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Old 09-28-2009, 01:40 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Presentation, questions and ideas

Hello from rainy Mexico City, friends!

I've been living with a 7-week hedgehog for three full days already (well, the poorly lit parts anyway). I'm bubbling with excitement, this is the very first pet I have (touchable, the rest were betta fishes).

Here's a picture of Mr. Piquete de Ombligo (belly poke or belly ticke).

I've been reading tons and tons of stuff about hedgies and as I have free time to devote to Piquete, I've been thinking about lots of stuff to do for him.

Questions and ideas, in random order. Please stop me before I attempt something stupid.

1) Winter time! Mexico City is generally warm, but there's a long month with temps below hedgie-comfy, specially in an apartment. I'm looking at alternatives to heat an area of the cage. Have any of you tried these USB warmers? I'm a computer geek, so I'm always looking at chinese computer delicacies You can connect this stuff to an iPod wall charger and not run it from the computer. Second alternative would be a 5-7 watt lightbulb inside a tin can (Altoids or pipe tobacco can), attached to the roof of the cage so it irradiates -some- heat downwards. Unexpected alternative: this morning I've been to a huge pet market and found a ridiculously priced lizard heater (not ceramic, but the thin film type). I'm thinking about placing it on a wall of the cage instead of on the floor, because it may be a little too strong (the packaging says it generates around 40º C). I'll place it close to the den, so it becomes the "safe haven" in case of extended cold days.

2) I'm totally in the DIY mood and found a 11" wheel made of wire. I bought a rubber/vinyl band of the same width of the wheel and weaved it through the bars, leaving four bars outside and one inside all around to fasten the band. I don't know where I read it first, but I used soft aquarium tubing to cover the bars/spokes of the wheel, to soften the impact should it happen. I've been thinking about his nails and instead of lining the full inside of the wheel with sandpaper (dangerous for the soft feet), what about using the kind of adhesive tape used to fix slippery stair steps? that way I can place abrasive bands here and there instead of covering the whole surface.

3) I'd also like to breed regular mealworms, but I'm somewhat discouraged by the sheer size of the tubs and boxes everybody recommends and use. Does anyone breed mealworms in a smaller setting? I'm thinking 3 or 4 1qt plastic boxes, Tupperware style, to hold the different stages of growth. I wouldn't mind having to restart the colony a couple times, but for the 3-4 mealworms a day a hedgehog can enjoy, there should be an easy way of breeding.

4) The little guy is shy. I try to handle him and talk, but all I get is a spiky shoulder and/or heavy snortling. I played the t-shirt card, I'll report back on the results, but for now I think this makes him as nervous as my big head looking down on him. I gave him a carrot strip and he chewed on it while I held it between my fingers. he then proceeded to anoint but after that he spit(spat?) the carrot. A while later the smelled my hand a couple times, but no anointing then.

5) I scooped some poop from last night and placed it near a corner with some pine shavings to start litter training him (I know, there's too much stuff happening at the same time!). That's exactly where he's sleeping tonight. Heh, if he doesn't change his sleeping habits, I DON'T want to pick him up tomorrow. The den-box where he slept last night lays empty in the opposite end of the cage (a big rubbermaid container for now, on sunday I'm going shopping for the hog).

6) The breeder gave me the idea of putting a stone on the cage, to help trimming the nails (the hedgie seems to know when he needs a nailcut and uses the stone). As soon as I added it to the cage, the hedgie started the anointing ritual, but this time it involved biting the stone! I made some noise and distracted him, but I'm thinking of taking back the stone before he loses a tooth!

Well folks, this is me and my hedgehog, I hope the excitement continues and we become best friends.

Have a great day,
Andres B
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:00 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Presentation, questions and ideas

Hey and welcome to HHC! Your little guy is very cute.

1- I would recommend using a space heater or ceramic heat emitter. Space heaters aren't very expensive, and heat the whole room. CHEs are more expensive initially but last a long time, and are inexpensive to operate. You will want something that will heat the whole cage, not just the bed area/floor. The air can still be cold when using heat pads. What type of cage are you using?

2- It might be a little easier to get advice if you post a picture of the wheel so far. It sounds like you have safety covered, you just need to make it easy to walk on, so it is not slippery? I have a wheel that came with grippy strips like those you put on bathtub floors, maybe something like that would help?

3- I raise my own mealies since I go through about 300 a month on my hedgie. I have them set up in three 6 qt tubs. I think it would work fine to use smaller tubs, you will just have a small output of mealies- but that works if that's what you need! The tubs I get are for shoes and are $0.94 USD. In the first tub I have smaller growing mealies, in the second I have large mealies for feeding, and in the third is where I toss all the pupae and beetles. I rotate bedding in the beetle tub every 3 weeks or so, putting the old stuff in the small mealie tub and putting new bran in the beetle tub, so they don't eat all the eggs. They are very easy to care for, I have them near Inky's cage so they stay warm, and just feed them apples and carrots.

4- Just keep handling him every day. He's still very new to you, and most hedgies take time and patience to warm up.

5- To discourage sleeping in the litter box, I would just try to make the place where you do want him to sleep, to look much better. Put fleece strips in, make sure it is dark and secure, etc. Hopefully he will decide it is cozier.

6- If he is biting at the rock I would definitely take it out. The stone likely won't help much with nails, since hedgies feet are designed to touch the pads down and not the nails, so the nails would have to already be way too long for there to be any effect.

Welcome again! I'm sure others will chime in with more advice and comments.

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Old 09-28-2009, 05:56 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Presentation, questions and ideas

How adorable and little is he he looks quite content
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:36 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Presentation, questions and ideas

Aww He is so sweet! That little face!!!
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Presentation, questions and ideas

Hello everyone, thanks for the replies!

I'm adding a couple of (crappy) pictures. This is more or less the "definitive" home of Mr. Piquete. It's placed on the pantry floor, with an always open door to the kitchen and next to the laundry room, both definitely the warmest rooms in the apartment.


You can see the 11" wheel and figure our the scale or the rest. The den/hut is a repurposed wine bottle box (yay for the round hole!) that I cut to 8 inches deep and filled with fleece bands, 3/4 in wide. He's started using it right away and I feel we're connecting through these silly things.

A little water bottle and a dish compose the "redundant water supply", and a dish for the Eukanuba Poulet (chicken) kitten pellets.

The rubber band on the wheel isn't slippery (but I'll observe the hedgie running to see if I can spot any trouble). If it is, I can scratch the surface with sandpaper to make it a little more coarse.

LizardGirl: thank you for the pointers. Let me follow up with some more info.
Heater: I'll try the lizard heater placing it below the tank/cage. If my thinking is right, it'll warm a bigger area that way than if it's placed on a wall.
Wheel: that's the pic. My idea of using the self-adhesive "step savers" is for adding abrasive surface to trim the critter's nails. The actual wheel surface isn't slippery (but it still haven't been tested with the full poop and pee package).
Rock: out of there. Now he'll have a harder time trying to climb up the wheel, I'll figure what to use there, maybe a wood scrap block.
Litter training: I scored high with the den, I'll work on uglyfying (that's not a word, I know) the litter. Shavings seem to add to the confusion, so I'm switching to paper towels tonight and I'll try to make fleece liners for the floor to get rid of shavings altogether.
Mealies: I've seen a video on youtube showing a much smaller setup. I LOVED the idea of the small drawers. I think that will be my next experiment.

Thanks again and cheers to all!
Andres B
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File Type: jpg IMG_0281.jpg (44.8 KB, 12 views)
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Old 09-28-2009, 03:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Presentation, questions and ideas

A aquarium has lots of downside: it's heavy to lift to wash it and ha poor ventialion. I would sugest getting some transparent storage bin you can drill hole in them, it's inexpensibe and better for your hedgie.

I would not add the abrasive surface on the wheel cause hedgehog don't run on just their nails but on their paw. That could result on sore paw or even bloody paw.

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