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African Pygmy Hedgehogs as Pets

Care - Housing and Feeding

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Housing

  • Allow a bare minimum of 2-3 square feet of floor space (bigger is better).
  • Many types of cages can be used - but always avoid wire floors and be cautious about the spacing of wire sided cages - the narrower the better.
  • Aquariums, plastic commercial cages or even modified plastic storage bins can be used. Clear plastic storage bins can be modified to allow adequate ventilation (a row of holes around the top of the bin and/or in the lid works okay).
  • Bedding: aspen shavings or newer alternatives to wood shavings can be used, but avoid cedar shavings (see Top Ten Alternative to Cedar Shavings for more information). Pine is probably okay, especially kiln dried, but there are alternatives available. Some people use indoor outdoor carpeting such as Astroturf (using a heat source to seal the edges to threads do not come loose) to line the cage.
  • Litter box: a small shallow pan with dust free cat litter can be provided and may become the hedgehogs primary bathroom area. Do not use clumping litter though.
  • House/Hide: a cardboard box or some other enclosed hiding place should be provided as a secure haven for your hedgehog.
  • Exercise: a wheel provides great exercise and helpful in preventing obesity. An open sided, solid surface wheel is necessary, and should be quite large (greater than 10 inches, at a minimum). A good example of a hedgehog safe wheel is the Healthy Hedgehog Whisper Wheel from Hedgehogs by Vickie (stick to the larger size if at all possible; note they have a "Hefty Hedghog" model for the hedgehog that needs a little extra support). For more extensive wheel information and ideas see the Hedgehog FAQ's wheel section.

Feeding

  • This is a controversial area in hedgehog care.
  • For many years, high quality cat food has been the recommended food of choice, supplemented and mealworms or crickets and other treats.
  • Commercial hedgehogs diets are now available, which are not ideal but are, for the most part, better formulated for hedgehogs than cat food (although some hedgehogs do not like them as much as cat food). These can still be difficult to find in pet stores, but are becoming more widely available online.
  • Prepared insectivore diets (such as Zoo Fare) are another good alternative, often favored by exotic animal veterinarians and zoos.
  • In any case, a mixture or variety of foods is probably the best choice, for both health and preventing diet boredom.
  • Hedgehogs tend to love mealworms, and make a good occasional treat, but these should be fed nutritious foods such as fruit, vegetables and dog food before giving them to the hedgehog. Crickets can also be fed.
  • Small amounts of hardboiled egg, baby foods or fruit can be given as occasional treats. Treats should be fed in moderation only, however.

Next: Handling Hedgehogs

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