Fast Facts about Hedgehogs
What’s Cute and Cuddly and Prickly all Over?
Hedgehogs are fascinating little pets who don’t require a lot of care. Once a hedgehog is used to being handled, it will unroll from its protective ball and flatten its spines, so it won’t be so prickly to hold. They are best suited as pets for teenagers and adults.
Hedgehogs are mostly awake in the early morning and evening. When awake, they are very active and it’s fun to watch them dig, go through tubes, push toys around and run on their exercise wheel. They should get at least an hour every evening out of their cage to explore.
Hedgehogs live an average of 3 1/2 years, although it’s possible for them to live 10 years. The gestation period is 34-40 days and the average litter size is 3-5. Baby hedgehogs open their eyes at 17-20 days and can be weaned at 5-6 weeks. Hedgehogs need at least 10 hours of light per day or they will go into hibernation so a full spectrum light above the cage may be useful.
Pet hedgies should eat a commercial hedgehog diet. They also enjoy small amounts of meat, egg, and commercially raised insects such as mealworms, waxworms, and crickets. Treats are great for training and strengthening the bond between you and your hedgehogs and meat-based treats for cats or ferrets can comprise 10% of their diet. Hedgehogs can have a tendency to get fat, so don’t let your hedgehog eat too much.
A hedgehog cage should be at least 18″ X 24″ X 18″ high, filled with 2-3″ of bedding to allow your hedgehog to dig. Hedgehogs are good climbers and tend to try to escape from their cage, so it needs to be secure. For bedding you can choose from aspen shavings or pet litter made of recycled paper or organic pellets. Do not use pine or cedar shavings. Most hedgehogs will use a litter box and you can use plain unscented clay cat litter in it. Clean the litter box daily, and the entire cage weekly.
Hedgehogs need a water bottle, non-tip food dishes, one for dry food and one for moist food, and a nest box. They also need a large solid surface exercise wheel. Hedgehogs also enjoy tubes, climbing toys such as ramps and branches, and small toys they can push around.