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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. I am currently considering adopting a hedgehog and am wondering about hedgehog housing. From what I see of the topics here and elsewhere, there is much discussion of cages -- types and everything that goes with them. I am wondering if it is feasible to have a "house hedgehog" -- one that is free to roam the house (or apartment, in my case). The environment wouldn't offer any danger that I can think of; we have hardwood floors and no stairs (or anything that could lead to even a minor fall).

So, I suppose my question here would be: Would it be reasonable to have a pet hedgehog that lives outside of a cage? I see much talk of letting hedgehogs out to play but nothing related to living without a cage. I've also seen (somewhat varying) reports about litter training hedgehogs. That would definitely be a concern if leaving our hedgehog outside of a cage -- is it reasonable to expect to be able to litter train it?

I ask this because, while I like hedgehogs from what experience I have with them, I have little interest in having a caged animal. As much as I hate to say it, if it's not feasible to have a free roaming hedgehog, I will probably not end up adopting one.

Thank you.
 

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Hi there,

There are a few things I can think of off the top of my head about why that wouldn't necessarily be the best option. I know some people have hedgie rooms where they are allowed to have free roam of a room so maybe someone that does that will have an answer as far as how they do it.

However, My main concern would be that you'd have to keep your house temp at around 75 degrees F at all times. Hedgies are VERY susceptible to temperature changes (my little girl attempted hibernation last night just from a 4 degree drop) and most people don't keep their house that warm. You'd have to be careful to not keep windows open because that could lead to a draft lowering the temp.
As far as litter training, not all hedgies use a litter box. For mine I have a litter pan under their wheels so the mess goes on the wheel and in the tray. However, my new little one hasn't completely mastered the litter box yet and still does his business allover the cage as well as the litter box and wheel. If you end up with a hedgie that doesn't use the litter box, are you going to get rid of it because it leaves messes allover your apartment?
They can also squeeze into some tight spots and could easily get lost in the couch, under cabinets etc. There are a few posts on here by people who's hedgies have escaped and gotten lost. You'd basically have to "hedgie proof" the entire living area so that there'd be no chance of escape or hiding.

I'd really put a lot of thought into it because I'd hate to see you change your mind after getting one and realizing that free roam may not be the best option.

~Melissa
 

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I almost forgot to add: Hedgehogs go through quillings and lose their quills a few times in their life (and a few occasionally even when not quilling). You could end up with quills on the floor which, trust me, are not fun to step on! At least when you have a designated play area, you pretty much know where the quills will be. With a free roaming one, you'd never know where they were dropping.
 

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You would probably have to set your entire apartment to around 80F(or even warmer), just because otherwise, the floor will be cold. If the hedgie ends up in some random dark corner, or random cold corner, they could hibernate and never come out of it again. Hibernation is deadly to APH, which is why they are kept caged, as they usually need some sort of heating system.
They also need 12-14 hours of sunlight or superficial lighting. So once again, if they find some random dark corner which never sees the light of day, you could end up with a hibernating hedgehog.

As for litter training, not all hedgehogs will litter train. And given the large area you are planning, they may not be litter trained at all. There have been cases where the hedgies have just been too lazy to even walk up or down a ramp tube to get to their litter box, never mind cross an entire room.

I think the only feasible situation would be to enclose a small room dedicated to just the hedgehog. Then you can have a space heater just for that room. You probably will need a LOT of fleece to cover the entire floor, as once again, cold floors are bad. So hardwood floors would need to be covered.

The only real feasible situation was if this was a European hedgehog you're talking about.
 

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I also want to point out some of the obvious dangers that came to mind when I read the OP's post. It doesn't matter if you have hedgehog proofed your apartment to the utmost extent. The fact is, you most likely have furniture and most likely a hedgehog will try to climb it and therefore if they fall, it could easily be fatal.
 

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I immediately thought of how many cables and electrical wires there are, from t.v's, lamps, computers, etc, a hedgehog can bite onto one and get shocked really bad, if not kill them. Also, how could you find it? Some love to roam all over their playpens and cages, and if it can free roam all the time you would never know where it is. Further more, what happens if you wake up in the middle of the night to go get some water or something and when you go to stand up, you step on your hedgie? [sorry for the mental image everyone] Just my continuation to what everybody has previously said.
 

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We had free roaming rats at one point and thought they're not the same, it was a pain. I was worried all the time about what they were getting into and the potty issue was meh too. I'm all for free roaming while supervised but it's nice to be able to put them somewhere safe when you're not looking.
 

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I agree that having a hedgehog free-roam the entire house would be a bad idea. It's too hard to make every room hedgie-safe, too hard to keep every room and area at the appropriate temperature.

However...If you were really against having a cage for your hedgehog and had the space to do this, it could work out to have a smaller room devoted to your hedgehog's use. The best way to keep it warm would be giving the room its own thermostat to control the temperature. You could keep the room free of furniture or places to get stuck, and only furnish it with hedgie toys, bedding, houses, etc. However, it's still doubtful that the hedgehog would fully littertrain in this setting, so you'd probably still have poop/pee on the carpet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all for your replies. The temperature concern was another one I meant to ask about, and that alone definitely eliminates an uncaged hedgehog as an option if they're that sensitive. *shrug* Perhaps I will reconsider my opinion on having a caged pet.
 

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I've known several people who have had free-range hedgehogs and been very successful. All of them were stay at home women who had grown families so they were there most of the time and not distracted by children, etc.

You'd have to be absolutely positive that you've hedgie proofed to the nth degree and you can't have cold floors. You also may have to deal with significant mess before the hedgehog becomes litter trained (if at all).

I think it's a lot more work but people have done it. If I'm not mistaken, Standing Bear either took in a free range hedgehog or actually had free range hedgehogs in a multi-story home.
 

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What about giving your hedgie a really big cage [if space allows], or getting him/her out for a longish play time and supervise free roaming? It's kind of a compromise, I guess. :|
 

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tie-dye hedgie said:
What about giving your hedgie a really big cage [if space allows], or getting him/her out for a longish play time and supervise free roaming? It's kind of a compromise, I guess. :|
My idea exaclty. Also, if the hedgie is roaming in the house I would be scanred of stepping on him or him going under furniture. I think a happy medium is the best.
 

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Another option besides a cage is a playpen. That way your hedgehog has more space and you can sort of fold it back when you are interacting. Assuming you can keep the space warm enough and can cover the floor with fleece blankets.

I use the wire storage cubes with place mats covering each square to prevent climbing. This can also fold up and makes a really good travel cage. When Quigley is going to be in it over night I lay down a plastic table cloth, put the playpen on top of it and then lay down the fleece. I also put his wheel in it (otherwise he scratches the sides trying to escape!)

Here are pictures of his playpen walls.

[attachment=1:ak2t7apt]DSC02914.JPG[/attachment:ak2t7apt]
The place mats are just plastic place mats from the dollar store. I cut them down (rounded the cut edges so they have no sharp corners) used a hole punch to put the holes in them and then zip-tied to the wires.

[attachment=0:ak2t7apt]DSC02915.JPG[/attachment:ak2t7apt]
This shows the back and also the clips for opening and closing the playpen.
 

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That playpen is SUPER CUTE!!!!
 

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You can also buy playpens. Some people, myself included, use this one or one similar
. With playpens you need to watch that your hedgie doesn't try to climb out or escape under it. Higher playpen walls with vertical or flat walls are generally better than horizontal as they're harder to climb.

Edit: I actually use two of those playpens attached together, which sits on a plastic table cloth over the carpet floor. Sylvie seems to really like it. If I put her generally on the floor she always goes right towards her playpen and looks for the door in (you can open it, which I do so she can play inside or come out with me).
 
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