Hedgehog Cage Setup: 10 Essential Item & Accessories

A pet hedgehog on a lime-green carpet with a white background.

Once you’ve decided that a hedgehog is for you, the next step is to set up the ideal environment and fill the cage with everything that your hedgie will need to stay happy and healthy.

Hedgehogs typically live 3-7 years, so it’s important to give your new pet the best start possible. That’s exactly what we’ll cover in the following:

What to put inside a hedgehog cage plus a few extras you’ll want to pick up as well.

1. Suitable Cage

Ideally, you want a cage that is at least 4-6 square feet, will securely hold your hedgie, will provide adequate ventilation, and allows him to see his surroundings.

There are several options for a hedgehog: 

  • Wire or mesh cage with a solid bottom
  • Large, tall plastic container
  • DIY setup 
  • Large aquariums 

Guinea Pig / Rabbit Cages

Wire-type cages designed for guinea pigs or rabbits can work, but the bar spacing should be no more than 1 inch and the sides should be lined with clear plexiglass to prevent escapes and injuries.

If the cage has ramps and platforms, either remove them or install railings to prevent falls.

Large, Clear Plastic Container

A large, clear plastic tote with tall sides is ideal in many ways. They’re easy to clean, have smooth bottoms, are affordable, and prevent bedding from being kicked out.

To increase floor space, get two or more totes and use PVC pipe to make “tunnels” from one to the next. Note that the tote’s lid will need to be modified with screen to allow for airflow.

DIY Cages

Many hedgie owners have made unique habitats out of old dressers or similar items.

By removing a few drawers and replacing them with plexiglass, you can have a custom, spacious home for your pet, like the one shown below. 

Aquariums

Aquariums are not the ideal setup as they tend to keep humidity levels high, which could cause respiratory issues, but they could be used temporarily if they are large enough.

Recommended:

  • Clear Plastic BinThese are safe and easy to clean, and two or more can be connected with PVC pipes.
  • Midwest HabitatThis cage features an easy-access folding top, separate play and litter areas, and a leak-proof, washable liner that extends up the cage walls.

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What To Avoid:

  • Cages that are less :than 4 square feet
  • Cages without see-through sides
  • Wood cages
  • Cages with a wire/mesh bottom
  • Cages with large gaps between the bars

2. Appropriate Bedding Materials

In most cases, a base of absorbent towels covered with fleece is the best option.

Wash new fleece fabric repeatedly (don’t use fabric softener) until water, when poured on top, runs through the fabric immediately, leaving the fleece dry.

Since most hedgehogs quickly learn to use a litter pan, this bedding style provides a soft floor that stays clean and dry (even in the event of an accident).

Some owners use shredded newspaper or AstroTurf rather than fleece. Others use aspen or pine shavings, but these can be messy and dusty – not good for the respiratory system.

Some owners add piles of fleece strips to satisfy a hedgie’s need to dig.

Recommended:

  • Fleece Fabric – Easy to use and clean, this material provides the perfect amount of traction and comfort without being messy. Best of all – no recurring costs – just wash and reuse!

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What To Avoid:

  • Cedar wood chips
  • Sawdust
  • Hay/straw

3. Litter Pan and Litter

Shallow plastic tubs are ideal as they’re large enough for bathroom duties and to place the exercise wheel inside.

A corner litter pan could also be used, but these are not big enough to allow for wheel placement.

Note that with some litter pans, you may need to cut an opening into the front to allow for easy entry/exiting. Cover cut edges with duct tape to prevent injury.

For litter, pelleted forms are a very popular choice and tend to be less messy than wood shavings or shredded paper.

Recommended:

  • Pelleted Wheat Straw Litter in Shallow Plastic Container This all-natural litter is absorbent, reduces odor, is easy to clean and dust free, and isn’t harmful if your hedgie should taste test it.

Oxbow Animal Health Eco-Straw Litter, 8 Pound Bag
  • All-natural wheat straw litter
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What To Avoid:

  • Cedar wood chips
  • Sand
  • Sawdust
  • Hay/straw

4. Food Bowls

Hedgehogs should ideally have two food bowls – one for dry food and one for moist foods. The bowls should be roughly 4 inches in diameter and heavy enough that they won’t tip over.

Bottom-weighted metal bowls can be used, but most hedgehog owners prefer heavy ceramic crocks. They won’t tip, and they’re easy to clean.

Recommended:

Kaytee Stoneware Cavy Bowl, 4-Inch
  • These absolutely chew proof dishes feature wide profiles that lend stability
  • The heavyweight design makes these dishes tip resistant.

What To Avoid:

  • Cheap, plastic bowls
  • Bowls made of chewable or toxic material
  • Disposable bowls (:coatings and inks could be toxic)

5. Water Bottle or Bowl

Most hedgehog owners agree that a bottle is superior to a bowl for hedgehogs.

This is because bowls can easily be tipped and emptied, leaving your pet with nothing to drink. They also tend to get dirty very quickly with urine, feces and bedding materials.

Recommended:

  • Small Animal Water Bottle – This is highly recommended. However, with some cages, especially DIY cages, hanging a water bottle can be problematic. That’s why we also recommend purchasing a stand to securely hold the bottle.
  • Free-Standing Wooden Bottle Holder – This stand is all-natural wood and completely adjustable to fit a variety of bottle sizes. With a sturdy, wide base, there’s no need to worry about it falling, but you could easily secure it to the cage as a precaution.

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What To Avoid:

  • Bowls deep enough to pose a drowning hazard
  • Material that could be chewed
  • Bowls that are likely to tip
  • Bottles with nozzles designed for larger pets
  • Bottle holders that could be climbed and used as an escape aid

6. Sleeping Area/Hideout

Since a hedgehog sleeps for most of the daylight hours and is most comfortable when provided with a cozy, private “bed,” a sleeping hideout is a necessity.

Cardboard or wood boxes can be used, but they soil easily and are difficult to clean.

A hut made of washable materials and roomy enough for the hedgehog to turn around and burrow into the bedding is a much better option. 

Recommended:

  • Igloo Hideout Filled With Fleece Strips – This option provides a feeling of security, helps trap heat, is easy to clean, and allows the hedgehog to burrow into a warm nest for sleeping.
  • Fabric/Fleece Sleeping House – Warm and cozy and available in a variety of cute designs, this option can also be supplemented with additional fleece scraps for extra warmth.

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What To Avoid:

  • Cardboard and wood
  • Huts that are too large or too small
  • Materials with loosely woven fabric or decorations that could be removed

7. Variety of Toys

Playtime is very important for hedgehogs as they naturally love to explore and play, and the exercise provided is a great way to prevent obesity (or fight it if he’s already too chubby).

It’s best to have a variety of different toys, some in the cage and some on standby so that you can rotate them to keep your hedgie from becoming bored.

Don’t be too surprised if he decides that a slipper or toy car is the greatest toy ever as hedgehogs are commonly drawn to ordinary objects.

Also, he may change his mind weekly in regards as to what toy is his favorite.

Recommended:

  • Brightly Colored Ping Pong Balls – These are great for rolling around the floor or adding to a dig box, and hedgies love the bold colors!
  • Colorful Crinkle Balls – Most hedgehogs enjoy the crackling sound produced when these balls are moved, and the bright colors are a big attractant.
  • Cat/Kitten Toys – Bell balls, foam balls, and toy mice are great fun for hedgies. Just remove any strings or feathers before offering these toys.
  • Toilet paper tubes are a favorite among hedgehogs. Just use scissors to cut along the top first so that he won’t get stuck inside.
  • Household objects such as small toy cars, cardboard boxes, old shoes, large marbles, stuffed animals, and a pile of fleece strips.

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What To Avoid:

  • Sharp edges
  • Loose pieces 
  • Dangling strings
  • Small holes or slits that could trap little feet
  • Heavy objects with potential to fall and crush or injure him

8. Exercise Wheel

In the wild, a hedgehog would run an incredible 4-7 miles every night, so providing an exercise wheel is a must. However, not just any wheel will do.

Wheels with mesh or spoke running tracks are not appropriate for a hedgehog as they will cause foot and leg injuries.

The wheel must be large enough (12 inches is ideal) as smaller wheels can cause spinal damage.

Note that because hedgehogs tend to eliminate while exercising, the wheel should be placed in the litter pan.

Recommended:

  • Large Wheel With Solid Track – This 12-inch wheel features a solid, textured running surface and a semi-enclosed front for safety. Silent operation and no central bar make this choice perfect.

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What To Avoid:

  • Wheels without solid running tracks
  • Wheels less than 12 inches
  • Wheels with unsteady bases

9. Thermometer To Monitor Temperature

Hedgehogs are very sensitive to temperature. A constant temperature between 72 and 80℉ must be maintained, though 75℉ is ideal.

Anything above or below that range puts your hedgie at risk. Having a thermometer in the cage is critical so that you can know with a glance that your hedgehog is comfortable.

It’s best to have a thermometer that also measures ambient humidity levels as low humidity makes the area feel cooler and high humidity makes the area feel warmer.

Also low humidity can cause dry skin or exacerbate existing skin issues. Aim for around 50% humidity, and keep a close eye on humidity in the winter.

Recommended:

  • Mini Digital Hygrometer/Thermometer – This handy device is small, accurate, measures every 10 seconds, has an easy-to-read digital screen, and can be easily affixed to the cage.

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What To Avoid:

  • Glass thermometers
  • A thermometer that takes up too much room or hangs low in the cage where your hedgie could reach it
  • Models that require frequent battery changes – the risk of malfunction is too great
  • Thermometers that are difficult to read

10. Heat Source

If you keep your home between 72 and 80℉ all year, you might not need to add a heat source, but even then it is recommended as home temperatures do tend to fluctuate.

Heating pads are generally not considered safe. Rather, use heat bulbs designed for baby chicks, seed germination, and reptiles, but make sure they only produce heat – not light.

Tip: Keep a supply of pocket hand warmers stashed away in case of a power outage on a chilly day. Use them to line the inside of your hedgehog’s hide-away for some extra warmth.

Recommended:

  • Ceramic Heat Emitter – This brand is highly recommended and comes in packs of two. No light is given off, so your hedgehog’s sleeping patterns won’t be disturbed. Pair this with the following:
  • Thermostat – This is necessary to allow you to set and maintain proper cage temperature.
  • Ceramic Reflector Dome – This powers and holds the bulb, helps disperse heat, and attaches to (or rests on top of) the cage.

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What To Avoid:

  • Heat bulbs with lights
  • Heating pads or mats
  • Using a heat source without a thermometer in place
  • Cords that are accessible to your pet

Additional Items

Of course you’ll need either hedgehog food or cat food, but there are a few other supplies you’ll want to have on hand as well.

  • A separate play area – a child’s portable playpen is great for this!
  • Nail clippers – to trim nails every two weeks. Use clippers designed for small pets.
  • Treats – mealworms, scrambled or boiled eggs, crickets, wax worms, etc.
  • Cleaning supplies – the cage will need to be spot cleaned daily and deep cleaned every 1-2 weeks. Have dish soap, scrub brushes, bottle brushes, vinegar, and towels on hand.

Closing Advice

Be aware that it can take several days for a hedgehog to adjust to a new environment, and he may not want anything to do with you at first. This is normal and temporary.

Give him time alone to acclimate to his surroundings before you start to handle him. In the first few weeks, work on establishing trust, but don’t overwhelm him with attention.

Your patience will be rewarded once he settles in and accepts you as a friend.

Last update on 2021-12-02 at 23:40 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API