Fairhaven Hedgehog's care sheet - What to expect when you bring your hoglet home.
Handling/ bonding: Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, so they can naturally be very defensive. They use their amazing sense of smell to compensate for their poor vision. It's suggested to sleep with your hedgehog's cuddle sacks or fleece (or a T-shirt worn by you) to get them accustomed to your scent and recognize it as safe. When you bring your new baby home, they may be a lot more scared and defensive the first few days or weeks because everything smells new to them and they don't recognize all the new smells (including you and your family) as “safe”. Your hedgehog may ball up and take a long time to unball or it may be huffier and pricklier then it was when your first picked him out. Don't panic!  The best thing you can do is stay calm and ride out the storm! Your new pet does NOT need adjustment time alone in his new cage. Get right in there from the start and spend time with your new pet! Though let the first few days be calm and quiet, try not to do too many stressful new things.  Let then sleep in a large pocket or curled up in a blanket or cuddle sack on your lap if they are tired (or frightened). Being close to you and able to hear and smell you will help familiarize your hedgehog with you and your family. Handle your new hedgehog as often as possible to get him/her used to you! Try not to be hesitant when handling! Be as firm and confident as possible with your handling, even if your hedgehog is acting defensive or snarky towards you! The more you man-handle the better! The more confident you feel, the more relaxed your hedgehog is going to feel around you and the less quilly/ defensive it will be (remember, animals are excellent at picking up on our emotions). Babies do go through a quilling process (losing baby quills and replacing them with new quills). This can be uncomfortable for them, which can sometimes result in them being grumpier with you. Ignore it, and keep up the handling! If they are quilling badly, handle them gingerly as quilling can be a bit painful for some babies. Some babies have a harder time quilling than others!  Gloves should never be used while you are trying to bond, because your hedgehog won't be able to smell you and realize your scent is harmless. The best method to pick up your hedgehog is place both your hands, palms up, on each side of your hedgehog and carefully (sometimes going very slowly helps too) scoop him/her up from underneath. After your hedgehog is more accustomed to you, they generally will not raise their quills up when you go to handle them, and will be much easier to pick up. Or they may only do it once you first wake them up.

Vet care:   Hedgehogs should have yearly routine health check ups to make sure everything is going well. Nationwide Pet Insurance covers hedgehogs for $9 per month. It is great to have pet insurance for them, especially in case of emergencies! Emergency visits can cost hundreds!  You will absolutely need to find a good vet that is well versed in hedgehogs. There are a lot of vets that DON'T know proper care and nutrition for hedgehogs. NEVER listen to your vet if they suggest you feed your hedgehog a commercially made hedgehog specific diet, as they are all crap quality! Vets are NOT nutritionists, and most are NOT well informed on hedgehog diet specifics!!!  I normally use Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital located in Skokie. Dr. Horton is the most hedgehog knowledgable vet there. I have also used Dr. Grey at VCA Arboretum View Animal Hospital located in Downers Grove. And I LOVE Dr. Long and Dr.  Herrmann at Mundelein Animal Hospital in Mundelein, IL (I also used to work at Mundelein animal hospital as a vet tech so they know me well as the hedgehog lady!).  I have also heard good things about Ness Exotic Wellness Center located in Lisle, IL. And have heard great things about UW veterinary care clinic in Madison, WI. Please contact me if your vet gives you any advice you aren't sure about! I was previously a vet tech for 4 years before becoming a full time hedgehog breeder, so I am well versed in veterinary care and medical issues concerning hedgehogs. The most common ailments that effect hedgehogs: MITES! Hedgehog typically get mites from wood type and paper bedding. Mites can infest almost any type of bedding. So it is best to freeze any type of bedding for 48 hours to kills mites!  OR you can do a topical monthly mite preventative called Revolution (the kitten one)  which you can get from the vet! Hedgehogs only need 1 drop per month, or 2 drops if they are over 400 grams in weight. Revolution works just like how Frontline products work on dogs and cats for fleas. We use Revolution once monthly on all our hedgehogs to be sure that they are protected against mites!  Hedgehogs  can also be prone to dry skin issues, flakey skin, and bacterial and fungal skin infections. If you noticed anything that looks odd, be sure to make a vet appointment to have it looked at! You can always ask for my advice as well!
 
Housing: Hedgehogs can be good climbers, which is why wire cages are not recommended for them. They can get legs caught between the wire, resulting in serious injury. Wire cages can be used if you use plexi-glass or coroplast lining the inside of the cage about 10 inches if your hedgehog is a climber!  A 110qt plastic tote cage is what we use at Fairhaven Hedgehogs, and is what we highly recommend. Glass cages/tanks should NOT be used, as they normally retain too much moisture/humidity and can result in your hedgehog getting sick with an upper respiratory infection. Hedgehogs are generally not social with their own kind and should be housed alone. Males especially will fight with each other. Females can SOMETIMES be housed together if introduced correctly, or if they are litter mates or have been together since a very young age. NEVER house a male and female together! I never house hedgehogs together unless they are babies! We have had issues even with two sisters fighting which resulted in a popped out eyeball! It's not worth the risk!

Heating: Keeping your hedgehog at the right temperature is crucial! I can't stress this enough! At Fairhaven Hedgehogs, we keep wall mounted heaters in the hedgehog rooms to keep the rooms between 78-84  degrees Fahrenheit at ALL times! If you can not use a space heater to keep the room at the appropriate temperature, it is highly recommended to use a ceramic heat emitter on a thermostat. I would also strongly recommend keeping a thermometer in the cage at all times to make sure your cage is at the correct temperature. The cage should never get below 75  degrees Fahrenheit. If their cage is under 75 for prolonged periods of time it can be fatal if they attempt hibernation. African Pygmy Hedgehogs die if hibernation is attempted and is not reversed quickly! If you find that your hedgehog is trying to hibernate they will usually be rolled into a ball and unresponsive, and if trying to walk they may be wobbly, and their belly will be very cold to the touch. Skin to skin contact is needed ASAP to warm them up SLOWLY. You can also put a blanket or towel in the dryer and wrap them in it. If warmed up too fast they can go into shock which is often fatal. If they don't start coming out of it within an hour, a trip to the nearest emergency vet is absolutely required or your hedgehog may not make it.
NEVER GIVE THEM A BATH OF ANY KIND IF YOU SUSP​ECT HIBERNATION.
​A bath can shock their system if they are trying to hibernate.


Bedding:
At Fairhaven Hedgehogs we use KILN DRIED pine pellets and pine shavings. Pine is fine as long as it is kiln dried!  Hedgehogs can be litter trained, and it is usually easy to do so. Pick up their poop and place it in the litter pan to teach them where to go. Never use clay litter or anything that clumps! It can get stuck to their genitals and cause infections. And if your hedgehog eats it, it can cause an impaction in their intestinal tract. NEVER use anything with cedar in it. Cedar is toxic to hedeghogs! If you aren't sure about a specific type of bedding, ask! I do not recommend paper bedding, as some hedgehogs like to taste or eat it and if they eat too much of it, it can cause an impaction! We recommend either pine pellets, pine shavings, aspen shavings, pellets newspaper like yesterday news, or fleece. Any type of wood shavings or pellets should be frozen for 48 hours to kill any potential mites! OR you can do a topical monthly mite preventative called Revolution (the kitten one)  which you can get from the vet! Hedgehogs only need 1 drop per month, or 2 drops if they are over 400 grams in weight. Revolution works just like how Frontline products work on dogs and cats for fleas.

Bathing: A nice warm bath can be a good for bonding if you are having difficulty getting your baby to unball. Most will immediately unball when placed in a warm bath! Keep the water level low enough so they can stand and walk around easily. A toothbrush can be used to scrub the quills. Aveeno oatmeal baby wash (or any other type of unscented baby wash) is the only wash I recommend for bath time.  Hedgehogs have extremely sensitive skin that is prone to drying out, so baby wash is the best stuff to use! Most shampoos are too harsh on their skin, and will dry it out too much. Oatmeal baths are also GREAT for quilling! Get a sock or cheesecloth, add your dry plain oatmeal, and let your hedgehog soak for about 10 minutes. The oatmeal will sooth the skin and moisturize and help those new quills to poke through easier.

Food & nutrition: PLEASE VIEW OUR SEPERATE FOOD & NUTRITION PAGE. We take hedgehog nutrition very seriously here at Fairhaven Hedgehogs, so we have dedicated an entire page to it:   http://fairhavenhedgehogs.com/hedgehog-food-nutrition

Treats: At Fairhaven Hedgehogs, our hedgehogs get a variety of different treats. Some of their absolute favorites are live superworms, live dubia roaches, mashed up hard boiled eggs, cooked unseasoned meats such as chicken, turkey, duck, lamb, and fish. Pork and beef can also be fed, but not often due to its high fat content. Never feed any raw meat/fish because of possible bacterial and parasitic infections. Cooked veggies can be fed as treats (make sure they are soft), and soft fruits. But I recommend very small tiny amounts because hedgehogs do not digest most vegetables and fruits very well and it will usually result in constipation or diarrhea if you feed it too much or too often. Some favorites include butternut squash cooked and mashed, pumpkin, mashed sweet potato, carrot baby food, watermelon, banana, pear, and strawberries. All of these can usually be found as mashed up baby food options, which hedgehogs usually love to slurp up and anoint with. Just make sure the baby food doesn't contain anything harmful in the ingredient list (like garlic or onions). I sometimes also feed freeze dried insects such as mealworms, crickets, and black fly larvae as very occasional treats. Only a few  per day is recommended. Too much freeze dried insects can be too fattening, can cause bloating, and can cause constipation or diarrhea. Freeze dried chicken liver, duck, beef, etc, are also a favorite (just give very limited quantities because of the high fat and protein content). Dairy products such as cottage cheese and yogurt are okay to give in very very small quantities. Hedgehogs can not digest lactose well and will most likely get diarrhea or upset stomach/bloating if fed too much of any type of dairy product. But a tiny taste won't hurt!

Treats to NEVER feed:
Any dried fruits or anything excessively sticky (choking hazard), raisins & grapes (toxic), citrus fruits, pineapple, raw hard vegetables, onions, chives, garlic, mushrooms, nuts or seeds (choking hazard), avocados (toxicity unknown), chocolate or other types of candy, caffeine/ caffeine filled products.. PLEASE DO RESEARCH BEFORE FEEDING ANYTHING YOU DON'T KNOW IS SAFE!

Other things that are TOXIC to hedgehogs:
Tea tree oil:
Extremely toxic to hedgehogs! Can cause renal, liver, and/or complete organ failure.
Eucalyptus - Toxic.

Ivermectin:
In these  forms (injection or  oral)! NEVER let your vet prescribe it! Vets often want to use Ivermectin injections to treat mites in hedgehogs, but the risks are much too high! Ivermectin can be fatal in as little as one dose. Don't risk it. If mites are ever suspected ask for Revolution (a topical mite treatment). If your vet EVER insists on Ivermectin injections for anything, FIND A NEW VET! Ivermectin in topical form is okay, but can still be risky so I wouldn't risk it...

Certain food preservatives:
Ethoxyquin, BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole), BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) -"Toxic" may not be the right word here, but the following artificial
preservatives in pet food are suspected to cause serious health issues in animals including cancer, kidney disease, birth defects, liver disease, and so on. Read the labels on the food and avoid them if the products contain any of these!





If you have any questions AT ALL, please get in contact with me! Fairhaven Hedgehogs offers lifetime breeder support, and will always be willing to chat with you about questions or concerns that pop up during the coarse of hedgehog ownership.
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Click here for a heating set up checklist!