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Old 11-12-2011, 12:16 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default How young is too young for a wheel?

Hi everyone. I brought home my beautiful little Persephone Pickles on Tuesday. She is 6 weeks (and 4 days) old. She is amazing! She huffs and pops at me for a minute while I try to pick her up, but calms right down and finds a spot to sleep on me already. She is quilling and I know she is a bit uncomfortable, but she seems to be settling in well and no green poo <yay!>

My question is this. I received my CSW Wednesday night and set it up in her house. She took right to it. When I looked in on her at 1:30am, I found her on the wheel. Every morning since then I have evidence of wheeling going on.

I emailed the breeder to let her know that Persephone is doing well and she said I should wait to have her use the wheel till she is older because she will start using the wheel for a litter box (she ignores the corner box right now, I think it's too tall) and she will burn more calories than she eats. She said the other option is to have her use the wheel for 1/2 to 1 hour a day at most. I haven't heard this before in all my reading about hedgies! I don't care about poop boots, we can deal with cleanup...but I do want her to be healthy. Any thoughts?
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Old 11-12-2011, 12:46 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: How young is too young for a wheel?

I've heard of some breeders recommending you wait, but have not heard of any specific reasons (with evidence) for why you should. Most members here don't wait for a certain age before giving a wheel. Hedgies get bored easily without something to do, and sometimes they'll find other outlets for their energy if they don't have a wheel - things like tearing their cage apart or (more dangerous) trying to climb the walls.

Regardless of age, most hedgies are going to go potty on the wheel. It's just something they do, and it's a rare hog that will get off the wheel before going. If you want to use a litterbox with her, it might actually be easier to just use a smaller square one that you can fit under her wheel - whatever rolls/drains off the wheel will end up in it, and she may associate that area of the cage as "potty area" and go there even when she's not wheeling. As far as burning more calories, just keep an eye on her weight with a small digital kitchen scale (make sure it measures in grams). If she seems to be losing weight, or not gaining much, you can give her a kibble that has higher fat, such as a kitten food. I know Royal Canin Babycat is popular among breeders on here for giving to pregnant moms and babies, since it's high in fat and the kibble is very small and easy for babies to eat.
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Old 11-12-2011, 01:03 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: How young is too young for a wheel?

All of my babies get a wheel as soon as they're weaned. I've never had trouble with any not gaining properly from wheeling to much. I've had the odd one lose weight for a day or two after but then start gaining again. As long as she's still getting some kitten food while she's a baby she should be fine.
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: How young is too young for a wheel?

Lillysmommy, she actually escaped the cage she was in at the breeder's 4 times! Once she was found in another cage with an adult female (whew). The breeder thought that her two brothers were bullying her and removed the brothers a few days before I went to get her. I wonder if she was bored?

As for the food, I have her on 1/4 RC babycat and 3/4 breeder Purina food. I have three foods I'm going to switch her to in a mix, but she seems to be doing well. I am weighing her today. Should I weigh daily?

The only difference I noticed is that before she had the wheel ( also her first night out of her house, so it may not be a good comparison) she was much more active. The last few days since she has her wheel, she doesn't try to get away and explore as much. I think this is a good thing, since I don't want her falling. The breeder said she was holding Persephone and she unballed and shot right off her lap onto the floor. Her cage wasn't low, either, she was in the third level of the stack! I'm not sure if she has a death wish or fancies herself superhedgie!?!
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: How young is too young for a wheel?

I let both of my hedgies have it as soon as I got them home. Loken was a little older and already 12 weeks but Sandra was 6 weeks old and I let her have it. She has always loved her wheel so much. That is really scary about the escaping. Did you get to see how her cage was set up, if they were able to escape there was a weak part somewhere in the design because you can fix up the cage so there is no way possible to get out. When you check over your set up if you are scared about an escape with the wheel just make sure that there isn't any openings larger than an inch. Make sure there is a nice sturdy top on it and that there is something blocking access to the bars for a good 9 inches or so to help deter climbing attempts.

Congratulations on your new hedgie
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:30 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: How young is too young for a wheel?

Gave my girl her wheel as soon as she came home.
Also, the Purina food in the mix may have to go (but slowly). I recommend Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Light. A lot of the Purina brands have processed meat, glutens, and corn as the first ingredients and they're no nos for hedgies.
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Old 11-12-2011, 02:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: How young is too young for a wheel?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Christemo
Gave my girl her wheel as soon as she came home.
Also, the Purina food in the mix may have to go (but slowly). I recommend Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover's Soul Light. A lot of the Purina brands have processed meat, glutens, and corn as the first ingredients and they're no nos for hedgies.
Agree totally with you on the food thing. I hope I have enough of the Purina to wean her off, but I'll buy a bag if I need to. I just got a little from the breeder. I'm going to use a little Babycat until she is 6 months. I plan to mix it with Innova light and Natural Balance Green Pea and duck. Then I'll add the Chicken soup and remove the babycat. That took a long time to decide! Now, if she decides she doesn't like one of these, it will be back to the drawing board for me!

Thank you, everyone for the thoughts, I so appreciate it! I will figure out how to post a picture before the day is over!
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Old 11-13-2011, 10:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: How young is too young for a wheel?

still haven't figured out the picture thing, but I have another question. Persephone weighed 102 grams yesterday and today, she was 113! That seems like a lot. I realize she is growing a lot, being only 6 weeks old, but is this normal?
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