temp should be maybe between 72-80 depending on how the hedgie responds. Thermostat...I keep on eye on it nearest to his house because that is where he would potentially be sleeping and start hibernating...which can be deadly. I don't use a heating pad and know many do not speak highly of doing so. They have been known to malfunction and badly burn the hedgie...no good! My CHE setup is maybe a few inches from the top of the cage. I just looked at the link of the cage you plan on using...I have seen lots of people on here use that so I'm sure that is a good choice, but I would absolutely look into making some sort of lid for it so that there is no way the cats will ever be able to get to it.

Ramp: It should definitely be enclosed. Hedgies have poor eyesight and can easily fall off and get hurt. I read that a fall as short as six inches can result in broken bones. Even more disturbing is that hedgehogs don't show pain well...so if it did fall when you weren't there to see it may hide that it is hurt and you wouldn't know to get him to a vet right away. I'm pretty sure I've even read that they have been known to run on broken bones...crazy! Anyways I'm not trying to scare you...I just think better to know...better safe than sorry! I don't have a ramp so I'm not totally sure about materials but I would think something that can be easily cleaned in case he poops in it or tracks it around on his little feet.

Cuddle sacks: I don't think it would be too warm but that I can't be sure of. Do you mean you would have that in his cage or for when he is out and hanging out with you? I own one cuddle sack and only use it if Henry is sleepy and I'm doing stuff around the apartment. He loves sleeping in that thing...so I don't have much wisdom to share on that one, sorry!

As far as your trip...I assume you are driving? If possibly honestly I would just bring everything with me. Hedgehogs can be prone to stress when their environment changes. The new smells and people in your parents' home with be quite enough of a game-changer for him so if you can I would suggest having the house be the ONLY thing that is different. This means I would bring his whole cage and heating setup with me. Like I said I don't know how much room you have in your car or whatnot but that would probably be ideal. Also make sure you are prepared for the car ride. I have read lots about traveling with hedgies and you must be sure they are warm in the car. This means keeping him away from sitting directly in front of air vents and it may mean hand warmers or something similar hear him (not directly up against him). I would think it would be uncomfortable to keep the car interior at 80 for the whole trip in the summer! Perhaps keep a small thermometer nearby to really be sure of what the temp is where he is. Also for car rides...SOME have been known to get car sick so be prepared for that. Have food, water, paper towels on hand. Every hedgie is so different. My Henry sleeps in the car always. Maybe try a few shorter car rides before the big trip to make sure he would be ok and get used to his "normal" behavior when in the car.

Ok that was a TON of info! I hope some/all was helpful. Like I said a lot is from things I've read or just my opinion if I were in your shoes. Oh! One last thing! Not sure if you have already done this but there is an AMAZING book written by one of the mods on here on hedgehogs. It covers pretty much everything and was a great help to me when I first brought Henry home. You can download it free online and I recommend you take a good look at it! Here's the link:

http://www.westcoasthedgehogs.com/files ... nload.html

Hopefully others will address some of your other inquiries I may not have gotten to. Best of luck!!
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Old 04-30-2013, 05:00 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intro + other questions

Welcome to the forum!

I think it would be fine to have the cat out while he's out, after the initial introduction, and ONLY when supervised. If the cat seems too interested or playful (or otherwise), then it might be a good idea to close the cat in another room. Most people have good luck with introduction of cats to hedgehogs though - most are smart enough to realize that those weird things are poky and hurt, and they'll watch from a safe distance after the initial introduction. If you do decide to introduce them, I would have a second person nearby to keep a close eye on the cat, while you hold him and keep an eye on his reaction. That way both animals are being closely watched for bad reactions and any warning signs.

Most people just keep their CHE going all the time, summer and winter - the thermostat will control the bulb and turn it on/off as needed, so if it's not needed in the summer, it'll just stay off and not waste energy. It's best to keep using it though, in case there's a sudden cold day, and to keep the temperature more steady anyway. You do have to make sure it's a CHE (ceramic heat emitter) bulb though - they don't emit any light, so it can be on night and day as needed. They do need to have light during the day, for 12-14 hours to avoid hibernation, and many people do that by leaving a light on in the room, or putting a lamp on a timer just for the cage. It's a good idea to provide the artificial light, as natural light isn't always bright enough or long enough (in the winter). During the night time, you'll want to make sure it's completely dark - some hedgehogs are very sensitive to light and won't come out if there's even just a nightlight on.

You shouldn't need a heating pad, but you might need two CHE lamps for the cage, depending on how cool the room gets at night or in the winter. Generally you put the lamp in the middle of the cage, or space out two lamps about equal distance from each other/ends of the cage. I would strongly suggest that you get a top for that cage, also - some hedgehogs are climbers and that cage would be perfect to climb out of. With a wire top, it'll also be easier to place the lamps, since you can just set them right on top. That will also direct more of the heat downward into the cage and give less space for dispersal into the rest of the room. I usually put the thermostat probe just in the middle of the cage, taped to one of the walls.

I'm not sure on the ramp - I know a few other people on here have that cage, and I can't recall if any of them actually use the ramp or if they took out the dividing section (can't remember if that's possible). If you do make a railing, you could probably use coroplast or plastic placemats or something similar, though I'm not completely sure how to attach it. Perhaps someone who has the cage will have more/better suggestions.

The cuddle sacks sound fine. You could save the warmer ones to use in the winter and for trips to the vet, etc. in the winter, and use the thinner ones for summer.

If he's only upstairs for short periods for cuddles and exploring, he should be just fine. It's usually only long-term warm temperatures that cause a negative reaction. Hedgehogs are generally more relaxed about too-warm temps than too-cold. Up to 80* is fine for most, though it's a good idea to start keeping an eye on them once it's getting near 80* and over. It just depends on the hedgehog - my Lily needed temps warm anyway and she was fine at temps up to 85* (though it certainly made me nervous!). For some hogs, anything over 76* is too hot. Just look for signs of him being uncomfortable - splatting out on a cooler surface, warm clammy skin, less active, eating less and drinking more, etc.

Only other tip I have is to check out the care book written by one of our mods, LizardGirl, if you haven't already - http://www.westcoasthedgehogs.com/files ... index.html It's free to download and contains a ton of great information. It's perfect for new owners.
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Old 04-30-2013, 09:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intro + other questions

Thank you both for the replies!

The cage I posted actually has a top, it's not shown in the picture and I almost purchased a separate one however reading the comments showed it does indeed come with a top. I never considered having a cage without a top as I need to keep cats and children from disturbing my new baby, LOL. The ramp is rather low, maybe 4 inches but I will look into siding or perhaps taking it out all together.

I did read the heating thread though not all the comments. I was leery of a heating pad so I think I will forgo it all together. I wasn't at all sure about the lighting/heating or placement so thank you for clearing it up. I asked someone at petsmart but they didn't have any experience with hedgehogs. I will look for the CHE lamp, would that be in the reptile section?

I am driving and I'll be honest, driving at a set temp of 80 sounds miserable in the summer for 11 hours. If he is in his cuddle sack toward the back of the car (I have a Pacifica, cross over SUV/Mini van) would 75 be an acceptable compromise?

I will certainly check out the books listed! Thank you so much for the warm welcome and the fantastic advise. I only have one picture as of now but it doesn't show much. The breeder I am going through doesn't like to disturb mommy and babies until they are 2-3 weeks old so I am anxiously awaiting better pictures since he isn't quite 2 weeks old yet!!
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Old 04-30-2013, 09:58 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intro + other questions

You're very welcome! I noticed both responses were very similar so hopefully that cleared up most of the questions you had. Regardless I would definitely read the hedgehog care book that we both mentioned...I promise it will clear up any remaining questions you might have!

I'm glad you have decided on a top for the cage...I wasn't sure so just wanted to mention because it is important! I purchased my whole heating setup from petsmart (dome and bulb are a must and then I bought the stand so that it hovers over the cage and is not directly sitting on it, your preference on that). If you have time before bringing baby home and want to try and save some money I know all the items are available online (amazon is a good start) for cheaper. The employees at my petsmart knew nothing about hedgies but were very helpful when I explained what I needed. The items are all in the reptile aisle.

As far as the car ride if it is summer I would think hedgie would do just fine in the car. Just really keep an eye on the temp for the whole ride. I think consistency is important...so I would try your best to keep him at the same temp he is used to when he is home in his cage. Obviously just check on him often!

Don't forget to come back and post pics when you bring home hedgie!!
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Old 04-30-2013, 10:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intro + other questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by sklock65
You're very welcome! I noticed both responses were very similar so hopefully that cleared up most of the questions you had. Regardless I would definitely read the hedgehog care book that we both mentioned...I promise it will clear up any remaining questions you might have!

I'm glad you have decided on a top for the cage...I wasn't sure so just wanted to mention because it is important! I purchased my whole heating setup from petsmart (dome and bulb are a must and then I bought the stand so that it hovers over the cage and is not directly sitting on it, your preference on that). If you have time before bringing baby home and want to try and save some money I know all the items are available online (amazon is a good start) for cheaper. The employees at my petsmart knew nothing about hedgies but were very helpful when I explained what I needed. The items are all in the reptile aisle.

As far as the car ride if it is summer I would think hedgie would do just fine in the car. Just really keep an eye on the temp for the whole ride. I think consistency is important...so I would try your best to keep him at the same temp he is used to when he is home in his cage. Obviously just check on him often!

Don't forget to come back and post pics when you bring home hedgie!!

I still have several weeks until he comes home, at least 4 but probably closer to 6. She hasn't given me a definite time frame yet. I will look on amazon because I DO love saving money, haha. I think I would prefer a stand for the heatin lamp as well, I don't want hot wires burning my hedgehog or my overly curious children. I admit I was lost in the reptile aisle, I wasn't sure if I needed light and heat or just heat.

As for the car ride with 3 children I'm stopping constantly for potty breaks anyways so I'll be able to check on him every 1-2 hours depending on child liquid intake, LOL.
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Old 04-30-2013, 11:09 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Intro + other questions

Haha yes like I mentioned the pet store employees knew nothing about hedgehogs but when I explained what I needed they were able to help me!

And do make sure you get the CHE...which is heat only
(no light emitted)

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