Selecting the Greatest Hedgehog Cage: eight Elements to Contemplate
There has been a lot of debate in the pet community about the appropriate habitat for a hedgehog. This is largely sparked by the products marketed to new owners that fail to provide the necessary requirements for a safe, healthy hedgehog. There are 8 important factors that should be considered when selecting the best hedgehog cage.
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Bringing home a new pet is always an exciting experience, whether you’re a first-time pet owner or adding further to your family.
However, there are many things to consider as you prepare for your new pet.
Some of the biggest decisions that you will make as a hedgehog owner relate to the habitat that your new pet will be living in.
This includes their bedding, food dishes, litter box and, of course, the cage!
It may be tempting to purchase the cheapest cage that states ‘hedgehog’ in its product description but doing so could lead to big problems throughout your hedgehog’s life.
NOTE: A product marketed to a specific pet does NOT mean that it is the best choice available.
Betta tanks are a well-known example, often providing FAR less space than the fish will require to flourish. This also occurs with small animal cages.
Always take the time to do your research, ask questions and assess products yourself.
While there are many GREAT companies in the pet industry that truly care, there are also those who are focused first and foremost on making money.
Do your due diligence!
If you want to raise a happy, healthy hedgehog (and I’m sure you do), then there are a few specific aspects that you should consider when shopping for the best hedgehog cage.
The following points address potential safety concerns, ease of use, basic needs and more.
If at any point you are concerned about the health and safety of your hedgehog, contact your veterinarian.
8 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing the Best Hedgehog Cage
Hedgehogs require far more room than most first-time pet owners realize.
There are differing opinions on the minimum cage size necessary, however, most veterinarians and experienced hedgehog owners that I have spoken with state that the cage should be at least 4 feet by 2 feet.
This will provide the space necessary for everything that your hedgehog needs while still providing space to place and explore.
Obesity is a common struggle faced by hedgehogs.
In order to prevent this, you will need to provide daily exercise outside of their pen as well as space for your hedgehog to explore and exercise when they are in their cage.
Risk of Escape
This may seem like an obvious point, but I can’t list the requirements of safe habitat for your hedgehog without mentioning it.
Check any doorways to ensure that they latch securely and cannot be opened.
Consider the spacing in the sides of a wire cage.
Larger wire cages may be constructed with a larger animal in mind, meaning that your hedgehog can slip out between the bars.
Bars on a wire cage should be no further apart than 1 inch (or less, preferably).
If there is an open top on part or all of your pen or enclosure, you want to be sure that the walls are high enough to prevent your pet from climbing out.
Hedgehogs are skilled climbers!
Related: ‘6 Phone Numbers Every Pet Owner Should Have On Hand‘
Your hedgehog’s habitat should provide for adequate airflow.
This helps to prevent the build-up of potentially dangerous odours, such as ammonia as well as keeping the humidity levels in check.
If you are purchasing a wooden or plastic enclosure or building one yourself, you want to ensure that it provides plenty of holes for ventilation purposes.
However, be cautious of holes that are large enough for your hedgehog to get their head stuck.
Wire sided enclosures are often recommended (especially for newer owners) as they are the best option for ventilation.
Take a careful look at the construction of the floor of your hedgehog’s new habitat.
Wire mesh flooring often leads to injuries, as your pet may get his/her feet or legs stuck while they are moving about.
Instead, they should be provided with a flat surface so that they can safely move about.
Plastic surfaces are preferred to metal due to the fact that metal will require additional consideration in terms of managing the temperature of the habitat.
Metal surfaces often hold the cold during the cooler months, requiring extra heating. However, when exposed to heat, they may also heat up too much in the warmer months.
Many professionals will advise against cages with second levels or ramps due to the risk of falling.
However, if your hedgehog’s cage does have a ramp, check to make sure that the surface will not become slippery with use.
Another great safety consideration would be to stick with enclosed ramps.
In order to stay healthy, hedgehogs need to stay relatively warm.
Your pet’s habitat should be no lower than 72 degrees Fahrenheit. The optimal temperature is 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit.
If a hedgehog’s body temperature drops too low, it may result in a hibernation attempt.
This may not seem alarming as we have learned about many different animals that hibernate successfully in the wild.
Unfortunately, for a hedgehog, hibernation can be fatal.
Consider adding a heating source that is specifically constructed for small animals like hedgehogs, such as a heating pad or ceramic heat emitter.
Note: Heat lamps that emit light and heating pads designed for humans or reptiles are NOT safe for use in your hedgehog’s enclosure.
In order to provide a habitat that encourages good physical and mental well-being, your hedgehog’s space needs to be well lit.
Most experts recommend approximately 12-14 hours of consistent light for your pet each day.
Shorter light during the cooler months can also contribute to a hibernation attempt.
Consider providing light with a lamp or overhead light near the cage.
If you are concerned about the use of electricity, you can use a timer in order to allow you to control when the light is on even when you’re not home.
Access to Your Hedgehog
As we previously discussed, your hedgehog should be provided the opportunity to exercise outside of his/her cage daily.
Furthermore, it is recommended that your hedgehog be exposed to at least 30-60 minutes of ‘hands on’ time each day to allow you to bond with your pet and build a relationship.
For this reason, you want to select a cage that makes it easy access and pick up your hedgehog.
This may mean choosing a cage with multiple doorways or access points.
Related: ‘What Is the Best Pet for Apartment Living?‘
Ease of Cleaning
Your hedgehog’s cage needs to be spot cleaned daily, removing not only any waste from their litterbox and cage floor, but also leftover food debris.
Once a week, the full enclosure will need to be cleaned with all bedding removed and replaced.
For this to be maintained, you want to select a cage that you can clean and care for yourself.
An overly heavy cage or one that is awkward to move about may discourage you by turning cleaning into a difficult process.
Instead, the best hamster cage for you and your hedgehog will be one that is easy for you to take care of.
Hedgehog owners, what factors did YOU consider when selecting the best hedgehog cage? Did I miss anything that you believe is important?