CHOOSING YOUR PET:
When choosing your hedgehog, it is important that you choose a reputable breeder. Unfortunately these days more and more hedgehogs are being sold in pet shops, males and females are housed together resulting in what could be disastrous consequences. Having said that not all private breeders have the best interest of their hedgehogs at heart. 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 help avoid any future health issues and inbreeding. If the person you are adopting your hedgehog from is unwilling to discuss genealogy etc then they should not be selling hedgehogs .
How does the hedgehog look? A healthy hedgehog will have bright, clear eyes, a wet (but not runny) nose, and clean ears. His droppings should look dark and firm, not loose, runny or greenish in appearance. Your hoglet rear end should look clean and light pink, not red, sore or dirty. 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. Your Hedgehog's toenails will grow quickly and if not cut 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 than the line down the centre 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.
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.
African Pygmy hedgehogs are solitary animals in nature and only meet together to mate; it is advisable to house them separately. However a small number of hedgehog keepers have claimed to successfully house two females’ together, this has only been successful due to adequate sizes housing and there is ALWAYS a huge risk that they may fight resulting in a fatality.
You should NEVER keep more than one male in a cage as this will certainly lead to vicious fighting and usually death or loss of limbs.
A suitable home for your hedgehog would be a Zoo Zone 2 (large), a converted Vivarium with extra ventilation or a converted Rabbit Hutch with the wire mesh removed and replaced with fly netting.
Wire cages should be avoided as hedgehogs like to climb but unfortunately are not so good at getting down resulting in broken and damaged limbs.
The cage should be placed away from draughts and direct sunlight. A temperature of around 18-27 Celsius must be maintained 24/7 throughout the year. This can be achieved by buying e.g. and ECO Tower oil filled heater with a thermostat included.
Due to African Pygmy Hedgehogs being exotic mammals it is vital that you ensure your hedgehog does not try to hibernate as this could be fatal.
Likewise it is just as important that your hedgehog does not become over heated. Sadly we were not prepared for the sudden temperature rises in June 09 resulting in a few fatalities of peoples pet hedgehogs. Again you can help avoid this should temperatures rise again above 26/27 Celsius by placing a small frozen bottle of water (e.g. milk bottle) in the opposite end of your hoglets cage to act as an air conditioner.
Although hedgehogs naturally sleep during the day it is important that they still have access to 8 hrs natural light. This is easily achieved by leaving the curtains opened in the room where you choose to place your hedgehog. No additional lighting is required. It is important however to ensure you do not place his/her cage in direct sunlight. Once again should temperatures rise you should close the curtains/blinds to help protect your hedgehog form the increased heat/sun.
I use finacard (http://www.finacard-uk.com/) as I find this is excellent for containing smells, is easy to clean, and provides a natural habitat to forage for meal worms etc. Check out Mrs Sparkles on their home page.
Fleeces liners, pouches, newspaper, kitchen roll can all be used as part of your hedgehogs substrate/bedding.
Wood beddings have been known to carry mite eggs which could hatch and infest your new pet, wood beddings can also become lodged in sensitive areas of your hedgehog. Be certain to inspect your hedgehog daily for redness or swellings.
It’s important to provide a secure hiding place for your hoglet to sleep in. This may be in the form of a fleece pouch, wooden hut ECT.
Your pet has already started to learn to use a litter tray and will continue to become litter trained if you provide him/her with a kitten tray. I usually use kitchen roll in the base. Avoid using value kitchen roll as in my experience this may cause a skin allergy to your pet.
A large wheel such as a Silent Spinner, no smaller than 12” is an essential investment to ensure your hedgehog remains happy and healthy. They help prevent boredom and health problems such as fatty liver and obesity. It is important that the wheel has a solid running base to avoid broken legs and your hedgehog’s nails becoming caught in any gaps. Such wheels can be purchased from Pets at Home or eBay.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs like to explore tunnels of any kind. Toilet roll holders cut down the full length of the middle with small amounts of food placed in the inside provide some stimulation and help to keep the hedgehogs occupied.
Small cuddly toys etc are also welcomed by your pet but you must ensure that these are safe and will not allow your pets claws/feet to become injured.
I clean my hedgehog’s cages thoroughly once a week. In between such times, any heavily soiled areas can be scooped out. I currently use washing up liquid for general cleaning, and a non-scented disinfectant or Milton for the heavily soiled area. Cleaning products with a heavy smell can upset the hedgehogs.
1) Clean litter tray
2) Fill food dish
3) Provide fresh water
4) Make sure any mess such as spilled food etc is removed
5) Clean off any messy toys
6) Love your pet
Research has shown that hedgehogs need a diet that contains a good amount of protein and is low in fat.
It’s important to offer a variety of food to ensure your hedgehog gets a healthy and varied diet. This will also help to avoid boredom resulting in bad eating habits and potential eating disorders
I have been feeding your hoglet on :
Plain Scrambled egg
Steamed Chicken / Turkey- finely diced
Boiled mince - finely chopped (I usually use a pair of scissors to cut this into finer pieces while it’s in their dish)
they will also take a little mashed vegetables with the chicken, mince and eggs.
Cooked beef, Cooked Lamb
Thinly sliced/diced pear, apple, carrot, peas, sweet corn
Plainly Mashed Potato, Banana
Wax worms, Meal Worms both live and dried (dried I use to hide in there bedding so they can enjoy doing what come naturally foraging for their food)
Vacuumed packed crickets - these have to be cut into little pieces for them
A mixture of dried cat biscuits mainly
Purley 40% meat - Pets at home
Joe & Jill’s – Purchased on-line
Go Kat Indoor
Fish based cat foods, grapes, sultanas, currents and Pineapple are NOT fed to your hedgehog as these are toxic to your pet.
Hedgehogs are also known to eat low fat cottage cheese but this should be given to them in very, limited quantities as anything containing dairy products should really be avoided
A rough idea of a weekly menu
Monday Mixture of Dried Cat Biscuits
Tuesday Freeze Dried Crickets
Wednesday Dry Fried Mince or boiled mince. If dry fried I've started doing extra as it freezes well
Thursday Hard Boiled/Scrambled Egg
Saturday Mixture of Dried Biscuits
I also will add a little plain mash to the mince or chicken if I'm having it. Or put a little pear, banana on the side
I add vegetables maybe once or twice a week as the cat food they are on includes a good quantity of veggies. Also feeding live mealies cuts down the worry about vegetables intake as being gut loaded u know your hedgie is getting what’s needed
The above is just a rough idea. Obviously cat biscuits are ALWAYS down and I give mealies as and when I want, both dry and live but live are better due to be able to the fact that you can gut load them
Water - should also be provided at all times in the form of a shallow dish. Using a water bottle can damage your hedgehog’s teeth and mouth. There is also the added risk of his tongue becoming caught in the ball bearing of the bottle.
The more your handle your hedgehog, the more it will become accustomed to you. At first he/she will be scared. Approach him slowly and quietly to gain its trust. Pick your hedgehog up from underneath to avoid its quills. He may ball up or puff air and click its tongue to scare try to scare you away. It’s important that you try not to react to this and continue to hold him or he will continue to display this behaviour every time you approach him.
Hedgehogs deserve the love, attention and affection that any other pet deserves. They may not be as cuddly as a kitten, but with interaction you will discover they have personalities at least as interesting if not more.
Your hedgehog will learn to step on your hand once he knows and trusts you.
Just as a baby teethes your hedgehog will go through a similar experience where he will drop his old quills and new ones will start to emerge through the skin. This can be a painful experience resulting in him/her becoming a little huffy/jumpy. It is vital that you ensure you continue to hold your hedgehog on as daily basis in order for him remain friendly and bonded to humans.
Bathing your hedgehog can help to relief some of the discomfort of quilling it can also be an invaluable bonding experience.
BATHING YOUR HEDGEHOGFrom time to time you will need to bath your hedgehog, this should however not be done on a regular basis as it can cause dry skin conditions and also mask any potential health issues. Hedgehog’s natural oils should come from within; however there will be occasions when you will need to help him/her out particularly if they are going through quilling etc.
DO NOT LEAVE YOUR HEDGEHOG UNATTENDED IN WATER
What do I need to give my hedgehog a bath?
You will need to set up a place to dry your hedgehog after his bath. This place should be warm and where they cannot get into trouble. I like to wrap mine up in a towel and watch TV while they are drying. They will get warmth from your body and you get a great opportunity for cuddle time.
- Sink, bowl, etc
- Aveeno Oil, Olive Oil, Baby Oil
- A soft toothbrush
- warm dry towels.
- Small cup
What do I do with all these items?
Run about an inch of warm water in a sink. Place the flannel over the plug socket, add a drop of Oil and then put your hedgehog in the water. I like to gently pour the water over the hedgehog with the cup over their back and up to the neck. Be careful to not get the water in their ears or on their face. Next take the toothbrush and gently brush your hedgehog’s quills and clean your hedgehog’s feet. Mine will normally allow me to get my hands wet and stroke under their chins and wash their tummy’s.
Empty the sink and re-fill with fresh water. Gently rinse your hedgehog using your hand or cup.
Next wrap them in a soft towel and gently rub them with the towel. Transfer him to a second towel. I then normally sit with them on my lap while I'm watching TV or playing on the computer. It is a must that you make sure the hedgehog is dry so that they don't get chilled.
I also like to give mine treats if they were particularly good during bath time. But sometimes I have to give mine a treat just so that we can be friends again sooner J
BRINGING YOUR HEDGEHOG HOME
Change of environment can be stressful for your hedgehog. I provided you with some of your hoglets regular food and bedding to try and keep the stress levels down to a minimum. Even with these measures in place it is highly likely that your hoglet will be very shy or even grumpy, and may even go of its food for a few days. This is to be expected.
Allow him time to settle into his new home. Do not change your odour each day by wearing different perfumes. He will learn to identify your smell as that of a friend in time. It’s better to spend small amounts of time frequently than large amounts infrequently. Find an article of clothing that has no loose threads or loops for him to become injured on. Wear it for a day and then place it in his cage. He will soon become used to your smell.
I hope you enjoy your hoglet and that this information will help you as you embark on your adventure with your African Pygmy Hedgehog.
If you have any problems please contact me anytime via email: firstname.lastname@example.org