Morning Star Hedgehogs
African Pygmy Hedgehogs
Class: Mammalia /Order : Erinaceomorpha
Life Expectancy: Common Life Span 4-6yrs Maximum Life Span 9 years
Care and Management: When you bring your hoglet home, place him in his new cage and let him have absolute privacy most of the first day. Hedgehogs rely on their sense of smell to compensate for their poor vision. We suggest you take an old t-shirt you have worn and put it in the cage. This will let your new hedgehog get accustomed to your smell. You may pick him up and hold him once or twice for a few minutes the first day, but remember, it will probably be more like a week or longer before he begins to feel at home. Baby hedgehogs need quite a bit of sleep the first month after they come home with you, so don't be too concerned if he sleeps a lot at first.
Housing: Your hedgehog will require a secure home since they are very good climbers and can easily escape from open-topped cages that are designed for animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits. If you do use a cage with an open top, it must have slippery sides that are at least 12" high and a floor space of at least 24” x 24”. It needs to have moderate circulation and be well lit but not exposed to direct sunlight during the daytime. Place your hedgehog’s new home in a comfortable, warm, well lit area that is free of drafts and direct sunlight. They are most comfortable at temperatures of between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. You may have to use an external heat source to maintain a safe temperature. You can use either a small animal heat pad such as K&H small animal heat pads which can be placed directly in your animal’s house and will only reach a maximum temp of 102 degrees, or you can use Ceramic Heat Emitters, these require a hood, a ceramic heat emitting bulb and a thermostat to control the heat, these may also require additional equipment to secure them for safety.
Bedding: Morning Star Hedgehogs recommends fleece bedding. Kiln Fired or Heat Treated Aspen or Pine can also be used. Never use Cedar it can be toxic to hedgehogs. Paper Products such as Carefresh can be ingested and will expand which can cause an impaction and possible death. Crushed corn cob is safe to use for females and adults, but it SHOULD NOT be used for young male hedgehogs. Place approximately two inches of bedding material evenly over the floor of the cage. Replace the bedding once a week.
Food Bowl: The food bowl needs to be fairly wide and heavy to prevent your pet from dumping out its contents and using it as a toy. Small ceramic crocks that are designed for small rodents are perfect food dishes for hedgehogs. The width or diameter of the dish can be 3 to 6 inches and it should be no more than 3 inches high.
Water Bottle: Water bottles are preferred over open dishes. Hedgehogs love to fill open water dishes with shavings and tip them over, this prevents them from getting enough water to drink.
Hiding Place: This can be as simple as a piece of 4 inch PVC pipe, an old plastic pitcher, or an old shoe box with a hole cut in one end. (this should be replaced every 2 to 3 weeks).
Litter Box: Your pet may use a litter box if you provide it with one. A small box that is 2” deep x 6” x 9”, Critter litter is made for this purpose and you only need a small amount to lightly coat the litter pan.
Toys: If you choose, you can also add a few toys for your hedgehog to play with. An exercise wheel is an excellent addition and will help him to stay healthy and trim. Metal wheels are unacceptable for hedgehogs as their tender feet or ankles could get trapped and break. The wheel should be a minimum of 10” and solid plastic
Feeding: We feed our hedgehogs Fromm Mature Gold Cat Food mixed with Wellness Indoor Cat. It is highly recommended that you stay on the food your breeder is using. Variety in your hedgehogs diet is achieved by offering other foods such as the foods/treats included on your safe foods and treats list anything not listed, always make sure they are acceptable for hedgehogs before offering them. However none of these should be fed as anything more than a treat 3 or 4 times a week. The dry food should be the staple. Adult hedgehogs should be fed 2 – 4 Tbsp per day.
Healthy Weight for an adult hedgehog: 9 – 19 oz or 255 – 540 grams.
Anointing: Anointing is a possible response that a hedgehog will exhibit when they encounter a smell or taste that they are unfamiliar with. In such an event the hedgehog will possibly bite or chew at the source of the smell, then they will froth at mouth to create a lather. Next they will deposit their foamy saliva on their quills by contorting their bodies. No one knows why they do it and it is normal behavior.
Bathing: Hedgehogs do a fairly good job of grooming themselves but sometimes, there are things they need help with. If you wish, you can bath your hedgehog a few times a year. Run an inch (no more!) of lukewarm water into the bathroom sink. We recommend Aveeno baby bath. (Aveeno oatmeal bath is very soothing and will help with their dry skin.) Use a soft bristle toothbrush to help clean between the quills. After he has been thoroughly scrubbed, refill the sink with an inch of lukewarm water, you can add a dime size amount of olive oil, flaxseed oil or vitamin E oil to the water. Towel dry as best as you can but make sure you keep your hedgehog warm as he continues to dry.
Handling: It is never a good idea to pick up your hedgehog with gloves. Although imposing in appearance, the spines are not sharp enough to cause any real injury and, unlike porcupines, the spines do not come out and they are not barbed. It is absolutely essential for your hedgehog to recognize your scent and to recognize it as being harmless. The correct method for picking up a hedgehog is to place your hands, palms up and his head facing away from you, on each side and gently scoop him up from underneath. Once accustomed to you, he won’t bother to put his spines up and he will be very easy to pick up.
If he is rolled-up into a ball, he will, in most cases, soon unroll and put his spines down. If he is stubborn, though, getting him to unroll can sometimes be little bit tricky. The simplest and most effective means to do this is to gently rock him back and forth in your hand. He will soon pop his little head out. Some are more stubborn than others.
Veterinary Care: Hedgehogs do not required annual checkups or vaccinations, it can be beneficial for an annual exam. If your hedgehog should require medical attention you will need to locate a veterinarian fluent in exotic animals. Your local Veterinary Hospital should have a list of Exotic Vets to assist you. We recommend you have this information on hand should the need ever arise.
Copyright 2013. Morning Star Hedgehogs. All rights reserved.
650 Douglas Ave., Addison IL 60101