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Old 11-30-2010, 12:19 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Newbie getting started- The complete rundown

Okay, so I've been looking into this for a few months now, and I definetly think a hedgie is the pet for me right now. So I made a list of what I think i need/want for him/her as well as some questions. Also, I plan on rescuing one, as there are no breeders in my area, and i figure I may as well do some good for a poor little animal.

So here goes

Vet- There is one vet who treats hedgehogs listed here in Fredricton, an hour away from me in Saint John NB. Is that too far? Would there ever be a crisis where that wouldn't be good enough? I haven't called around locally yet, but that seems like a reasonable backup if there are none closer, no?

The Cage-I have two large clear tubs to use, as I am a somewhat poor, thrifty student. I plan on connecting them with a fun tunnel or two. I would use a dremmel to make the holes and clean up the edges, but how should i go about securing the tunnel to both sections?
One is 2.5 ft by a little over 1 ft, and the other is a little under 2 ft by a little under 1 ft. Both are slightly over a foot tall. I plan on drilling a few lines of holes around 4 inches up the sides to help ventilate moisture and ammonia smell. Is that a good idea? Would it even help?
There probably won’t be a lid, would that be an issue. I’m sure he couldn’t climb the tubs themselves, as they have slick sides, no holes, and are somewhat concave as well. If I’m careful not to put anything too close to the walls?
The inside-I think I would like to put it's food, water and it's sleeping place (possibly an igloo?) in the smaller one, and it's wheel, toys, and litterbox in the other. Would there be a better way to do this? I don’t really want to have it's bathroom and it's bedroom to close together, and that’s the best way I could think of. I also think I’ll line it with fleece. Seems to be the easiest and best solution. Should I line it with anything else underneath? Any other advice on bedding?

Heating- I think a 60W CHE for each of the two sections should work? They could be hooked up to 1 thermostat, but would need a thermometer for each, if I’m not mistaken. I think the solid walls should retain heat a little better than a cage-style, and If I put a knit blanket partially (not directly infront of the heat source) over the top at night I could retain a bit more of that heat and spend less energy. What do you think? Is the blanket a bad idea? Would a mesh lid help retain heat?
Another question pertaining to heat and hibernation- What about taking it out of its’ house? Is it a necessity to have the room temp. at 27C+ when taking it out? How about taking it outside? It’s pretty well never over 27C in NB except for maybe 4 or 5 days of the summer. What kind of precautions should I take regarding heat outdoors?

Toys/Excercize I plan on getting it some tubes, some of my clothing/ extra fleece to burrow in, and a wheel. What else could I put in there permanently? Another Question- Is a "saucer" wheel enough for it, or should I have a regular wheel? The saucer is certainly more space efficient… Has anyone used a “sandy trimmer” wheel? Opinions?

Is there anything else as far as preparing for the hedgie goes that I haven’t touched on? Let me know!

Sorry for so many questions. The more I researched, the more questions I had! If you can answer 1 or 2 or all of my questions, I would be very grateful. Thanks!
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Old 11-30-2010, 01:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie getting started- The complete rundown

Welcome to HHC, the best place of information.

You get extra points for looking to rescue a hog, you might wait until January for that, as there's usually a big rush of 'rehoming' hedgehogs, because people think they're a great gift to get for their kids while not researching into them, thus they end up for sale. Also keep in mind some depending on where they come from, might take more time to bond and come around, but its always a good thing to rescue.

Vet - An hour isn't too far, many owners have to travel multiple hours to get to a good vet. You might check around to see if anyone local has some experience, they might be somewhat useful for just general health checkups and general problems, or if you got the funds, stick with the one an hour away. I do this, my local vet is really great with most animals but his hedgehog knowledge isn't the best, but I'm teaching him things and he's researching things when needed. I also have a second vet two hours away that has tons of experience, which is where I go if my guys come down with any major health issue. You should also save up half a grand for possible emergency vet bills, as hedgehogs can rack up a bill in a blink of an eye. Other than money there are insurances that can be bought and even credit cards specifically for medical things.

House - Other people might have ideas but my boy Loki came with his house, which was two plastic storage containers. Use a piece of 5 inch PVC pipe to connect the two rather than a fun tunnel, since its solid and escape proof. The way they secured the tub was by having a couple of short nuts & bolts at either end of the pipe so it couldn't get pulled out from the tubs.

Vent holes are more or less needed when using storage containers / tubs, 4 inches high should be good, do multiple rows but place them high enough that hedgie cannot use them as a ladder. Most people don't use a lid unless they have a cat or another animal, even then they usually cut the middle part out and somehow screen it.

Again, most people set them up as you're thinking. One is used for their igloo/house, food dishes while the other is their wheel and toys. Litter boxes keep in mind that not all hedgehogs will use them, if they don't they usually go on their wheel (even with boxes they'll do it too) so having the wheel in a different tub than their house is good for keeping it somewhat clean.

Fleece is used by most members, use two layers and typically the urine will not reach the bottom of the tub. There's other materials you can use under the fleece, some might use paper towels and such, but I use fleece folded in half and I never really see any urine marks on the actual cage pan.

Heat - Tubs do heat better than cages, but be careful that it doesn't get too hot. Buy two indoor/outdoor thermometers so you can monitor each tub and their temperature. You might need two thermostats, someone else needs to verify this, since I use a Ferret Nation setup and never did the tubs. I think if the heat in the room is pretty even and both tubs stay roughly the same temperature, it should work, but say if the tub with the thermostat probe got colder than the other tub, it means the one without would heat up more. The blanket probably won't be needed, it may cause the tubs to heat up too much.

Range of comfort for hedgehogs is generally 23'C to 26'C with 24'C being what most people aim for in general for temperature. Some hedgehogs can be sensitive to temperatures and some have even been known to attempt hibernation at 23'C, but you should be safe if your room remains in that 23 to 26 range.

As for summer days, again if its within that 23 to 26 range, I think you'd be good. The one main thing to keep in mind is air temperature at ground level, which might be cooler than the air above. I'd probably only take him/her out on warm days. If its really hot I probably wouldn't spend too much time outside. They can get sun burned on their backs, since they have no fur there. Make sure to always watch him and probably provide water.

Toys - If a "Sandy Trimmer" wheel is one of those wheels with sand paper type material on them to help with nails, don't use it. Their feet are too delicate to handle that kind of material, despite some sites saying you can use it. A nice solid smooth surface works well.

Flying Saucers can be used, some warn that it might cause joint problems down the road as the hedgehog might be running by criss-crossing their legs, but there has yet to be hard evidence proving this. Most people go for a regular wheel, especially the Carolina Storm Wheel built by LarryT here, its quiet and easy to clean over commerical wheels, it does take up more room than a FS but with the double tub idea, I wouldn't be too worried about space.

Dig Boxes are a good idea, usually just a kleenex box with the top removed filled with small strips of fleece for them to burrow and dig around in. Balls can be used like what cats have, just make sure its solid with no opening, I've seen some members use golf balls and such.

Many hedgehogs may ignore all other toys except maybe a tube and their wheel, neither of my guys have anything else but a tube and wheel, I've tried balls, toy cars and such and they just utterly ignore them. Depends on the personality of the hedgehog.

The other thing is a Light Cycle. Hedgehogs need to have a light on for at least 12 hours during the day to help keep their internal clocks regulated. No special light is needed, just any old light near their cage. Many owners setup a personal light on a timer near the cage so it turns on and off at the same time everyday. Don't depend on natural light, nor set the cage in direct sunlight. The reason for this is if they sense short days, they'll attempt hibernation thinking winter is coming, especially this time of year since winter is actually coming. (Example, my lights turn on @ 8am and turn off at 9pm).

Darkness can also be a factor at night. Hedgehogs usually like to have dim lighting when out and about, and there are some that will not wheel if there's even a breath of light in the air. You don't need utter darkness when bonding with them on your own time, but when they're on their time, they may need total darkness, its another judgement call.

Research into a good mixture of cat food from the recommended list found here on HHC. You'll want at least 2 weeks of whatever the hedgehog has been eating, since a change in diet needs to be done slowly. A sudden change can cause an upset stomach and GI problems, though some can switch at a wim and not have problems, but don't chance that your hedgehog is like that.

I think that covers it, you'll probably get better advice directly related to using storage tubs than what I have written, as said I use a Ferret Nation setup and have no experience with storage tubs, just what I've read. Don't worry about questions, thats what we're here for.
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Old 11-30-2010, 03:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie getting started- The complete rundown

MUST use lid.

There have been cases of babies "magically" escaping when there is absolutely nothing in the plastic tub that could have been climbable. So you are better off safe than sorry and be prepared with lids.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie getting started- The complete rundown

Thank you very much. I think I may use a lid then, but dremel the majority out, about 6 inches from the edge. That would make a little ledge around the outside. I don't have any other pets atm, and i don't want to have to worry about ventilation problems down the road.
For the tunnel i will use pvc then. Is 4" big enough? thats the highest size for consumers i could find. Of course i could get some off a construction site (wells, plumbing, etc.), but if 4" is good, thats much easier :P How high off the ground can it be? If I were using nuts and bolts to secure it, I would need to have it off the ground a bit for them to catch on the bottom portion, no?

Thanks again guys!
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