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Old 05-01-2010, 01:24 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New Hedgie Owner, need advice!!

Hey everyone!

I just brought home a baby hedgehog (7-8weeks old) and have never owned one before.
Obviously, I want to make this little guy as stress free, happy, social and healthy as possible, but I've been reading some conflicting advice online that I was hoping you guys would help me sort out.

First of all: Most people say that it is important to get your hedgehog used to being held immediately and to start bonding right away. However, I've also read many times that you should allow your hedgehog a lot of privacy in the first week or so in order to calm down and get used to its surroundings. He's still pretty scared of me and I was wondering what you reccomend I do in order to facilitate the bonding process? Also, he refuses to eat out of my hand, so any other method of positive reinforcement?

Secondly: I love him, but he poops EVERYWHERE, and I'm having a very hard time getting him to pay attention to me moving his poop into the litter area. More importantly, he poops all over his wheel, like many other hedgehogs and that's not really something I can move into the litter area. I have a litter area in the corner for him, should I opt instead for a cookie pan under the wheel? How do you reccomend I litter train him, because he doesn't yet seem calm enough to pay attention to me moving his poop to the litter pan.

Third: Also, how long should I wait before introducing him to new treats? The breeder has only fed him cat food so far.

Lastly: Is it ok to use any cleaning products at all to clean the poop out of the cage? I want to make sure I keep the smells to a minimum because his cage is in my bedroom.

Thanks so much! I'm sure I'm going to remember more questions I need to ask. I really appreciate the help!

His name is Hercules by the way! (Half-god/Half-Hedgehog, strongest hedgehog on earth, etc!)

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Old 05-01-2010, 02:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Owner, need advice!!


I'm also a new owner but I've spent countless hours doing researching, this is the best place to find answerings as you've probably seen, various web sites give various answers, best resource is owners talking with owners. I'll give out the info I know but the experienced members will chime in and give you a hand.

[1] Seems the general answer is at least 2 days for him to get use to their new enviroment and smells before you actually attempt to bond with him, but each hog has their own personality so it could take longer. The bonding process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months and I know I've read some owners with stubborn hogs taking up to a year. Best suggestion I've seen is to wear a shirt while you sleep for a couple of days, and then put it into his igloo. He will relate your smell with being safe. He won't eat out of your hand because you're a new strange smell to him, and he's not sure if you are safe or not. Bribery is a good thing, get some mealworms or superworms, they usually cannot resist.

[2] He won't actually pay attention and watch you move his poop and think, well that's where I'm suppose to go. Moving his poop to the litter is once again using smell, he'll smell the other poop in the litter and he'll go. Beware though that not all hogs can be litter trained, just keep moving the poop to the litter and hopefully he'll get the idea. I'm not sure exactly if there is anything else you can do to train him. As said as a new owner, my experience is limited to mainly reading and research. I got lucky with my girl because she was housed on aspen bedding, so when I switched her to a fleece liner, I put a box in there with aspen bedding, and she's taken up using it for the bathroom, most of the time.

[3] Treats are almost a game, as hogs will like and dislike different things from other hogs. For example cooked skinless chicken (no spices or breading) is said to be a good treat, but my hog cares not for it, she'll eat the cat food around it. On the other hand mealworms gets her all worked up and excited.

[4] I know cleaning wise you want to stay away from anything with a heavy scent to it, I believe heavily diluted bleach water is recommended but I don't know how many parts bleach to water is to be mixed, enough that it will not leave a heavy odor in the cage or tank.

As said keep in mind I've only been a hedgehog owner for a month now, and my Vera Lee was already a year old and very tamed. Just remember it takes time to bond with them, keep an eye on his poop, if its brown, solid but not rock hard (when fresh) he's doing good, if it turns green then he's stressing.
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Owner, need advice!!

Puffers your answer was very thorough. The only thing I will add is about cleaning the cage.
Most people use vinegar and water to clean the cage. Get a spray bottle from the dollar store and mix 50/50 vinegar and water. If you are using liners it is recommended to wash them in your regular detergent and then rinse them in vinegar so that it cuts the detergent residue. The vinegar smell dissipates quickly especially when it's diluted but if you don't like the smell you can use a cloth with just water to wipe out the cage or you can look for a product called Nok-Out that is a safe for pets stink remover.

RIP Quigley, I miss you my little grumpus.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Owner, need advice!!

I can personally attest to the usefulness of Nok-Out, we used to recommend that to EVERYONE with pet odor problems when they came into our store. (I say 'used to' not because something turned out to be wrong with the Nok-Out and no we don't say people should use it anymore; I say 'used to' because we don't own the store anymore. x3) It works ridiculously well, we still clean our carpets with it when one of the dogs has an accident. Try your nearest Pet Valu, I think they all carry it. I seem to recall it being a little on the expensive side, but the bottles are large and you don't really need to use a lot to get the full effect.
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Old 05-03-2010, 03:52 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Owner, need advice!!

As for the litter training I think maybe you should wait a little. Let your hedgie adjust to his cage first and figure out where he wants to poop. After a couple weeks you should notice an area he'll generally go to poop. Then you can put a pan in that area and let him get used to going in the pan.
It happened with Pineapple too. When she was a baby she pooped all over the place and I got frustrated with trying to litter train her and gave up, but she got better by herself as the weeks went by and now all I need is a litter pan under her wheel.
I think the general idea with hedgie litter-training is that the hedgie doesn't learn where you want him to poo.. You have to learn where the hedgie wants to poo :P

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Old 05-03-2010, 04:10 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Hedgie Owner, need advice!!

Just wanted to add, I use a litter box in the corner and also one under the wheel, as you can never stop them from pooping on the wheel. Trays under the wheel with paper towel work well too to catch poop and pee.

If you have a wheel that allows you to adjust the angle, ie. a bucket or cake pan wheel, slightly tilting the wheel outwards allows the poop and pee to slide off into the litter box/tray under the wheel. I recently purchased some of Larry's wheels and I swear I've barely had to clean the things (other than a quick wipedown in the morning) because the poop tends to fly off and land in the litter box due to my hedgehogs running so fast on the wheel and the slight tilt outwards.

Vinegar and water works well for cleaning but if you want something a little more industrial and a little less vinegary smelling you can also buy a cleaning product called chlorhexidine. It's a cleaning product/surgical scrub used in veterinary offices so it works well but is safe at the same time. There's usually diluting instructions on the bottle, but I bought the "hand soap" version, which is already diluted and gentle enough to use on your own skin. You can ask your vet clinic if they can special order you a jug. I think I paid $40 for a massive jug (that's at cost mind you, because I work at the vet clinic) and it's already been almost 8 months and I'm not even halfway through it.
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