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Old 01-09-2010, 11:15 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

I wanted to write heating for dummies, but it seemed a bit harsh considering none of our members are dummies for wanting to know how to heat their hedgie's cage. I hope the exaggeratedly basic information and pictures will clear up some of the common questions people have.

***

Your hedgie has specific light schedule and heating needs. He should be getting 12-14 hours of light each day, and the cage should be kept at 73-78° F (23-25° C) constantly. When they get too cold, our pet hedgehogs attempt hibernation. Because of their original habitat, captive breeding, and other factors, our hedgies are not capable of successfully coming back out of hibernation. After some time, instead of waking up when the temperature is increased, the hedgehog will die in its sleep. Make sure your hedgehog does not get cold!

A consistent light schedule is important too. This is as simple as keeping a light on during the day. This helps your hedgie set an “internal clock”; without it they can become disoriented, attempt hibernation, and have a lower immune system.

Heat - Your Options:

Heat the whole house. This basically means you turn you're home/apartment's thermostat up to keep everything warm.
- - - Pros: heats the air well.
- - - Cons: can be very expensive and many people are not comfortable in such warm temperatures. It can also be hard to keep the temperature consistent from day to night, when things naturally get cooler.
- - - Recommended cage types: all cages.

Space heater. These are highly recommended because they heat the air well and work with all cage types. They heat the air with heat coils and fans, ceramic heaters, or are oil filled.
- - - Pros: heats the air in the whole room, some automatically turn off once they reach a designated temperature, last a long time.
- - - Cons: can be a fire hazard, uses more energy than some other options because they are heating more than just the cage.
- - - Recommended cage types: all cages.

Ceramic heat emitter. These are also highly recommended because they are simple to use (like a light bulb), heat well, and are inexpensive to operate. The CHE screws into a lamp just like a light bulb, but does not produce any light.
- - - Pros: heats the air well, easy and inexpensive to use once set up, reliable.
- - - Cons: initial cost is expensive, requires more parts(lamp, thermostat) than other options, and burn out just like lightbulbs do (they last a long time, but something to consider).
- - - Recommended cage types: all if you are using a thermostat, but please note that they may be dangerous to use with plastic tubs (they may overheat). Always use a thermostat if you're using a CHE.

Heating pad. A heating pad is recommended only to provide additional heat to the cage, not all of it. These are best used under sleeping areas for additional heat. As long as they don't get too hot, they can be placed under the cage (preferably wrapped in a towel/blanket)
- - - Pros: great for older or more needy hedgies for extra warmth.
- - - Cons: may get too hot (which would require a rheostat to keep at a constant lower temperature), some automatically shut off after a certain amount of time, can be a fire hazard, don't heat the whole cage properly.
- - - Recommended cage types: ones with bottoms that will not be affected by the heat underneath.

No matter what you use to heat your hedgie's cage, you will need a digital thermometer. Check it often to make sure the temperature isn't fluctuating.


Equipment Specifics:

Heating the whole house
Up to you and your home's heating system.

Space Heater (below picture is of an older model)


Equipment you will need:
- Space heater (these are examples, please PM me if you know of better products to have listed here)
http://tiny.cc/5YYhR
http://tiny.cc/n4mAA

How to use it:
Usually all you need to do is plug the space heater into the wall and turn it on to the desired temperature level. If yours does not have a reliable built-in thermostat, you can get a thermostat just like you would for a CHE and plug the space heater into that. Set the temp on the thermostat, and turn the space heater on. This way, the thermostat will decide when to turn the space heater on and off rather than having it rely on its built in one.

Code:
Bengall77 comments:  Just wanted to point out that you should not use a grounding plug adapter (to convert a three prong plug into a two prong one) with space heaters. Space heaters absolutely have to be grounded, especially if you are going to be running them unsupervised. If you plug the space heater into an extension cord that isn't grounded or into an adapter and there is a short the space heater can catch fire. Always use space heaters with a grounded plug (3 prongs) and if you need to use an extension cord make sure to use a grounded one as well.
Ceramic Heat Emitter


Equipment you will need:
- CHE
http://tiny.cc/1iw49
http://tiny.cc/LZnZT
- Lamp
http://tiny.cc/psF21
http://tiny.cc/i7zLn
- Thermostat
http://tiny.cc/POUWG
http://tiny.cc/emB96

How to use it:
The CHE plugs into the lamp just like a light bulb. Then that lamp should be plugged into a thermostat - you set the temperature you want to keep the cage at, and the thermostat will turn the CHE on/off to regulate the temp.

Quote:
Be wary of the clamp grips though, they sometimes slip their way off the bars and can be hard to position the heat lamp properly over the cage. I use zip ties, they are an easy and reliable way to attach the heat lamp to the cage


What wattage should I use? That depends on how large your cage is, and what your lamp's recommended wattage is. 60 is likely too low to heat a properly sized cage. 100 watts is about standard. You can use two lower wattage CHEs on opposite sides of the cage, if the cage is 3+ feet long. The smaller black lamp below is recommended for only 75 watts, the larger silver lamp, 150.


Example lamps:



With CHE:

CHE and small lightbulb size comparison:

Lamp size comparison:


Thermostat:



What goes where: The plug on the far right is to power the thermostat. This plugs into the wall. When it is properly plugged in, the green light will be on. The red light turns on to let you know when it is actually heating- when it is not heating (i.e. at the proper temp) the red light just turns off. The thing in the bottom middle is the temperature probe. Place this with care in/next to the cage, where your hedgie cannot get to it. The power strip on the left is where you plug in the things that you want the thermostat to regulate. There are two on one side, one on the other. Everything plugged in will be on/off at the same time.

To set the thermostat's temperature, turn the dial on top. There are digital thermostats as well.

Heating Pad


Equipment you will need:
- Human heating pad
http://tiny.cc/ZYPHZ
OR
- Reptile/other pet heating pad
http://tiny.cc/41v4d
OR
- Nursery (young plant) heating pad
http://tiny.cc/mX9CJ

How to use it:
You can plug it directly into the wall, or into a timer if you only want it on on the day, etc. The heat pad should be wrapped in some kind of cloth that will not melt/discolor, and then placed under your hedgie's cage. Be sure to run it for an hour or so in the cage *without your hedgie* and test to make sure it doesn't get too warm. You may need to purchase a rheostat to plug it into, which basically turns down how much energy the pad gets (making it less warm).

Light - Your Options:

- Use a light from a window. Be careful about winters, when days get shorter. If your hedgie senses shortening days, he may attempt hibernation. If you rely on natural light you will need to use a light bulb in winter to keep the same hours.
- Use a light that is already set up. Make sure you try to turn it on and off at the same time each day.
- Set up a light on a timer. Great for consistent times and not having to worry about forgetting to turn anything on or off.

Equipment Specifics:

Lamps
Please follow the directions above from using a CHE.

Light Bulbs
You don't need any fancy type light bulbs – the purpose is to provide light, not heat (not saying that wouldn't be beneficial), “night vision”, “full spectrum”, or anything special like that. The bulb in your side table lamp would do. I do use a UV light, but there is no specific reason for it. It was on hand, works well, is bright. Don't feel like you need something elaborate for it to be better for your hedgie.



Basic Timer




How to use it:
The above timer plugs into the wall. Set the time of day, and put the pins at the times you want the timer to start (green pin where "day" begins (turns what is plugged in, on) and red pin where "night" begins (turns what is plugged in off)

Digital Timer




How to use it:
The above digital timer plugs into the wall. Then you just plug in what you on during the day, night, and all the time. You have to set the time of day, and what time you want the "day" to start and end.

I recommend putting little tags on the bottom of each plug to keep track of what it what. They are easy to tape on, and tear off when needed. (the below is just an example - it'd be pretty silly to have a heating pad on only at night, lol)



Other Useful Pieces:

Ground plug adaptor - these are especially useful if you need things plugged into other things that don't offer ground plug outlets. You should not use one for a space heater, for fire safety reasons.

front/back:







3 way adaptor






power strip

extention cord

***

Suggestions are welcome. I am working on properly resizing the pictures, adding cost estimates, and a part on supplemental heat (microwaveable discs and hand warmers).



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Old 01-09-2010, 11:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

Thanks for this!!! I find it extremely helpful.

To clarify, it's safe to set the CHE lamp directly on the cage bars? Is there anything to consider?
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Old 01-10-2010, 12:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

Yes, you should have no problems putting the CHE on the bars. They will get hot though so make sure your hedgie has absolutely no way of getting to them.

I recommend either clamping the clamp grip onto a bar or finding another way to secure the lamp so if any wires are pulled, the CHE can't fall or be pulled around.



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Old 01-10-2010, 12:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

LOVE this post! Wish it had been here when I was looking into heating Gunther's cage!!!! I love educating others on hedgies and their wonders, so definitely looking forward to you adding all sorts of things to this post!
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Old 01-10-2010, 06:33 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

The first space heater example you listed is the one I use. It's excellent, puts out heat quickly and hasn't had a significant effect on the electric bill. It's especially nice during cold winter months, since it can be expensive to heat the whole house 24 hours a day. Instead, we can keep it warm and toasty in the room where me, hedgedaddy, and Rocko all spend most of our time without turning the heat up that high for the rest of the apartment.
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Old 01-10-2010, 02:52 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

In your ferret nation do you use 100W or 150W?
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Old 01-10-2010, 03:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

I don't use one currently but if I get another one, it will be a 100w.



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Old 01-10-2010, 03:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

Very useful post. Thanks!

Just wanted to point out that you should not use a grounding plug adapter (to convert a three prong plug into a two prong one) with space heaters. Space heaters absolutely have to be grounded, especially if you are going to be running them unsupervised. If you plug the space heater into an extension cord that isn't grounded or into an adapter and there is a short the space heater can catch fire. Always use space heaters with a grounded plug (3 prongs) and if you need to use an extension cord make sure to use a grounded one as well.
amanderpp and LuckFupus458 like this.
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Old 01-10-2010, 04:56 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

Thank you for that Bengall77! I will go edit it to make note of that.



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Old 01-11-2010, 03:57 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage – Simplified!

Terrific post, LG!!

Agreed that I wish I had this 2 months ago when I was getting Miss Muffet! lol
I'm a visual person so the pix added just the right touch to make things easy to figure out!
Thanks as always for your contributions to the site!

~Melissa
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