10-08-2012, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Kansas City
Re: Tis the season
It's getting cold for most people now, great time for a hibernation reminder. Keep those hedgies warm, everyone!
... for hibernation attempts.
This is a reminder to everyone that if you haven't already done so, to get a heating and lighting system in place for your hedgehog.
Do you have an accurate digital thermostat? This is high priority and nobody can accurately guess the temperature of the hedgehogs cage without one. A thermometer should be one of the first things purchased before you get a hedgehog.
Is the area hedgie is in draft free, away from windows, off floor level and preferably on an inside wall. Regardless of how new your windows are, in front of a window is cooler than away from a window. Floor level is the coldest part of a room. Sitting the cage on a table is a warmer location. Exterior walls are always cooler than an interior wall. Draft zones are near the bottom of stairways, near windows, floor level, near furnace ducts, and near outside doors.
Temperature is important. Although it is generally recommended they need temperatures at or above 73F/23C, this is often not warm enough. Most hedgehogs seem to like 75F/24C but there are some that even this is not warm enough. Each hedgehog is individual and just because it's parents or siblings are comfortable at 73, doesn't mean yours will be. If a breeder tells you their hedgehogs are fine without extra warmth, don't pay attention. Most hedgehogs are not fine at the temperatures most of us keep our houses at.
Using supplemental lighting is a must at this time of year. With shorter days, less intense sunlight, and more dull dark days, light coming in a window is not enough. All that is required is to leave a light on near the cage from 7ish am until 9ish pm. Some people recommend a broad spectrum light and this is fine to use but a regular light will work as well. Some hedgehogs are really light sensitive and will attempt hibernation if they are not getting enough light. Even though they are in their dark hedgie bag or igloo, they still must have adequate light. It's best to either put the light on a timer, or make sure you remember to turn the light on.
Signs of hibernation or being too cool
If your hedgehog is in a full hibernation attempt it will be in a curled up quilly ball and be unresponsive. Cold radiates from their body. This is serious and the hedgehog needs to be warmed up immediately but slowly.
Put hedgie under your clothing so he can warm up slowly. If you have a human heating pad, you can set it on low, lay it on your lap and set hedgie on it. Make sure hedgie is not warming up too quickly. NEVER leave an unresponsive hedgehog on a heating pad or any heating device.
Depending on how long hedgie has been trying to hibernate, he may come out of it within a few minutes or it could be half an hour or more. If hedgie is not responding within 45 to 60 minutes of warming, he needs to see a vet immediately. This is an emergency life and death situation.
When hedgie first comes out of it, he will be wobbly on his feet and be a bit disoriented. This should go away fairly soon.
After hedgie has attempted hibernation, his cage needs to be kept a couple of degrees warmer. The chance of him attempting it again within the next week or two is high so make sure he doesn't not risk getting cold again.
Sometimes hedgie is not quite warm enough but is not at the point of a full hibernation attempt. Decreased appetite and less activity are two signs hedgie is not warm enough. His body may feel slightly cool but he will still be responsive. Sometimes they may be wobbly on their feet and lethargic. Hedgie needs a warmer cage.
DO NOT put hedgie in a bath. This is the worst thing you can do but unfortunately often it's the first thing people think to do. The sudden warm of the water shocks their system. There is risk that hedgie will aspirate some water. Once done hedgie is wet and at even more risk of getting chilled.
Hibernation attempts lower their immune system which leave them open to respiratory infections, mite outbreaks and other diseases. Some wonder if repeated hibernation attempts make the hedgehog more at risk of cancers and other diseases. Hibernation attempts should not be taken lightly.
Don't ever assume your hedgehog will not need a heat source. Most do. If you are not comfortable leaving a heating device on 24/7 or while no one is at home, a hedgehog is not the pet for you.
~*~*~ Kelsey ~*~*~
RIP my sweet Lily ~ 6/12/08 - 1/20/12