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Old 01-22-2013, 05:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help- heating cage

I got a hedgehog off of freecycle on Saturday. I didn't intend to get her. I wasn't planning on it. But she was offered free, first come first serve, and I was worried about her. I didn't want her to end up with someone who didn't know what they were doing. I've never owned a hedgie, but have worked in rescue a lot, do a lot of research, and have cared for lots of types of animals.

But I'm doing this all wrong. I'm completely failing her.

Her last home kept her under just a heat lamp, and said she was fine.

I've got her in a wire cage with a plastic base. I've got blankets draped over it, and a ceramic heat emitter (100w, cranked high) on the wire. Right below the CHE it feels warm, but down at the base of the cage it's only 65.

I feel like I'm going to vomit. I love her. I've never, ever failed a pet so badly before. Our heat in the house is cranked and running and barely keeping up with the cold. And the CHE doesn't seem to be doing her any **** good.

I don't know what to do. We've spent a lot of money trying to save this girl, and because she's got me, I'm worried she's screwed.

I have read a lot of articles and they all say that a CHE is the best thing to do. Why is it not working? Why was she fine for two years with just a heat lamp, and now she's so cold?

I'm scared. I love her already. She's an awesome blind little two year old girl. I want what's best of her, and I'm wondering if that's not me right now. The descriptions of the CHE say it's the easiest type to use, and the label said this should bring it to 75, but it's not and I have no idea what to do.

Please. She's not shivering. She's not tightly balled, but she isn't very active. I know that's not good. I have no idea what else to try. We can't leave a space heater on her 24 hours a day. And our heat won't go higher than it is right now. What am I doing wrong?
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help- heating cage

I just checked the thermometer again. She's up to 70 degrees... what do I need to do? Are you not supposed to have hedgehogs in the cages with wire tops?
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:02 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help- heating cage

How big is the cage? A larger cage will generally require two CHEs, and it might even need two 150w instead of 100w. A 10" dome is more effective than a smaller one. A CHE setup is only able to raise the temperature of the cage a certain amount above the temperature of the rest of the room, so if the room is very chilly and drafty, you may need a small space heater to raise that temperature. Generally if it's under 68-70ish, the CHE isn't going to be able to get it high enough. Larger rooms get colder in the winter, so if you have a smaller room, a large closet, or some sort of little niche in the house, those will keep in heat better. Also, if possible, put the cage up on a table - the floor is the coldest part of the room, and a few feet up can help add a few degrees sometimes.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help- heating cage

Thanks. She's up on a table right now. I could move her into our kitchen, that might help.

Our house is usually 67-68. I'm so frustrated. Before I picked her up, I read two articles that said hedgehogs were happy at 65. So I thought I could be a good home, and compared to the other people offering, a great one. I feel so crappy right now.

I'll look into getting another CHE. Do heat lamps do anything? I've got a heat lamp bulb I probably wasted money buying. Her last owners just used a heat lamp.

I've got her down my shirt now, and a a space heater going next to her cage. She's wiggling around in there. That's a good sign, right?

I'm so upset that I didn't find this site right away. I likely started her issues bringing her home. It was 50 out and I had her in a box with bedding, but no heat source for the drive.

My poor girl. I adore her, but I'm so scared that my attempt at "rescue" has hurt her.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:08 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Oh, and I'm reading about light... how much light is enough light? I know 12 hours a day. Our drapes are usually open and lights on in the evenings... is that 'enough' light? She's a blind hedgie. I don't know if that matters.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:27 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help- heating cage

She'll bounce back, don't be so hard on yourself.

A heat lamp puts off light as well as heat, and for most hedgehogs any sort of light at night will get in the way of them being active.

Do you have a thermostat for the CHE?
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I don't have a thermostat. I was reading more about hibernation. I think she tried to do it the other night. I didn't even realize. I thought she looked cold, and snuggled till she warmed. I'm so glad I saw that...

Her belly never got cold today. I think when DH gets home I'll have him help me move the cage into the kitchen.

I've got a space heater next to her cage right now. I don't have a thermostat for the CHE... how important is that? I mean, right now, it needs to be on all the time to try and keep her warm. How high from the base of the cage are they supposed to be? The cage is about two feet tall. Do I need to put the CHE INSIDE the cage, near the top?

She's blind... would the light as well as heat still impact her?

How many hours a day do hedgies typically sleep?
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:49 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help- heating cage

Oh, and her cage reads 80 right now. She's still in her hut though, and blankets are over her cage so it is fairly dark in there.
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Old 01-22-2013, 06:58 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help- heating cage

You'll want a thermostat to make sure the temperature always stays right around the right. Without it the CHE can get too hot and can burn or overheat the hedgehog. If it's 80 now, that means the CHE is working, a little too well. You want it to be around 74-76 in there. Definitely get a thermostat - it takes some fiddling but after you get it set up right, it will control the heat and keep it within about 2 degrees all the time. If you don't plan to use the space heater all the time, you'll have to turn it off when you work with the thermostat so you're setting it up correctly without the extra heat from the space heater. During the winter it's a good idea to have a space heater going on low to keep the room's temperature around 70.

It's hard to tell whether the light from a heat lamp would still bother her. You can try it and see. I would still suggest a 12-14 light on a timer. Since they rely so little on their eyes, it's hard to tell when they're fully blind or just partially blind, and whether they can detect the difference in light. Natural light during the winter isn't sufficient because it tends to be more gray and isn't present for enough of the day. Both light and heat, or the lack thereof, can cause hibernation attempts.

Hedgehogs sleep all day and are active at night. Some will be awake all night, some will be awake in spurts and sleep on and off.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Her eyes are completely gone, in two different accidents according to her previous owners.

I'm honestly so overwhelmed right now. We don't have a ton of money, and I was just looking up things to see what we need to make her happy.

I need a new dome for her lamp. That's 25 bucks. And another heat source, either a lamp or a CHE. If I stick with the heat lamp bulb I already have, that's another 25 dollars. If I go with a CHE, that's 35. Plus a thermostat, for another 25 dollars. And a timer seems to be about 20 bucks. We've already spent about 200 on our 'freebie' hedgehog. I know that's how animals work, I know that's how rescues work... I just didn't expect it.

I feel so panicky about her right now. I've never given up on an animal before, never rehomed a pet. I've done a ton of work in rescue and hate the 'throwaway' pet culture. I just feel so in over my head with an animal that seemed so simple to care for. I'm so frustrated with the info the sites I read before I got her gave me.

I'm ready to try and find her a new home. But want to be sick at the thought of saying goodbye. I love her, but don't want to keep her when I'm doing such a rotten job, know what I mean?
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