FELLOW HEDGEHOG LOVERS!!
This website copyright © 1999 by Laura Ledet
I want to be respected
For what I am:
A cuddly little animal,
Burdened with swords.
My name is Laura Ledet and I have had hedgehogs since 1993. I am relatively new to webpage building so it's been a true labor of love and total frustration putting together all these pages. At first I began very enthusiastically:
but once I really got into it, and ran into more obstacles then I can even remember, I looked much more like this: In any case, I do hope you enjoy cruising my site, and that you find all the answers you seek regarding the care of these wonderful little animals: The African Pygmy Hedgehog.
First off, we need to discuss the legalities of owning a hedgehog. To date (Jan 2002) hedgehogs are illegal in the following states/cities:
New York City
Owning or breeding hedgehogs in these places can bring you a hefty fine and they can and will confiscate your animals, and will probably euthanise them, if you are turned in. Laws are always changing, so please check and make sure these animals are legal to have where you live prior to buying one.
CHOOSING YOUR PET:
When picking out your hedgehog, there are a number of things to consider. First and foremost is: From whom are you buying this hedgehog? Many hedgehogs are sold in pet stores, many others from private breeders. In either case, many of these are reputable, while others are not. Can they supply you with health and other information on the parents of this hedgehog? Better still, the grandparents of the hedgehog? This is important information to have, as it can possibly tell you whether or not this hedgehog has a genetic tie to a particular disease, or if it has been inbred or not. Inbreeding can be the cause of a lot of health issues with any animal. If the person you are dealing with cannot or will not give this information, then they should not be selling hedgehogs and your taking a risk doing business with them.
PHYSICAL APPEARANCE: How does the hedgehog look? A healthy hedgehog will have bright, clear eyes, a wet (but not runny) nose, and clean ears (no discharge coming out). Can you see any droppings in the cage? They should look dark and firm, not loose, runny or greenish in appearance. If you can get a look at the rear end, it should look clean and light pink, not red, sore or matted with feces. Can you hear any wheezing or see other signs of respiratory illness? How do the feet and nails look? They should be without sores and the nails should be evenly trimmed. Hedgehog's toenails grow quickly and will often grow up and underneath the pads of their feet, easily cutting the skin and opening it up to infection. Are the quills in good condition? When viewed from a distance, is this animal constantly scratching at itself? Does he have bald spots (other then the line down the center of his head, which is normal). Does he have an abundance of flaky skin? If possible, you should "part" the quills on his back and take a look at the skin. Poor quill or skin condition "could" mean mites (a common parasite of hedgies and must be treated) or it could mean a poor diet or other minor problem.
How is his disposition? Will this hedgehog unroll when you pick him up within a minute or so or is he staying in a tight ball, huffing, spitting and clicking? If he has unrolled and is sniffing around at you, that is a very good sign. If not, this hedgehog might be a little more of a challenge, but I would not make this alone the deciding factor on whether or not you purchase him if all else checks out. Often these stubborn ones come around in no time.
CHOOSING THE CAGE:
The first thing I believe we should all consider is the size of accomodations we give to our prickly friends. Imagine spending your whole life in a small enclosure.....I get claustrophobic just thinking about it! Hedgies need room to wander and play in, in addition to running wheels, toys, tubes, litter boxes and other items, few of which would all fit in a small cage. The cages I use are wire with a plastic bottom, and the dimensions are 30 X 30 X 18. This gives each hedgehog ample room to not only run around in, but also plenty of space to add their beds, wheels, toys, litter box, and feeding dishes to with room to spare. Not everyone can accomodate a cage of this size in their homes, but I would not go smaller then 24 X 18. On the flooring of my cages I use these wonderful liners made by a woman named Sherry Songhurst. Sherry made these liners, custom fit to my cage sizes. They are made of double-layered corduroy with a layer of fleece in the center and they are wonderful! ***Unfortunately Sherry has retired from sewing, but many people can make their own, even without a sewing machine. Prior to my use of cloth liners, I was useing shavings in all my cages. Not only are they messy, but the dust can cause respiratory problems, and pine and cedar contain dangerous oils in them that could place your pet at risk. In addition to this, should your hedgie develop diarrehea or abnormal urine, it can easily go unseen when deposited into shavings.
VELLUX BLANKETS: Some folks use vellux blankets as cage liners and to make hedgie bags out of. I have used them myself. Vellux blankets can be found in most stores that sell bedding, are easily cut to fit your cage, do not fray, and therefore do not need sewing and will not shrink. The downside to useing vellux is that many hediges have been known to chew it up and digest the foamy material. My Emma was a perfect example of this. She was lucky and passed it all on her own. Others have developed blockages and required surgery to repair the problem. Although vellux is a wonderfully warm and versatile material, I will no longer endorse its use to anyone. It just can be too risky and there are other options available.
Many different cages can be used for your hedgehog, I know alot of folks who use the giant sterilite containers (similar to the large Rubbermaid storage boxes), still others use aquariums and or those tri-level ferret cages. The downside to aquariums is they inhibit good ventilation. Sterilite's come in very large sizes, and should you choose to use these, buy the clear ones so that your hedgehog has somewhat of a view of his world. If you have other animals, a secure top would need to be concocted for a sterlite container so they do not get to your hedgehog. The ferret cages are pretty nifty, but costly and having different levels to it, I would go the extra mile to make certain your hedgehog could not fall from the upper levels by adding sides to the climbing ramps. Wire cages are a mixed bag. Although I have not had a problem with them, I know of others who's hedgies have climbed the wire sides and then fallen. If you do use a wire cage, make certain the bottom is plastic....not wire, also making sure the guage of wire is large enough not to trap a leg, and not so large that a head gets stuck. To inquire about the cages I use, go to the following website and click on "collapseable cages":
Quality Cage Website
The interior of my Emma's cage, with her litter box located underneath her climbing ramp. The wheel in here is called the Bucket O' Fun Wheel and is preferred by many for its smooth running wheel, ease in cleaning and stable frame. In addition, the bucket can be lowered or raised depending on the size of your hedgehog.
Ms Spickets cage. She prefers the triangular-shaped litter boxes made for ferrets, filled with Carefresh litter.
A very good example of what you can make yourself if you or someone you know is handy with their hands! This cage belongs to Knarla, is 6 feet tall and not only has 3 floors in which to inhabit, but a lower storage area as well!
Thanks to Heather Johnson for letting me use this photo!
These cage liners I use. Made to the dimensions of my cages, they are 3 layers thick, the
outer fabric being corduroy, with an inner layer of flannel. They are durable, and wash up very nicely. I have some that
have been used for years and years now and still look great!
A nice warm hedgie bag for your hedgehog to crawl into and sleep. I tuck one of these inside of all my Pigloo huts for extra warmth. This bag has a cotton exterior and flannel interior, with lace edging and even my hedgehogs initials!...perfect for those colder days.
These shoulder bags are wonderful to carry around a hedgie or two in. Nice and roomy, just pop in a hedge bag, your pet, and your all set to go! Completely washable, and accented with a darling hedgehog button on the enclosure flap. (Shoulder bags come in a variety of colors).
Emma in one of her hedgie bags.
The exterior of Emma's cage. Note the picket fence, birdhouses, name plaque, silk daisies, Ivy, and miniature mailbox....use your imagination! :)