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Old 04-23-2012, 07:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 364
Default Re: What should I know before I adopt a hedgehog?

There is A LOT that you need to know before getting a hedgehog. They aren't an easy pet to care for, they take a lot of work, care and money.

Here's things that I can think of off the top of my head.

1. You need to know that they can live for over 5 years. Can you make that commitment?
2. What will you do if you are allergic to the hedgehog?
3. Do you still live at home (it seems like you do)? Will you're parents 100% for sure let you have a hedgehog?
4. What will you do when you go to university? If you live in a dorm, you can't take the hedgie. Not all apartments allow pets.
5. Do you live in a city where hedgehogs are legal to own?
6. Can you afford to keep a hedgehog? You NEED to have AT LEAST $300 set aside for vet bills. This is a MUST.
7. Do you have an exotic vet who is experienced and KNOWLEDGEABLE about hedgehogs?

Hedgehogs need a cage that is at least 4 square feet (2 feet x 2 feet). That is the minimum. Do you have space for this size of cage? Can you afford to buy a cage? If the hedgehog comes with a cage it will most likely be too small or dangerous. The cage must have a solid bottom (no wire bottom) and the bars should run " I " not " __ " (Vertical not horizontal)

Hedgehogs NEED their cage to be at 73-78 F (23-25 C) all the time. You will need to have a heat source to keep the cage this temperature. You're option are a space heater or ceramic heat emitter. Will your parents allow you to run these 24/7? They can be a fire hazard, especially a space heater. I personally would never use a space heater, because they aren't supposed to be used while no one is home or while you sleep. A space heater will be around $40-$60, can you afford this? For a ceramic heat emitter you need the following items:

-Clamp Lamp 10 inches: $20
-Ceramic Heat Emitter: $30-40
-Thermostat: $30-$40
Can you afford this?

You will also need at least one thermometer in the cage. The bigger the cage, the more you'll need. You need a digital thermometer, this will be around $10-$20. Can you afford this?

Hedgehogs need to be on a 12-14 hour light cycle. For this you will need a lamp or light on a timer. If you buy a lamp make sure it is bright enough to light up the whole cage, it must be plugged into a timer so it automatically turns on and off. The light has to be turned on during the day and turned off at night. So you would have the timer set to turn on at 8AM and off at 9PM. Can you afford a light and timer?

Hedgehogs need a special diet. Commercial hedgehog food isn't healthy and some brands are actually life threatening! You want to feed you hedgehog a mixture of 2-3 (or more) HIGH QUALITY DRY CAT FOODS. Each bag will cost $15-$30. Can you afford to pay $45-$90 for food? Once opened, cat food lasts for 6 months, if frozen it lasts for 12 months.

Hedgehogs are insectivores which means they eat insects. You will want to feet insects to you hedgehog. Never use freeze-dried insects. Buy live insects and either keep them live or put them in the freezer after buying. But never freeze-dried from the store.
Will you parents let you keep live bugs in the house?
Will you parents let you keep frozen bugs in the freezer?
Will you parents let you keep bugs in the fridge?
Can you afford to buy bugs

The most common are mealworms and crickets. Before freezing them, you'll want to gutload them with vegetables.

Hedgehogs MUST have a wheel. The ONLY safe wheel from petstores is the 12" Giant Comfort Wheel. Never use a Silent Spinner, Mesh or Wire wheels. These are dangerous. The most recommended wheels are the Carolina Storm Wheel and Carolina Storm Bucket Wheel made by LarryT on this website.
Comfort Wheel: $20-$30
Carolina Storm Wheel: $30 + Shipping
Carolina Storm Bucket Wheel: $25 + Shipping
Can you afford this?

Hedgehogs run on their wheels all night. If you get a Comfort Wheel they are loud. While they are running they poop and pee. The wheel will me caked in poop every morning, and will have to be cleaned everyday. Are you will to scrub hard poop of the wheel every single day?

The best and safest bedding for hedgehogs is fleece fabric. You can also use flannel, cotton, or other materials, but they must be sewn. If you use fleece you just cut it to fit the cage and put it in. You will want to have at least 2 liners so you can change them. When you wash the liners, you MUST you NON-SCENTED laundry detergent.
Will you be allowed to wash the liners? (Some moms don't like this)
Can you afford to buy non-scented laundry detergent? (Most people use scented)
Can you afford to buy fleece from a fabric store? $20-$50 or more

Any bedding that you buy from a pet store (carefresh, shavings) can carrying mites. If your hedgehog gets mites, you will need to take it to the vet and get Revolution (mite treatment). If you use shavings, never use cedar. Only use Aspen or KILN DRIED pine. Again, fleece is the MOST recommended bedding.

Other points:

1. Hedgehogs are nocturnal which means they sleep all day and are awake all night. During the day when you want to "play" with them, they will be sleeping.

2. Hedgehogs don't play with you like a dog, cat, ferret, rat, guinea pig, etc. They are basically like rocks that eat and poop.

3. Hedgehogs are solitary animals, they won't want or need your attention, like the above animals. (There are a FEW that do want attention, but not many).

4. Hedgehogs move around their cage a lot all night. If their cage is in your room you WILL hear them and you might not be able to sleep if you're a light sleeper.

5. At night, when the cage light is turned off, you need to be quiet. If you are making noise, the hedgehog won't come out and eat, drink, wheel, poo, pee, etc.

6. After the cage light is turned off, it has to stay completely dark. This means if the cage is in your room, you can't have your bedroom light on past 9PM (or when you shut the light off). If you are in your room, you will have to sit in the dark. Some hedgehogs won't even come out from a laptop screen light.

7. If you have friends over you will have to be quiet at night.

8. This hedgehog was probably not well looked after or well socialized. Socialization is important. It may NEVER warm up to you.

9. Hedgehogs require daily handling for at least an hour.

10. Vet bills are EXPENSIVE. And yes, hedgehogs do need to go to the vet, just like a dog or cat.
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