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Basic African Pygmy Hedgehog Care
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Basic African Pygmy Hedgehog Care

Having Gizmo, our pet hedgehog, for almost 4 years now as been a fun and an exciting experience. These are the lowest maintenance pets you can have. Like any new pet you are thinking of getting, it is always best to research their behaviors, costs, etc. before making the commitment to bring them in to your home. So, is a hedgehog the right pet for you? Here's some basic African Pygmy Hedgehog Care:

1. Is is legal in your state to have a hedgehog?

This is very important to think about, you need to make sure you can legally own a hedgehog in your state. Some states ban having these types of exotic animals in your home. Here are a few states that DO NOT allow you to have a hedgehog in your home: California, Georgia, Hawaii, Nebraska, New York City, NY, and Fairfax County, WV. Most other states will allow you to keep a hedgehog. Be sure to check with your state's legal policy on owning hedgehogs.

2. What Do I Feed a Hedgehog?

Most hedgehog books recommend some type of hedgehog food, but I've always used Purina Kitten Chow. When I got Gizmo, he was about 6 weeks old and was fed Purina Kitten Chow, so I decided not to mess with his diet. Some pet stores have hedgehog food, but they contain small pellets, which can be a choking hazard to your pet. Hedgehogs have tiny mouths and can easily choke on certain foods.

They also LOVE meal worms These are not to be a substituted with regular food, but used only as a treat. I usually give Gizmo 2 to 3 meal worms a day. Sometimes they can be picky and will spit them out, but it's nothing to worry about, just give them another one.

Also, as Gizmo as gotten older, he has lost a few teeth. This can be difficult eating hard food, so we have added soft cat food to his diet. He currently is eating Purina One Chicken Gravy soft cat food. We will put this on top of his regular hard food. So far he likes it and eats most of it every night. Remember, you have to change out their food bowl every night when you feed them soft food.

3. Toys and Living Quarters-

Every pet needs toys. Thankfully hedgehogs are known to be minimalist. Here is what I have for my hedgehog. I bought all of these at a pet store:

-Cage-I recommend All Living Things Deluxe Guinea Pig Cage-this is plenty big enough because they are about 1/3 of the size of a guinea pig.

-Small Water bottle-be sure your hedgehog can reach it!

-Exercise Wheel-this is very important because they are night scavengers and need to be able to move around at night. I recommend the Super Pet Large Comfort Wheel, but anything that isn't wired will work. They have small feet and can break a leg if it gets in between the wires.

--Note--The one messy thing about hedgehogs is that they don't get off the wheel to use the bathroom. That can be a good thing because all you need to do is clean the wheel every night, which doesn't take long. Plus, the bedding will last longer.

-Bedding-I only recommend Carefresh, it's chemical free and helps with the odor. It usually lasts for about 2 weeks before you need to change it.

-Hideouts-This is where they will spend most of their days, so try to get them something dark and cozy. I have a wooden hideout, anything without hay will be fine. I would recommend the Super Pet Chinchilla Hut or the Ware Rabbit Den.

-Animal Carrier-I do not use this too often, just when we move or I'm taking him to the Vet. It's always good to have one on hand though.

-Cage Cleaner-Don't ever use Lysol wipes or any other harmful chemicals to clean cage. The one I use is Super Pet Small Pet Cage Cleaner. This is safe for all the small critters and smells good too.

That's it. It may seem like a lot, but Gizmo has had the same cage, hideout, carrier, and water bottle his whole life. We've had to purchase 3 wheels as of now and rarely buy cage cleaner because it lasts so long. The only thing you need to purchase regularly is the Carefresh. I tend to buy the biggest bag and it usually lasts for about a month. I make sure I fill the cage up with this stuff so he can burrow.

4. Vet Care

Although we've only taken Gizmo to the vet clinic once in the whole 4 years we've had him, it's still a good idea to have one just in case of an emergency. When he was younger, his quills were still growing and one ended up poking the side of his head and it got infected. They just drained it and gave him antibiotics. But since hedgehogs are exotic animals, it can be hard to find a vet that can care for them. Be sure to call around and ask a veterinarian to see if they treat exotic animals, if they do keep their information on hand.

5. Bath Time

Because hedgehogs don't get off their wheel to use the bathroom, they can get dirty feet and quills. Gizmo's problem is that his feet will get covered in poop. We try to give him a bath once a week. Since they are heat seekers, it's best to have the water lukewarm because they can get cold easily. I use a toothbrush to clean his toes and baby shampoo to wash him. This is the safest way to clean hedgehogs because it doesn't have any chemicals. Make sure you don't fill the bathtub too high with water because they have been known to drown if they get water up their nose. Also, from my experience, Gizmo hates the running water. It's best to have the tub filled with water before you put them in it.

I hope these tips helped and gives you a basic foundation on African pygmy hedgehog care. It's always best to buy a book and research online before you make a long term commitment. Hedgehogs can live up to 8 years in captivity and I'm starting to believe it with Gizmo.


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