Snubby nose,
Grubby toes,
Spiny prickles
Full of tickles.
Snuffling round,
The leafy ground,
Hedgie urchin
Goes a-searchin'
Poem submitted by: Jacque Dick
Thanks Jacque!

Healthy Hedgehogs!
I have a pet Hedgehog! Now what do I do?

This page was last updated on: 3/20/2009
Please keep in mind while reading that this website is here for reference only. Tons of new information has been found out about hedgehogs since 1994 when I got my first hedgie. So this page may not have the most updated information. I am no longer in the breeding business, nor do I have hedgehogs for now. Regardless, I hope you enjoy your visit.

You are visitor #?????????

since January 1996!!

Opps! My counter disappeared a while back so you can be any visitor # you want to be. :-)

Hi! My name is Vampirella and I'd like to welcome you
to the "Healthy Hedgehogs!" website.

I was born on August 19, 2000. If you have any questions just e-mail my slave...hehehe Her e-mail is at the bottom of the this page.
I hope you enjoy your visit here. *wink*

jstuffins0 got her NeoPet at

There are several different varities of hedgehogs but this site will be dedicated to care of the African Pygmy Hedgehog. I hope you enjoy your visit. If you prefer, you can scroll past the questions and go right to the pictures and various other links on the site.

F requently Asked Questions

*What is a hedgehog anyway?
A hedgehog is a spinny mammal that is native to Europe, New Zealand, parts of Eurasia (except the most northerly parts) and Africa. The scientific name is Alerlerix Albiventris. They are insectivors. There are about 15 different species but most are small in stature and share basic features. They occur in different habitats from forest to deserts.

*How big does an African Pygmy Hedgehog get?
You can expect the hedgehog to grow to 6 - 9 inches long and weigh between 8 - 24 ounces.

*How long do they live?
They live anywhere from 4-6 years in the wild. In captivity a healthy hedgehog will average between 3-7 years. I know that, that seems like such a general answer but there is so much that we don't know and understand about nutrition for these endearing critters that would allow them to have a more specific life-span. I would say that the general census is closer to 2-4 years though.

*Where should I house my hedgehog?
A 10 gallon aquarium is just adequate when they are small but definitely not for long. 20 - 40 gallon (long) is better and provides more room for accessories, such as a peice of driftwood or flat rock to climb on or a hedgehog wheel. Hedgehogs can do a lot of traveling so providing them with the biggest cage you can is best. Right now I am using 32 gal. (long) sterilite containers (without the lids) for caging my hedgehogs. This seems to be working out great. They are light and easy to clean. An 8-10 inch piece of PVC pipe can provide a secure place for sleeping and running through. There are also hedgehog sleep sacks, which popular for hedgies to sleep in.
Hedgehogs are very curious and love to get out, forge and explore. It's very important to let them out of their homes to run daily. If you don't they will go crazy! Especially if you have to use a smaller cage. A wheel (11"-12") is a big hit with most hedgehogs. Just be sure to use a wheel with a solid running surface. Hedgehogs can't catch the rungs like rodents and may slip and break a leg.
View pictures of my wheels, wheelers and cage set-up here:

Wheels & Cages

Hedgehogs prefer a room temperature between 70-85 degrees. Below 70 degrees the animal can catch cold or want to hibernate.

*What sort of litter or bedding should be used in the cage?
Any type of wood shavings (except cedar) will work fine. Aspen shavings seem to be the wood shavings of choice. 1/8 inch corncob works well for easy cleaning and odor control but best used for only female hedgehogs. The cob can become enlodged in a male's penis sheath. Daily scooping of the solid wastes and cleaning the entire cage once a week is adequate when using corncob. Shaving require cleaning more often. Disinfect every third time you clean the cage. More and more I hear of some using a high quality astro-turf in the cages. Don't choose the most inexpensive stuff but rather the grade that is a little better and softer on the feet. Some use a small section of the cage to put a litter box in where the hedgehog relieves itself or they just use newspaper in that area and change it every couple of days. Some have said they like to use astro-turf but use bedding where the hedgie sleeps. The astro-turf is easy to clean by just spot cleaning it with a wet sponge. Depending on what kind you get, (the durabilitiy), will determine how often you need to change it. Just remember that hedgehogs do enjoy burrowing and forging so using litter/bedding in their cages or playpens is a good idea so they have the opportunity to do so at their hearts desire.
Right now I'm using sheets. This is going really well. I took a sheet and cut it in half width wise then sewed up the edge so there would be no frayed edges to get caught on the hedgies legs. Then I just fold the sheet to fit in the bottom of the cage. In the morning, I usually have to shake out the sheets outside. One of my hedgehogs is using a litter box, so her cage is usually not too bad. The other hedgehog is a bit more messy. He uses his litter box but somehow manages to get litter all over the cage floor. Too much playing at night....hehe. Anyway, I shake the sheets out, refold the other way and place it back in the cage. After 2 uses I change out the sheets. I just wash hedgie sheets when need and I have all new bedding again. You can usually buy sheets at yard sales fairly reasonable.
Also, a nice play area for your hedgie is fun too. You can make a play area out of a small plastic kiddie pool (you can usually get a good "End of Season" deal if you wait til' August), and add a wheel, toilet paper tubes (make a slit up the sides so they don't get stuck in them), and balls for them to push around. Hedgehogs needs lots of playtime at night and providing that will make for a happy, healthy hedgie!

*What do they eat?
There seems to be a bit of controversy about what exactly is good and healthy for hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are insectivorous and carnivorous. Most agree that no single food constitutes a healthy diet. A blend of some dry foods is good. Most people can't go out and buy several different foods at first but you need to do what you can. Here are some good ones to choose from: Nature's Recipe cat maintenance formula, 8in1 hedgehog food, L'Avian Hedgehog Food, Science Diet low calorie cat food, Sensible Choice low-fat cat food, Nutro Max low-fat cat food, ProPlan low calorie cat food, Select Diet hedgehog food, Pretty Pets and Brisky. Hedgehogs should be fed a variety of foods for good health. Just don't get Vitakraft. It's not mean't for African Pygmy hedgehogs, but more for the European hedgehogs. It's fat content is too high for African Pygmy friends. It also has peanuts in it that can get lodged in the roof of the mouth.
Fruits and vegetables should also be offered. Cut them in little, bitty, bite sized pieces. Mine like carrots, broccoli and bananas best. Experimenting with differents things is always good. You will see what your hedgehog likes best.
They also like hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, sour cream and plain yogurt. Although, I had one that wouldn't touch any of that stuff. Hedgehogs are lactose intollerant so don't give them too much dairy products, but rather give them as a treat.
Remember they are insectivors and they enjoy mealworms, earthworms, grasshoppers, crickets, etc.
Just like you, each one will have different likes and dislikes. Ferret food makes a good treat, but only a couple peices per day, due to the high fat content.
Raw meat may be fed, but uneaten portions should be removed immediately. Baked chicken or turkey with no spices is also good. 3rd. Foods baby food is an easy choice as well. I just get the chicken or turkey sticks and cut them up.

I also use Juice Plus+ for Cats on my hedgehogs food. This is a wonderful "whole-food" supplement that when sprinkled onto your pets food helps to put back essential nutrients that are often either missing entirely or available in a form that is difficult for your pet to absorb. You can e-mail me for more free information on the product if you like.

Water is very important and should always be available. An 8 oz. water bottle hung on the side of cage works well.

*How often should I hold my hedgehog?
As often as possible. It's important to handle your hedgehog on a daily basis so that they remain in a relaxed state.
As with any small animal or reptile, it is very important to wash your hands after handling your pet to avoid any diseases that can be spread by contact with feces.

*Oh my! What is it doing?
This is probably my funnest question to answer just because no one really knows.
Along with the normal activities associated with nocturnal habits, the most unusual behavior you will notice is their habit of "self anointing." If they encounter a different smell, taste, or change in their environment, they will use their "Jacobs Organ" to foam at the mouth and lick their bodies.

*My hedgehog has dry, flakey skin, what's going on?
Without actually seeing the hedgehog and just making an eduacated guess, I would say your hedgehog has mites. It sortof looks like dandrup but upon closer inspection you will see the mites moving around. Look behind the ears. Is it's skin really pink? If you think your hedgehog has mites, there are two things you can do. The first is the easiest and the second described takes more time, is messier, but if you have several to treat it may be the most economical.
I. Take your hedgehog to the vet. They will prescribe a medicine called Ivermectin. Sometimes the vet will give an injection while there at the office. After that, you apply the medicine on the back of the hedgehog. Just one drop, once a week for 4 weeks. This should clear up the mites.
II. After the vet examines the hedgehog you can ask for a solution called Lyme solution. This is used on dogs and cats for fleas. You can mix the Lyme solution, one capful, in a gallon of warm water. Dip the hedgehog into the solution. Make sure it goes under at least once. Usually when they hit the water they curl up, then uncurl and try to swim. You can hold it up by using a large serving spoon. Hedgehogs are not good swimmers so be sure to hold them up. Hold them in the water for a few minutes. Take them out and hold them in a towel until they are dry. This may take a while, but heck, it's a good bonding time. Be sure its cage is cleaned and disinfected before returning it home and be sure it's kept in a warm place. Repeat this proceedure in 5 days.
Word of warning: The lyme solution has a terrible stinch, much like that of rotten eggs. Also, it may leave your hedgehog with a yellow color, until it wears off.

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December 26, 2001

I am no longer a licensed breeder. Here is a link to a breeders directory that may help you in looking for the perfect prickly pal!
Breeder's Directory

Email me: Jacqueline Steinmetz


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