With their big round eyes and chubby bodies, hedgehogs have the cute factor that leads people to want them as pets. However, if you don't learn how to properly care for your hedgehog, your house will stink, and your pet can become sick. Choosing the right bedding and maintaining your hedgehog's home are just two aspects of hedgehog care.
Bedding gives your hedgehog something to burrow in and use as a bathroom. The bedding you choose should absorb moisture and odor well and not be harmful to your pet. Good choices are pine or aspen wood shavings or pellets made of recycled newspaper. Shredded newspaper can be used but doesn't control odor very well. If you do use shredded newspaper, use it in addition to shavings or pellets. Cedar shavings should be avoided because the oils can irritate your hedgehog's skin and respiratory system. Corn cob is also a poor choice because it isn't absorbent and can cause intestinal problems if swallowed.
Your hedgehog wants the biggest home you can provide. At minimum, the cage should have 2 square feet of space for your pet to move around in. Wire cages for small animals with flat flooring provide better ventilation and foot support for your pet than a fish tank or a cage with wire flooring. Keep the cage in a warm room, out of drafts and direct sunlight. Fill the cage about 2 or 3 inches deep with bedding.
Hedgehogs like to hide so you should provide them with one or two shelters. You can find many styles of hiding places at your local pet store, or you can make your own. Small cardboard boxes, pieces of PVC tubing or a flower pot tipped onto its side will work. If you make a hedgehog shelter out of wood, use pine or aspen, not cedar, and make sure all rough edges have been smoothed. You should also provide toys for your hedgehog, such as an exercise wheel, empty spools or small plastic balls.
Your hedgehog will use one corner of its cage as its bathroom. Each day, you should scoop out as much of the soiled litter as possible. This can be made easier by putting a store-bought rodent litter box or simply a small plastic tray in that corner. When you clean each day, you can lift the tray out, dump the soiled bedding and put the tray back in. Every couple of weeks, clean out the entire cage with a mild detergent and water. Once the cage has dried, put in a thick layer of new bedding.
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