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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi! I've had my hedgehog, Zuko, for a year now! I do my best to make sure he has food and water, and a relatively clean wheel, but I find that it is extremely difficult to clean his wheel thoroughly every day, or even every other day.

I'm a college student and I also have ADHD/depression. Because of this, I have trouble getting my day organized, doing simple activities and tasks, especially chores. I try to wipe away excess poop/pee from his wheel daily, but the wheel definitely has lots of junk on it. I try to clean it thoroughly once a week, but I also have major sensory issues and there are times where I absolutely cannot bear the smell. I keep a Fresh Wave deodorizer near the cage that helps a lot, but its usually not enough. I use fleece blankets in his cage, on top of puppy pads. His nails don't get caught in the fleece that I give him and he does not tear up the pads, so that's what's worked for us. I'm allergic to shavings.

I want to be a good hedgehog parent, and I want my baby to be healthy and happy but I am so worried that I can't do enough. I used to take Viibryd 20mg for depression, but it ended up not working well for me, and I recently started taking Wellbutrin XL. I hope that this will help my motivation levels.

I know that making a schedule and to-do list often works for people with ADHD, but thanks to my depression, even doing that is hard because I just think, "What's the point? I'll never follow it anyway."

Basically, I'm looking for advice from fellow mentally ill hedgehog parents. How do you manage to take care of your pet?
 

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First you'd want to set realistic goals for yourself.
How often are you cleaning the cage? Liners may not be a good choice for you right now.
What kind of wheel do you have? Some are easier clean than others. If you have one that's more difficult to clean, perhaps getting a wheel that's easier will help. Not cleaning it daily makes it harder.
I highly recommend a checklist to make sure things get done when they are supposed to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
First you'd want to set realistic goals for yourself.
How often are you cleaning the cage? Liners may not be a good choice for you right now.
What kind of wheel do you have? Some are easier clean than others. If you have one that's more difficult to clean, perhaps getting a wheel that's easier will help. Not cleaning it daily makes it harder.
I highly recommend a checklist to make sure things get done when they are supposed to.
i have a good wheel, easy to clean, same with the litter pan. the puppy pads work really well for me because i use a plastic storage bin as his cage (its big enough for him tho) and i can find them at the dollar store. but maybe i dont know any better, why do you think they're not a good choice?

a checklist is a very good idea. it's just hard to set a time to spend working on the wheel and bond with my hedgehog, especially when i don't have a real schedule or routine. hopefully it'll get better when i go back to school. do you have adhd/other mental illness? are you coming from a similar place? because those are the responses im really looking for
 

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I've fought with depression. I'm also married to a therapist, so get both sides of the coin.

For me, I use my phone as my reminders. It tells me when to do morning chores and evening chores. I also have at least two sets of dishes for every animal I have. This way when I'm struggling to get basic things done, I can just swap dishes out with clean ones. Wheels, what kind do you have? Bucket wheels are the absolute easiest to clean. Take it out in the morning and spray it down with vinegar water mix. Leave it in your way, I throw mine in the shower so I have to move it to take my shower. Perhaps if that doesn't work, order or make a second wheel so you can wash it as you find time. I said that the liners may not be best for you right now because they take a bit more work for some people. All need daily spot cleaning, but with something like carefresh, if you miss a day it's not as bad. Let's say for hypotheticals that your spot cleaning daily, swap liners out every couple days and cleaning weekly. With loose bedding you spot clean daily and clean the cage weekly, eliminating a step.

For me, a to do list often left me feeling like I wasn't accomplishing anything. I'd focus on the thing that wasn't done. So I started a to-do and a ta-da list. That way if my to do list wasn't completed I could acknowledge the extra tasks that got done that weren't on the list.
Saying it makes it sound somewhat childish, but I've also rewarded myself for tackling some jobs. Last week I was joking with a friend saying that I had adulted all week and earned a happy meal. It was the first week back at school for the kids, for the most part things went very smooth so on Friday I stopped and got McDonald's breakfast.

Are you struggling to find time for bonding or just the less fun parts like cleaning?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I have executive dysfunction where I know I need to do certain things, but it takes tremendous amounts of effort and willpower to do most things that require physical or mental effort. And then sometimes I just sorta forget. I just started taking Wellbutrin XL a few days ago, which seems to help slightly (150mg, then I'll start 300mg in a week), though it does make me nauseous. I just bought some over-the-counter stuff for that though. His cage is right outside my bedroom, and I'll look at it, think, "I need to clean that" but rarely get around to doing it until I literally force myself to start.

I can't handle the vinegar scent WITH the poop scent. NO WAY. I've tried it. It's just way too much. The smell of the cage is already overwhelming enough, even if it's just after one night of running. It's especially noticeable WHILE he's running. I have to hold my breath when I walk past him.

I managed to take care of all his cage stuff today, actually. And I have trouble finding time to bond with him because I want to make sure he poops and pees before I have him crawling all over me. I feel like I could be a good hedgie parent, with the right meds and enough effort and motivation, but it can be difficult. There are certain times of the year when I'm better at taking care of him. Usually in the beginning of an academic term at college. And it's hard to bond with him because he can be so smelly! I just need to give him regular foot baths though and that should help it.
 

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I have ADHD so I understand your struggle. For one, I do use to-do lists but I keep them topic specific. For example, in your case, I wouldn't group cleaning his cage into a daily general to-do list, you should have a to-do list just for caring for him. I make printed checklists and then laminate them and then can cross off things with a dry erase marker and wipe them down so they can be reused. I group my tasks by daily, weekly and monthly. This way you feel less overwhelmed and by having the lists topic-specific and time specific so you'll feel more accomplished once you've gotten them done and can cross them off.

While it's difficult, you need to make sure your space and supplies are set up in that immediate area so it's more convenient to get it done, the more of a hassle, you'll abandon it all together. I have my guy on a table with two drawers and lots of space underneath so I bought a cubby thing with cloth baskets. I always have a spray bottle with just water, a spray bottle with dawn dish soap and water mixed and one with vinegar and water. Paper towels are always stocked, so are baby wipes as well as those baggies for dog poop to make cleaning up poop faster and easier. I also have extras of everything: food and water bowls, igloo, etc. so if I'm feeling particularly stressed and there's been a mess, there's a clean one on hand and I don't have to worry about getting it cleaned right this second. While not everyone has to have extras, you have an issue that requires a little extra work to get tasks completed so having extras will help with those days you're feeling overwhelmed/stressed.

The bedding: I bought 6 yards of fleece and then cut the whole thing to size for my cage so I'd have an ample amount on hand. I have 3 fleece liners in my cage, the top one gets changed daily because I too, can't handle the smell, the second one and third one (if it's also dirty) gets changed weekly. So all I do for the top one is take it out, shake it off in the garbage and then I spray it with 75% water/25% vinegar and then let it hang over a towel rack to dry. Once dry, it goes in a plastic bin with a top on it until they all get washed once per month. The vinegar helps because it'll break down urine and stains.

The wheel: When I wake up in the morning, I just take the wheel (a saucer in my case) out, set it on some paper towels and spray it down with the dawn/water mix and let it sit while I do something else, and then I can come back and it rinses off easily. I let it air dry and then it's ready to be put back in his cage later. While its soaking, I'll using a doggie bag to clean up poop, etc.

His igloo, toys, cage, bowls etc. get wiped down/soaked/washed once a week.

I change his top liner when I'm ready for bonding. So I'll put 2-3 liners in a deep/large plastic bin, get him out of the cage and put him in the container. By the time I've shaken his liner out and sprayed it, put a fresh one in, refreshed his food and water, he's already had time to wander around and poop and pee if need be and then we can play/bond without accidents and without a grumpy hedgie. Then when it's time to go back In for the night, he has a fresh and clean cage.

Hope this helps :)
 

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Sorry, forgot to add this and I'm new so not entirely sure how to edit replies, but I tend to schedule cleaning the wheel, cleaning excess poop, etc. when I wake up and he's in his igloo because they're less labor intensive so I won't feel overwhelmed right when I wake. Then, everything else at night before I go to sleep. Then it's less of a schedule, and more of a routine. Sleeping and waking are already part of your routine so incorporating the easy/quick things in the morning as part of it and then the little more labor intensive as part of your bedtime routine will help you fall asleep with less stress about getting things done (especially when ADHD minds tend to obsesses at night).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ahhh thank you so much for your reply! i will definitely build a schedule/checklist like that. he's grumpy right now, since we just had a 3 hour car ride and i moved him into a new home. it definitely doesn't help that the light in the room that he has to stay in isnt turning off, for some reason, so hes been running less frequently. i only tend to make schedules for myself when i actually have things to do, like classes, but they typically fall apart when things get stressful and they definitely don't exist during summer and winter break.
 

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i also have depression,and it was a real struggle owning pets. some days were so severe i would forget to feed them. /: but pets are also great things to help manage it, when you have something depending on you.

a schedule is the best way to go, with alarms set, and giving yourself rewards to make your efforts seem fruitful!

love these replies, gave me ideas lol
 

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I have ADD, possible PTSD, and anxiety, so I completely understand.

I personally like having a routine. I do Moyo's cage completely at a specific time every week and take him out at the same time. Sometimes making sure my pets are happy is the only reason I will get out of bed. I personally can't even sleep knowing the cage is dirty.

But I definitely agree with small goals. But I also think having a set routine will also help. It helps me personally, but it really comes down to what works for you.
 

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Just to explain a few things before I add my checklist: I simplify everything as much as possible so that I can make sure It gets done. I've become a little neurotic with it because if it's not super simplified and at my disposal, I'll just abandon it all together.

Dig box bags: I have a dig box for him that I replenish every night. What's in my box: Pom poms, fleece strips, bits of kibble, 2-3 freezedried mealworms. So to make the daily schedule easier, I've put all the things I put in his dig box in 7 separate sandwich sized ziploc bags (one for each day of the week) so that way I just have to pour the bag into his dig box. When I empty the dig box, I empty it into a delicates bag that also goes into the box I have for used liners. I bought 2 jumbo bags of Pom poms and cut plenty of fleece strips to last me until they get washed. I wipe down his dig box with a baby wipe.

Doggie bag box: They usually come in a roll and then they're a pain to separate so When I buy a few rolls, I separate them and then put them in a Kleenex box so its easier to just pull out of the box.

I also have a garbage can with a lid right next to the table solely for this stuff and extra crinkle tunnels and sleeping bags. I keep his food in an airtight container and a case of bottled water in this area for his water bowl. I also keep pumpkin baby food, pedialyte, benebac and a syringe and gloves (in case things got really messy) on hand just in case he needs it I have it at my disposal.

Here is my checklist:

Daily:

Morning:
Spray and wipe down wheel
Spot clean with doggy bag
Empty dig box and wipe it down

Night:
Change top liner
Spray soiled top liner and hang to dry
Replenish food
Replenish water
Wipe down dig box and replenish it
Footbath (if needed)
Vacuum cage (if needed)
Bonding

Weekly (Sunday's for me)
Morning:
Soak and wash food and water bowls
Soak and wash igloo
Soak wheel
Soak dig box
(I just fill my bathtub with some hot water and dawn soap and vinegar and just toss everything in and let it soak for about an hour, then I scrub them, rinse and let air dry)
Soak liners
(okay I told you I was neurotic. My soiled liners in the box are also stored in a laundry bag. On a weekly basis, I fill up a 10 gallon bucket with hot water and vinegar, I let them soak for about 2 hours and it helps release any dried on stuff and stains, etc. then I wring them out by hand and let them air dry, then they go in the laundry bag in the box so I know they've been soaked before I wash them monthly)

Night:
Vacuum, Spray and wipe down cage
Refresh all liners
Refresh sleeping bags/tunnels
Replenish dig box bags
Replenish spray bottles, baby wipes, paper towels, bottled water and garbage bags
Empty garbage


Monthly:
Wash and dry liners and put them away
Bath/trim nails (if needed)
Replenish doggie bag box
 

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I don't know if this will help you but I was just looking around on Etsy and saw that they sell fleece wheel liners. I remembered seeing your post and thought I would suggest this because o have a daughter with sever anxiety/ADD so I understand your struggle. I mean I don't think anyone likes cleaning out the wheel! This way you could line the wheel, take off the liner in the morning and put a new liner on for the next night. Keep the dirty liners in a closed container or large ziplock and then wash them when you wash your cage liners. Maybe just wipe the inside of the wheel with an insented baby wipe after you remove the liner in case any urine soaks through. They are a little expensive but I think she gives you a discount if you order more then one. Also, if you were having someone watch your hedgehog it would be a lot easier for them to just switch out liners then to have them clean out the wheel. If you search for hedgehog wheel liner you will be able to find them. Hope that helps.
 
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