Yes, adding a second floor to a vivarium or cage is not uncommon, African Pygmy Hedgehogs love to explore and are good climbers, so tackling a ramp is not a problem for them, there are a few things you need to think about and consider.
- Do you have adequate room to add a ramp
- Will my wheel still fit in my cage
- Will heating be effected
- What will I make the ramp out of
- What do I make my second floor out of
- How to I prevent falling
- How easy will it be to clean
- How do I fix my second floor
- How do I fix my ramp
So lets look at all these points individually
Do you have adequate room to add a ramp
Well that’s a simple one to answer, just cut the floor shape out of cardboard as well as the ramp and test it, you can attach the cardboard ramp with tape to try it in different places.
Will my wheel still fit in my cage
Again, just cut the floor shape out of cardboard as well as the ramp and test it, you can attach the cardboard ramp with tape to try it in different places, make sure the wheel doesn’t cause a trap point when your hedgehog gets off it as they usually get off when its still spinning.
Will heating be effected
This is a bit more difficult to determine as heat will be transmitted around the cage, dependant on airflow and ventilation, the key thing to think about is will it cause any cold spots or hot spots, for example, don’t place the upper level so that it is very close to the CHE or so that your hedgehog can touch or climb onto the heat source
What will I make the ramp out of
The ramp needs to be made out of a material that is light and strong, it also needs to provide grip and be easily cleaned, the best material I have found is 6mm x 80mm
What do I make my second floor out of
Wood is the most obvious answer, but will depend on what your cage is made out of, a shelving off cut is ideal, it must be of adequate thickness to take the weight of your hedgehog and also be self supporting, it also needs to be thick enough to be fixed, so if you are using screws to fix it then you need to make sure the screws do not go through to the other side, it also needs to be strong enough to support the ramp.
How to I prevent falling
Any possible fall points should be guarded against or completely enclosed, the ramp will need to have sides or made out of piece of pipe as well as the access to the ramp from the second floor, the second floor itself needs to be done in a way that it is totally surrounded by a wall and the only way off is down the ramp, think about it as child safety.
Making ramp covers from fleece is an option if you use stiffening to prevent it from falling in on itself, they can also be removed for washing.
How easy will it be to clean
That’s not an easy one to answer, it depends on what you make it out of, what you protect it with, how it is covered over and is it removable, I have made 6 ramps for my hedgehogs and none of them are removable, they are however protected in a high gloss varnish which was left to cure for 2 weeks before fitting into the cage, luckily I had the time to wait and I could leave them to fully cure, but this is not always the case and you need to think about making them removable to clean, the treads in the ramp also make cleaning more difficult
The sides need to be of a height to stop your hedgehog from accidentally climbing over, I have found with mine that 6cm is ample to prevent them from trying to climb, they scoot up and down the ramp easily
A full cover would need to be removable, either cat in half so it fits on top or slid off one end, but it needs to be secured so that it will not come off during normal use, again this cover needs to be washable, so cardboard can be used as long as it is covered or painted
How do I fix my second floor
The easiest way is to use corner connecting shelving blocks, shelf support bracket, plastic plinth fixings, they are all about the same thing, angle brackets or screwing from the other side of the cage is also a possibility but this can leave an unsightly screw hole in the side of your cage.
If you are using a wood that could swell if it gets wet then you must consider protecting the edge from water, wee soaking into it, an ideal solution it to use a PVA glue or 100% pure silicone sealant to seal the edge and also stick the floor to your cage, remembering to wipe off any excess and leave to to fully cure before introducing you hedgehog back into its cage.
How do I fix my ramp
Now this is a difficult one, if your ramp is against the back wall or your cage then you can use the corner connecting shelving blocks, shelf support bracket, plastic plinth fixings as seen above, or if you want it to lift up then you can use a hinge at the top which allows the ramp to be lifted to allow the cage liner to be replaced, the hinge will need to be completely covered in vinyl or fleece to prevent a trap or trip hazard, a removable ramp could be fixed using hook and eyes, but again these need to be covered to prevent a trap or trip hazard, but which ever way you decide, it needs to be secure to prevent it moving or falling.