If you've never owned a hedgehog before, please take the time to read this entire document. Understand this is a guide to get you started on caring for your hedgehog but is by no means all inclusive.
Diet: A Hedgehog’s diet is undeniably the most important part of caring for your hedgehog. Many illnesses in hedgehogs are linked to poor diet. Because they only eat a tablespoon or two a day, it’s important that food is high quality. Hedgehogs need a high protein, low fat diet with a decent amount of fiber. We recommend a high quality, dry cat food over most hedgehog foods. Most hedgehog foods on the market tend to be made from lower quality ingredients. Content to look for when choosing food; 30-35% protein, 10% fat and 10-15% fiber. We’ve not found any single food that will hit all these criteria so we recommend mixing a couple different kinds of kibble and supplementing their diet as needed.
Treats: We recommend using treats as a way to supplement your hedgehog’s diet. Most foods don’t give them the proper amount of fiber. We recommend a few live insects/worms a week to round out their diet. Meal worms, crickets and super worms are good options.
Bedding: In our opinion, there’s no perfect bedding so feel free to experiment. One kind of bedding to NEVER use is anything with Cedar in it. Pine or Aspen shavings, Pine pellets, fleece liners or paper bedding (like care fresh) are all great options with their own pros and cons. Hedgehogs need about 1-2” of bedding in the bottom of their cage. Cages need to be cleaned out approximately once a week depending on the hedgehog, the size of cage and type of bedding.
Enclosures: Size matters. The primary characteristic you need to consider with an enclosure is its’ size. We recommend the largest enclosure that you realistically have room for. The minimum recommended size is 4 sq ft (24”x 24.”) Once you put in a hide, a wheel, food and water dishes and toys, there’s not much room for your hedgehog to explore. Cage styles vary from pricey, species specific cages all the way down to converted storage containers. Cages with a solid plastic bottom are highly recommended to simplify cleaning. Solid plastic walls are also ideal to reduce the possibility of your hedgehog climbing and injuring itself.
Wheels: A wheel is the most important toy you could ever give your hedgehog. Wheels should be considered a necessity, however they greatly improve the health and happiness of your hedgehog. Hedgehogs will run 2-3 miles every night. Wheels encourage this natural behavior. Hedgehogs need a solid, plastic wheel at least 12” in diameter. Other toys like mylar cat toys, empty toilet paper rolls or ping pong balls are great options.
Recommendations: Carolina Storm Wheel, 12” Kaytee Comfort Wheel
Heating: Keeping hedgehogs warm is literally a matter of life and death. They must be kept at 72-80 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature drops below this range, African Pygmy Hedgehogs are likely to attempt hibernation which can be fatal. Never confuse a thermostat with a thermometer. Different spaces in the same room can vary up to 6 degrees so a thermometer in the cage is a necessity to ensure proper heat regulation. Ceramic heat emitters (CHE’s) are the preferred method for keeping the air in the cage a warm temperature. A heat source that doesn’t emit like is preferred as to not affect sleep cycles. Another popular choice is a small animal heating pad. This however isn’t ideal as it doesn’t heat the entire cage. Also, hedgehogs have been known to get burn marks from such methods.
This basic care guide is definitely not all inclusive. The main goal of this is just to get you started. There is still a lot unknown about hedgehogs and because of this, a lot of breeders and owners disagree on certain aspects of their care. However, we've done our best to create a practical guide outlining the basics of what we have learned from other breeders and experienced first hand. We recommend continuing your research by clicking on each of the hyperlinks under each category which will take you to a more comprehensive article.