Hedgehog Basic Care
By Michael Russell
Hedgehogs are very interesting, fascinating pets to own. These pets are not for everyone though. Before you get one, you need to learn how to take care of them and make sure they are right for you.
Hedgehog fossils have been found that date to as far back as the dinosaurs! They are one of the oldest animals alive today. There are many different types of hedgehogs, but the one that is most commonly kept as a pet is known as the African Whitebellied or the African Pygmy Hedgehog. This species is actually a cross between two other African species, the Pruners and the Algerian hedgehogs. This mixing has created many different color varieties and sizes of the animal.
The first thing you will need for a hedgehog is a cage. The minimum cage size is 24″ by 24″. If you keep them in a smaller cage then they can become fat, bored, and sick. In the wild, hedgehogs are used to running a lot while hunting so pet hedgehogs still have this urge to run. You should keep a wheel in the cage for them to run on and get the exercise they need. Try to pick a wheel that has a solid surface so that their feet do not fall between bars and get injured.
Hedgehogs cannot tolerate cold climates so be sure you keep them warm. If they are kept in temperatures below seventy degrees then they can become seriously ill or even die. You will also need to provide a shelter for your hedgehog. There are many acceptable shelters sold at pet stores, but you can even use a small box. They will need bedding in the shelter too. Just make sure you do not use cedar, corncob, or clay cat litter for bedding. These can cause health problems. Pine or aspen chips work well, but you can even use recycled newspaper, pelleted prarie hay, or pelleted aspen.
Some hedgehogs can be litter trained, but others cannot. Watch your hedgehog and see if they go to the bathroom in the same spot regularly. If they do, then you can use a litter pan. This makes cleaning much easier. Other hedgehogs may use the bathroom in different places or constantly use the bathroom while running in the wheel.
Your hedgehog will need to have food and water at all times. A water bottle works better than a water bowl because it cannot be knocked over or dirty. There are many commercial hedgehog foods at the pet store to choose from. Try to get a food that has at least 30% protein and 15 to 20% fat. Meat should be in the top few ingredients and it should not have a lot of corn in it.
Hedgehogs also need things to play with and attention or they can become very depressed. Try to get a variety of toys for your hedgehog such as tubes, boxes, balls and ferret toys. You should also spend as much time as you can with your pet.
After you get your cage and accessories, then you are ready to bring home your hedgehog. Hedgehogs do not require as much maintenance as other animals. You will need to clean out the cage at least once a week and occasionally clip their nails. Hedgehogs do not require regular baths, but every now and then, you can give them one so that they will smell nice.
Overall, hedgehogs make great pets. They do not require as much work as many other animals do and are really fun to watch. Just be aware that some hedgehogs can take awhile to get used to being handled. You must have patience and consistently handle your hedgehog.
Your Independent guide to Pet Care
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