1-year-old hedgehog hasn't used his wheel once in the 3 months since I've had him - Hedgehog Central Hedgehog pet care & owner forum
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Old 03-16-2014, 12:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default 1-year-old hedgehog hasn't used his wheel once in the 3 months since I've had him

In December I purchased this hedgehog from a woman who was breeding hedgehogs but fell ill and could no longer care for them all. She told me he's a year old, and hadn't been handled much lately due to her problems but was otherwise a nice hedgehog. Along with him she sold me what I later realized was a cage and wheel which were far too small for him (12"x24" cage, 8.5" diameter wheel), and after 3 months of careful daily attention (and a 12" wheel and much larger cage) he still behaves like a wild animal. Anyway, rather than post another of those apparently numerous "help my hedgehog is mean" threads, I thought I'd be persistent and address one issue at a time in the meantime.

Even with his new wheel (one of these
Super Pet Comfort Wheel Giant 12 Inch: Amazon.ca: Pet Supplies Super Pet Comfort Wheel Giant 12 Inch: Amazon.ca: Pet Supplies
), I have never seen, nor heard, nor seen poop/bedding evidence, of him using the wheel. Considering he's over a year old and was previously owned by a "breeder" (I put this in quotes because of the behaviour/accessory/wheel issues mentioned previously), this really surprises me. I tried just not intervening for several weeks, and since then I've put his wheel out with him whenever I block him off in the entryway to run around, and I've occasionally tried putting a mealworm in the wheel or placing him in the wheel. One time, while out in the entryway, he climbed on and walked on it for a few seconds, but not in a way that looked like he knew what he was doing. Since then, he's sniffed around at the wheel, but hasn't made any attempts to use it.

He scuttles around like crazy whenever he's got space to run (and no one's making any noise to scare him), so he seems perfectly able. What can I do to get him to use his wheel? I feel like it's pretty important that he get more exercise than just what he gets from 2-3 hours a week exploring our entryway, and maybe that'll help with his other behavioural issues. Any ideas?

Thanks!
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Old 03-16-2014, 12:48 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What kind of bedding do you use? Is it at all likely that the wheel feels unstable to him when he tries to get on and has scared him away from using it? Comfort wheels are one of the safe wheels found in a pet store, but the way they're designed, they can be kind of wobbly or feel unsteady to the hedgehog when they go to get on, especially for heavier hogs. This is usually worse when used with fleece or fabric bedding, where there's no bedding to put over the wire base & hold it down. If this seems like a possibility, you can attach the wheel to the cage wall by ziptying a metal snap clasp (like on a dog leash) to the back, and clip it to the cage wall. You could also try getting a cake cover or bucket wheel, which are usually sturdier (also easier to clean). LarryT's wheels are very popular on the forum if you want to check them out in the For Sale section.

Another possibility - what do his nails look like? I know you probably can't get a great look at them if he's still super huffy, but nails being too long can discourage some hedgies from running.

Last thing I can think of - What temperature is his cage? Do you have any kind of heating system? And does he have a light schedule of 12-14 hours during the day (not solely dependent on natural light), and no light in the room (even nightlights, open windows that let in street or moon light, etc.) at night?

Or it could possibly be just that he doesn't like wheeling. It seems to be rare, but I've read it does happen and the hedgie prefers to do laps around their cage instead.
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Old 03-16-2014, 04:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I use aspen bedding. I'm sure it's happened that I've put it into the cage hastily and it wasn't super stable, but in general I make sure it's stable, and when I set it up for him outside his cage it's definite stable.

His nails, while absolutely hard to get at with his attitude, have been successfully trimmed once before, though they probably need it again soon. As I said, he does wander around quite enthusiastically when he's comfortable and out of his cage, and his nails don't look to me like they would be uncomfortable for him.

I have a thermostat in each room, so I keep it set such that the room is around 73-75, and there's additionally an oil space heater going near him 24/7 so it's usually 75 degrees in the cage. I do monitor that with a digital thermometer; it's been freezing cold here in Canada so I pay extra attention to it.

I'd be okay with him just wandering his cage for exercise, if I suspected he actually did that. If I'm up at night (admittedly this is infrequent), I never really hear anything if I check on him. Lately I find his hut shoved halfway across his cage every morning, so I know he does something, but I suspect he's not active all night.

His cage is in the office my girlfriend and I share (I've been saying "I", but really it's a "we"), and admittedly we are often in there and typing or playing quiet music until 10PM, even 12AM sometimes. We put a desk light on and turn off the room light around 8 or so, but maybe it's still too much for him? He's in the office since I heard they can be too noisy for the bedroom, the living room is too large to heat economically for him, and it's nice to be around to see him when he does venture out. He did seem to wake up better when we first introduced the low lighting in the evening, so maybe we can try being more serious about that?

Thanks again for the suggestions.
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Old 03-18-2014, 02:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Um, just a note about you being up late.... Hector doesn't mind my music at all. But I usually switch from room light to tiny lamp, handle him, and then put him back. However even if he is quite awake with me, back in his cage he will hide until the small lamp goes out.

If the small lamp remains on for long enough for him to give up and go back to sleep, then I have to wake him up after I turn it off, otherwise he seems to forget to get up again!

I'm sure he'd get up on his own eventually, but I've sat there in the dark for about 30 minutes before decided maybe I should wake him. Is it possible that's why your hedige is not up? I don't know if what Hector does is normal.
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