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Hello everyone, I am a second-time hedgie owner. Sadly, my first one was bought from a pet store and was not friendly. My new one, Freckles, I got from a local breeder and she is very friendly and wonderful!

Everything has been going well, except every so often, at night, she will seem to get very restless and looks like she is trying to 'escape' her cage. This has only happened a couple of times, but it was especially noticeable last night/this morning...at 5am (not good timing for me!). She was climbing the sides of the wire cage and poking her nose out...somewhat frantically. Sometimes she would climb up and then fall (the cage isn't very tall and there is plenty of soft bedding and no hard stuff for her to land on, and I checked to make sure she has no injuries...she seems happy and fine today). She actually seems to enjoy the falling, or at least isn't upset by it. It's actually kind of amusing, although it does worry me.

What worries me more though is the fact that she is sticking her nose through the cage wires very hard/ aggressively, it's like there's a fire in her cage and she's trying to get out, but shes also sniffing the air like there's something she wants...but there haven't been any new smells. My previous hedgie never did this (but she was a grump). Is this normal? Is there something I can/should do? I know she loves climbing. I have a wheel too, which she loves (squeak squeak squeak...thank goodness for ear plugs)! But the wheel broke (came off the hinges...it's a finely meshed wheel given to me by the breeder) about two days ago and I haven't been able to get to the pet store yet. So that is one reason I can think she might be acting this way, but she did it when the wheel was in the cage as well. She also has some small cat toys (mice) that she likes to grab by the tail (if anyone else has any other toy recommendations please let me know).

I also let her run around in an enclosed hallway (no holes to escape) every evening after she 'wakes up'. I sit there with her and she really seems to enjoy it. So she does get what I think is enough exercise. Also the scurrying is very cute. So does anyone have any idea what is going on? She is 3 months old now and I think she just finished her 'quilling' phase (I am noticing a lot less). Her cage is clean and warm and dry and she has fresh food and water (she loves the water in a bowl...does not use the canteen, though I have both available.

But her climbing and running is very noisy and, moreover, I am worried she will injure herself. Also, she has recently started to 'burrow' in her little house (she kicks out all the shavings), and I have noticed her scratching herself more often (like she is itchy). I gave her a bath not too long ago (tearless Aveeno oatmeal bath), which she seemed to appreciate.

So I guess my questions are: Is this normal behavior? What should I do about it (if anything)? And what could be causing it?

P.S. Sorry for the 'essay' I just thought the more info the better! And I love my baby girl and want her to be happy.
 

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Welcome!

Just a few things come to mind. They do need a wheel, and the mesh one you described isn't recommended as they can get their little toes and nails caught in it. I'd replace the wheel right away with a solid-surface one.

Itchiness brings to mind "mites". Which I'm guessing would cause her to be uncomfortable. You mention shavings, and occasionally those can have mites. (from what I've learned here) I'd have her tested for that.

I'm guessing a good, sturdy, non-squeaking wheel would help her expend some of that nervous energy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
krbshappy71 said:
Welcome!

Just a few things come to mind. They do need a wheel, and the mesh one you described isn't recommended as they can get their little toes and nails caught in it. I'd replace the wheel right away with a solid-surface one.

Itchiness brings to mind "mites". Which I'm guessing would cause her to be uncomfortable. You mention shavings, and occasionally those can have mites. (from what I've learned here) I'd have her tested for that.

I'm guessing a good, sturdy, non-squeaking wheel would help her expend some of that nervous energy.
Hi! Thank you for responding!
I will replace the wheel as soon as possible (I live in Northeast US and we've had some serious snow which = difficulty driving)! I had the mesh one because they breeder uses them (she said the sturdy/ plastic ones collect feces, etc). But I will investigate the one you suggested because it sounds like a better plan!
I use "Guardian Condensed Softwood Pellet Horse Bedding" at the moment (again, from the breeder...I'm guessing that is what they use). I'm not sure what kind of wood it is made from, but basically the pellets turn into small very soft bedding with water added...and I'm not sure if its better to leave them as pellets or add the water.
And I will check for mites, although I did work at a small animal (dog/cat, not exotics) vet hospital for a while and it doesn't seem like she has mites but I will have her tested if the itching doesn't subside. Her skin is also a little pink between where the quills and the belly-fur are and behind her ears. It's been like 10 years since my last hedgie so I'm not sure if this is normal or a sign of something else.
Anyway I'm just telling you this b/c your answer was very helpful and you seem to know a lot so any further/ additional advice is appreciated! Thanks again!
 

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Hopefully others will chime in but I had another thought: I looked up the bedding you use and it is made of pine. Just in case it could be causing the itchiness, I would suggest you try fleece liners, if only for a few weeks to see if she gets any better. Maybe she is being irritated by the pellet bedding? With the fleece liner you can put one down as a base, then pile some smaller ones or strips of fleece so she can still enjoy the burrowing experience that she does with the pellet bedding. Fleece is really nice, in my opinion, because you can have several liners on hand, change them out as needed, pick up the little poopies off the base liner with a piece of tp during the week, then wash them at the end of the week. Economical once you buy the initial amount and fleece can be found on sale really cheap sometimes.
 

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What kind of cage is she in? Some hedgehogs just like to climb. But you're right to be worried since they're fragile and a fall of just a few inches can be hazardous.

Perhaps you could buy a different kind of cage? I use a very large sterilite bin and it works well. I used a soldering iron to melt vent holes into the top 1/2 of the cage and I also leave the lid off. This would stop her from climbing and potentially hurting herself.

If she's restless at night it could mean that she doesn't like her wheel, or being without one since it broke. I recommend that you find a cake topper wheel, a bucket wheel, or a flying saucer wheel. And make sure that it is at least 10" wide. 12" is preferable.

As for the itching - most hedgehogs scratch themselves every once in a while. If this is happening frequently then she might have mites. A vet will be able to do a quick test and a dose of revolution will get rid of them. Unfortunately if it is mites you'll have to throw out all of the bedding, including the unused contaminated portion.

Most people prefer fleece liners as it greatly reduces mite infestations. As long as the pine bedding is kiln dried it should be fine. But contamination does happen with tree products. You could always try an alternative bedding like Yesterday's News or Care Fresh.
 

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Welcome :) For the itching it might be the bedding, the preferred seems to be fleece liners. I use them with my guy and they work great. A lot of bedding can be drying to their skin so a bedding switch and the Aveeno bath like you did can sometimes do the trick. Plus wood bedding can harbor mites so using the fleece cuts that out too :)

For the wheel I use a homemade cake cover wheel that I made. There is alot of good diy information on the web for bucket wheels that you can substitute the bucket for a cake cover. The important points being solid bottom so they can't catch their toenails and to make sure its big enough so they don't have to curve to run.

Sounds like your hedgie has a great home and that he's lucky to have such a great hedgie parent :)
 

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Welcome!
I too had the climbing issue a few weeks ago- I simply took fleece and safety pins and covered the bottom rungs of the cage so that she couldn't climb up. After a few days I removed them and never had trouble again!

As far as the wheel, if you don't care to make one you can always purchase them.
I know many other hedgie owners like the CWS (Cake walk supreme) which can be bought through this site--- OR you could purchase a flying saucer which is also a seemingly popular option (I use this and it's COMPLETELY QUIET! :) )

As far as itching, try getting you pal off the pine bedding and use fleece- just cut the fleece to fit the bottom of the cage and sew two together! They wash and save you money on bedding- be sure to wash with unscented detergent (this sometimes causes allergies)
If you choose fleece cut strips of fleece up and put them in her house! She can burrow in them and throw them anywhere but they usually are easier to keep in the house!

Welcome to HHC again and ALWAYS feel free to ask questions and write as much as you like!
You'll learn that the more you ask the better you and your hedgie will live together!
 

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My hedgehog did this the first few days I had him, they'll calm down soon enough, or just take her out for some quality time to show her she's okay? I hope that helped x3;
 

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Another alternative to stop climbing is to weave plastic cutting boards (from the dollar store) or similar material through the bars. This can also work to help prevent your hedgehog from sticking his/her face out through the cage. That behaviour concerns me as if he climbs, sticks his face out, & then falls, he can strangle himself.
 

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Been there, done that. Yes, when I didn't have the wheel in the cage, my hedgie would try to climb the walls and get out. There was also a couple days that I didn't have time for much bonding and I noticed recently that he tried to climb the walls then as well. So maybe you aren't getting enough bonding time with her and she is missing you and is not getting enough exercise. Something that you can do is take her out in the evening, play with her and try to tire her out. Get her to run around, etc. This will insure that you have bonding time and she is getting some exercise. But yes, you should definitely get her a new wheel ASAP because that is pretty much the best source of exercise for hedgies.

Other than that, yeah you can put something on your cage rungs to try to make sure that your hedgie won't escape or climb, but it's probably mostly because she needs more exercise and is trying to get it by climbing, then letting go, falling off, and climbing again. Am I right? This is what she does? My guy has done that too and so I have discouraged it by making sure he gets his bonding time, and exercise. Even if you just take your hedgie out, place it in your lap while you're watching TV, it counts as bonding time to them and they will be happier.

Good luck with Freckles! Ooo and I want to see pics!
 
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