What on earth does looking after a hedgehog have to do with a travel and lifestyle blog?! Well, when it comes to wild animals, the UK doesn’t really have many when you compare it to places like the USA, BUT the UK do have hedgehogs! Here in the USA, I have a hedgehog as a pet! OK so it’s not a British hedgehog but because they aren’t native to the USA, it’s classed as an exotic animal!
Looking After a Hedgehog
Our hedgehog lives in a huge fish aquarium (without the lid and water of course!). He’s just like a giant spiky hamster really! His all time favourite item is a giant 12 inch Exercise Wheel. He runs on it for HOURS each night, so much so he actually broke the first one we had! The solid plastic one is better so his little feet don’t get stuck between the bars. Be warned, his wheel does seem to be his favourite place to go to the toilet too…
At the moment he sleeps in an Igloo. Hedgehogs are nocturnal so they are asleep during the day. Even though he seems to be fairly happy sleeping in his Igloo, we are thinking about trying to find him something that’d be darker on the inside, just to block out some of the daylight. He used to like sleeping in the mount we had made for his water feeder that’s a bit more squishy and cosy but he’s now a bit too big and chubby to fit in that space!
This next product is recommend by Hedgie himself (yes really)! We changed his bedding to Carefresh Complete Ultra Pet Bedding and he LOVES it. It seems to feel softer than the previous bedding we used so he tries to bury in it a lot more now! A small bag can last us for several tank ‘cleans’.
In the wild, hedgehogs hibernate. When you keep them as a pet, obviously the inside of a house isn’t going to get cold enough for them to hibernate and it would also be really bad if they kept going from warm to cold as their little bodies would get confused! For this reason, we keep th temperature of our house between 75-80f. I guess we could get a heat lamp but if the truth is known, I love the fact that in the summer we can’t have air con on in the house! (Maybe I’m a hedgehog really?!). We put a space heater in his room on one particularly cold day just to top up the temperature a little bit. Later on we found that he had come out of his Igloo and was sleeping directly in the line of where the heat was hitting his cage!
The breeder that we got him from let us pick a small cuddly toy (like what you used to get in McDonalds Happy Meals) and a crinkly ball that looks like a Christmas tree decoration. We often find that he’s moved these around in his cage!
Just like a rabbit or another small pet, he has an upside down water feeder. We found that the ones that hold less work out better, he gets through it quicker but at least it’s fresh water. It has a little floaty ball in it too so with a quick glance we can see how much is left in it.
I think Hedgie is a bit fussy when it comes to food. We were told as treats they like meal worms, wet cat food etc, but he literally turns his nose up at all the treats and just eats GOODLIFE Adult Dry Cat Food, Indoor Recipe. We give him a handful of biscuits before we go to bed and most of it is gone by the time we wake up in the morning! Other than that, the only success we’ve had is with snap peas…which he regurgitates all over his back…after doing some research, apparently this is completely normal and no one really knows the exact reason as to why they do this.
Apparently male hedgehogs are more grumpy than the females. We were advised to buy a male if we had no plans in breeding them, for this reason, males are also cheaper. As I mentioned, they are nocturnal, but that’s no fun if you want to play with them! We tend to wait until just before bed to play with our hedgehog. The best way to wake him up so he’s not as grumpy, is to turn the light on in his room first…give him a few minutes to ‘wake up’ and then pick him up!
The more you handle a hedgehog, the more they will get used to your scent. It’s also best not to ‘sneak’ up behind them as this will make them hiss and curl up into a ball as a defence mechanism.
He LOVES having a ‘bath’. We leave the sink unplugged and keep the warm tap running. Our hedgehog will run around in the water stream like it’s Christmas come early! We use a soft toothbrush just to give his feet a little clean, especially if he’s been running around in a dirty wheel! He’ll often go to the toilet in the sink too because he’s so relaxed! (The picture below was taken just after his bath time!)
We feel bad keeping him in a tank, so we try to get him out every day for a run around! It’s really funny when he runs high up on his tippy toes and his legs are going like the clappers! He’ll often head for dark places like under the sofa or behind our speakers which sit on the floor. We’ll put a bundled up blanket on the sofa and let him bury and explore in there too. Hedgehogs really love fleece! He’ll also try and do everything in his power to propel himself down between the cushions on the sofa! He even seems to know where ‘his room’ is and will run back in there when he’s done running around in the living room!
So far the only thing we’ve struggled with so far is when we took him to the Vet to get his toe nails trimmed. He really wasn’t a happy bunny and just wanted to stay curled up in a ball. His spikes are sharp…you don’t mess with the ‘ball’!
Hedgehogs in the UK/wild
Going back to hedgehogs being wild in the UK, I remember when I was in Primary/Elementary School and everyone got called into the hall for an assembly…to be told that a couple of boys from the school had been seen KICKING a hedgehog that was balled up in the road, treating it like a football. It made me sad hearing it then, but now I have one as a pet, it makes me even sadder to think that someone could do that to such a ‘harmless’ little animal.
In the UK we also celebrate Bonfire Night on the 5th November. There always used to be warnings for people to check their bonfires for hedgehogs before lighting them. Being November the hedgehogs would see the piles of sticks and wood as a place to go and hibernate.
Hedgehogs in the wild don’t tend to live much longer than 3 years old. In captivity they can live for as long as 8 years! Therefore they tend to live longer than other small pets such as hamsters!
Would you ever consider having a hedgehog as a pet? They’re pretty cute!
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