How to Care for Your Hedgehog
(photo credit National Geographic)
African Pygmy Hedgehogs, the most common type of pet hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris), are small (5”-7”) nocturnal mammals, native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are distinguished by the hollow quills that cover their bodies. Hedgehogs have a life span in captivity of 4-6 years and are considered to be a beginner level pet.
Hedgehogs are active and require a good-sized cage, at least 4’x2’. For additional exercise and entertainment options, a 2-level cage is also recommended with an exercise wheel and toys. Hedgehog toys can be purchased commercially or home-made. They can be anything that the hedgehog can roll or drag around, run through, or dig into. Hedgehogs can be taught to open a simple enclosure and retrieve a treat. Most hedgehog cages are made of wire but must have a solid floor in order to avoid them hurting their feet. The substrate should be soft and fluffy. Bedding made from recycled paper is frequently used. The cage should also contain a hiding area that will easily accommodate the hedgehog as well as a litter box filled with pellets. Hedgehogs can easily be litter trained.
Heating and Lighting
Hedgehogs are nocturnal and require only ambient light to enable them to establish a circadian rhythm. If they are housed in a room where there is no ambient light, artificial lighting 10-12 hours a day should be provided. Hedgehogs are most comfortable at temperatures of 75-80 degrees F.
Food and Supplementation
In the wild, hedgehogs are primarily insectivorous (insect-eating). They require a relatively low fat, high protein diet. Pet hedgehogs are currently fed primarily on a diet of both dry and moist chicken or beef cat food. Special dry or moist food for hedgehogs can also be obtained in some locations. In addition to these foods, which should be provided daily in separate bowls, hedgehogs also appreciate small amounts of fruits, vegetables, and insects. They will eat live as well as canned insects, though it’s important to realize that uneaten insects will easily escape from a wire enclosure, and it will be best to feed them insects in an enclosure with solid walls. Hedgehogs can eat medium to full-size Dubia Roaches, and adult crickets or mealworms.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to hedgehogs, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.