African Pygmy Hedgehogs are one of the most popular animals over the internet right now, but how much to do you know about properly housing one? They’re nocturnal, solitary mammals meaning they sleep all day and need to live alone. Below is a brief description of what you should have set up before you bring your little spike baby home!
The hedgehog’s cage should have a minimum of 3×4 square feet of floor space. The flooring and sides should also be solid. Wire flooring is too abrasive to their paws. Siding that isn’t solid could cause a curious hedgehog to attempt climbing, which isn’t safe. Hedgehogs have poor sight and aren’t steady climbers. Cage options include plastic panels, storage containers and some cages that are available for purchase at pet stores.
The bottom of the cage should be covered with a type of shaving or fabric. It provides more comfort for your hedgehog and increases cleanliness. Shaving options include CareFresh or Yesterday’s News. A popular fabric option is a fleece; other types can be used but make sure the edges are sewn. The product you choose should be absorbent and frequently changed to be kept dry. Never use cedar shavings.
Enrichment is very important for hedgehog’s mental and physical health. It improves their quality of life and reduces their risk of obesity. A running wheel should be available at all times. It’s important that the wheel has a solid, flat running surface. A safe brand of the wheel is the Bucket Wheel with a minimum 11″ diameter and 4″ wide running surface. Toys include plastic cars/trucks for pushing around, cat toys, squeaky toys, stuffed animals, ping pong balls, Pom Poms, empty toilet paper rolls and tunnels/tubes. Avoid any toys with holes big enough for their feet or mouth to become stuck in. Hedgehogs prefer a busy, cluttered cage over an empty one. A fun option for hedgehogs is a dig box. You can create one by filling a container with small toys that were mentioned above and creating a hedgehog size doorway into the container. This dig box helps hedgehogs perform some of their natural digging/burrowing behaviours.
Hideaways are also important for all the time hedgehogs spend sleeping. Small animal sleeping bags and/or plastic igloos/houses are also acceptable. Cardboard and wood hideaways are not ideal because they’re not as easy to clean.
Another very important thing to consider is the temperature! The optimum temperature in the cage is 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit (24-30 degrees Celsius). Supplement heat in one section of the cage is also an option. The best choices of heat are ceramic heat emitters (CHEs) and small space heaters. Make sure your heat source doesn’t also emit light, this can prevent your hedgehog from being active at night. Heating pads are also discouraged because they only heat the floor of the cage and not the air in the cage. A thermometer must also be kept inside the cage for accurate readings.
Lastly, don’t forget to add a litter pan and food/water dishes to complete to your happy hedgehog home!
Written by: Hannah Lawrence