Housing Temperature : Heating/Cooling - Hedgehog Central Hedgehog pet care & owner forum
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Old 09-03-2008, 12:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
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Default Housing Temperature : Heating/Cooling

Hedgehogs need a very stable temperature compared to other pets. Not only must it not fluctuate it generally needs to be higher than "room temperature". Many sales people whether a breeder or a pet store clerk will tell the soon to be hedgie owner "room temperature is fine". This is NOT TRUE. While some hedgehogs will be fine at 72 degrees Fahrenheit most need to be warmer. The rule of thumb is a constant 74 F or higher. A hedgie attempting hibernation can be fatal. Also getting your quilled one too hot is bad as well. When a hedgie gets too hot they will splat out on a cool surface. If it continues the hedgehog may stick it's tongue out panting. When a hedgehog is too hot the behavior they exhibit is called estivation. They will become sluggish and move very little trying to keep cool. Some hedgies will attempt estivation as low as 82 degrees Fahrenheit. So to insure that your hedgie remain comfortable it is best to keep the environment they are in between 74 F - 82F to start until you see how your hedgie will tolerate temperatures. Some do well a couple of degrees colder and some can stand a couple higher. Now on to heaters.

The three ways to best heat a hedgehogs cage or bin are :

A portable room heater such as oil filled radiators, ceramic heat fans, electric heat fans etc.
It must be thermostatically controlled or will run full blast and get the room too hot. These can be purchased at stores from Wal-Mart to Lowe's to hardware stores. The drawback is they heat the entire room and maybe you have other pets or humans who don't like the temperature that high.

A human electric heating pad placed under HALF of the cage or bin so if the hedgie becomes too warm they can move to an unheated spot. You must make sure the heating pad DOES NOT have a TIMED automatic shut off. Some have a emergency fuse or circuit breaker to prevent fire and that is fine. You must also keep the heating pad on the OUTSIDE of the cage in case of urine or water shorting out the circuit and electrocuting your hedgie.

A ceramic heat emitter sold at most pet stores for reptiles. YOU MUST have a thermostatic heat controller or the ceramic heat emitter will be on full blast and cook your hedgie. You must also use a ceramic socket for the fixture, cheap plastic sockets are dangerous and a fire hazard. You will pay a little more for a ceramic fixture at the pet store but it is safer. Most emitters come in 100/150/250 watt sizes. I would recommend a 150 watt emitter unless you have a huge cage or the normal room temperature is below 68 F. You must also be careful when using a emitter in plastic bins. The fixture is metal and gets pretty warm so you don't want the emitter or fixture touching any plastic.

Heat rises and by convection heats the air as well as anything the heat source touches. Keep this in mind when deciding on the best heating solution for your hedgie.

The best way to cool your hedgie in case of an emergency during the summer when your air conditioner conks out is to have some blue ice packs frozen and place one on top of your hedgies cage. If no blue ice packs are available a bowl filled with ice will work too. You will need to carefully monitor the cage temp and this should only be used in extreme heat.

You never want anything creating a draft in the hedgie's cage hot or cold. So fans must not point at the cage.

Regardless of what type of heating system you choose you should have a decent digital thermometer in your hedgie's cage or bin to monitor the temperature.

With a little thought and research you will be able to choose the best heating system for you and your hedgehog.
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