There are many different types of hedgehog cages that will be quite acceptable to keep your pets in. In fact, most of these different types of cages will go by some other name or will be sold with another type of small animal in mind. Some are not really cages at all, but would fall under the category of containers. Whether it is a cage or container is usually of little concern to your pet as long as it provides the basic necessities of comfort and security. In fact, the key elements involved in choosing a cage involve warmth and security together with giving the pet a place in which it will have adequate room to move around during those times it is confined to its living quarters.
You may be somewhat surprised at the variety of enclosures that will make good homes for one of these little creatures. What you don’t want to do is to confine them to a small space not much bigger than a shoebox, as these animals like to run around and explore, although many of them tend to do so mostly after dark. You also don’t want a container that could easily become overheated as might be the case with glass or plastic if placed in direct sunlight. Nor should your pet be in a cage where its claws or legs might become stuck in wire meshing, or in a container which does not have proper air circulation. You also should be aware of the fact that hedgehogs are reasonably good climbers, but are not so graceful when it comes time to make their descent. They usually just fall.
Even if you were to make a list of all the features that would be undesirable for a hedgehog cage, you will still have a large number of potential homes to choose from.
You may find that in your search for cages, there are not a large number of them advertised in the marketplace. One of the reasons for this, and perhaps the main reason, is that these little creatures fall in the category of exotic animals and it is not always easy to find a breeder nearby or a pet store that caters to a hedgehog-owning clientele. Fortunately, good homes for other types of small creatures are most often quite acceptable for hedgehogs although there are a few exceptions.
There are no federal laws prohibiting ownership of hedgehogs, but owning them is not legal in some states and cities, and permits are required in some others. If you plan to invest in a cage before purchasing one, it would be best to check your state and local regulations. Any nearby animal control officer should be able to tell you if you can legally own such a pet and if you can, whether any special permit is required. In almost all instances when hedgehogs are the subject of discussion, they are one of the African Pygmy hedgehog species. The common European and Egyptian species do not make good pets, nor do most of the other larger species for that matter.
Assuming you live in a locality where these animals can be legally owned, you can then proceed with purchasing or constructing adequate living quarters. Below are several ideas that you should find useful. Basically, you want to provide living quarters that can be kept clean, give the animal room to roam, ensure lighting and temperature can be controlled, and do not have any features or characteristics that could cause a hedgehog to injure itself. A hedgehog cage should preferably be no smaller than 18 by 24 inches and about 15 inches high. A cage that has at least 4 square feet of roaming space is preferred.
Cages Worth Considering
1) Aquariums – Hedgehogs are not aquatic creatures, but a 30-gallon or larger aquarium will make an excellent home. This is one type of “cage” however that you would need to keep away from direct sunlight so its inhabitant doesn’t become overheated. Hedgehogs are excellent climbers, although they are not capable of climbing glass walls. You don’t necessarily have to put a mesh lid on the aquarium although many feel that doing so at least gives them some peace of mind. If your pet did manage to escape and its container is on a shelf or a table, it would probably not be smart enough to stay away from the edge and would most likely fall to the floor and injure itself. Either that or it would go some place and hide. Another reason it should not be allowed to run around on any elevated platform is they do not have good eyesight. The nice thing about an aquarium is that you can easily see your pet, at least when it’s not hiding in a small box or nest that should be a part of every hedgehog’s living quarters. Glass is usually much easier to clean than wire mesh or plastic, and if the aquarium gets too messy you can simply dump out the bedding or substrate, wash out the aquarium, and put everything, including the hedgehog, back in.
2) Rabbit Cages – A rabbit cage is certainly large enough. One problem with a rabbit cage is that you would want to install solid flooring or the hedgehog’s feet will constantly be slipping through the wire mesh. This would tend to discourage it from moving about and it would also be apt to injure itself. This problem is easily solved if you can find a tray that nicely fits the floor of the cage. A tray with sides that are 5 inches high will help to keep the bedding in the cage in place. The mesh siding of a rabbit cage could potentially be a cause of problems as well. As noted earlier, hedgehogs are not particularly good climbers, but they don’t always appear to be aware of that, and if the opportunity is there, they will go for it. They aren’t too likely to make it to the top of the cage, but they are likely to fall before they get much more than half way up. If they fall, they will probably hurt themselves. A small, exotic animal like a hedgehog often will not survive for long if it manages to injure itself.
3) Sterilite Containers – A Sterilite container may not seem to be the best place to keep your pet, but these plastic containers actually serve just as well as wire cages or aquariums. The container should be a clear container so it will have ample lighting and also so you will be able to see your pet. Since the corners are usually rounded, they tend to be much easier to clean and to keep clean. You can put a lid on these containers as long as it has holes in it to permit ventilation. The lids on glass aquariums are usually constructed of a plastic or wire mesh and provide the ventilation the animal needs. A solid plastic lid should never be used. A few small holes can also be drilled in the side of these containers for improved ventilation. Breeders often favor these types of containers and breeders are usually quite picky when it comes to living quarters that will keep their hedgehogs healthy. The main problem you might encounter if you go this route is to find a container that has enough floor space and at the same time is high enough to accommodate an exercise wheel should you decide to get one for your pet.
4) Ferret, Hamster, and Cavy Cages – These tend to be wire cages which will suit a hedgehog as well. They are sometimes sold under the name of “critter cages”. In any case, you will still most likely need to find a solid bottom for the cage if the cage does not come with one. You’ll want to pay particular attention to the size of the mesh openings. The openings can be fairly large unless you plan to have very young animals in the cage. Tiny openings are actually more of a danger as a hedgehog can sometimes get a toenail or even a foot trapped in the mesh and injure itself in the process. If the mesh openings are fairly small, consider placing a tray in the cage that has sides several inches high to discourage it from attempting to climb. Another solution is to put strips of vinyl kitchen tablecloth along the sides at the bottom. Strips that are a few inches high will discourage the hedgehog from attempting to scale the sides. Insofar as hamster cages are concerned, don’t confuse hamster tube cages with wire mesh cages. Hamsters love to run through tubes and tunnels. A hedgehog may venture a little ways into one of these tubes and elect to stay there for some time. It if is disturbed, its quills will open up and it can become stuck. A hedgehog in tight quarters can be very difficult to dislodge and you will risk injuring it if you attempt to do so. When it is stuck, it will usually not relax enough to allow its quills to lie flat.
Playpens are Important Too
A playpen is not quite the same as a hedgehog cage in that they seldom serve as permanent living quarters. Just as there are a number of options when choosing a cage, there are also a number of options in providing an area in which your hedgehog can do some running around or exploring without getting lost or into trouble.
- In the wild, a hedgehog will travel about in an area roughly 1,000 feet in diameter in search of food. If food is scarce, it may travel an even greater distance. Where food is plentiful, it tends to stay within 1,000 feet or so of its nest or headquarters. Looking for a 1,000 foot diameter playpen is obviously not a practical solution. Even most yards aren’t that large. An infant’s playpen will suffice if it features a mesh netting that a hedgehog cannot squeeze through. Crumpled-up newspaper and a few boxes or tubes placed in the playpen will suffice to keep it entertained. As is the case with a wire cage, you can always line the bottom portion of the sides of the playpen with strips of vinyl kitchen tablecloth to keep your pet or pets from attempting to climb up or through the sides.
- If you don’t have a playpen handy, the next best thing, and maybe the best thing, is the bathtub. A hedgehog is a fairly good climber but can’t climb up the sides of a bathtub. Place a few toys in the tub along with boxes and crumpled newspaper and you’ll be able to leave it alone for an hour or two in a place where it will be quite safe.
- A compromise between the bathtub and the playpen would be a child’s wading pool. The only concern would be to make certain the sides are high enough so a larger hedgehog can’t reach the top. If it can, it will probably try to climb out. A wading pool has an advantage over the bathtub in that while you will need to clean it out periodically, you don’t have to do so daily if you are in the habit of taking a daily bath or shower.
Buying or Building Cages for Hedgehogs
New hedgehog cages can cost anywhere from around $40 to well over $200. Rather than simply looking for a cage, it will often pay to expand your search to looking for a critter cage, which if nothing else will give you more options to choose from. You can, of course, build a cage yourself and make it as fancy or as simple as you wish. A wire mesh cage with a lining on the bottom and along the sides isn’t too hard to construct and you can use images of critter cages as your blueprints. You’ll likely get more pleasure in housing your pet in a cage you’ve put together with TLC than you will from housing it in a glass container or a plastic box. As far as the animal is concerned, it could probably care less, although these little animals seem to be aware of special treatment when they receive it.