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Old 04-13-2011, 06:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Newbie with new hedgie

I brought my hedgehog home today... I actually got him off of CL after considering getting a hedgehog for a while, and the situation seemed to be a decent one (guy adopted him after small local pet store was going out of business and didn't know what to do; he'd had him for several months but felt that the cage situation was too big for his living situation).

Anyhow, I have a 2x3 Cavy Cage that I built (with a cat-safe top, since I have a cat), plus the proper food and water supplies (I used the list I found on this site re: the food as a guide), fleece strips and blanket, igloo, PVC elbow, a little "hut", an extra-large 12" Comfort Wheel, some mealworms, some bedding, a litter box with recycled newsprint pellet litter, and a thermometer.

Questions I have:

1. If the temperature in the cage is currently within the ideal range, what is the rationale for getting a heating lamp? Is this so there is some consistency? I did not get one yet because I'm planning on going to a store that specializes in reptiles -- the pet store I went to, while large, did not have a very good range, and they were out of the thermostats -- and I also wanted to see if they are necessary given that the temperature is already a constant (since setting it up) 74 degrees.

2. I have read to leave the hedgie be for at least 12 hours upon getting home, up to an entire day. but I've also read that it's good to let him be for a little while but also bring him out to sit next to me or on my lap while I watch television. Ideas?

3. When I moved him into his cage, he growled and puffed up into a ball. Since then, he scuffled into his igloo, scratched around a bit, and went back to sleep. What should I expect next? And how does this relate to my Question #2?

I'm sorry if these are silly questions, but I am just a newbie... so new, in fact, that my hedgie has no name. I'm waiting to see what his personality is like, figuring that when I know, I'll know.

Edited to add: is it normal to feel slightly panicky, like "What have I done?!" when bringing a hedgehog home for the first time? I somewhat feel like I did when I brought my first child home from the hospital.... please tell me this is normal?
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Old 04-13-2011, 06:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

1. Usually a heating system is used due to changes in temperature inside the house, if you're house is a constant 74'F degrees then you're probably good, but most houses tend to go up and down in temperature during the day, depending on the position of the sun, weather, etc. 74'F is towards the bottom end of the range, but it'll depend on the hog, some like it cool, some like it hot.

One of the main reasons for heating systems besides keeping the hedgehog warm is some can very very sensitive to temperature change, there's been a few hogs known to attempt hibernation from a small change in temperature of only a few degrees, though you'll find most will tolerate such changes.

Other reason is in places where the temperature may change greatly through out the day, its not good for the hog to live in per say if the temperature at one point in the day is 73'F and changes at some point to 80'F, for hedgehogs (and even humans) it can cause colds (or for hogs, a URI).

Main question by most, is 74'F the temperature of the cage, or the room, most people setup a thermometer inside the cage, so you know what the exact temp is at the hog's level.


2. Again, due to hedgehogs and their vast differences in personalities, it'll depend on the hedgehog acts. Some won't overly care about changing homes, others will be very skiddish and nervous. Just judge by how he reacts, if he seems very freaked out, I'd leave him. If he seems somewhat curious but probably a little cautious, I'd take him out. Bring him out and sit him on your lap, and grab a blanket with no major loose threads for him to hide in, they feel more secure if they're hidden (also, be prepared to be pooped on, it happens).

3. If its during the day, he probably went to bed, they're nocturnal creatures so typically they're asleep during the daytime. They can also be territorial about their cages. Growling/hedgehog hissing and going into a ball is probably the worse he'll do, slight chance he might nip or something but make sure to wash your hands with non scented soup so there isn't any strange smells.

From the sounds of it, he's kind of freaked out, so you may tonight just leave him be. Depending on where he is, give him darkness at some point, say from 9pm on. Let him explore his cage, make sure he eats and drinks, possibly wheel etc. If you do attempt to get him out tonight, I would expect him to growl/hiss and probably snap into a ball on you, if so you might want to use something soft to pick him up with, a spikey ball is hard to pick up. Usually what I do is take a good size piece of fleece folded up, lay it over the hedgehog and attempt to pick them up, and when they snap into a ball, I gently roll them over into my hand on the fleece.

But once you do get him out, spend time with him each night, try and aim to bond with him at the same general time. You might try and wake him up and let him roam the cage for 10 minutes so he can possibly grab a small nibble or drink, and more importantly go to the bathroom. But most owners will tell you, be prepared to get pooped/pee'd on, it happens. Letting them roam for 10 minutes helps to cut down, as they like to use the bathroom within a good 10 or 20 minutes of waking up. But despite any hissing and balling up, spend at least 15 to 20 minutes minimum per night with him, and over time he'll learn to trust you.

As said, for their 'own' time at night, darkness can be a major factor, some don't mind the mild glow of a television or computer monitors, others may only come out to eat and drink. Lightness can also be a factor during the day, a hedgehog needs a light on near them for about 12 hours, no special light needed, just the room light or a desk lamp. Most people put a desk lamp near or on the cage hooked up to a timer so it goes on and off at the same time per day. This like heating or keeping them warm, prevents them from attempting hibernation. If a hedgehog thinks the days have grown shorter (like winter is coming), they may attempt. You can't depend on the daylight due to overcasted days, unless you have a room filled with windows, and even then, a light is a sure factor.

I hope that helps, others will throw their own information and tips, don't worry about any questions, that's what we're here for And I'd say its pretty normal to feel like "what have I done", its something new and you worry you might do something. Over time, it goes away. I know I felt the same
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Old 04-13-2011, 07:26 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

I am a newbie as well and definitely felt the same at first. What have I done, bringing home a ball of quills!!

Another thing you may try (I dont think I saw it in your post) is to put a t shirt that you have worn (and so has your smell on it) in his cage. preferably so he can curl up in it. Getting used to your smell and associating it with safety will really help.

We did this with my daughter's t shirt and mine but I took mine out in a day or two as Truffled pooped on it . I did not bother to put mine back in as he seemed to be perfectly happy sleeping in hers.

Now interestingly enough he seems to be more comfortable with her than me!
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

OK, so things are going along... that first night (Wednesday), I took him out for about an hour and just let him snuggle with me on the couch on my lap in a fleece blanket. The second night (Thursday), did the same thing and he crawled all over me, finally snuggling into the crook of my neck and "watching" tv with me. It was very cute. Friday I also took him out to "play" for a little while but he was a little more subdued.

Saturday, my son was over and I think that freaked the little guy out a little bit because he wasn't too keen on crawling on me on Saturday (though I did have him out of his cage and in an enclosed pen on the floor while I was cleaning his cage). Yesterday -- my son was gone -- he was a little more active once again.

Today, I woke up and it looked like he'd gone to town on the wheel -- poop splattered in the area of the wheel. Yay, I guess?

As for food and water, I transitioned him from the stuff the other guy was giving him -- crappy hedgehog food -- to the Purina Naturals Salmon stuff and he LOVES it! And he's drinking a fair amount of water, too. I have him in a draft-free area of my kitchen (moved him there from the living room, which was a bit draftier) and a friend of mine gave me a clamp lamp with a red reptile bulb that emits some heat... if this keeps the cage (I have a thermometer inside of it, not inside the room, btw) a constant appropriate temperature, is there a reason to get the CHE bulb? (I just want to make sure I'm doing the right things!).

He's still nameless, but we'll be figuring that out over the next few days. When I hold him, I pet him and talk to him (calling him Hedgie), and he seems to like that. I'm going to have to trim his nails before too long -- they seem to be quite long to me -- but I'm trying to gain his trust a little more before that.

And, oh, my cat is still just puzzled more than anything. The hedgehog isn't phased by her, though -- he kind of just sticks his nose up in the air to smell her and doesn't roll or puff up or anything. The cat doesn't try to attack him, just has tried sniffing and for a while they were even lying next to each other!

Any advice on what else I should be doing is welcome -- how do you all play with your hedgehogs? Is a plastic ball advisable/recommended? I've got a toilet paper tube but he doesn't seem that interested -- then again, he's been here less than a week, so I'm sure over time things will change.
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Old 04-18-2011, 12:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

And, btw, here is his photo.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg hedge.jpg (60.7 KB, 17 views)
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Old 04-18-2011, 01:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

First of WOW what a pin cushion! Cant say you could expect any different though, him being new to the house and all. A few things to consider...

- a red bulb emits light as well as heat so any time the bulb is on, your hedgie gets showered in red light. Could be fine for him, he might like it, I wouldnt know cause I've never used a reptile bulb. BUT, consider that a good light / dark schedule is best for hedgie, with 12-14 hours of light, the rest of dark. That's one of the main reasons I went with a CHE instead of a heating lamp or something similar. The best thing about the CHE is it heats, but doesnt give off light. That means when hedgie has his time in the darkness and the temp drops below what the thermostat is set to, the CHE can come on and hedgie can still enjoy his darkness. Thinking about it, it might also make hedgie more jumpy if he's enjoying his wheel at night and TA DA it's lit up all of a sudden! (but then again I've never had a light-emitting bulb and could be totally off! Just something to consider)

- any food changes should be transitioned pretty slowly... I would say about a month for total transition... in order to keep hedgie from having an upset tummy. Even switching over a week would be too fast in my opinon. I've gone by the following rule: week 1 = 3/4 old food, 1/4 new food. week 2 = half and half. week 3 = 3/4 new food, 1/4 old food. week 4 = all new food, old food only as occasional treats.

- one thing many hedgie owners will find out about kibble with fish in it: it makes for stinky hedgie poo! My hedgie Layla just LOVES her kibble with salmon in it BUT I only mix in a little to her diet, because at first I made the mistake of giving her mostly that and ... ... you would not BELIEVE the smells that came from her! It gave her gassy poops too, and a bit more slimy. Needless to say she only has the salmon kibble every now and then, only a tiny bit is mixed in, and then sometimes for treats.

- good luck with the nails, you'll see from this forum that many hedgie owners have trouble to this day trimming hedgie's nails. Some hedgies are just more difficult than others! For starters though, try trimming them after hedgie has sat in his bath for a few minutes - it seems to keep them relatively calm, well some at least.

- I dont see why you couldnt try a ball, but make sure there arent any slits for hedgie's little feet and nails to get stuck in. You dont want a screaming hedgie who snagged his nail when he was running. As for other toys, some love just about anything (little cars they can push around, kitty toys, etc) and some just will NOT play! I'm still experimenting with things to see if Layla will play with them.
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:13 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

If you mean an exercize ball (like a hamster goes in) that is not a good option. They can snag their nails and toes. Plus ventilation is poor. Plus as you have noticed when they run the GO. You dont want him being showered in pee and poop every time the ball moves.

A plastic cat ball with a bell or someting inside is interesting to some of them though. Truffle really is not much of a player when I have him out. Or in his cage. It may be just because of his age though, he is a baby who needs to SLEEP alot. If yours seems content to shuffle around and then cuddle up, that may be all he wants to do.

i agree on the reptile bulb. I think they give off a reddish light. You should have a "normal" light on a timer to ensure he gets a set day and night cycle. And the night cycle is usually best if it is dark.

It sounds lke you are doing fine with the bonding. He is very cute.
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

I know this post is probably getting a bit old, but I would like to point out that the light emitted from a red bulb is not visible to most animals.
I keep and breed reptiles, and am very familiar with the different types of bulbs.
That being said, the only potential downfall to a red bulb is that it actually tends to dry out the air much faster than many other heat-emitting bulbs do.
Since hedgehogs naturally come from hot, arid regions, this should not be a huge concern. It may, however, be something to watch for if your hedgehog develops a constant itch or dry, flaky skin.

Just thought I would share.
- Amy
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Old 05-10-2011, 06:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Newbie with new hedgie

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amy_R
I know this post is probably getting a bit old, but I would like to point out that the light emitted from a red bulb is not visible to most animals.
I keep and breed reptiles, and am very familiar with the different types of bulbs.
That being said, the only potential downfall to a red bulb is that it actually tends to dry out the air much faster than many other heat-emitting bulbs do.
Since hedgehogs naturally come from hot, arid regions, this should not be a huge concern. It may, however, be something to watch for if your hedgehog develops a constant itch or dry, flaky skin.

Just thought I would share.
- Amy
Some hedgehogs are fine with a red bulb but many are not and will not come out at night when there is red light. It totally depends on the individual hedgehog. Using a red bulb you must make certain that it is not bothering the hedgehog.
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