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Old 03-05-2017, 11:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hedgehog Enrichment Master List

Hedgehog Enrichment & "Toys"

One of the most common questions posted on this forum are "What toys can I give my hedgehog?" or "My hedgehog doesn't seem to play with anything, what am I doing wrong?" So I thought I'd write up a sticky discussing the types of enrichment and ways to offer enrichment safely to hedgehogs to encourage natural behaviors and give them a little more variety in their life!

*** Please make sure you read the Safety section - enrichment can easily end up being dangerous if considerations aren't made for hedgehogs in general or an individual animal ***


1. Types of Enrichment
2. Sensory Enrichment
3. Food Enrichment
4. Manipulative Enrichment
5. Environmental Enrichment
6. Social Enrichment
7. Enrichment Safety


1. Types of Enrichment
There are five general categories for enrichment. Enrichment can & often does fall into more than one category.

- Sensory: Something that engages the animal's senses, whether that's visual, auditory, taste, smell, or touch.

- Food: Offering a variety of food options & presenting food options in different ways, such as hiding, scattering, using puzzle feeders, etc.

- Cognitive: Puzzle feeders, training sessions, novel foods & scents, items that can be manipulated & interacted with

- Environmental: Changing or adding something to the animal's environment/enclosure such as hiding places, climbing areas, burrowing areas, bedding options, etc.

- Social: Interaction with conspecifics (others of the same species) or other animals; this section can include training & human interaction


2. Sensory Enrichment

- Visual: live prey such as crickets, beetles, mealworms, etc.; moving toys that can be chased like balls, toy cars, etc.

- Auditory: leaving a radio or tv on (some people do this as white noise to avoid hedgehog stress due to sudden loud sounds); different types of music; sounds of nature videos or cds; balls & toys with small bells in them; homemade rattles (pill bottles with small stones in them, etc.)

- Taste: having a mix of two or more foods, especially if they have different main proteins; offering a variety of fresh foods to supplement kibble - veggies, fruit, meat, egg, insects; if hedgie is prone to anointing on objects, offering a variety of SAFE objects for chewing & anointing

- Smell: Safe objects for smelling/chewing & anointing; hiding food in enclosure or feeder toys so they must smell it out; bedding from other healthy small mammals; a drop or two of essential oil on enclosure wall or a safe toy; spices or herbs inside hedgie-proof containers;

- Touch: different beddings & substrates - paper bedding, shavings, dried grass, soft hay, fleece/fabric, moss, dry leaves; dig boxes of fleece strips, small riverstones, marbles; dig/bath containers or coarse sand or soil for rolling & digging in; bricks, stones, wood to climb on & scratch at; marble or slate tile to lay on as a cool spot;


3. Food Enrichment

- having a mix of two or more foods, especially if they have different main proteins

- offering a variety of fresh foods to supplement kibble - veggies, fruit, meat, egg, insects;

- providing numerous bowls around enclosure with a little food in each or changing which bowl food is in each night

- use feeder puzzles to distribute food - cat/dog puzzle toys, rolling feeder balls, etc.

- hide food in/on/under objects - hiding live insects under plastic containers or easter egg halves, hiding food in cardboard egg cartons, hiding food on, in, under enclosure furniture (in tunnels & hides, in silk aquarium plants, etc.)

- place insects or food in dig boxes to be foraged for


4. Cognitive Enrichment

Feeder toys are discussed above, and training will be discussed below. Novel items can be a wide range of things. A lot of these are what people typically think of to include for toys/enrichment.

- different types & sizes of solid balls

- fleece cubes & pom-poms

- stuffed animals

- toy cars

- dig boxes of various types (see above under "touch")

- fake or live plants

- paper bags (climb into, dig at, walk on top of, etc.)

- cardboard boxes (hide in, push around, etc.)

- natural items (pine cones, acorns, other large seed pods)


5. Environmental Enrichment

- different substrates (as mentioned under "touch")

- piles of things to burrow in (fleece blankets, fleece strips, dry leaves, soft hay or grass, moss)

- materials for nesting (dry leaves, soft hay or grass, moss)

- variety of hiding spots (fleece bags, fleece tunnels, cardboard tunnels, PVC pipe, plastic igloos, alfafa baskets/huts/etc., cardboard boxes, cork rounds, etc.)

- UVB light as the light source


6. Social Enrichment

- cuddling with humans

- interaction with human in playpen

- same sex hedgehogs may have carefully supervised playtime IF everyone gets along

- stuffed animals, especially for males (yes...some males will make a stuffed animal their "mate")

- could try clicker training for different things - not likely, but may have some moderate success with a particularly food-driven hedgehog


7. Enrichment Safety

The MOST important thing to consider with enrichment is safety. Always think about everything that could potentially go wrong before putting something in an animal's enclosure. Think about your hedgehog's specific behaviors - are they prone to chewing on anything new? Do they like to dig & burrow? Are they particularly food-motivated? If your hedgehog will let you, try to observe interactions with new enrichment for the first time. Security cams can be useful for monitoring night-time behavior & activity as well.

Questions to consider:

- Can your hedgehog get stuck?

- Are there small parts your hedgehog could chew off & swallow?

- Will object encourage hedgehog to chew & eat undigestible materials?

- Is the food/scent item/object toxic to hedgehogs?

- Could the hedgehog choke on food items?

- Is there a risk for allergic reactions, parasite introduction, or transfer of diseases?

- Are there any long, thin parts that could wrap around hedgehog legs or entangle in quills?

Some other specific hazards & warnings:

- Make sure all small balls & plastic toys do not have any openings - hedgehogs have gotten jaws stuck in cat balls with openings before; one recently (at the time of posting) died from this due to jaw getting cut by plastic.

- Test new scents with hedgehog while you can observe reactions - some react very strongly to scents they do not like & they may hurt themselves attempting to escape it, or may simply stay in bed & not eat/drink.

- Check risk of disease/parasite transfer before using bedding or other items from another small mammal - some things that are not hazardous to a carrier animal could be to a hedgehog. Do not use items from predator animals as that's likely to just cause stress & anxiety.

- Collect wild items (leaves, pine cones, grass, branches, bark, etc.) from areas with no pesticide use & bake before placing in enclosure to avoid parasite introduction.

- Avoid thin twigs & coarse/stiff hay as these things can easily injure hedgehog eyes.

- Don't feed nuts or seeds, and cook hard veggies like carrots.

- If offering raw meat or frozen whole prey, buy from a reputable source, handle properly prior to offering & make sure hedgehog eats it within a few hours.

- Do NOT feed wild-caught insects or other prey items. There is a major risk of parasites & pesticides.

- Check items bought from unusual places (craft stores, dollar stores, etc.) or that are not usually used for animals for potential toxics - glues, varnishes & paints, glitter, unsafe preservatives, etc. Sanitize items with vinegar or chlorhexidine before using in enclosure.

- Do NOT use temperature changes, water features, or frozen items as enrichment as these could cause dangerous body cooling & hibernation attempts.

- Wood & other natural items are fine to use - just keep in mind that if hedgehog ends up with mites at any point, all wood & natural items will need to be removed and either frozen or discarded. Do not replace in enclosure until hedgehog has been cleared of mites, though you may still end up with repeat outbreaks. Just something to be aware of & perhaps check with your vet on using Revolution preventatively.

- Natural items can be hard to sanitize & will likely need to be thrown away over time if poop or urine collects on/in them. Weekly sanitizing could be done by spraying the item with chlorhexidine & letting it air-dry.

- If you use a UVB light source, do some research to determine the right strength to use & how to correctly use one.

- Do NOT let male & female hedgehogs interact! If letting same sex hedgehogs interact, always supervise & separate if aggression is shown. (chasing each other, charging at each other, huffing, attempting to bite, etc.)

- Do NOT let hedgehogs interact with other animals - there is more risk than benefit, whether the other animal is predator or prey.

- Try to avoid making multiple huge changes in your hedgehog's cage regularly - they are nervous animals & often creatures of habit. A completely rearranged enclosure with multiple new smells or objects can be very threatening & stressful to them. Proper enrichment is meant to stimulate the animal in a positive way & encourage positive behaviors - you don't want to stress them out or overwhelm them. Changing out a couple small toys/objects once a week, or maybe changing the enclosure substrate one week to something else for a few weeks, or switching out an un-used hide for something new to investigate are good ways to give your hedgehog enrichment without freaking them out.



Some sources I used while writing this:

https://www.hoglezoo.org/meet_our_an...ichment_types/
http://www.arkanimals.com/ark/e_enri....html#TRAINING AND HANDLING
http://www.enrichment.org/MiniWebs/A...categories.pdf



Please feel free to comment on this thread with enrichment ideas, things you've tried & had success with (or failed), potential hazards you can think of, and pictures of your enrichment items! I plan to keep this thread open so the HHC community can contribute ideas and experiences. Questions about specific ideas or potential hazards of an idea are welcome. Off-topic comments will be deleted.
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Last edited by Lilysmommy; 03-05-2017 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 03-06-2017, 11:03 AM   #2 (permalink)
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i will say i have found my male hedgehog is very fond of the stuffed ghost i gave him as a present on halloween last year... i havent been able to remove it since!! it's roughly the same size as he is and at first i considered removing it completely because i have to wash it A LOT but it's become his girlfriend and i couldnt dare separate them now except for a few hours a week

wylie is also one of those hogs that just doesnt care for toys unless he can go inside of them & hide (other than his spooky girlfriend...) so, tailoring my toys more specifically to wylie, i provide numerous sizes of plant pots, tunnels of various textures, cups, ramps, hides, boxes, tents etc. he is also a digger and loves tunnels or boxes when they're filled with fleece strips, pom poms (large enough so he cannot swallow them), oversized wooden buttons, ping pong balls, rubber ducks, large stones, etc.

GREAT list kelsey, this is one area of hedgehog care i struggle with immensely because wylie is so picky. no new foods, no new toys, no new girlfriends! im going to be trying some of these out
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Old 03-12-2017, 08:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Today I tried putting a blanket over the top of Poppy's playpen and her activity increased greatly! Her playpen has mesh sides so there was still good ventilation. The blanket made her playpen darker and a little warmer. It was so fun to see her actually exploring instead of just sleeping in her playpen! I watched it all through the mesh sides. Seeing her hunt for the mealies I sprinkled in there just made it ten times better! lol:lol You guys should try putting a blanket over your hedgie's pen too! I think I am going to do this daily now!
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Old 03-12-2017, 11:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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One thing that I've done in the past with sugar gliders was pitch a small dome tent in the house. Where we were staying at the time they couldn't have full access to the room so this allowed to have full access to the entire room.
I haven't been in a situation where this is needed with the hedgehogs other than a short period of time. But it gave them enough darkness they could freely explore, I could hang out with them, or they had a contained area to chase crickets.
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:22 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Two, that's been my plan for some future small animals like rats, and I think I'd like to get one before that point & try it with Pancake. She likes to explore & I'd like to give her more opportunities to do so! She's good at getting into mischief.
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Old 05-01-2017, 06:22 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Wanted to share a few store-bought foraging toys that I have for the hedgehogs! They're pretty perfect for hedgehog foraging styles. I can verify the first two work wonderfully - I used the first with Lily and Bindi's been using the second for weeks. I just got the third one today & will be trying it out on Pancake tonight.



https://www.amazon.com/Kaytee-Avian-...dp/B002LE88VQ/

I had to train Lily into it a bit by leaving crickets hanging half out so she understood there was a treat there. Worked up to leaving it totally behind the door & she had no problem pushing the door aside to grab the insect. Pancake's gotten one superworm in it so far, also hanging half out. Going to try totally in next time & see if she'll make the jump.



https://www.amazon.com/Outward-Hound...dp/B006ZTTSNK/

Bindi's had this one for months, but I've finally started regularly using it. This one really is perfect for hedgehogs, with how they tend to push things with their nose to try & dig & root up food! All of the plastic is rounded off & shouldn't scrape or injure a hedgie nose either. It's also quite easy to clean, though I usually let it air dry inside rather than trying to totally dry it.



https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HYW9B8/

This is the one I just got today and I'm really excited! There are three levels of difficulty, shown on the Amazon page. All look like they should be manageable for hedgehogs. I'll be trying it out on Pancake tonight with the first level, can't wait to see how she does!

These are two other toys that I've had on my animal wish list that I think would work well for hedgies too:

https://www.amazon.com/Outward-Hound...dp/B00440D8GU/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0054VEWB8/
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Old 05-01-2017, 11:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Kelsey, thank you. What a great list and descriptions. Super helpful for us newbies. I would like to add a Kong for hiding treats has been suggested elsewhere. I got a tiny one, hopefully it will be a fun toy for Picasso.
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Old 05-15-2017, 11:57 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Awesome list! I'm going to make a sensory playpen with one of those cheap plastic kiddie pools soon!
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I made a really simple foraging toy that could easily be modified for a hedgehog. You may not even need to do too many changes, depending on your hedgehog.
This isn't a hedgehog video, but shows the toy being used with a more social animal so we aren't just looking at a hedgehog in the dark or standing still in that "you don't see me" mode that was mostly what I got with hedgehog videos.
https://youtu.be/ATcpvDGx1C8
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Old 05-22-2017, 05:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilysmommy View Post
Wanted to share a few store-bought foraging toys that I have for the hedgehogs! They're pretty perfect for hedgehog foraging styles. I can verify the first two work wonderfully - I used the first with Lily and Bindi's been using the second for weeks. I just got the third one today & will be trying it out on Pancake tonight.



https://www.amazon.com/Kaytee-Avian-...dp/B002LE88VQ/

I had to train Lily into it a bit by leaving crickets hanging half out so she understood there was a treat there. Worked up to leaving it totally behind the door & she had no problem pushing the door aside to grab the insect. Pancake's gotten one superworm in it so far, also hanging half out. Going to try totally in next time & see if she'll make the jump.



https://www.amazon.com/Outward-Hound...dp/B006ZTTSNK/

Bindi's had this one for months, but I've finally started regularly using it. This one really is perfect for hedgehogs, with how they tend to push things with their nose to try & dig & root up food! All of the plastic is rounded off & shouldn't scrape or injure a hedgie nose either. It's also quite easy to clean, though I usually let it air dry inside rather than trying to totally dry it.



https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HYW9B8/

This is the one I just got today and I'm really excited! There are three levels of difficulty, shown on the Amazon page. All look like they should be manageable for hedgehogs. I'll be trying it out on Pancake tonight with the first level, can't wait to see how she does!

These are two other toys that I've had on my animal wish list that I think would work well for hedgies too:

https://www.amazon.com/Outward-Hound...dp/B00440D8GU/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0054VEWB8/
How did the new one work out?
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