SQUAZLEHOGS CARE SHEET
A little bit about Hedgehogs.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs are a cross between white bellied hedgehogs and Algerian hedgehogs; African Pygmy Hedgehog’s lifespan in the UK is 4 years, On average African Pygmy Hedgehog’s should weigh between 250g – 400g although depending on the hedgehog some are bigger or smaller. They should be kept between 21c-24c and fed a mixture of different chicken/poultry dry cat foods.
A common misconception is that African Pygmy Hedgehogs carry flea’s and ticks. This is untrue, African Pygmy Hedgehog’s can only catch flea’s from going near another animal that has flea’s or going onto carpets/sheets ect that have had a flea infested animal on them.
Finding a breeder.
Free ad sites - Free ad sites are a common starting place but not always the best, there are a few diamonds in the rough though as a few good breeders do advertise on there if they have any hedgehogs they are homing. However a large majority of these free add breeders are not interested in the hedgehogs and their welfare but lining their pockets.
Approved breeders list - this is by far the most effective way to find a good breeder as they recommended breeders have to abide by the registry code of ethics.
Facebook Groups - Along with free ad sites there are some good breeders on facebook groups however the majority are back yard breeders who are after money over anything else.
Pet Shops - Please avoid buying from pet shops, usually pet shops buy from very bad breeders who breed in large quantities. Usually pet shops have no idea about the correct care of hedgehogs so feed the hedgehogs on a poor diet resulting in poor skin and quills. Supporting/buying from pet shops will only encourage this sort of bad breeding.
Questions to ask and be asked.
Any good breeder will ask you a few questions, expect questions such as what are you planning to house your hedgehog in? What food do you plan to feed? Are you intending to breed? Please answer the breeders questions as honestly as possibly, don't say what you think they want to hear but the truth. The breeder will appreciate honesty.
Most good breeders will require you sign a contract in this you say you will return the hedgehog to the breeder should you need to rehome the hedgehog. This is critical as breeders put alot of time and effort into their litters and want to ensure they get the best homes and know where they are.
Questions you need to ask to ensure you get a healthy happy hedgehog are;
Is he/she registered? If so how many generations of linage.
Does the hedgehog come with a care pack?
Can you see the breeders set ups?
Can you meet mum and dad (dad may not be possible if a stud hog was used)
Is there any history of Wobbly hedgehog syndrome in the lines as far as the breeders aware?
Any breeder worth their salt will let you view the hedgehog room and meet mum and dad. However if there are other litters in the nest they may not let you in the hedgehog room or may ask you to be very quiet and a brief view of the room to ensure mum doesn't get disturbed.
Registration of breeding hedgehogs is critical, I would be very wary of any breeder who doesn't register their hedgehogs and hoglets as registering is free and takes only a few seconds.
Good breeders will provide a care pack with care sheets, contract, food, pouch and possibly some toys for your hedgehog. However this is completely optional so you will have to ask the breeder what they provide.
Visiting the breeder.
When you visit your breeder you should expect to be welcomed into a clean house, most people with animals homes are far from spotless (my own is full of dog/cat hair!) but the general gist should be clean. If there are other pets in the house take mental note of their body conditions i/e is there any hair loss on dogs/cats that could suggest a flea problem? Or mites? Do they look well cared for?
Venturing into the hedgehog room you should see safe setups (no cages) housing which is clean (minus the odd poo covered wheel). Breeders should be well aware which hedgehog is in which cage/viv and there should not be more than 1 hedgehog to a viv/cage (apart from babies obviously).
What to avoid
Breeders who have no idea about registration or their hedgehogs linage (you don't want to buy an inbred hedgehog).
Mass breeders, these breeders own large quantities of hedgehogs and are only interested in the money not the overall care of the hedgehogs.
Any breeder who supplies pet shops.
Any breeder who houses more than 1 hedgehog to a viv/tub.
Any breeder who has in the past sold sick hedgehogs.
Any breeder you don't feel 100% confident about.
Safe, Suitable housing for your hedgehog.
There are 4 safe housing options for your hedgehog, here they are listed below.
Vivarium with glass doors.
Vivarium with mesh doors. (mesh covered)
Modified Cage with bars covered.
Any set up should be at least 3ft x 2ft x 2ft, the bigger the better. Cages should be modified as hedgehogs limbs can get caught resulting in injury.
The zoozone 2 although effective is a little small and wheels like the Silent spinner do not fit unless you e. saw the stand down.Vivariums are my personal fave provide safe secure housing.
Getting your hedgehog home.
When you get your hedgehog home it’s best to put him/her straight into the vivarium/cage so they can start settling in, you have just pulled them from everything that was familiar, this will no doubt have scared him/her. Give them time to adjust, get used to the new environment and settle before you start playing. Don’t fret if there not friendly at first, after all he/she has just undergone a huge life change. You will soon discover how obsessive compulsive hedgehogs are, they don’t like change. Ensure the home is set up before you place them inside. Have the pouch, food, water and heat already so they can go straight to sleep and when they wake up everything needed is waiting.
Your breeder should have sent you with some of your hedgehogs food, you may start mixing it bit by bit to help change them over to your choice of food. Don’t be alarmed if your hedgehog doesn’t eat the first night with you, remember how stressful a move can be for a human. Think how scary it is for a creature that doesn’t understand what’s happening.
Everyone’s different but it’s advised not to give a hedgehog a wheel until they are 12 weeks, some wait until 15 weeks but this is down to individual preference. I wait till 12 weeks a small amount of supervised access in a play pen for 30 mins a night is ok from 10 weeks. I wait till 12 weeks to ensure they are a good weight and allow there spine to fully form. Sometimes when they first get the wheel they can overdo it. I alternate nights for the first few weeks to ease them in to the swing of things, also sometimes there feet can get saw, don’t be alarmed if you come down one morning and there bloody foot prints on the wheel and surrounding area, most of the time this is just there feet toughening up. Remove the wheel, give them a foot bath and put some sudocrem on, keep the wheel out a couple of nights.
Foods and treats.
Safe foods for hedgehogs to eat.
Meat: Cooked Chicken, Minced Beef or Lamb,Cooked Turkey,Beef/Steak (cut up very small),A very little bit of kidney.
Fruit: Banana, Strawberry, Apple, Mango, Pear, Melon, Pumpkin, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Kiwi.
Vegetables: Carots, Sweet Potatoes, Potatoes (mash with no milk/butter), Bell Peppers, Sweet Corn, Swede, Cauliflower, Broccoli, A few peas.
Other safe foods include; Scrambled Egg (no milk), Small amounts of Rice, Small amounts of Pasta, Some baby foods.
Dangerous foods to avoid; Pork (too salty), Fish (Rumor has it hedgehogs struggle to digest fish), Citrus Fruits (too acidic can damage teeth), Orange, Lemon, Limes, Pineapple, Grape Fruit, Grapes, Rasins, Dried fruit (can be a choking hazard), Onions, Mushrooms, Garlic, Chocolate, Junk foods, Seeds and nuts (choking hazards).
Dried cat food: Getting your hedgehog’s diet right is critical, it’s advised that you use a mix of dry cat foods. All chicken or poultry flavour as hedgehogs have a digestion issue with fish products. A mix of 2-3 dry cat foods would be perfect, not all have to be great but the protein should be at least 30% (of the mix) and around 10% fat, although it’s very hard to ensure such low % so you can go over but be cautious as obesity is a common health problem in hedgehogs.
Foods to avoid would be foods such as Spikes hedgehog food and other “hedgehog” foods as these were made for Wild hedgehogs, which have very different diet requirements than African Pygmy Hedgehogs. I know it’s tempting to use a premade food than mix your own but it is safer and with a poor diet health can and will be affected.
Here's the club's suggestion of top cat foods for your hedgehog.
Royal canin light 40. (Protein 40%, fat 10%)
Royal cainin feline Slimness (Protein 42%, fat 12%)
Purina pro-plan house cat (Protein 36%, fat 14%)
Hills Science plan light (Protein 38%, fat 9%)
Iams light (Protein 28%, fat 11.2%)
James Welbeloved Light (Protein 34%, fat 10.5%)
Arden Grange Light (Protien 30%, fat 11%)
Advanced Nutrition Light (Protein 32%, fat 9%)
You may also use less quality food such as go-cat and Whiskers as fillers but the main bulk of your hedgehog food needs to be good quality with high meat content (like the above listed).
Most hedgehogs love live food and it's a good food to give them every day, every other day ect. Mealworms, mario worms, wax worms (though not to many), crickets and even roaches are a hedgehog fave!
Squazlehogs bucket wheel
obviously my review on this particular wheel is favourable lol, they are smooth inside,so provide a safe secure running surface. All parts are replaceable and they last forever. they fit in most set ups zoo zones and vivs and are quiet, They are £23.
The Silent Spinner is the easiest wheel to get as you can buy it from most pet shops or even ebay. Pro’s : Easy to buy and fairly cheap. (About £19)Cons: Not silent, doesn’t fit into a zoozone 2, very difficult to clean.
Carolina Storm Wheel.
A wheel made by a breeder in the USA, can only be bought Online. (Carolina Storm Hedgehogs - Home)
Pro’s: Silent, quite easy to clean and long lasting.
Cons: Very big in size and can only get one by importing from the USA (totalling £35 in UK money)
Carolina Bucket Wheel.
A wheel made by a breeder in the USA, can only be bought via his website. (Carolina Storm Hedgehogs - Home)
Pro’s: Lovely colours and fits in a zoozone 2.
Cons: Warps easily, becomes very loud fast, not easy to clean and can only get by importing from USA.
Bath time for your hedgehog
Bathing your hedgehog is a great way to bond (mostly because your hedgehog will be completely unballed and trying to escape ) here's how to bath your hedgehog.
Fill the bath or sink with warm water (ensure it's not too hot or too cold), fill it enough so that your hog is not drowning but not exactly completely out of the water either so about 1-2 inches of water. Add Aveeno oil to the bath water, just one blob will do the trick. (Don't use any other products, just aveeno oil). Pop you flannel on the base of the bath, Gently pour water over your hedgehog (Avoiding the face/head/eyes). You can use a soft bristle tooth brush to get any dirt out, but ensure the tooth brush is soft bristles. Ensure the bathroom is warm during the time you’re in the bathroom to stop your hedgehog getting a chill. Once out of the bath keep your hedgehog warm, to prevent hibernation I always use this time to keep them close to me in a blanket
Hibernation; To try to prevent hibernation you should keep your hedgehog's room between 21c-24c. (19c at the lowest) When out on long car trips or on colder days trips to the vet it's advised to take a microwaveable heat pad with you to help keep your hedgehog warm.
Signs of hibernation/Hibernation attempt:
• A cool belly
• Unable to stand
• Lack of eating & Activity.
• Possibly unable to unball
Should your hedgehog attempt hibernation you need to warm them up straight away, this should be done gradually and not instantly. You can either heat up a pad and place them on it, hot water bottle or you can place the hedgehog under your clothes on your bare skin. DO NOT PLACE IN HOT WATER/WARM WATER. DO NOT GET THEM WET. As tempting as it is once the water on the body cools it will cool them further. If after 1 hour of being warmed up your hedgehog is still no better it's best to get your hedgehog off to the vet who can provide a stable heat source and do their best to bring your hedgehog out of hibernation.
What now? After a hibernation attempt your hedgehog is more likely to try it again, it's immune system is also lower, it's best to ensure your hedgehog has consistent heat. You can ensure your hedgehog is consistent by buying a heat pad and mat stat. Suggested heat pads are petnap 33'' (with anti-chew wire) heat pad. And a habistat mat stat.
Quilling - This is a normal thing that happens for hedgehogs, during this time your hedgehog will be very sore and may become more huffy and angry than before. You can add a bit of Flaxseed oil to the dry cat food to help soothe the skin and a bath may help soothe the skin however watch for over bathing as that can dry the skin out further.
Obesity - Having a fatter than normal hedgehog is quite common, normally it can be a mixture of lack of exercise and poor diet that contribute to weight gain. Look out for excessive skin around the neck to see if your hedgehog is a bit porky. If your hedgehog can still ball tightly without any problems then the weight is fine. Hedgehogs who struggle to ball tightly or are unable to ball tightly are overweight and will need to be placed on a strict low fat diet.
Ring Worm - Although not common it can crop up, it is a fungal infection and can be passed from Hedgehog's to Humans. The signs are quite obvious in humans leaving red itchy ring like area's on the skin. If you suspect your hedgehog may have ringworm your vet will be able to do a skin scrape or use a ultra violet light to diagnose it. And then provide treatment for your hedgehog. You are best to see a doctor should you develop any red ring like area's on your skin.
Lumps - Hedgehogs are prone to cancer and tumours, any suspicious lumps should be seen to straight away. A biopsy should determine if it’s cancerous or not.
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome - Sadly this is a horrible genetic illness that affects African Pygmy Hedgehogs. It is progressive and as time goes on your hedgehog will get worse. The back legs are often the first to be affected, paralysis then spreads to the rest of the body, resulting in your hedgehog toppling over onto its side and being unable to stand. There are no known cures. Sadly the end result is usually having the hedgehog put to sleep. Wobbly hedgehog syndrome can be diagnosed by autopsy however if you decide to go ahead with that, the choice is yours.
Mites - Mites cause dry, flaky skin and itching. Quill loss (with the skin tag missing) is usually a sign your hedgehog has mites. Mites can be seen quite easily, they are tiny white dots that if you watch close enough move around. You can take your hedgehog, place him above a dark sheet and rub him softly with your hand. Inspect the dark sheet for any white moving dots. You can buy mite treatment online (xeno 50 mini drops) or at pets at home (Anti-Parasite Spot On for Rabbits and Guinea Pigs by Beaphar) only a drop or two is needed. (not a full pipette).
A final thought
It may take several weeks for you hog to fully settle, in terms of handling your new baby, don’t use gloves, they generally find these a tad intimidating. A small blanket of pouch can be used, personally though I think it’s better to brave the hands, it helps them get used to your smell. When you bring your baby home they are likely to be stressed you’ve just ripped them from everything they know. They will also most likely be quilling, this is a tricky time for them as its very painful, its very important to keep handling daily the more effort you put in the more you will get back. The first few weeks are when bonds are formed and they get to love there humans. Food is a fab bribe, livefoods are a particular fave and will often make even the grumpiest hog show there face. If you pop some worn clothing in the viv this will help them get used to your scent, I also sit on the sofa with timid baby’s, in the bonding bag or pouch this helps them get used to your scent and the sounds around them.
Hoedgehogs can be little mess monsters, in particular baby’s, they don’t have much bladder or bowel control much like human baby’s. I generally wake baby’s early evening have them in my hand for a min or so then put them in their house for a while to give them chance to do their business. Sometimes tis works, most do grow out of it and just mess in there wheel area as they get older.
As noted above, it could well take a few weeks for your new addition to completely settle in their new home. Please be patient with them, don’t take it to heart if they are grumpy. The more time you spend with your baby handeling and feeding the tamer they will become. When you hog is relaxed there quills will be flat some are very active want to explore, others love nothing better than a snuggle up and snooze on you on the sofa.