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Old 10-06-2014, 02:32 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New hedgehog owner and picking up hedgehog

Hello, i just got my hedgehog Steve a couple days ago. He is a year old and since I brought him home I've only been handling him with gloves, is that the wrong thing to do? The first person in my house to hold him without gloves was my brother and within 10 seconds he started licking his palm and but him right after. He just laughed it off and I said it's probably because he ate food recently and didn't wash his hands since. Should I start picking him up without gloves or wait about a month because he is new to my environment?

I live in Canada and it's starting to get pretty cold. The AVG temp in my room is usually 71. I'm worried about the winter because I know my room will get well into the 60's,maybe even high 50. What should I do to ensure he is warm through the winter?

I don't really know how to "play" with them other than holding them. When I'm holding him he usually just wants to walk in a straight line for a bit and I have to keep putting one hand in front of the other. When and if I do decide to hold him without gloves, I have hand sanitizer and that doesn't smell like food obviously so should I use that right before to ensure he doesn't bite me?

He always huffs up when I try to pick him up but is okay once I got him in my hands. He sometimes just sits in my hands and watches everything around him.

Lastly, how often should I be feeding him? I try to keep him water full at all times and feed him before I go to work (I work midnights) I usually give him a small hedgehog bowl thing half filled with food.

Sorry for all the questions I just want to make sure Steve is comfortable and has a good stay.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome to the forum.

Yes, handle your hedgie without gloves. Your hands will get used to the quills, and it's better for him to be able to smell your scent and get to know you without having gloves on. If you're still a bit hesitant due to the quills, you can use a fleece blanket to pick him up. Even better if you've slept with it for a couple nights so it smells like you! Do make sure you wash your hands with a scent-free soap before taking him out though. Licking isn't too bad, but it can sometimes lead to a bite if hedgie thinks you taste good.

You need to get a heating set up ASAP. The lowest recommended temperature for most hedgehogs is 73*F. It's probably too cold in your room right now and it'll definitely be too cold soon. There's some information in the Housing Accessories forum about heating, but the two main options are space heaters (which heat the whole room) and Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE) set ups (which just heat the cage). Honestly, it sounds like you're going to need both, if your room goes down into high 50's. That's very cold, and I'm not sure a CHE set up could keep your hedgie's cage to 73* or higher with your room that cold. It'd probably work out best to use a space heater to keep your room at least at 60* (probably 65* would work better), then use a CHE set up to keep the cage around 75*. Most hedgehogs are comfortable at 75*, though it's best to watch behavior & see. Some hedgehogs do like cooler temps, but it's usually pretty rare.

Another note that will be important for you right now & in the winter - it's also necessary to make sure they have 12-14 hours of light during the daytime to avoid hibernation attempts. Since days are much shorter during this time of year & in the winter, it's best to have a lamp on a timer near the cage to make sure hedgie gets plenty of light. Doesn't have to be a special light, a regular bulb will be fine.

Hedgies generally fall into two categories - cuddlers & explorers. Cuddlers are content to find a nice dark spot in a blanket or under your shirt, etc. and snuggle in to sleep on you. Explorers like to stay busy & run around, etc. It sounds like he could be an explorer, so you could try setting up a hedgie-proof room or play pen that he can run around in. You can sit or lay in the area with him & watch him & gently interact with him. Honestly, they're not really "playing" pets. You can interact with them a bit, but they're not going to play fetch or anything like that, and usually they won't actively seek out your attention either. If you let him run around & explore, you'll want to make sure the room is warm enough too, so a space heater would be good for that as well.

Most people free-feed, but also keep track of the food. I think most people have a routine of changing the food & water each night before hedgie will be active, so that looks like what you're doing. As far as how much food, measure out a certain amount. You can weigh, measure, or count. 2 tablespoons to start with, then if he eats all of that, give him 2.5 or 3 tablespoons the next night. You do that until you're finding a bit of food left in the mornings, so you know he's getting enough to eat, and you can also measure/weigh/count how much is left in the mornings to keep track of how much he's eating. Hedgehogs are good at hiding illness & keeping track of amount of food eaten is a great way to spot illnesses or other problems early.

What kind of food are you feeding him?
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Old 10-06-2014, 11:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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First and most important, you NEED to get an alternative heat source immediately! They need 75-80 degrees constantly. Ceramic heat emitters are the easiest and most popular.

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Express shipping is best for you... The thermostat will keep the cage the correct temperature. This really is the cheapest set up i've found. But you really need to get the heat up immediately. Why does your room get so cold?! Does the hedgehog get a full 12-14 hours of light? Less than that and they very well may attempt to hibernate.

You should always have food in the cage. What do you feed him??

Pick him up with a blanket if you need to, but then you really need to handle him with bare hands. Hand sanitizer isn't super necessary, just move your hand if he licks it.

As far as playing goes, just let him crawl on you and have some fun... I set up a kiddie pool for my little one to have a play pen.
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm currently feeding him purina cat chow. I got my hands on a space heater and I put it on the floor about 5 feet away from his cage and blasted it because I got so worried. I fell asleep with it on and I passed out for 3 hours and the temp got to 88 in my room, probably warmer in his little hut because when I checked up on him he was all burrowed up in a little fort haha. I think the space heater would he fine. Should I leave it on while I'm at work just on a low setting so maybe it gets to 75ish? I was thinking 88 is too high and I wouldn't be there to monitor it
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Also. Instead of a timer light could I just get a battery powered little light and put it in my closet (that's where he is) and before I leave for work (1030pm) turn it on? I work till 7am so 8 and a half hours. Not like a super powerful light. Maybe just a dimmed one that would just give enough light but not a lot. It would have to be on from 1030pm - 7am


I was also just picking him up and I used a blanket like you suggested and I kept him on the bed with me and he usually just doesn't "lay down" or sit for a long time when he's with me and I felt like he stopped moving for too long and I removed the covers and sure enough he was biting and licking my covers lol, is that because it might smell like food?

Last edited by mitch_b; 10-06-2014 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:02 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Purina cat chow isn't really a great food at all. It'd be a good idea to switch him to something with much better ingredients. These two threads have a lot of information that may help you out - https://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forum...nutrition.html and https://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forum...oods-list.html

88* is definitely too high and keep in mind that a drastic temperature change can cause problems as well. It sounds like you should get a thermostat that you can plug the space heater into. A thermostat will turn it on and off as needed to keep the temperature steady, which is important. Otherwise the space heater could easily make the room too warm or fail to keep it warm enough, especially if the weather changes drastically while you're gone.

I think you have the lighting schedule mixed up. He needs light on during the daytime, not at night. Light on during the night time will probably prevent him from normal activity and is pretty stressful if done long-term. If you're sure that you'll remember to turn it on in the morning and off at night, though, doing something like that would work. I personally prefer using a timer just to avoid the worry of forgetting to turn the light on or off, especially if you're late coming home or leave early for some reason. It's best to have the light schedule be pretty regular & have the light go on/off at or close to the same time each day.

Yup, sounds like he thought it smelled interesting. Hedgehogs will do that pretty often with all kinds of things, which is a reason you have to watch them closely when they're out for playtime. They can get into the weirdest things, which can potentially be dangerous for them!
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Hedgehogs seem to like certain fabrics and will bite them. I think they do this because they like the texture. I have one hoodie that I can't wear around my hedgehog because she'll go nuts for it and end up getting my skin too. :P
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Old 10-07-2014, 10:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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You REALLY need a thermometer to put in the cage so you know exactly how hot it's getting in there, any pet store should have one, make sure it's digital! One for reptiles will work.
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Old 10-07-2014, 11:05 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Digital thermometers with probes can also be found at Walmart & similar stores, and they're cheaper than the ones sold for reptiles in pet stores.
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