How Much Space Does A Hedgehog Need?

Hedgehogs are busy little creatures who love to run! When hedgehogs first entered the pet trade, people often kept them in small kennel cabs or 10 gallon aquariums, or even hamster cages! This turned out to be disastrous for the hedgehogs because, without room to roam or explore, they tended to become bored, unhappy, unhealthy, and obese.

Fast forward to 2020 and there is a current trend toward enormous cages, which is awesome! If you have the space, by all means, go as big as you can! I have gotten emails from people who are worried about living in a small apartment and not being able to provide their hedgehog with a mega mansion.  They wonder what their options are for keeping a hedgehog happy and healthy.

Here are the guidelines I recommend for choosing a cage that is big enough keep your hedgehog happy and healthy:

1) The cage should have sides that are tall enough that the hedgehog can't just stretch and get up and out.

2) The cage should have enough floor space that you can place the hidey house, food dish, and water source and still have enough room for a wheel or other enrichment activities.

3) Once you put all of the cage furnishings in, the hedgehog should still have room to run freely around in the cage. In our experience, roughly 3 to 4.5 square feet of floor space or more has allowed our hedgehogs to run and stay happy and healthy. We have not had problems with our hedgehogs exhibiting obesity or other issues related to a sedentary lifestyle as they stay quite active! 

The majority of our cages are 4.5 square feet (12 square feet for long eared). We do find that some mother hedgies are more comfortable and will settle down in a smaller cage (3 square feet), while in a larger cage, they run more, dragging babies around and injuring them, while they seem to feel safe and secure, settling down in the smaller space. We transfer them to the larger cage when babies start to get mobile and the extra room to roam is needed.

4) Hedgehogs do not HAVE to have a wheel, after all, they don't have natural growing wheel bushes to run on in the wild. However, they DO need to be able to run and to explore, and a wheel or saucer is a great way to do that. If you do not have a wheel or saucer in your hedgehog's cage, be sure to take your hedgehog out daily for play time where hedgie can roam and explore. In addition, provide toys for enrichment. Hedges enjoy tunnels, tubes, boxes, and in general, things they can climb in, under, or on.

5) I know this one doesn't have to do with size, but when talking about hedgehog cages, I always feel the need to include the public service announcement to remember that hedgehogs need a solid floor and not a wire floor. Guinea pig cages generally have solid flooring, while rabbit cages do not. Hedgehogs also tend to fall off of upper levels of cages until they have learned where everything is, so if your cage has multiple layers, make sure that you modify any ramps so hedgie can get a grip to climb it and modify ledges so that hedgie can't just walk right off!

If you select a cage for your hedgehog that follows these guidelines and provide the level of environmental stimulation that your hedgehog needs in the form of handling, supervised out of cage time, and toys, you will have a hedgehog that stays happy and healthy!

The cage above may look like a glorified bread box, but it has about 3 square feet of floor space. It has a fixture for a heat emitter (always use a thermostat) and is very secure. Mamas who have shown that they are afraid for their babies in a larger cage have been able to very happily settle down and raise their newborns in this one. 

No comments:

Cold Weather Tips

With a polar vortex predicted to drop temperatures to extreme levels in the next week, it seemed timely to talk about how to keep  hedgies s...