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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So recently I got a text from a friend that I hadn't talked to very much recently saying that she needed a home for her hedgehog. He's about 2 years old, and she's had him since he was about 2 months old. Of course, me being one to love animals too much agreed, and now I have a huffy little ball of needles. I'm used to creatures who don't enjoy being handled; I adopted a sick chameleon (without knowing they were ill at first) who hated me until I started hand feeding her. I have a gecko as well, but she's very attached to me. Now, my friend also had her variety of pets, including 3 leopard geckos, 2 parakeets, a hamster, and a dog, and her grandparents ran a daycare, so I think my cats and gecko wont be too noisy for this little guy. However, I'm sort of worried about a few things considering I'm more used to the... colder types of little critters. I got all of the stuff for the little guy, but my friend wasn't too clear on some of the stuff I should do for him, other than cleaning and holding him every day...

basically, my questions are this: what kinds of things should I look out for in case if he gets sick? Is it okay for him to eat things like mealworms and waxworms (my friend said its okay, and I give waxworms to my gecko so I've already got a supply)? Is hand feeding treats a good idea? My friend said he hasn't bitten her in over a year, but he's been licking me and my sister a lot, so if he bites, what should I do? She also said that I can make him a litter box and litter train him, but is this really necessary and will it make a difference if he's already 2 years old? also, is there any way to bring him outside if its nice? And should I get him a small mammal heating pad? he has a plastic container, but I'm worried it might be getting too small but I don't know what kind of other tank/setup to get him.

(on a side note, he likes to sit in my lap, curl up, and huff a bunch. and climb up my shirt. but I think that's normal.)

475 Posts
The best recommendation I can give you is to soak in as much information as you can read on this forum. There is so much useful advice on here and many very experienced owners. Generally if hedgehogs show big behavioural changes it is a warning sign that something might be wrong.

There is a great thread on biting that I recommend in the behaviour section. Litter training helps slightly reduce how often that you need to clean the cage, so it's worth a try anyways (regardless of age).

You can take him outside if it's nice, however certain precautions must be taken into account. He must be in a playpen, have constant supervision, and no pesticides can be used on the grass. Also, the temperature outside should be above 70 at the lowest.

Heating pads have been known to burn some hedgies, I would not recommend them.

Plastic containers can be perfectly suitable for hedgehogs, but should be 105 quarts or larger. There are larger options available, and examples of these can be seen in the Cage Setup Examples thread.

Good luck with your new hedgehog!

1,607 Posts
Congratulations on your new bundle of quills. Did you friend say why she needed to rehome him?

I'm going to do my best to cover all your questions.


The big things you're looking for are going to be food and water intake (is he eating and drinking, is he eating/drinking more or less than usual); activity (does he leave signs that he's being active at night, changes to normal activity); bowel movements and urine (odd colors, loose stool, difficulty going, blood in either stool or urine, complete lack of any potty) and general behavior (is something just off about how he is acting compared to normal).

You should also keep an eye out for anything unusual. Check feet and legs regularly to make sure there are no threads or hairs (like people hair) wrapped around them as that can cause loss of circulation which can result in the loss of the limb. And of course make sure the cage has a steady temperature (should be between 73F-80F, but if say you have it at 75F you want it to stay steady at 75 with as little variance as possible).


Waxworms and mealworms are great additions to his diet! You can do other insects too. Crickets, dubia roaches, snails, phoenix worms just to name a few. Keep in mind some are higher in fat than others, so take that into consideration when choosing insects and deciding how much to feed.


Hand feeding is not a good idea because you're very likely to be bitten. I wouldn't let him lick you either. Hedgehogs don't lick to show affection like a dog would. The licking is just a precursor to biting. You can still offer treats, just not from your hand. Chop sticks or tweezers or something else along those lines are fine to use though.

If you do get bitten, don't try to punish him as he won't understand why he's being punished. It's best not to jerk your hand away either. Hedgie teeth are little and often don't break skin, but pulling away sometimes causes that to happen, and the motion may cause him to clamp down harder. Just wait him out. He'll let go on his own after a bit.

Litter training:

You can try a litter box if you want. It's not terribly necessary as hedgehogs will typically go while running on their wheel. A paper towel underneath the wheel is often sufficient to catch the run off. But some people have had really good success with litter training, so it's really up to you.


This can be a touchy subject. Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and thus should be sleeping during the day. In general, if someone wanted to bring their hog outside, it would be during the day. That by itself makes it kind of a "should I really do this?" short of thing. On top of that, you have less control of what happens outside. There could be pesticide on the grass and he may eat some, he may find some other not good for him thing to eat and do so before you can stop him, birds of prey are often a concern as well as neighborhood dogs and cats, hedgehogs have disappeared completely during outdoor play time.

In short: yes, you could if it's warm enough outside. However, there is lots to consider and you have to commit to not taking your eyes off him for a second while you're out. I personally would not, but others do, so again, it's up to you.


Heating pads are not appropriate for hedgehogs. They have a tendency to decide they don't want to leave the warm spot which can result in low temp burns and lack of activity (they've been known to not even leave them to eat or potty). The only time they should be used is if you have a sick hog that needs a little extra warmth for a short time and only on the lowest setting.

Hedgehogs don't need warm and cool zones like a reptile would. They need a consistent and steady temperature throughout the cage. This is often accomplished with a CHE over the cage or a space heater for the room either of which should be paired with a thermostat to control it. How are you currently heating the cage?


If you look at the subforums, you should find some good threads about appropriate homes for hedgehogs. There's plenty of options, so find what will work best for you and your space.

We're here to help with any other questions you may have, so ask away :)

1,071 Posts
Welcome to the forum and thanks for taking the little guy in!

Check this mini book out for some starter info. It was written by one of the members here, and will answer your caging and heating questions: http://www.westcoasthedgehogs.com/files/hedgehogbook/download.html

The noise from the cats and gecko should be fine. Hedgies are crepuscular/nocturnal so he'll be active in the evenings. Your friend may or may not have been aware of some vital information, so I'll make a quick list of supplies you absolutely need:

- Heat source that doesn't emit light (ie CHE bulb, space heater, not an under tank mat. You want to aim for 75F - 80F or so. You don't need a gradient like with reptiles, just a solid ambient temperature)
- Lamp rated for CHE if you choose that route
- Food and water bowls
- Large wheel with solid running surface (these are amazing http://www.carolinastormhedgehogs.com/storm-bucket-wheel.html)
- High quality cat food as a staple diet (read this: http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/foru...3034-beginner-s-guide-hedgehog-nutrition.html)
- Insects to supplement diet (they like pretty much everything. Crickets, mealies, waxworms, roaches, hornworms. We don't recommend dried ones, live are best)
- Hide (anything for guinea pigs or rabbits works)
- Bedding (Fleece is excellent, or any of that fluffy paper stuff works)
- Snuggle sack or similar for bonding (small fuzzy bag to put him in when he's out with you)
- Cage (Here's some ideas: http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forums/13-housing-accessories/1611-cage-setup-examples.html)

Hedgehogs are unfortunately prone to a lot of illnesses. Watch for runny eyes or nose, dry, flaky skin, discolored skin, lots of falling out quills, excessive scratching, lumps and bumps, and any major changes in behaviour. They're prone to all sorts of cancer, respiratory infections if they're kept too cold, hibernation attempts, urinary tract infections, skin infections and fungus, mites, all sorts of eye problems, and a genetic illness called wobbly hedgehog syndrome. That should all be covered in the book. You'll need an exotics vet well versed in hedgies to help with most hedgehog illnesses, and I personally recommend keeping a balance of at least $500 for emergency vet costs.

Hand feeding can be risky. hedgehogs are very scent-oriented, so if you hand feed you associate your fingers with tasty snacks, and this can result in biting. Putting treats in a bowl or in front of the hog where you can keep track of them is best. If he bites, be patient and wait until he lets go. If he doesn't let go you can drip water on him, or blow in his face, but neither will help long term. I keep snakes and honestly, hedgehog bites are way worse, so avoid being bitten if possible. Licking does often lead to biting, so you may want to stop letting him lick. If he does start biting we have a sticky in the behaviour section that will help you there.

You can indeed make a litter box. Potty training a hedgehog is more about putting the litter box where he decides to go to the bathroom. Most will go on their wheel, so you can buy a tray to put under the wheel and that will catch almost all of the poop.

His behaviour sounds normal so far, so that's excellent. Just be patient with him and he'll warm up to you in no time.

Now! What kind of gecko do you have!? I have cresties, electric blue days, and a leopard gecko who still lives with my parents because he's ancient. :lol:

If any of that didn't make sense, or you need more info, just post again here and we'll do our best to sort everything out!

Welcome aboard!

Edit: hahaha, we all posted at the same time!

1,607 Posts
Haha, we did! No worries! I think we covered more stuff that way. We have overlapping info and different info, so between the different posts I think we got most of the important stuff.
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