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Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage � Simplified!

354650 Views 376 Replies 160 Participants Last post by  Lilysmommy
Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

I wanted to write heating for dummies, but it seemed a bit harsh considering none of our members are dummies for wanting to know how to heat their hedgie's cage. :lol: I hope the exaggeratedly basic information and pictures will clear up some of the common questions people have.


Your hedgie has specific light schedule and heating needs. He should be getting 12-14 hours of light each day, and the cage should be kept at 73-78° F (23-25° C) constantly. When they get too cold, our pet hedgehogs attempt hibernation. Because of their original habitat, captive breeding, and other factors, our hedgies are not capable of successfully coming back out of hibernation. After some time, instead of waking up when the temperature is increased, the hedgehog will die in its sleep. Make sure your hedgehog does not get cold!

A consistent light schedule is important too. This is as simple as keeping a light on during the day. This helps your hedgie set an "internal clock"; without it they can become disoriented, attempt hibernation, and have a lower immune system.

Heat - Your Options:

Heat the whole house. This basically means you turn you're home/apartment's thermostat up to keep everything warm.
- - - Pros: heats the air well.
- - - Cons: can be very expensive and many people are not comfortable in such warm temperatures. It can also be hard to keep the temperature consistent from day to night, when things naturally get cooler.
- - - Recommended cage types: all cages.

Space heater. These are highly recommended because they heat the air well and work with all cage types. They heat the air with heat coils and fans, ceramic heaters, or are oil filled.
- - - Pros: heats the air in the whole room, some automatically turn off once they reach a designated temperature, last a long time.
- - - Cons: can be a fire hazard, uses more energy than some other options because they are heating more than just the cage.
- - - Recommended cage types: all cages.

Ceramic heat emitter. These are also highly recommended because they are simple to use (like a light bulb), heat well, and are inexpensive to operate. The CHE screws into a lamp just like a light bulb, but does not produce any light.
- - - Pros: heats the air well, easy and inexpensive to use once set up, reliable.
- - - Cons: initial cost is expensive, requires more parts(lamp, thermostat) than other options, and burn out just like lightbulbs do (they last a long time, but something to consider).
- - - Recommended cage types: all if you are using a thermostat, but please note that they may be dangerous to use with plastic tubs (they may overheat). Always use a thermostat if you're using a CHE.

Heating pad. A heating pad is recommended only to provide additional heat to the cage, not all of it. These are best used under sleeping areas for additional heat. As long as they don't get too hot, they can be placed under the cage (preferably wrapped in a towel/blanket)
- - - Pros: great for older or more needy hedgies for extra warmth.
- - - Cons: may get too hot (which would require a rheostat to keep at a constant lower temperature), some automatically shut off after a certain amount of time, can be a fire hazard, don't heat the whole cage properly.
- - - Recommended cage types: ones with bottoms that will not be affected by the heat underneath.

No matter what you use to heat your hedgie's cage, you will need a digital thermometer. Check it often to make sure the temperature isn't fluctuating.

Equipment Specifics:

Heating the whole house
Up to you and your home's heating system.

Space Heater (below picture is of an older model)

Equipment you will need:
- Space heater (these are examples, please PM me if you know of better products to have listed here)

How to use it:
Usually all you need to do is plug the space heater into the wall and turn it on to the desired temperature level. If yours does not have a reliable built-in thermostat, you can get a thermostat just like you would for a CHE and plug the space heater into that. Set the temp on the thermostat, and turn the space heater on. This way, the thermostat will decide when to turn the space heater on and off rather than having it rely on its built in one.

Bengall77 comments:  Just wanted to point out that you should not use a grounding plug adapter (to convert a three prong plug into a two prong one) with space heaters. Space heaters absolutely have to be grounded, especially if you are going to be running them unsupervised. If you plug the space heater into an extension cord that isn't grounded or into an adapter and there is a short the space heater can catch fire. Always use space heaters with a grounded plug (3 prongs) and if you need to use an extension cord make sure to use a grounded one as well.
Ceramic Heat Emitter

Equipment you will need:
- Lamp
- Thermostat

How to use it:
The CHE plugs into the lamp just like a light bulb. Then that lamp should be plugged into a thermostat - you set the temperature you want to keep the cage at, and the thermostat will turn the CHE on/off to regulate the temp.

Be wary of the clamp grips though, they sometimes slip their way off the bars and can be hard to position the heat lamp properly over the cage. I use zip ties, they are an easy and reliable way to attach the heat lamp to the cage

What wattage should I use? That depends on how large your cage is, and what your lamp's recommended wattage is. 60 is likely too low to heat a properly sized cage. 100 watts is about standard. You can use two lower wattage CHEs on opposite sides of the cage, if the cage is 3+ feet long. The smaller black lamp below is recommended for only 75 watts, the larger silver lamp, 150.

Example lamps:

With CHE:

CHE and small lightbulb size comparison:

Lamp size comparison:


What goes where: The plug on the far right is to power the thermostat. This plugs into the wall. When it is properly plugged in, the green light will be on. The red light turns on to let you know when it is actually heating- when it is not heating (i.e. at the proper temp) the red light just turns off. The thing in the bottom middle is the temperature probe. Place this with care in/next to the cage, where your hedgie cannot get to it. The power strip on the left is where you plug in the things that you want the thermostat to regulate. There are two on one side, one on the other. Everything plugged in will be on/off at the same time.

To set the thermostat's temperature, turn the dial on top. There are digital thermostats as well.

Heating Pad

Equipment you will need:
- Human heating pad
- Reptile/other pet heating pad
- Nursery (young plant) heating pad

How to use it:
You can plug it directly into the wall, or into a timer if you only want it on on the day, etc. The heat pad should be wrapped in some kind of cloth that will not melt/discolor, and then placed under your hedgie's cage. Be sure to run it for an hour or so in the cage *without your hedgie* and test to make sure it doesn't get too warm. You may need to purchase a rheostat to plug it into, which basically turns down how much energy the pad gets (making it less warm).

Light - Your Options:

- Use a light from a window. Be careful about winters, when days get shorter. If your hedgie senses shortening days, he may attempt hibernation. If you rely on natural light you will need to use a light bulb in winter to keep the same hours.
- Use a light that is already set up. Make sure you try to turn it on and off at the same time each day.
- Set up a light on a timer. Great for consistent times and not having to worry about forgetting to turn anything on or off.

Equipment Specifics:

Please follow the directions above from using a CHE.

Light Bulbs
You don't need any fancy type light bulbs - the purpose is to provide light, not heat (not saying that wouldn't be beneficial), "night vision", "full spectrum", or anything special like that. The bulb in your side table lamp would do. I do use a UV light, but there is no specific reason for it. It was on hand, works well, is bright. Don't feel like you need something elaborate for it to be better for your hedgie.

Basic Timer

How to use it:
The above timer plugs into the wall. Set the time of day, and put the pins at the times you want the timer to start (green pin where "day" begins (turns what is plugged in, on) and red pin where "night" begins (turns what is plugged in off)

Digital Timer

How to use it:
The above digital timer plugs into the wall. Then you just plug in what you on during the day, night, and all the time. You have to set the time of day, and what time you want the "day" to start and end.

I recommend putting little tags on the bottom of each plug to keep track of what it what. They are easy to tape on, and tear off when needed. (the below is just an example - it'd be pretty silly to have a heating pad on only at night, lol)

Other Useful Pieces:

Ground plug adaptor - these are especially useful if you need things plugged into other things that don't offer ground plug outlets. You should not use one for a space heater, for fire safety reasons.


3 way adaptor

power strip

extention cord


Suggestions are welcome. I am working on properly resizing the pictures, adding cost estimates, and a part on supplemental heat (microwaveable discs and hand warmers).
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Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

I'm a little confused, do provide this 12-14 hours of heat/light in the day or the night? Or 24/7
Obviously, they are nocturnal and do not need light at night but when should the heat be provided? All day or all night or all the time? And always the same temp?
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

The light is during the day, to help keep a consistent schedule. Few hedgies will come out when it is light. You can't have 12-14 hours of light 24/7, as 12-14 is not 24.
should be getting 12-14 hours of light each day
A consistent light schedule is important too. This is as simple as keeping a light on during the day.
Heat needs to be 24/7, at a consistent temp.
the cage should be kept at 73-78° F (23-25° C) constantly.
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Must you use a digital thermometer, or would the kind with mercury (lol dont know what its called) in it be okay?
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Most people prefer the digital ones but IMO either one is ok.
Digital ones are around $4 to $10 depending on features.
The old trusty mercury ones start at $1
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

I believe it's just dyed alcohol nowadays. I prefer digital, but the old fashioned ones will work in a pinch.
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

where is the best place to put the sensor of the thermostat, like how far away from the actual CHE fixture and such?
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

I put the sensor near the ground in the back/middle of the cage. Somewhere at the level your hedgie will be, but where they can't get to it and make it appear to the sensor that is warmer than it actually is (by sitting next to it/sleeping on it).
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

This is definitely extreeemmmely helpful.
I'm sure you know that. haha.
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

That was a very informative post. :D

However, I still have a question. You mentioned that you should not use two pronged space heaters because they are not grounded. The only space heater that I have is two pronged, but is always supervised. Is this a problem? I really don't want to have to ask my dad for a different space heater because it isn't grounded.
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

I think if the space heater was made non-grounded, it's not a problem. The problem was that if it was meant to be grounded, you shouldn't try and adapt it to something so it was only two prongs. :)
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

what wattage [for a heat emitter] would you suggest for a cage that is 36"L x 15"W x 16"H?
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Hi guys.
Here are a few newby questions:
1. I have a 40 gallon Turtle tank set up in the same room as my hedgie. They have a light on a timer (12 hours on, 12 hours off). Is this enough to keep my hedgie on schedule, or should I add another to his cage as well?
2. Will your Hedgie show signs of being cold, or is it all about us monitoring it? (just wondering). I currently have a heating pad on part of the cage, so he can choose where to go (warmer, or cooler). The room is at about 74 degrees.
3. Where can I get one of these thermometers? and, does it have a probe attached, or 'is this it'? (see quote below)

Thanks in advance :)
Sari & Humphrey the Hedgie

No matter what you use to heat your hedgie's cage, you will need a digital thermometer. Check it often to make sure the temperature isn't fluctuating.
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Lindsay- I usually recommend 100w emitters for pretty much all suitable cages, and just say to get two and put them on opposite ends of the cage, if your cage is bigger. I would say one 100w would work fine for that cage size.

1. Yep, that is good enough. I have my hedgie setups near my bearded dragons, who are on the same timer as the hedgie light. The hedgies get the majority of their light from the beardies anyways. :lol:

2. If your hedgie gets lethargic, wobbly, doesn't come out as much or doesn't run/eat as much, has a cool belly (red flag here) it's likely that he is too cold. If it's too cold, he'll certainly respond to it.

3. That little thermometer is all there is, I usually have it sitting right on top of the cage. IMO ones with probes are a bit better if you can get them closer to where the hedgie is walking around, so you know what the temp is where they are and not above it, where it is likely warmer. If you have the thermometer on top of the cage, you can assume it's a bit warmer where the thermometer is, and take away a degree or two to get the actual temp of the cage.

Hope that makes sense!
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Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Thanks LizardGirl! :D

Where did you get that type of thermometer?? ;)
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

I'm actually not sure where it's from... someone gave it to me a couple years ago. You can find a decent digital thermometer at any store like Target or Walmart or probably Walgreens or something like that.
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

You can also (generally) find them in any petstore near the reptile stuff
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Thanks guys. I actually work at PetSmart, it's just that I never saw one quite like the one in the pic. I appreciate all the help :D
Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Question about the zip ties. I didn't see a picture of them actually attached to the lamps.

I have hairless cats so I keep my house warm all the time. My heat is usually turned up and it sits about 75 degrees in the house. The temp of the cage has stayed at 74 all day with no added heat.

The problem is that sometimes it does get too hot in here for me now and then. It is starting to get closer to spring and I am worried with no added heat they will not be warm enough. Couple that with open windows, fans, and ac in the summer time. Unlike the cats who know how to get under a blanket and will wear a sweater, I don't want the hedgies to get a chill. I also plan on moving them to a room where the cats usually don't have axcess, but right now until I get a secure heating system they have to be in the living room because the other room for some reason sits at 71 when the rest of the house is at 75.

I have cats and a toddler and I am worried that if I can't securely zip tie the lamp to the cage that one of them will accidently knock the lamp down. When I had reptiles the cat knocked one of the lamps on the floor and it burned a huge hole clear through the carpet and the wood underneath.

Is there a way to securly zip tie those lamp hoods down? They look like the edges are all smooth with no place to tie the zip tie on. I do not want an undertank heater as the cage they are in right now is plastic and that spells disaster. I also do not want a space heater, also for fear of the cats/kid knocking it over.

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Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Some of the fixtures have little holes near the bottom edge of the fixture. If yours doesn't, holes can easily be added with a drill.

I don't know how easily you can see in the photo, but I attached a couple of thumbclips like are on dog leashes, to the fixture using zip ties and then I can easily clip it on and off.

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Re: Heating Your Hedgehog's Cage - Simplified!

Oh thanks, that makes more sence so when you have to change the bulb you don't have to undo the zip ties!
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