Fairhaven Hedgehog's care sheet - What to expect when you bring your hoglet home.
Handling/ bonding: Hedgehog 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! 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! 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, and that there are no problems that need to be addressed. 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! I use Chicago Exotics Animal Hospital located in Skokie. I have also used VCA Arboretum View Animal Hospital located in Downers Grove, and have also heard good things about Ness Exotic Wellness Center located in Lisle. Please contact me if your vet gives you any advice you aren't sure about!

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. 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 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!

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 76-80 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 72 degrees Fahrenheit. If their cage is under 72 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 cold. Skin to skin contact is needed ASAP to warm them up SLOWLY. 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 SUSPECT HIBERNATION. A bath can shock their system if they are trying to hibernate.

Bedding: At Fairhaven Hedgehogs we use fleece and fleece cuddle sacks on one side of the cage, and pine pellets in an XL litter pan on the other side of the cage. 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!

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 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. Oatmeal baths are 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 may help your baby to be less grumpy when he/she is quilling.

Food & nutrition: The diet you choose to feed your hedgehog is EXTREMELY important! A sub-par diet can lead to an early death, or health issues like fatty liver disease. Their main diet should consist of a high quality cat food with more than one protein source. Most commercially made diets specifically formulated for hedgehogs are actually not good to feed. A high quality cat kibble is more nutritionally balanced. Also, never feed anything preserved with BHA or BHT to your hedgie (it has been linked to cancer in hedgehogs). Fairhaven Hedgehogs feeds a mix of Nature's Domain, Wysong anergen, Chicken Soup For The Soul Weight & Mature Care, & Evanger's Meat Lover's Medley. Sometimes Fromm GOLD Adult and kitten food is used in my mix for nursing moms and babies that need to gain weight as it is higher in fat. The food you decided to feed should contain NO MORE than 15% fat and should be between 30-34% protein! Although for growing hedgehogs, a food with about 18-20% fat is okay for short term use, or if trying to get them to gain weight. A growing hedgie (under 6 months old) should definitely be free fed, but if you find that your hedgehog is eating too much you may want to limit their portions. An adult hedgehog will typically eat 1-2 tablespoons per night.

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. Some favorites include butternut squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, pea baby food, 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. 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 about 2-3 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.

Treats to NEVER feed: Any dried fruits or anything excessively sticky (choking hazard), raisins & grapes, citrus fruits, pineapple, raw hard vegetables, onions, chives, garlic, mushrooms, nuts or seeds (choking hazard), avocados (toxicity unknown), chocolate. 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.

Ivermectin: In any form (injection, oral, topical)! 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 for anything, FIND A NEW VET!

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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