what do hedgehogs need in their cage

Hedgehogs have made their way into the pet industry over the last few years. They make great pets because they are easy to care for. Pet hedgehogs spend most of their time inside their cage. As such they have essential items that they need inside their cage in order to be comfortable.

Generally, hedgehogs need 7 essential items inside their cage including; bedding material, a food bowl, a water bowl or water bottle, an exercise wheel, a hideaway, heating equipment and toys.

We have prepared this article to guide you on the items that hedgehogs need in their cage.

What items do hedgehogs need in their cage?

There are 7 essential items that hedgehogs need in their cage. We will discuss each item and provide a guide on what you need to look for in each item.

#1. Bedding material

Proper bedding material is essential in any hedgehog cage. There are many reasons why you need to include proper bedding material in a hedgehog cage including;

  1. Odor control – a good bedding absorbs the ammonia smell of urine and other odors leaving the cage smelling fresh
  2. Bedding material makes cleaning the hedgehog cage easier – simply spot clean the bedding to remove waste and food droppings
  3. A proper bedding protects your hedgehogs sensitive feet – without bedding, the cage can become slippery from poop and pee which could potentially lead to injuries
  4. Lastly, having an appropriate bedding ensures that your hedgehog stays warm. A proper bedding material insulates the cage against heat loss therefore keeping your hedgehog warm.

You can use several types of bedding materials with hedgehogs. Any bedding that is recommended for small mammals can be used.

The following is a list of bedding materials that you can use.

  1. Wood-based bedding such as aspen shavings
  2. Paper-based bedding such as newspapers recycled paper or white paper
  3. Fabric-based bedding such as fleece bedding

Avoid the following types of bedding

  1. Sawdust – it is usually very dusty and can lead to respiratory problems
  2. Cedar wood-based bedding – contains aromatic oils that are toxic to hedgehogs and can cause respiratory problems
  3. Hay or straw
  4. Outdoor materials like gravel, sand or soil

#2. A food bowl for hedgehogs

A food bowl is another essential item that you need to include in your hedgehog cage.

Ensure that you include a food bowl or dish that your hedgehog can easily use.

A good food bowl should be tip proof and shallow enough for your hedgehog to be able to reach the food. The diameter should be about 4” wide.

Generally, you can select from a wide range of materials including ceramic, stainless steel or glass bowls.

Whatever kind of bowl you choose, ensure that you select a bowl that is made of a material that is safe for hedgehogs. Alternatively you can choose from bowls designed for human use.

We recommend a wide, shallow, tip proof bowl made of either ceramic or stainless steel.

#3. Water bowl or water bottle for hedgehogs

Hedgehogs need to stay hydrated. You therefore need to ensure that you provide them with water at all times. You can give water to your pet hedgehog using either a water bottle or water bowl.

Most hedgehogs will drink from either a water bottle or bowl. However some hedgehogs may not use a water bottle.

You can use either a glass or plastic water bottle and hung it on the side of the cage. However, be careful not to hang it in a way that the hedgehog can climb on it. Hedgehogs love to climb on objects in their cage which may lead to injuries or provide means for them to escape if the cage is open.

If you prefer using a water bowl, the water bowl can be the same material as the food bowl. Use a water bowl that is wide, heavy (tip proof) and one that is shallow to allow the hedgehog to reach the water. When using a water bowl, you will need to change the water daily.

#4. An exercise wheel for hedgehogs

The other essential item that you need to include in your hedgehog cage is an exercise wheel.

Hedgehogs in the wild spend most of the time at night running and climbing on trees in search of food and exploring.

Pet hedgehogs on the other hand spend most of their time inside their cage. They therefore need a lot of exercise in order not to become obese. Obesity can lead to a lot of health problems.

An exercise wheel is essential as it allows pet hedgehogs to get all the exercise they need.

There are a number of things you need to consider when selecting an exercise wheel for your hedgehog.

The most important thing you need to consider is the material. The exercise wheel just like the cage should be solid. It should not be made of wire as hedgehog feet tend to get stuck between the bar spaces which can potentially lead to injuries. Most exercise wheels are made of plastic which is ideal for hedgehogs.

The other thing that you need to consider is the size. Hedgehogs need an exercise wheel with a diameter of about 12”. The width can be about 6”.

Lastly, the exercise wheel should be able to fit in the cage that you have. Read our separate article to find out what kind of cage you need for your hedgehog.

Note that hedgehogs like to poop or pee while they are on the exercise wheel. You will therefore need to clean the wheel regularly. Therefore choose an exercise wheel that is easy to clean.

Additionally, you can choose a wheel that is translucent to allow your hedgehog to be able to see out on both sides of the wheel. This is however not a necessity that you need to consider.

#5. A hideaway for hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are shy animals. In the wild they sleep in burrows or dark spaces. They therefore need an area where they can hide and sleep in, in order to feel safe and secure. As such, you need to provide your pet hedgehog with a hideaway in their cage.

There are commercially available hiding huts, caves, logs and snuggle sacks that you can use. Ensure that you use a hideaway that is big enough for the hedgehog to hide in and small enough to provide the closed up feeling that you hedgehog needs. Whatever hideaway you choose, it should provide enough room for the hedgehog to turn and easily go in and out.

We recommend igloo shaped hideaways that are pet safe.

#6. Heating equipment for hedgehogs

In order to grow without any health problems, you need to ensure that you keep your hedgehog warm especially during the cold seasons.

You can keep your hedgehog warm during cold seasons by either adding a blanket to their sleeping area in their cage or using heating equipment.

Generally, hedgehogs require temperatures between 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit with 74 – 78 degrees F being more preferable.

You can select from the following options if you choose to include a heating equipment in your hedgehog cage.

  1. Heating pads or heating mats – heating pads with a cover are safe for hedgehogs as they insulate against scalding
  2. Heating lamps such as ceramic heat lamp bulb – you can purchase from reptile pet shops

#7. Toys for hedgehogs

You can include a wide selection of toys in your hedgehog’s cage. Toys are essential because they add exercise opportunities for your hedgehog. Additionally, toys give hedgehogs something to do keeping them engaged thus reduces boredom.

You can use some household equipment such toilet paper rolls as toys. Your hedgehog will be happy to roll it around the cage for fun.

Alternatively, you can select from a wide array of toys at the pet store including; small balls, logs, tubes or climbing structures.

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