Trying to improve this HH's life/ Health concerns - Hedgehog Central Hedgehog pet care & owner forum
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Old 11-04-2013, 06:26 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation Trying to improve this HH's life/ Health concerns

The other day I saw a facebook post from a girl I kind of know who was offering a female hedgehog for free to someone who could give her a better home. I took her in 3 days ago.

I later found out that I am this hedgehog's third home, it was apparently purchased by a heroin addict, sold to this girl, then later given to me, over a period of time. She is apparently about a year old.

I don't suspect she had a great life under the "heroin addict", and I don't think the girl I got it from took great care of her either (not terrible, but not fantastic).

The girl said she was a sweetheart of a hedgehog who is friendly and healthy other than some weight issues.

Not quite sure what the whole truth is, not quite sure what the whole history is, but I've researched taking care of her as well as possible and know what I need to do, for the most part. Here is where I need help.

A) Nails/Being pissy:
Her nails have NOT been clipped in a while from what I can tell. I really want to do this ASAP because it looks like it kind of hinders her ability to get around as well as she could.. and they are also just way too long. She won't get comfortable with me for me to be able to do this. It's only been 3 days, so maybe all I need is time. But I've given her the perfect temperature, a tshirt of mine in her cage to get her used to me, food, water, and plenty of space to get used to being somewhere new. I check on her when I feel i should, I've only taken her out a few times and once she explored around a little bit but for the most part going anywhere near her causes hissing and balling up to no end. Inside her cage, sometimes i'll hear her rustling around or doing things, but for the most part all she seems to do is sit under her blanket, I have NEVER seen her up and about inside her cage. Is there any way to get her a little more comfortable with me/the environment faster so I can clip the poor thing's nails? or is this a more urgent matter that I should try to do even before then? I also think she needs to be bathed rather badly which is another reason why I wish she would just warm up so I can get her to a better state.

Note: The (human) girl did not seem to be lying about the hedgie being a friendly hog because her actions towards it when she was around were not hesitant or scared (she's kind of an easy person to read haha), so I think she SHOULD warm up.

B) Eating:
-First of all, as related to above, I think she's still spooked from the car ride/new environment and I don't think she's eating OR drinking much. I just today took note of kibble amount and water line to see if she actually isn't eating but I'm pretty positive she's not and it scares me. I've been successful in feeding her ONE mealworm once when I tried to get her to play around outside her cage with me and I know those are not a normal food especially for fatter hogs. What do I do?

-Also she's kind of fat which I understand is normal with hedgehogs, but what SHOULD I do to get her to slim up (if i can get her to start eating normally)? I've gotten like 4,000 different answers to this online from higher fat content dry cat food ONLY, to lower fat content dry cat food ONLY, to to making her meals with certain human foods and I just don't know what the best option is.

C) Cage/bedding:
I'm pretty satisfied with the cage I got from the girl I think it will suit the hog just fine, but the bedding wood chips are messy as HECK. I also get so overwhelmed trying to find out what kind of bedding to buy, since so many will seem to harm or kill her. In all honesty I would be much happier doing without the wood chips or any kind of loose disposable bedding... If I lined the bottom of the cage with fleece, and then layered it up with all different kinds of hedgehog friendly fabrics and scraps (not small pieces, but like larger rectangles or small cut up blankets that can just be thrown all around and bunched up) would that be ok? She seems to gravitate towards ONE blanket to go under anyway and it seems the biggest problem with not having bedding for your hog is taking away their burrowing ability. I read online no bedding would be OK... but maybe not the best since she can't burrow... I figured the fabric scraps would still allow some sort of burrowing and plenty of warmth. Would this be acceptable or should I just deal with bedding?

D) Potty:
Yeah she's not potty trained, and I want to make that happen if everything works out. Again, like most things, every other hedgehog site seems to like, contradict the last and I just want the name of a litter that some site hasn't claimed to have caused a hedgie death.

E) Unrelated:
Unrelated question to the above concerns but, I would ASSUME that air quality is something you would want to maintain with any animal... So I stopped burning incense/candles in my room. If anything, I would think candles would be alright. I just like my room to smell nice so I bought a vanilla air scent thing which I would think is OK but now I'm even tweaking out about that. I don't want to harm my new hog or make her unhappy at all. So, does anyone know anything about incense/candles/air fresheners around them?

I just want this hedgehog to be happy and to have a healthy life with me as her owner and friend but it seems like she's had a harder life than I thought. Maybe she just needs time, but I'm afraid for her health currently so any help to any of these questions would be appreciated so much. Sorry for the long post, thanks guys.
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:30 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm so glad you took this poor hedgehog in...sounds like she's in much better hands! And welcome to the forum! We're happy to have you both here and can't wait to hear how she starts improving with your help.

A) I would go ahead and bathe her if she really needs it. It may very well make her feel better, and it's typically easier to clip nails in the bath - most hedgehogs are too busy worrying about the water to care much, or to ball up, and the warm water softens the nails a bit. Just try to keep things calm, and judge her mood - if she's super freaked out, make it as quick as you can and just worry about the worst nails (any that are curving too close to the foot, longest ones, etc.).

As far as handling her, continue to do so regularly. Evening is usually the best time, and try to have her out for a minimum of a half hour - the more she's handled, the faster she should come around (theoretically! but it usually works). If she's hesitant to unball in your lap, you could try covering her up with a blanket and see if she starts exploring around on you a bit more that way - it tends to make them feel safer. You could also see if she's willing to burrow into a blanket and just sleep/hang out on your lap for a few hours while you do something else. Otherwise, you could try getting her out earlier in the day - it's not bad as long as she's still being allowed to sleep, and often they're more willing to cuddle up and sleep on you then. Sleeping with your scent around her will get her used to the idea that you won't eat her, as well as getting her used to your movements, etc.

B) Continue to count/weigh/measure kibble out so you can see if she eats. If you've been keeping track and you're pretty sure she's eaten very little or not at all, you may need to start syringe-feeding her soon - they go downhill fairly quickly without getting enough food in them. Try moving her food bowl right next to her bed, and possibly scattering some kibble in her bed if you can tonight. She might be willing to eat more if she doesn't have to venture out much for it.

Do you know what kind of food she has? The brand, etc.? The best starting point would be a lower fat food, probably around 10-12%. If the food is a kitten food, 12-15% might be a better first step, to see how she reacts to that. There's other options, but usually a lower fat food is the best thing to try first. If you change a bunch of things at once, it's hard to tell what actually helped in case you don't want to keep everything up from then on.

C) Fleece would be a much better bedding option - it's the most popular choice on this forum by far. If you want to have scraps & pieces for her to dig in, it'd be best to keep them all fleece - other fabrics fray & produce strings that can get caught around legs (cutting off circulation) unless they're sewn and the seams hidden. Another option is using just fleece for the liners, then making a dig box of fleece scraps for her to dig in (rather than having them scattered all over the bottom of the cage). I used a Lixit pigloo for Lily & stuffed that with fleece scraps, she would dig into them to sleep and seemed to like it quite well.

D) You don't want to use any kind of cat litter - even non-clumping can get caught in privates (though more likely for males). Just paper towels can work just fine, though some hedgehogs try to use them for nesting material. If she does that, others have made little fabric potty pads to use in the litter box, or Yesterdays News cat litter is an acceptable, safe option too. As far as litter training, don't expect it to happen, but the best way to attempt it is to put the litter box under the wheel since they'll almost always potty on the wheel anyway - box being under catches the run-off, and gives them a general area of the cage to aim for, at least.

E) Strong scents aren't really good for hedgie noses because their sense of smell is so good. The vanilla air scent thing might even be too strong - I would at the very least make sure it's not near her cage at all. For odor control, an open box of baking soda can help, or air purifiers (though they're expensive). There's also a scentfree air purifying plug-in thing sold at Walmart (mentioned on here once, but I don't have time to find the thread right now, unfortunately) that you could try. I remember the person who found it saying it worked quite well. The smell from her cage should also go down once she's off wood bedding (though you'll have to figure out how often changing her fleece is needed to keep the smell of poop/urine down) and if she's on a crappy food, that can make her poop smell worse too. Getting her cleaned up should help as well.

Last comments - does she have a wheel? If not, she really needs one and that should also help with weight loss. If you get a store bought wheel, Comfort Wheel and Flying Saucers are the only safe ones (don't get a Silent Spinner). Cake cover or bucket wheels are considered the best though, you can find those online (there's sellers in the For Sale section on the forum) for around the same prices (not counting shipping) as a store wheel.

And I would highly recommend downloading this free book & checking it out - it has a ton of great information for new owners and should really help you out a lot. http://www.westcoasthedgehogs.com/fi.../download.html

Edit: Forgot to mention that definitely feel free to ask more questions if you're confused on something or can't find an answer in the book or on the forum! And don't worry about the long post - I think mine might even be longer.
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Old 11-04-2013, 09:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome! I was going to help out with the questions, but I think you're pretty much set. I'm glad you're here and trying to give her a happier home!
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:55 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks for the answers, helped a lot! I cleaned her cage up a ton, re set it up, and that seemed to heighten her mood.

She does have a wheel, and she is now eating. She is getting better for sure. Thanks for all the advice!
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:37 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Glad to hear a good update! I hope she continues to settle in well with you.
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