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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My tiny friend is typically a crazy-runner, going on hours-long marathons of far too many kilometres and making me feel downright lazy. Except, in the last 2 weeks, he's reduced to a bare 10min per night, a 200 metre sprint.

I'm not terribly worried as he's otherwise his totally normal personality, curiously exploring during playtime, rambunctiously climbing all over his human-housemates, flopping into solid all-day snoozes, and eating/drinking/pooping exactly like normal. I figure it's probably the heatwave (capping at 80F, but our friend prefers the cooler end of the hedgehog-heat spectrum), or that he's run his wheel lopsided-wonky (constructing a replacement this weekend), but I'm also a bit sad that my hedgehog has ceased his favourite activity.

I've read people give advice to "encourage" their hedgehog to wheel (particularly when discussing hedgehog weight loss), but how do you go about encouraging? Strapping a stick to his quilly back and dangling a mealworm on a string in front of him seems fraught with technical difficulties, while even the quietest cheering crowd would probably frighten more than encourage. I suppose I could give him trophies for being the fastest quadruped in the apartment, but that might backfire if he notices as the only quadruped, he's also the slowest...

I've also seen a lot of advice for combating the heat in less-temperature-controlled homes, but it seems mostly to apply to providing cool hedgehog resting places. Sticking a fan to blow across his wheel to give him a cooler place to run seems logical, yet at the same time that's creating a direct draft which seems like a pretty solid hedgehog-care no-no. Thoughts?

Now I've gone out seeking advice, tiny hedgehog will go on a 10km run tonight before going to sleep under his thickest, warmest pile of blankets, then boycott his new wheel on Monday.
 

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If the wheel is slightly lopsided or running weirdly, that would be my guess for he's slowed down on running. Depending on how it's affected, if he's accidentally slipped or slid out of the wheel while running, that might also have made him shy away from it more as well. It could also be the temp, though. Have you checked his nails? Long nails can sometimes cause less running as well.

If this were me, I think my course of action would be to check his nails and otherwise wait & see if the new wheel solves the problem. If that doesn't, then it might be the heat...unfortunately I'm not sure what you could do about that. I definitely wouldn't go with a fan. I've put cold packs on top of the cage before (with a towel under to keep from dripping) and that's cooled the cage a couple degrees - perhaps that would cool his cage a bit at night for running? Though you wouldn't want it to get too cool either, so be careful if you try that.
 

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Strapping a stick to his quilly back and dangling a mealworm on a string in front of him seems fraught with technical difficulties, while even the quietest cheering crowd would probably frighten more than encourage. I suppose I could give him trophies for being the fastest quadruped in the apartment, but that might backfire if he notices as the only quadruped, he's also the slowest...
I have no advice for you, but these are the best ideas I've ever heard. For anything. I would pay to see this!
 

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Lol I agree with Abby! And Lilysmommy gave the advise I know to give. Also, Ivy stopped wheeling when she was quilling but when I gave her a nice oatmeal bath it helped her feel better. I would def. check the nails though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update:
- I clipped his back nails; his front nails still need a trim but he's being too hyperactive for grooming. Le sigh.
- Simultaneously, the heat wave ended, dropping ambient temperatures to his particular happy-zone.
- I did NOT replace his wheel.

He's now back to running normally.

Lessons: What would I do differently next time?
- Not let his nails overgrow. (Com'ere, little hoglet, you still have some front claws for me to trim!)
- Try to keep ambient temperatures in the lower half of "acceptable hedgehog temperatures" range. (Apparently, Canadian hedgehogs like it a little cooler than their African counterparts?)

I still want to switch out his current slightly-wonky wheel, but I'm waiting until we've got a solid week of normal behaviour, so if he goes on another running-strike I'll know I've offended him with the new wheel.
 

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:lol: Good idea! Would be so much easier if our tiny tyrants could just yell at us & tell us what we've done wrong so we can fix it quicker. Glad he's running normally again! Good luck cutting the front nails. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Seriously!

He totally knows I'm on a mission to clip his nails. He spent most of last night hiding in the one stretch of PVC pipe safe from human-pawing, even thieving his own kibble into the pipe for nibbles and ignoring attempts to bribe him out with apple. After going for a long run while I was safely asleep, he's retreated back into the pipe for a daytime-nap on cold, hard plastic instead of a cozy, soft, fleece-stuffed pigloo. Tonight, I may need to learn how to go fishing with a mealworm if he's still determined to hide from me! ...or take the pipe apart. (Shh, that's far too practical of a solution!)

Last night he went on a total bender in the wheel-room, clocking up a few km of running, but also trashing his liners, coating his wheel in poop, splattering pee 12" up the walls, and smearing poopy-footprints on just the wheel-entry sections of pipe. The rest of his enclosure? Clearly visited by hedgehog (things moved), but neat and tidy. Just what are you trying to tell me, tiny hedgehog?
 
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