This section is meant to be a comprehensive research tool and help people understand why we care for our babies the way we do. We have been breeding hedgehogs since 2008 and have tried (sometimes failed sometimes triumphed) many different things. There are many breeders that will not sell to you if you use one thing over another. They usually have only tried one way because the person that mentored them told them this way. This is the downside to having a Mentor. We will try to give you the pros and cons of what we have tried. Make your own informed decisions. What works for us may not work for you.
Cages: We have used wire cages with plastic bottoms, totes, and homemade cages. It is agreed by most that 4 square feet is a minimum and that there be no ramps or multi levels unless you make a way for them not to fall off.
We do not recommend trying to build your own cages. The most common material used is wood and it is extremely difficult to clean, sanitize, and is generally unhealthy for any small animal.
We have used plastic totes and still do on occasion. You will find poor air circulation, it is easy for your baby to escape, your baby will waste most of his food, and you will have to clean your enclosure every 3 days or so. I have more issues out of totes than out of wire cages. The pros are that they are cheaper and you can purchase 2 so that you can clean one and let it dry while you use the other. You can drill out holes to make ventilation a little better.
Wire cages have been by far the best solution for us. There is a way to mount your wheel easier, they are easier to clean and only have to clean once per week. The air circulation is better so you do not have as much concentrated ammonia odor. The cons are when hedgehogs are younger and don't have a wheel they will climb the bars. You MUST make sure they have a wheel in their cage. You can have an injury such as a broken leg (out of the years we have been doing this we have only had 2 that this has happened to.) The percentages and risk are quite low.
Wheels: We have used Wobust Wodent Wheel, Carolina Storm, Silent Runner, Kaytee Comfort, Kaytee Silent Spinner, Wire mesh wheel. Please do not purchase a wheel that is too small. You must have a wheel that is 11 or 12 inches and 3.5 to 4 inches wide.
First off the Wire mesh wheel was terrible and should never be used for any animal. We used for about 2 weeks before trashing this wheel.
The Kaytee Silent spinner and Kaytee Comfort we will group together. They broke apart very often and completely broke needing replacement about every 6 months. We used this wheel for about a year and did have a few issues with hurt hedgehogs. We only used this wheel for that long because we were not informed of a better wheel. The Kaytee Comfort wheel was a better version. Pros are you can find them at a pet store. Cons are they are expensive and cheaply built. They have a high likelihood to cause harm every time they break and they will break.
The Silent Runner and Wobust Wodent Wheel we will group together. They are a good wheel even though many people in the hedgehog community talk bad about it. The Cons are that they are a little harder to clean than a bucket wheel. The wheel will not spin if improperly put together. The pros are that we have never had an injury with this type of wheel. We have never had one break. They are reasonably priced wheel depending on where you purchase. Be careful of people price gouging you. We sell the Wobust Wodent Wheel here for 30$.
The Carolina Storm and all bucket wheels. Almost everyone agrees that this is the best wheel available. We used several of them for about a year until they warped and bearings went out (ordered wrong bearings several different times). Cons the wheel bearings will wear out purchase extra bearings at the time of purchase to avoid having to find the same bearings later. As with anything if you do not properly put them together the bearing can separate from the wheel and cause harm. If you wash them in a dishwasher, too hot of water, or just careless how you dry them the bucket will warp. Pros they are easy to wash if you wash them correctly. They are priced reasonably and are easily found under many names. Be careful of people price gouging you.
Bedding: We have used fleece liners, rice hulls, carefresh, and wood shavings.
Wood Shavings. I honestly can not say anything good about wood shavings. In our early years we used this for about 3 years. Cons are mites. You will have to treat for mites and continue to treat for mites. We have tried freezing the bedding. That is a myth we have frozen wood shavings for a month before using and still had mites. The shavings can pierce eyes and cut hedgehogs bodies. Many people are allergic to wood shavings and think it is caused by their hedgehog. In rare cases it has caused bacterial yeast infections.
Carefresh was a descent choice. We used this for a short period of time due mainly to the expense. Pros are that you can find it at local pet stores, We have not noticed mites from it, It is compostable, It comes in many different colors. The poop will clump to prevent hedgehogs from dragging it around. Cons are it is a little on the expensive side, There have been hearsay comments that it causes bowl blockage. When a proper diet is available this is unlikely, but I can not confirm or deny this as for the short time we used this we did not witness this.
Rice hulls has been our favorite even though it does have some cons. We have used this since around 2011. Pros are that it is very inexpensive, It is compostable, It clumps when a hedgehog poops on it. Cons it can be dusty if you are careless about how to fill their enclosure, It can get stuck in a breeding males gentiles because of how they breed it just needs to be brushed off. It is messy and gets caught in carpet easily.
Fleece liners has been placed last mainly because we believe it is the best choice for an individual. We only used them for a few weeks. Pros are that you can make several liners, It is inexpensive to make or can be purchased. Cons are it holds urine smell so it needs to be exchanged frequently, If you do not purchase no pill fleece it can cause them to get nails caught in it. You have to wash it somewhere and most people place them in the washing machine (not a big deal if you only need to wash a couple, but try washing 30 at a time and you can imagine the issue.)
Glass Water bottle, plastic water bottle, or water dish we have used all.
Please do not use plastic water bottles. They have all the cons of water bottles along with they warp if you place in dishwasher and they have a high fail rate (1 out of 3 fail).
Glass water bottles are what we currently use. Pros is they give fresh water all the time that it has water in it. You can wash them in your dishwasher. Cons are that they can fail (1 out of 50), They can chip teeth on older hedgehogs. Some people heard it from a friend who heard it from a friend that they can get their tongue stuck (I really don't know how they come up with this stuff). They do break when you drop them.
Water dishes are what we used for a short period of time. Pros they won't chip teeth or get tongue stuck. You don't have to worry about failed water bottles. Cons are they play in the water, they poop in water, they dump over water dish. It is near impossible to keep water in the water dish.
Breeding is only recommended to people who have a very good understanding of genetics. Just because you bought a hedgehog at a pet store and bought a hedgehog from a breeder across the country does not mean they are not closely related. They could very well be brother and sister.
Most people do not keep their house above 74 degrees Fahrenheit. You will need a heat emitter and a thermostat. I do not know how to set these up. I keep my hedgehogs area at between 76 and 82 degrees year round. If you know someone that has set one of these up or you have a friend that has reptiles they more than likely know how to do this. Heat emitters are the one area about hedgehogs that I have very little knowledge about.
Where to purchase.
We have a personal problem with purchasing a retired breeder from a breeder. Once a male or a female has had a viable litter they will not leave our care. My question to breeders who sell retired breeders: How will you know the lifespan of your hedgehogs if you sell them to new owners who may or may not care for them properly no matter how much you try to coach them in the right care (some people are very good at faking sincerity).
Hedgehogs are for the most part a one owner pet. A rehomed or rescued hedgehog many times will give you a poor hedgehog experience. Many times they are rehomed or rescued to homes that have no education or support. A rescued, retired breeders or rehomed hedgehog should only be taken in by an experienced hedgehog owner and should never be paid for or bred.
Most pet stores buy hedgehogs from wherever they can get them the cheapest and sell them for the same price as a legitimate breeder. There are very few pet stores that have pedigreed animals. Pedigree pet stores are a good place for a new owner to look for an unusual pet. Unfortunately without pet stores most people would not know what a hedgehog or other unique animal looks like. Pet stores usually have a limited knowledge of a specific pet. When pet store employees finally get an adequate knowledge of specific pets they usually quit or are fired for not selling enough of that stores pet supplies.
BYB or backyard breeders are people who do not track pedigrees. They purchase females from one place and a male or two from another and breed them. I know of many times that a BYB has purchased a group of females from one location and purchased their males from another bulk reseller like a pet store not knowing that the pet store actually purchased from the same location the BYB purchased the females. These people usually sell to bulk resellers for cheap or sell for the same price or just under legitimate breeders. They will usually only breed for a couple of years, will usually have many types of animals for sale and most of the time will have limited knowledge of hedgehogs or other animals they sell. This is not definite but should make you question their motives. I will repeat this DO NOT PURCHASE FROM SOMEONE WHO DOES NOT TRACK PEDIGREES.
A legitimate breeder is almost always your best bet. They will show you pedigrees when asked. They will not always give you a copy as many are worried about BYB faking pedigrees. Most good breeders have been breeding many years and offer knowledge and support.
This is a subject you really should listen to who you purchase your hedgehog from it will usually be a mix of 2-4 brands. If your breeder refuses to tell you what they are feeding and/or making you purchase it from them question your purchase. There are only three reasons I can see for doing this. 1. They aren't using the best ingredients and want to hide this fact 2. They want to make money on a monthly basis. 3. (very unlikely) They have a truly unique blend and process it themselves or has a company make it specifically for them. It is recommended you stay away from breeders who do not share their mix unless they are in the #3 category. They also need wet cat food, insects, mealworms, wax worms, superworms, crickets, or some other approved treat at least once per week. Some people recommend at least 2 times per week. We used to recommend daily but have since changed our stance on this subject after much research.