Dieting and a wheel is good for keeping obesity levels at a low.

                   Hello and Welcome to Hedgehog Ownership! I own and operate a Small Scale Hedgehog business located near Yankton, South Dakota. I first seen a Hedgehog when I was 8 at a Pet Store in Yankton, SD. I was attracted to them initially because of their interesting looks and then as I learned more about them I fell in love with their habits as well. I Later decided to take my knowledge to the next level and thought it would be pretty awesome to Raise Hedgehogs. I started searching for a Male and a Female hedgehog. I found a Male within two weeks but it took me 8 months to find a Female Hedgehog. It took some Patience. So I Finally had My Male and Female hedgehogs. My Female was fairly young to breed and I wanted her to be completely settled into her new atmosphere and home, So I waited another month and a half to breed her to Our Male hedgehog. And when she was 8 months old, She was bred to Our Male. She had a litter of 6 babies, Quite a lot for a first time mom. And now Our Hedgehogs are producing what We hope to be the Finest Hedgehogs in South Dakota!

Hedgehog Basics:
Science Name: Atelerix Albiventris (African Pygmy Hedgehog) and the Atelerix Algerius (Algerian Hedgehog)
Colors: The Most Popular Color for an African Pygmy Hedgehog is Salt and Pepper which consists of Brown and White Quills. Some of the Most Common Colors for Algerian Hedgehogs is Grey, White, and Chocolate. Though Colors range from almost Red to Black in Both Species.
Temperature Needs: 65-80 Degrees Fahrenheit, With 75 Degrees being Ideal
Life Span: 4-9 Years, With 4-5 Being Average.
Teeth: Normally Hedgehogs have about 36 teeth give or take a few. And as they grow with Age and put more Wear and tear on their teeth they may eventually lose a tooth here or there. It usually isn't anything to be too concerned about unless the Gums become Infected or they lose too many teeth. Signs to watch for is Lack of eating, Inflamed Lips or mouth area. In this case take your hedgehog to the Vet immediately.
Number of Digits: Normally Hedgehogs have 5 front fingers and 4-5 on their feet depending on Species. This should be accurate unless they have had an accident that caused them to lose a digit.
Number of Mammae: They have 3-6 pairs of mammae, Depending on Species.
Litter Size: 1-10 Babies, With 4-6 being average. This also differs between species.
Weaning Age: Hedgehogs Wean at 4-6 weeks of age. They will start to eat solid foods around 4 weeks and be completely eating solids by 6 weeks. When they are 6 weeks old, They are old enough to survive on their own without their mother.
Age to Purchase: 6 weeks or older. With 7-8 being Ideal, However, if they were in a big litter, It is easier on the mother to home the babies as soon as they are able. And the babies adjust better to being alone at an earlier stage in life.
Weight: The Average Male should weigh 14 Ounces to 1.5 Pounds. The Average Female should weigh in at 10 Ounces to 1 Pound. Hedgehogs become Obese Quickly, This is why a balanced diet is a must.

                   Hedgehogs need a little grooming now and then so this is what you will need to have a Squeaky Clean Hedgehog. Do not Bathe them more than Once a week. It can cause Skin Irritation and Can be harmful to the Hedgehog.

  • A Tooth Brush for Scrubbing Nails and Cleaning Quills.
  • A Nail Clipper, Either Animal or Regular (I find Regular works better for me, But it depends on your style).
  • A Towel
  • Occasionally Q-Tips or Generic Cotton Swabs. These are used for Carefully Removing Dirt from Small spaces like around the ears and eyes.
  • Baby Shampoo or a Very Gentle Animal Cat/Dog shampoo that is Hypoallergenic or Oatmeal.

This is How I groom my Hedgehogs:

  • Fill the Sink or bathtub a little less than half way full so they can still touch the bottom with their feet, You don't want them to struggle to stay afloat while you wash them. While this fills, You can gather your supplies.
  • After the Water is where it should be and the water is turned off Get your hedgehog and place him in the water.
  • Using a Cup avoiding the face and Ears, Slowly pour water on the Hedgehog. Use a tooth brush to lift the quills.
  • I use baby shampoo because its easy to come by but a Gentle Cat Shampoo will work, I prefer hypoallergenic shampoos. Put Shampoo on his quills and take him in your hands and rub his torso and all around, Avoiding the face and ears.
  • Place the hedgehog back down in the water to rinse the hedgehog off, Use the tooth brush again to scrub the nails and lift the quills while rinsing.
  • After the soap is off, Quickly place the hedgehog in the towel to avoid the cold. Dry him off and hold him in your hands or arms. While the hedgehog is still in the towel, Take your Finger nail clipper and hold the foot and clip the nails. It may take awhile to get the hang of it all but once you have it, It will go fast and not be so hard to get them to sit still. Be careful not to cut them too short.
  • Examine your hedgehog for any Infected Quills or Anything that could be potentially a problem. Also now is the time to make sure the hedgehog is completely clean. If you notice anything on the face, A Baby Wipe will work wonderfully to clean the face off, Also the ears. The Q-Tips will be great for getting behind the ears, Or the tops of the ears or around the cheeks of the hedgehog. Never Attempt to Clean your hedgehogs ears, This could result in a deaf hedgehog and ear canal damage.

Life of the Hedgehog:

Cages and Containment:
               I use 90 Quart (85 Liter) Clear 12'' Tall Sterilite Container (Tote) as a Cage. These are great because they are Draft Free, They Let the light in from outside the cage because they are clear, They are tall enough to leave the top off of the container for proper Air Flow, They are Easy to Replace, Easy to Clip lamps to, Readily Available at Local Stores, and Affordable. However, You can use other things too.
    There are Hutches for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs made out of wood, These are Okay as cages, Some of them may be a little dark though, And wood without proper air flow and drainage will hold the smell of urine in it and will be hard to work with. That is why I suggest if you are going to use a hutch to use a Plastic Rabbit or Guinea Pig Sized Cage. Something big enough to hold all of the hedgehog's much needed accessories.
    There are also Glass Aquariums. These are okay if you have one big enough to accommodate a hedgehog comfortably. Also these are not that flexible and easily breakable which would be detrimental if that were to happen while it was housing a hedgehog. So these make great cages as well, Just be sure to place the cage in a safe and secure place.
    Shop around for cages, It pays off in the end. Make sure not to get anything with Barred Floors, They have delicate bones in their Slender feet that would be easily busted if they got their paws or feet stuck. Also barred walls are not recommended because Hedgehogs are great climbers and will climb walls all the way up and fall off over and over again, This can cause harm if they fall the right way.
I steer clear of cages with Bars and Wood overall, But find what works best for you and your little guy.
               In the Winter Time and When times are cold, Air Conditioning in the Summer and Breezes in Spring and Fall Hedgehogs need to stay warm and be protected from the Cold. Hedgehogs also can go into hibernation if the temperature is too cold for them. If a Hedgehog Hibernates it will stop eating and could eventually starve. It is very important to keep hedgehog at the right temperature. Thats why there are several ways to heat your hedgehog's cage but still maintain the temp that you prefer for yourself in your home.
    There are Heating Lamps and Heating Pads that are available. I prefer to use the Heating lamps especially made for animals. These you can get Online or at a Pet Store. I prefer the heating lamps because you don't have to worry about them getting too hot and burning your hedgehog like a Heating pad is capable of doing. However, If you can control the heat on the heating pad then they work too but only in one area of the cage primarily. I prefer the Reptile Lamps but you can shop around for the one that fits your cage perfectly. The heat shouldn't be too hot and it shouldn't be too dull and cold. Make sure that the heat in the cage doesn't get hotter than 85 degrees. Also Place the cage in a draft free room and in a warm place away from Windows and A/C vents.
            Some hedgehogs really like to play with toys and others just find them taking up space in their cage. I find that hedgehogs really like Cat Toys, The kind with a Jingle Ball inside of them or the foam type. However, You need to be careful that if the toy breaks you take it out, You don't want your hedgehog to Choke on the broken pieces. Also with Foam toys, It is important to make sure that they are not ingesting pieces that they may chew off or break. There are lots of toys to try out, Just make sure that they seem safe for the hedgehog.
             There is always the Bottles and Bowls debate. Which makes a better water holder. But really, I find it depends on the hedgehog. Some hedgehogs will only drink out of a Water Bottle, And Some only drink out of Water Bowls. I prefer them to drink out of a water bottle because you don't have to worry about food and bedding falling into the water bowl. And I find myself filling the water bowl several times a day due to the fact that its hard to keep the water fresh in a bowl. However, Water Bottles can leak and Drip. And they can be hard to hang up in some cages. And they will most likely need to be replaced at one point in the hedgehogs life. So In the end if your hedgehog only drinks out of a water bottle, Then I would stick with the water bottle. And same with the bowl. I find that is very difficult to switch a hedgehog that only likes bowls to bottles.
             There are many different types of bedding out there, And I have gone through just about all of them. From Corn Cob to Paper, Pine Shavings to Fleece, They all have their flaws and the really great things going for them. So here is a list of bedding that I have had and how they worked for our hedgehogs. However, Your hedgie may prefer something completely different.
Pine Shavings: Pine Shavings work well if they are soft and unglazed. Some pine shavings, Depending on where you get them will have a starch on them that makes them very rough and sharp- You need to avoid these for multiple reasons. Not only are they uncomfortable, But they also can cause allergies (Like pretty much any Wood Shaving), Itching, and they irritate the entire system of a hedgehog internally and externally. Soft Pine is a Great bedding if you want something absorbent and soft to nest in. The downsides of it is The Pine sticks to the hedgehog's quills and the hedgehog will be leaving a trail of pine where ever the hedgehog walks or is being taken because they are nearly impossible to brush out of the hedgehogs quills. And some hedgehogs are allergic to it, Even if not right away some hedgehogs can develop a allergic reaction to it over time. Also they can attract mites.
Aspen Shavings: A Big No in my book. These are the most Allergy laden Wood Shavings on the market in my opinion. And they can cause Upper Respiratory Infections (U.R.I) as well as an Inflamed System and They also attract mites.
Farm Corn Cob: Corn Cob bedding made for horses by Farmers is sold at places like Tractor Supply Company usually in big bags. Now this is a Big No in my book too because I had a hedgehog actually eat the bedding because he thought it smelled really good- Yum! In the end he got Constipated really bad and it was really hard to clear his system again, After Vet visits he finally got better, But that was the absolute end to that. So this is really absorbent, Easy to clean and Easy to Scoop, If you only clean part of the cage at a time. But it does attract hedgehogs and they find it very appetizing which can cause health problems.
Processed Corn Cob: This was a Great Bedding for them, It didn't smell at all of Corn Cob therefore the hedgehogs didn't want to eat it. And it was absorbent enough that they didn't have any puddles or dirty spots. This was also easy to scoop, So if you only scoop out the Droppings and such this is awesome because it acts a lot like Kitty Litter. However, The Price gets a little outrageous after awhile and certain stores only carry it off and on and I switched to something that was a little more long term and less expensive by far.
Shredded Paper: Not to be Confused with Recycled Paper- This is Shredded Newspaper and Magazine Pages, Etc. Some people get their shredded paper from banks who throw out huge bags of it at a time, Some get it at Recycling centers, And some shred their own paper that they collect from Mail, Magazines, Annual Newspapers, Etc. Anywhere there is paper there is bedding if you go with this method. This is very cheap because you are not buying anything from anyone. The bad part about it is, Certain Inks on Certain papers are bad for hedgehogs to get in their skin, There are Chemicals on Some Newspaper that is potentially harmful to hedgehogs. Also it isn't the most absorbent bedding out there so you tend to clean the cage a lot more often than you would with other bedding.
Recycled Paper: This is a Bedding that Looks and Smells like shredded Egg Cartons. This is an All time Favorite of mine, However it does get pricey after awhile. It is highly absorbent, It actually smells good when it gets wet if you smell it at all, It is Soft and great to nest in for them, and Hedgehogs seem most happy when they are walking on this stuff. Its allergy levels are almost a Zero and It is great for hedgehogs that have sensitive health issues.
Fleece: I Love Fleece Bedding and in the End is what I settled on. It is easy to get, I got mine at Walmart and just bought a Yard of it. It doesn't fray or get torn easily so you can wash it over and over again and the only thing you have to worry about is a fading pattern or color. It is soft and Easy to walk on, Absorbent as a Towel would be, They wont try to consume it, And best of all its reusable and Hypoallergenic. Basically you just shake off the droppings into a garbage can and Wash the fleece with a Mildly scented or Hypoallergenic detergent. They work great and are overall the most recommended bedding between hedgehog owners and breeders.
Some hedgehogs will like Certain bedding and hate others, You just need to find the one that works best for your hedgehog and you.
                   A hedgehog's exercise is very important because it needs to stay fit both physically and mentally. If your hedgehog doesn't exercise regularly certain problems may arise such as Weight Gain and Weight Loss, Self Mutilation, Trying to Climb out of the cage, Crawling the walls, Etc. That is why a Exercise wheel is Necessary to have in the cage at all times, That way they can run on it whenever they feel that they need to get some energy out. This is only natural because hedgehogs in nature actually walk 2 miles every day in search of bugs and food, 1 Mile there and 1 Mile back home to their Burrows. They are nocturnal though, So they will run in their wheel when it is dark or when it is night time. So if you keep your hedgehog in your bedroom be sure to get a silent wheel if noise is bothersome.
    Exercise Pens are also really nice to have for hedgehogs. You can get them in all sizes Online or occasionally you may find them in Pet Stores. There are certain things a Hedgehog should be protected from though. Here are some things to consider putting away before exposing your hedgehog to open space roaming.

  • Dogs and Cats- Unless they are tamed to your hedgehog.
  • Poison- Mouse Killer, Bleach, Cleaning Supplies, Fertilizers.
  • Plants- Especially Mistletoe, I would remove all plants because hedgehogs can have allergic reactions to some plants.
  • Holes- In and Under Cupboards, Washer and Dryer, Etc. Anywhere, They could escape to and from, Vents in the floors?
  • Tubes- They get stuck in these easily, Even Toilet Paper tubes can be dangerous because they tend to get their heads stuck in these.
  • Doors- It is best to set up a Exercise pen away from doors and anywhere to escape to outside especially.
  • Children and Babies- Unless Supervised, They should be kept away from hedgehogs. Toddlers tend to lift up or bump into Exercise Pens, They also like to play with things including that spikey thing running around. So watch little ones around hedgehogs.


           When Hedgehogs are between the age of 5-12 weeks they go through a stage called "Quilling." This is like loosing your baby teeth and getting new teeth in, of course they do it faster than the process of loosing and gaining teeth. Just like babies the hedgie will be a little moody during this time so it is very essential that you hold your hedgehog a lot during this period. They will be huffier than ever but it is really very important to spend lots and lots of time with them regardless of how much they complain. There really isn't much we can do to help during this period then just being around them and holding them, it is very important also for their future Personalities. Some hedgie owners and breeders swear that their hedgehogs personality depended on how much they handled their hedgie during Quilling, I will agree to this because a lot of Hedgehogs need attentive care during this time. So make sure that is one of the top priorities on your list during this stage of time.

Allergic to Hedgehogs:

               If you start Experiencing Hives or Red Spots that Itch right around the same time you got Spike (The Hedgehog), You are probably allergic to Hedgehogs. Now Don't freak out, I know it would be terrible to part with your little guy and make sure to do whats best for you in the end, But you do have options. Talk to your doctor about taking Monthly Allergy Shots or Allergy Pills that would work against those allergies. They will probably suggest finding the hedgehog a new home however. You can also use Allergy creams to get instant Relief, Though I would stay away from calamine lotion because it dried out the skin and causes further irritation.
             I feed my hedgehogs a Blend of Mealworms and Cat Food, Fruits and Vegetables are a Must to keep the Nutrient Levels up, Including Fiber and Proteins which is important for Hedgehogs Especially. And Treats such as wet food and some other things you can try out as well.

  • Beef (Raw or Cooked)
  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Wet Cat or Dog Food
  • Dry Dog Biscuits
  • Cheese- Especially Cottage Cheese
  • White Fish or Seafood (Boiled or Cooked) Tilapia and Tuna is well loved, As is crab, Even Imitation Crab.
  • Sausage- Canned Vienna Sausages are a Favorite of theirs too
  • Hamburger
  • Egg
  • King Mealworms (Super Worms), Crickets, Grasshoppers. Avoid Maggots because they have a Visible Black Line down their backs that actually can poison your hedgehog if eaten.
  • Bread Soaked in Milk
  • Hedgehog Treats

If you are having any Problems with the Health or Well Being of Your Hedgehog, Please Call your vet immediately. Dont Hesitate to Call and Ask me any Questions that you may have as well. I will be happy to answer you as soon as I possibly can.

References (Though some of it is Outdated):
Hedgehogs Today                                           The African Pygmy Hedgehog             
By: Dennis Kelsey Wood                                 As Our New Pet
1995                                                                   By: Dennis Kelsey Wood
Critters USA Magazine

And Of Course My own Experiences and Research. I strongly Encourage people to RESEARCH BEFORE YOU BUY, Some People Buy them just because they look cool and cute and then sell them two weeks later. But they are always welcome back to the herd here at HedgeQuarters.
                         HedgeQuarters Hedgehogery

Enjoy Life with Your Hedgehog, They don't last forever sadly. Have Fun with him/her while you have them and don't ever give up. Your Hedgie will Love you as much as You Love it. Don't be scared of them when they have bad days, Or when the Huff (Hiss) at you, That will only show them that they can get their way to be left alone. Be Firm yet Gentle and Like I always Say: HAVE FUN WITH YOUR HEDGEHOGS!

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