Re: Thinking about getting a Hedgie, but have some q's
For me fleece is the easiest and I just cleaned it out everyday. I have about 14 liners and double them up then wash them once a week. I find it much easier than cleaning out bedding, because I always found that the dust particles of the bedding get all stuck to the pee and the whole mess sticks to the bottom of the cage and then I have to scrub it out. Also with hedgehog quills you can expect any particle bedding to get everywhere, it gets all stuck in the quills and in the hedgehog ball if the hedgehog balls up when you pick him up, then when he unballs out of the cage he leaves the bedding behind. It also gets piled into water dishes and personally I would never us a water bottle with a hedgehog, I just don't think they are safe for hedgehogs. I also found that my hedgehog right now only does about 2-3 big poops and 2 big pees a night. He does these while he's running around the apartment during his out of cage time, so I clean them up right away. During the night in his cage he only does a few little poops. If your hedgehog ends up mostly pooping and peeing on the wheel the fleece will not get as smelly.
Hedgehogs in general are great lap pets. They are warm, flat quills are awesome to pet and it's such a heart warming moment when you get to the point where you can pet flat quills if you've had a long bonding time. I used to sit for hours with a hedgehog on my lap or beside me on the chair or splatted on my belly if I was laying down, I loved it. That being said my current hedgehog is not cuddly at all. He is the squirmiest hedgehog I've ever seen I cannot get him to sit still for anything he just runs, he barely ever raises his quills or balls up and I can pet him but he doesn't like to sit still with us.
If you're still not sure about a hedgehog I would recommend mice as a small, easy to care for, social mammal. My female mice became crazy social and were so friendly. I used to put a towel out on our coffee table or kitchen table for them to run around on and my first female was an only mouse for a while so she would sit on my shoulder while I was washing dishes or sit in my lap/crawl on me while I was watching TV, I was able to spend so much time with her and then when I didn't have as much time I got her some friends and they tamed so fast because they saw she wasn't afraid of us. They were awesome pets and even friendly to strangers after they got used to us. They would come to the edge of the cage and stick their nose out between the bars when they wanted attention. My first female even came to the sound of my voice and would climb on my hands if she was out on the table and wanted to go back to her cage. I think since you've had rats you probably have an idea of how great a pet a mouse would be. If you only want one you could get a male although male's are supposed to smell more (I've never had a male so I don't know).
RIP Quigley, I miss you my little grumpus.