Monday, February 4, 2013

More About Hedgehogs

Relating to our older post "Why Hedgehogs?", this post contains even more about hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs are great pets, and pretty cute too. There are very few books about them, though, and so collecting the little information there is, Critter Corner has brought you trusted information about hedgehogs.
Read on for some beginner's information about pet hedgehogs.

Bringing Him Home

         When you first decide you are going to choose a hedgehog for a pet, you have to prepare for his homecoming. (Remember, always get more than one hedgehog!) Hedgehog cages should be comfortable and clean. Your hedgehog likes to burrow and tunnel, so blankets and cardboard tubes are ideal. The living space should have at least 3 square feet of floor space and it should be a wire cage. Like all small pets, living outdoors is a big no-no. Pet hedgehogs may be related to wild ones, but this does not mean he can simply live outdoors. His quills could become infected, and/or fall off completely if he is not kept safe and happy with his humans.
In the cage it should be practical and organized. The water container should be a "gravity feeder" only, since water bowls can drown a pet hedgehog, and water bottles can cause a hedgehog's front teeth to get caught and snap off. Running wheels should always be included, since they run 4 to 7 miles each night.

Play, Introduction and Safety

      Once you have bought your pets and supplies, the next step is to wait a few days for him to get used to things around your house. Putting an old, already-worn T-shirt in the cage helps the hedgehogs get used to your scent. It also doubles as a comfy burrowing blanket! Once the hedgehogs seem to have gotten used to your routine, it's time for step two: the introduction. Pet hedgehogs can get frightened during this step, so it's important to crouch down to his eye level and act calm. Lay your palm in the cage and wait. The hedgehogs will most likely scurry over and sniff your palm, and sometimes even try to sit in it. Do this every day until they seem perfectly calm and normal. Now you can have some fun out-of-cage playtime with your hedgie.

    The next day, put the cage in a room such as a bedroom, large bathroom, or large closet that does not have anything dangerous or something with a gap under it in the room. Fill the room with hedgehog toys and boxes  with small entrances and holes cut into the sides. If you like, cover the floor with a blanket or large towel for them to burrow in. This creates a safe, cozy haven for them to easily explore. Put some cage items on the blanket too, such as the wheel or food bowl so the hedgehog can get to them. Gently open the cage and watch for the hedgehogs. When they come out, you can gently show them toys and make sure they are enjoying themselves!

Fun In The Sun

          If you do want to play with him outdoors, it's best to wait until you have had him for at least a year. Hedgehogs need to get used to indoors before outdoors. When the time comes, your hedgehog should be in a safe pen that is put in the grass. Never take him out in the snow or extreme heat and never leave him or her unattended, even in his playpen.

Handling: Safety for You and Your Hedgehog

        In the post "Why Hedgehogs?" the subject of the quills was discussed. Handling your pet hedgehog is not, and I mean NOT, painful, but it can be painful for him if you handle him incorrectly. Never dangle him by any part of the body. Holding him by a handful of quills can be deadly, since the quills are not meant to remove from the skin. If a quill comes off, he could seriously bleed and get infection to his body. The best time to hold him is when he is not grumpy or frightened. A scared hedgie puffs out his body, and although the quills are no worse than the tooth of a comb, the bite is a bit painful. Hedgehogs do have sharp teeth, and unlike buck teeth of a rat or rabbit, they are fang-like jaws that could draw blood. The important thing to know is this: Holding a hedgehog the right way is to simply cup one hand and slide it down his body and keep it under his arms, and then transport your less dominant hand to support the rest of his weight on his bottom.

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