Hedgehogs - Housing

By Gregory Rich, DVM; Rick Axelson, DVM

What type of cage does my pet hedgehog require?

The cage should be large enough to allow the hedgehog to move around. At least 2 x 3 feet (61 x 91cm) should be the minimum floor space provided. Walls must be high enough to prevent escape, as hedgehogs are good climbers. A glass aquarium or smooth-sided cage is a reasonable choice for many owners. An aquarium should be at least 30 gallons in volume. Cages with a wire bottom should be avoided because your hedgehog could easily injure a foot in the wire. Cages with a plastic bottom and wire walls may be used, as long as the space between the bars is 1 inch (2.5cm) or less.

Bigger is always better so your hedgehog can have plenty of room for exercise! Hedgehogs are very active animals; they seem to constantly run around when not sleeping. Being nocturnal, they are most active at night. They are skilled climbers and diggers and are good swimmers. Hedgehogs can be let out of their cage to explore in a large supervised, secure room.

"Bigger is always better so your hedgehog can have plenty of room for exercise!"

Should I control the temperature in my hedgehog’s cage?

Hedgehogs are very susceptible to extremes in temperature. In the wild, African hedgehogs do not experience cold weather. If a hedgehog’s body does become chilled, it will become less active and, if the low temperature lasts for several hours, may become critically ill. Heatstroke is possible with temperatures above 85ºF (29º C). Hedgehogs seem to thrive with an environmental temperature of 70º - 85ºF (21º - 29ºC).

You may wish to consider placing a safe, supplemental heat source under one end of the cage if the ambient house temperature is too low.

Can I house more than one hedgehog in each cage?

In the wild, hedgehogs are solitary animals and in captivity, it is better to keep them in individual cages. With hedgehogs housed in groups, fights can occur, especially if adequate space is not available.

What can I place in my hedgehog's cage?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, and therefore do not like bright light. A hiding place, such as a cardboard or wooden box, cloth bag, PVC tubing, plastic log, or small plastic hut will provide your hedgehog some privacy and a place to avoid the light. If you put any objects made of cloth, it should be a fine enough fabric that the toenails do not get caught.

Some pet hedgehogs will use a litter tray but most defecate randomly. Food and water dishes need to be somewhat heavy since hedgehogs do like to root around and move items in the cage. Large ceramic dishes work well.

"Hedgehogs are nocturnal, and therefore do not like bright light."

What about toys?

Unlike most other pet animals, hedgehogs rarely play with toys. They do enjoy running on a wheel designed for hedgehogs or chinchillas but do not use one made of wire, because your hedgehog’s feet may get stuck. Chew toys can also be placed in the cage, although they are not necessary. If you do provide chew toys, ensure that the smallest piece of the toy is too big to be swallowed by the hedgehog.

What kind of bedding material should I put in the cage?

Acceptable bedding materials include shredded paper, newspaper, recycled pelleted/absorbable material, and wood shavings, such as aspen or untreated pine. Avoid corncob bedding as it tends to grow mold when wet. Dusty shavings or cedar shavings should never be used as they can be irritating to your hedgehog’s eyes and respiratory system.

How should I maintain my hedgehog’s cage?

Clean the cage frequently. All feces, urine, and uneaten food should be removed daily. Cages should be cleaned with soap and water at least weekly (rinse well). Hedgehogs are susceptible to skin irritations from urine and feces, so the sooner you clean up after your hedgehog, the better.

Related Articles