Hedgehog Central banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Cassandra is a wild European Hedgehog, rescued after a wild fire. She's very chill.
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!
I haven't posted in months, but my hedgie Cassandra is still doing fine. She apparently changed her teeth and got used to the comforts of a house, meals in bed, and toys.
However, I have noticed some strange stuff that she does. She seems fine, mind you, but having no previous experience with hedgehogs, I would like to know more about this.

So, I'll begin with the fun part: anointing. I know hedgies anoint themselves when they find a smell or taste they like, or when they're happy. I originally found about this when she licked my perfume off my wrists a few months back, and apparently she can smell it even after a few days, because even fresh out of the shower, she will try and lick my hand. But what I find strange is that I can "make" Cassandra anoint herself. Whenever I rub her belly she always starts anointing herself on the right side of her back. If instead I rub her behind her rear feet, in the point where the bare skin meets the quills, she immediately turns around and starts anointing her left side. I don't really understand why, but every single time I do one of these two, she immediately starts anointing, and always in the same place. Weird, but I guess that can't be a bad thing. But I'll ask anyways: any idea why she does that?

And now the bad part, the poops. Until recently, Cassandra has been living in a wooden enclousure that my dad and I built at home. There is a small "house" on one side where she can catch some shade, and a snuggle sack on the opposite end, where she usually sleeps (99% of the time she sleeps, she's in there). We had covered the floor in coco fibre to absorb some of the excrements, and it worked for a while - except for the occasional brown demon you wouldn't see much, and even the smell was barely noticeable, and we could change the coco fibre fairly easily. The downside is that she would carry the coco fibre into her snuggle sack during her walks, or fill the water bowl with it during her night time baths. Even worse, I noticed some of the soil would accumulate and stick around her butt, making a little ball, and she would hurt herself taking it off, causing bleeding. Most of the time, my mother and I would give her a bath and carefully remove the dirt, but Cassie did remove one of said poopballs on her own, and I was concerned she migh hurt herself doing so.
In short, the coco fibre doesn't seem to be the best idea.
Two days ago my mother decided to replace the coco fibre with a layer of training pads for dogs, thinking it would be much easier to replace them, and Cassandra could not make a mess.
Well, my mom was wrong. It's now day two, and I just found Cassandra with her feet soaked in poop, just like the training pads. Most of the enclousure is covered. Not only she covered the floor, she apparently even pooped on a wall. Check the link if you are curious. I have no idea how that poop got there, but somehow it did. At first I found it hilarious, but of course now I have to clean everything up, both hedgie and house. Training pads aren't the way either.

So... long story short: what do I do? I can't really tell if she did this mess because she just does her business wherever and accidentally steps on it, or if she's actually mad about not having her coco-fibre anymore and this is how she expresses her anger. I have little idea of what I'm doing and I don't really see a solution to this. If any of you has any idea, please let me know. I don't want Cassandra to live in a dirty environment, but apparently I can't find a solution that won't cause some sort of problem. So, what now?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
130 Posts
Hi there :) I am a beginner too, but I've read a lot into hedgies and my Ragnar is doing fairly well so far. So I will try to provide my bit, but take it with a grain of salt.

Anointing: I see no harm either. Chance like you say, she just really likes how you smell :)) But maybe if she directly licks the fresh perfume of your skin, it's better to avoid and clean your skin before handling her, I don't know if it is toxic in any way?

Poops: the picture does look very messy! :( Ragnar also poops everywhere, but way less during one day. I think there might be something that upsets her stomach, better take her to a vet who is an expert on exotic animals like pygmy hedgies and also take a fresh stool sample with you. What are you feeding her?
Regarding the litter, I am using paper chipping for our vivarium and fleece for his running space with PVC foil under it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
132 Posts
I agree with the reply from Ragou above, there's a lot of good points!
A couple of things I want to add- is there any way she could get on top of her hidey to do her business? What does the rest of her cage look like (can you post a picture)? Does she have a heat lamp? What consistency are her poops and what colour are they?
If she just has the two hideys (the house and the sack) and her wheel, she could be bored and trying to find ways to play around...meaning she could throw her poops and they stick to the walls. Adding tubes or cat toys or dig boxes are a great way to provide enrichment. I've found dig boxes work best for my hedgie personally (using either disinfected rocks, fleece strips or pom-poms are all great ways), especially with food hidden around inside to encourage play. A heat lamp and thermostat are both incredibly important for hedgehogs and the lack of heat could cause stress, or in a worst-case scenario, hibernation leading to death. If her poops are looser than solid that could make them more likely to stick to her feet and follow her around, thus leading to more mess.
I do think a lot of the tracking you're seeing on the puppy pads does just come from it getting stuck on her feet. You probably wouldn't have seen this with the coco-fiber bedding. Make sure to wash her wheel every day and sweep daily as well and that'll probably cut down on some of the tracking. Switching to fleece bedding may also cut down on some tracking since it might make it easier for Cassandra to wipe the poop off her feet, but tracking and poop boots is normally a part of owning a hedgie 😁
 

·
Registered
Cassandra is a wild European Hedgehog, rescued after a wild fire. She's very chill.
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hello! I will try to answer everything.
So, first of all: Cassandra eats mostly cat food, both moist and dry, which I read is good for her. A friend of mine also has two hedgies and she feeds them the same food, with good results so far. From time to time she munches on some millipedes that we have around here, I am pretty sure she was eating them before I got her because they are absolutely everywhere here whenever it rains, and she seems to enjoy them. I also give her scrambled eggs without seasoning, and chicken from time to time. She seems to be particularly fond of the moist cat food, and eggs. Sometimes I give her bits of apple and sometimes a few drops of honey (I know it's too sugary, so I really give her very few and not that frequently). I did give her some chicken hot dog at times when I didn't have anything else, but I try to avoid it since I don't really like processed meat (I don't eat it myself, why give it to my friend?); she doesn't seem to mind anyways.
Cassandra's poops are brown/dark brown, she usually leaves a single, long poop rather than smaller ones, not particularly stinky, and not very hard; they retain shape but are a bit soft to the touch. I'm no expert but they seem to be quite normal. She once did a poop that was a bit greenish, after eating some veggies, but that was months ago and it happened only once and never again.
She surely brings her poops around, because after tonight I didn't really find much stuff, so it's clear it's just the result of her roaming around. By the way, tonight she made less of a mess. Maybe it was the stress of not having coco fibre under her feet anymore?

Regarding the small house (the "office" we call it), she could absolutely get on top of it, if she tried. I'm not sure how old she is (my dad and I rescued her from a fire, we had no previous hedgie experience) but she changed her teeth in September if memory serves me well. She is quite long and grew up fast. She can easily stand on her rear feet and put her front paws on the roof of the house. I think she has enough strength to pull herself up, but she never tried to do so. I saw her put her paws there, but she never tried anything else. I'm thinking about covering the roof so that she can't do it anymore.

Regarding the heat lamp: she does not have one so far. Her room is always at cozy temperatures (between 20 and 28 °C) and so far she didn't seem to need it. I'm afraid that adding a heat lamp within a room that is already hot enough might make the air too warm, if that makes any sense.

Regarding her toys and hiding places: so far there are only two hiding places. The enclosure is about 1.6 metres long, 65 centimetres wide and 25 centimetres tall. I know it's not much, but we don't really have much room and she really grew faster than we expected. I'm not sure I could make a bigger one. I must say that, alas, she doesn't have a wheel. I just can't find one that's big enough. I ordered one some months ago (the metal one that everyone seems to like) and back then already she could barely fit at all. She didn't seem very interested in it, and I thought the rotating bands on the side could be a hazard since she could move to the side and get caught in there. Now that's she even a bit bigger, I'm not sure she could use it. I read on another post that a wheel too small can cause back problems. I think it's easier if my dad and I make her a bigger wheel by ourselves, but that might take a bit since we can't always get to work.
Since she doesn't have a wheel, she instead roams around a lot, and I noticed she does so in steps, as if she was "mapping" each portion of her enclousure. This really needs a solution, I know.

On the other hand, she has some plushie toys (from which I removed the eyes so she can't accidentally eat them) which she seems to like. She carries them around, moves them in and out of her snuggle sack, and chews a bit on them, since last night one was a bit wet on the head. So far she beheaded three lol, but this one is still "healthy".

This is all I think. Please, do not think of me as an uncaring owner. I really love this little poop monster and I'm trying my best to keep her alive and happy. It's just that some things aren't really possible right now. I'm trying to do better.

One last thing - I live in a place where there really aren't vets who can take care of her, and I'm not even sure I'd be allowed to keep her. The only reason why she's here is because the natural reserves around here are often targeted by morons who start fires, and I'm afraid she'd suffer an even worse fate. Just think that we saved her from a fire, planned to release her back in nature, and the very next day the spot we had chosen was set ablaze. I don't really feel comfortable with the thought of having her risk her life again in a place like this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
130 Posts
Hi again, thank you both for this lot of information you provided, I am learning immensely as well.:) well, the fact that we talk about a wild (European?) hedgehog changes a lot of things! Therefore, of course, it probably won't need a heat lamp. However, European hedgehogs do sleep during winter in nature. In my country, I have also seen several people on social media who save sick/thin/endangered hedgehogs and give them housing during winter, and, of course, you're not a bad person for doing that. But this is still a wild animal and most tips you're going to find here are about African pygmy hedgehogs or other kind of pet hedgehogs. I'd suggest you to contact a wild animal sanctuary/a zoo/a shelter for hedgehogs. There's surely one of those in your area because we have them here in Germany too. There are professional people who can and are allowed to take care of wild hedgehogs.

I know this is not the answer you might've wanted to hear, and you did the right thing - you saved her from the fire. But afterward, the right procedure is to release her back into the wild in a safe place (for which it is too late and too cold already now) or to give Cassandra to somebody who is qualified for giving her shelter for the winter. Latest in spring, you'd have to release her. And if you cannot take her to the vet and she gets sick, what were all your efforts for? However, I don't think that a vet would mean trouble for you legally. At most he/she will tell you the same as me.

I also know that a companion cannot replace another and you love her dearly - but most countries and states don't forbid having a pygmy hedgehog at home, you might consider raising one? I am really happy I decided for Ragnar, for example! He isn't someone to snuggle with, but he's a very tame hedgehog who loves to be fed mealworms, sleep in my lap and run around in the flat. The best is to contact a qualified breeder if you want to have a healthy, tame hedgehog at home :)

Again, I think that Cassandra is very lucky you've found her and one can see that you've thought a lot about what is the best for her. But please take what I wrote into consideration. If there was any misunderstanding from my side, let me know! I wish you all the best.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
132 Posts
If Cassandra is a wild European hedgehog it changes some things about her care. If she's an African Pygmy hedgehog I'm able to offer more advice. One thing is that 20 degrees celsius is too cold for an APH. It's much better for them if they're able to stay above 22 degrees and below 27, though the high end is less worrying than the low end if it goes above. I'm not sure about a European hedgehog.
For a wheel, most pet stores have 12-inch diameter Kaytee Comfort Wheels which are good for hedgie use. They can be loud, but bulking up the axel the wheel sits on can temporarily help. Don't give her a metal wheel because no matter if she's a European or an APH she'd need a solid running space, not the grate-like metal wheels, or her toes and nails could get caught and get hurt. I'd suggest Carolina Storm wheels as well but they're out of stock right now on their Etsy and eBay shops.
I don't fault you for anything you're doing here, you came to a forum for advice, and probably got more than you bargained for, lol! But you clearly care about Cassandra. She seems to be in good health and has a good diet based on what you've said here. She also sounds to be pretty happy!
From the earlier picture she looks more like an African Pygmy hedgehog than a European hedgehog but it's hard to tell. I commend you for rescuing her though and I'm glad you were able to save her :)
 

·
Registered
Cassandra is a wild European Hedgehog, rescued after a wild fire. She's very chill.
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks to both of you for your replies.
I would say Cassandra is a wild European rather than an African Pygmy - that would explain why she's bigger than most hedgies that I see on the forum.
When it comes to the wheel - grumpypebbles I absolutely share your views. The grate-like structure of the wheel worried me as well. I guess I'll have to either find a new one or just build it myself.
Regarding what Ragou said - I don't really feel comfortable releasing Cassandra into a reserve where there already were fires. She's been living with us since July, she's been happy and healthy, and we all love her. I think we can take care of her. If she ever needs a vet, I'll find one. After all I did not want a pet, I took her because she needed help and it was the right thing to do. Now I feel responsible and I want to give her all the love and care I can.

Right now my mom is making a new snuggle sack and also a tunnel for Cassandra, and once the wheel problem is sorted out, she will have plenty of things to play with.
I will try to keep the room warm enough, as far as I know 22C should be enough, so that's not too hard to accomplish.

Thanks again to both of you.
 

·
Registered
Cassandra is a wild European Hedgehog, rescued after a wild fire. She's very chill.
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hi all, just wanted to give you a quick update on Cassandra.
First of all, she got used to her new enclousure. Her pooping stabilized and she's back to harder poops, which apparently she also stopped throwing around (still very unsure on how she'd do that, but it's a funny idea). I put two more plushies in her enclousure so now she has several to play with, and apparently she moves them around at night.
My mom and I made her a new snuggle sack and a tunnel out of fleece as I said we were, and she's been playing with them ever since. For some reason, she prefers the snuggle sack we made to the one we bought from Amazon (which is larger and warmer - maybe it was too much for her?).
Now I've been putting some food in her tunnel from time to time, to encourage her to use it even more. However, I will need some new toys/things for her to explore, because I want to keep her entertained. I will have to think of something else, maybe something she can push around to reveal some treats.

Thanks again for all the help!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
132 Posts
Aww, she sounds super happy! I'm glad she got used to her new enclosure and has plenty more toys and exploration things. An idea to keep her even more entertained is a forage box or a dig box. There are tons of different ways to do it. Like a box lined with smooth flat stones, a box made to look like outside (just make sure to sterilize the dirt and anything you put in by baking it in the oven at 250 for an hour I think it is, but double-check, and be careful because fires are a thing), a box filled with pom-poms and a box filled with fleece strips. Careful though- my hedgehog became very attached to her fleecy box and slept in there all the time, lol! But I digress :) Good luck and have fun with Cassandra!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
I missed the first part about the poop, are you finding them on the side, a little higher than you wou image it should be? We were finding some like that, and in some unusual shapes (like we was trying to replicate the poop emoji). We just call it art work.

Have fun with your hedgie.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top