Welcome to the APH UK Rescue African Pygmy Hedgehog information encyclopaedia page or Hogi-Pedia for short. The page has been put together by African Pygmy Hedgehog enthusiasts and breeders, we have many years experience in keeping APH's as well as breeding. We believe in sharing our knowledge and the knowledge of others for the greater good of our community, if you can't find an article you are looking for or need additional information then please feel free to join our chat on our Facebook page. Alternately click on the contact us page and send us a message requesting the information you need, if it is relevant we will also add it to our page for others to use.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs

Interesting Facts

  • The African pygmy hedgehog is a hybrid of the four toed hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog, and is the most popular species of domesticated hedgehog in the world, it is illegal to keep a British hedgehog as a pet.
  • African Pygmy Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures. It means they are active during the night. However they require 12 hour of light per day.
  • Hedgehogs rely mostly on their sense of smell. They sniff constantly; they can also smell humans from meters away. Hedgehog’s nose might be actually described as his eyes. In older age hedgehogs usually go blind but it seems it doesn’t make big difference to them.
  • Hogs have also taste buds but they are able to eat anything at all – but remember do not serve banned food. And it doesn’t mean if they can eat anything, they won’t be picky!
  • APH are not rodents, so do not have continually growing teeth.
  • Second important sense for hogs is hearing. Its cover high frequencies so animal can pick up even sounds emitted by insects.
  • APH’s sense of sight is very basic. They are short-sighted and have limited field of view. Hogs see in shades brown and cream.
  • They love to run and they can do distance of 3km per night.
  • Hogs are also quite good climbers – so watch if you have wire cage.
  • Self-anointing is another hedgehog’s trademark. When animal smells or tastes something new or tasty, as result will produce large quantities of frothy saliva. Then hog spreads the foam over own spines by flicking it with its tongue.


  • When thinking about Hedgehog Housing, bear in mind that hedgehogs should be housed individually.
  • They don’t enjoy socialising with other animals and when housed with them, fights can break out.
  • There needs to be a lot of space in your Hedgehog House (ideally at least 4 square feet cage floor space) to explore but you shouldn’t let them run loose in your home without supervision.
  • They can climb well and are escape artists. If they live in a wire cage or have a wire exercise wheel, they can really injure or break their little feet.
  • Hedgehogs need plenty of ventilation but to be kept out of drafts and direct sunlight.
  • The best home for your little guy is a Vivarium or Zoozone2


  • Pelleted bedding is great for hedgehogs as does highly absorbent, many people use Finacard which is a shredded card.
  • Fleece liners are the preferred choice for most owners they are soft and nice to walk on and can be removed and cleaned regularly, always good to have at least 3 liners.
  • Hedgehogs have sensitive skin, when they have contact with moist or soiled bedding they can get dermatitis and infections.
  • You need to clean your hog’s environment at least once a week and spot clean soiled areas daily.
  • Don’t use sawdust as it can lead to infections, respiratory problems and blindness.


  • A Hedgehog’s staple diet should be mostly dry cat biscuits.
  • You can buy hedgehog foods in some pet shops and supermarkets but this type of food is not suitable for African Pygmy Hedgehogs, it is for wild hedgehogs, and because of this it is high in fat.
  • Many hedgehog owners buy high protein cat kibble food and mix 5 different types together.
  • When you’re choosing food for your hog you should firstly ask the breeder what they have been feeding. It’s a big change for a hedgehog to move away from its family and environment, so when it comes to you it is a good idea to give it the food it knows to try and keep a little normality in its life and reduce stress.
  • Once you know your hog is happy and comfortable around you, you can then start looking at other types of biscuits to feed it.
  • As hedgehogs are insectivores and require both biscuit and insects daily, hog will be delighted to be treated with mealworms and crickets.
  • If you do make a little meal for your pet, don’t leave it out long enough for it to go off and give your pet to get food poisoning.


  • Your hedgehog is originally from Africa and requires additional heating, they will be happy living in temperatures of 24-29C, this temperature is too hot for us but perfect for hog’s.
  • They are very sensitive to temperature extremes and high humidity.
  • Don’t put your hog’s home near a fireplace, heater or direct sunlight.
  • Or in a drafty area.
  • Don’t let it hibernate, ever! They are not physically equipped to deal with this and it can be fatal.


  • Hedgehogs are not a good choice of pet for young children, by nature, hogs are most active in the evening and middle of the night.
  • Most young children are in bed before the average hog is thinking of getting up and come morning when the child is getting up your hog has already gone to bed.
  • Some hedgehog’s can be woken up during the day for short periods of time but are often grumpy.
  • Hedgehogs are quiet shy little animals that startle easily. Young children just by being their exuberant active selves don’t usually have the patience required to enjoy a hedgehog as a pet.
  • Hedgehogs do make wonderful entertaining pets, but you have to put the time and patients in to achieve this.
  • It is a wonderful feeling being able to pick your once grumpy hog out of its bed and cuddle it without him or her balling up and huffing at you.
  • They can be very entertaining pets, but like everything else, you only get out what you put in and the same is true for hedgehogs.

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Hedgehogs are unlikely to be a cause of an allergic reaction, but it is possible. Hedgehogs produce minimal dander, which is the usual trigger for animal allergies. Being mammals they do have dander and sometimes with their excessively dry skin it can become an issue. The hedgehog dander causing any sort of reaction would be rare and other options more plausible. A more likely allergic reaction would be from the hedgehog’s quills having been contaminated with an allergen such as bedding, faeces, urine, or saliva. As with felines, hedgehog saliva dries on their skin and quills, trapping particles of food and germs which easily become airborne or rub off on other objects resulting in hives, rash, and autoimmune reactions.

Allergies can and do develop suddenly. The human body can become suddenly intolerant to a substance and result in a reaction that us at least uncomfortable and unpleasant and at worst anaphylactic.

Treatment includes hygiene of both owner and hog. Washing your hands before and after handling will keep irritants minimal. Bathing the hog will remove allergens including saliva that produce reactions. Bedding cleanliness is key, fincard/carefresh needs regular spot cleaning with weekly clearing and wiping of surfaces, fleece changing and washing with non biological washing powder is recommended. If the wheel is washed daily this will prevent excrement and unrine falling onto your pet and footbaths minimize dirty nails and feet.

Anything can cause an allergy, mammals have dander which is a known allergen. Piriton or other antihistamine can reduce reactions and allergies with good hygiene.

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Hedgehogs have a unique and fascinating ability to smear frothy saliva on various parts of their body referred to as self anointing. This talent is demonstrated even before they open their eyes.

Anointing is often induced by unusual or new scents to hedgehogs. Often younger hedgehogs anoint more than well socialized older hedgehogs. Upon finding an item of interest the hedgehog becomes curious, sniffing and licking the object rapidly, producing froth and often biting to gain more of the object’s flavour. After working the saliva to a lather the hedgehog will contort their body to spread and deposit the new smell.

Reasons behind anointing are unknown but speculation is to camouflage with new smells, remember the new experience. Another theory is because they are resistant to toxins in their environment the anointing process helps spread toxins as defence mechanism and enhancing their resistance to new toxins. A final idea is hedgehogs adorn the scent by anointing like we wear Cologne or perfume.

It is interesting to speculate the drive behind this instinct and behaviour, but even better to watch your pet exhibit anointing and finding new experiences for you and your pet.

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Behaviour And Personalities

Hedgehogs can have various modes and personalities. Some are very friendly and curious while others can be grumpy and ball or even bite. You can influence your head child’s personality in various ways but sometimes hedgehogs are just born and stay grumpy.

One way to positively influence your hedgehogs mood is to keep it on a regular schedule. Handling and feeding at a set time in today while cleaning at a set time each day can help your hedgehog become more friendly. Using a bonding bag while doing chores or other household so cities can help your hedgehog become used to different sounds and movements within the environment. Placing a well worn and smelly article of clothing such as a T-shirt or a pillowcase with in their cage can also allow the hedgehog to become used to your smell and bond with you. It is recommended at least half an hour or 45 minutes a day to spend with each hedgehog alone will increase their friendliness and bonding. Some people are for treats while handling although this is not advised for biting hedgehogs. Playpens can also be used to encourage free roaming while you get on with other things within the house and allowed them to get used to different noises. Some people use ball pits others use the wired playpens to enclose and maintain safety. Another option is an extra large exercise ball available on Amazon and eBay.

Quilling and hormonal changes as well as severe adjustments in the environment such as moving home room or cage can impact your hedgehogs mood. It is important when your hedgehog becomes stressed that you remain calm and continue their schedule while handling gently and patiently. Use of lap blankets or T-shirts while handling a grump your hedgehog can ease the pain of the quills and comfort both you and your hedgehog. It is important to remain calm and continue handling a grumpy hedgehog especially after a tantrum or biting incident. Hedgehogs are naturally antisocial solitary creatures and would prefer to be left alone in their cage although this will not improve their mood or socialisation being left alone.

The ideal times to handle your hedgehog as they are nocturnal creatures are early hours of the morning one later in the evening. Waking your hedgehog to handle means that they will need time to arouse from the sleeping state to interact with you pleasantly. Handling a grumpy hedgehog can be difficult but it is necessary in order to improve their social station and mood as well as bonding. When picking up your hedgehog cup both hands underneath the hedgehog or use the blanket to come and pick them up. Scruffing a hedgehog or grabbing them by the loose skin behind their next is not advised as it can cause discomfort and distress for the hog.

Some people advise giving photographs upon each handling session to clean dirt an exclamation from the hedgehogs feet and allow them to toilet before they are handled. A shallow foot bath with in the sink or small warm top of water can also allow the hedgehog time to wake up and become alert before interacting with you.

After each handling session it is advised that you reward your hedgehog with a treat such as mealworms or wax worms when returning to their cage. Try not to return your hedgehog immediately after a biting or a grumpy incident make sure to end it on a positive happy note.

In sticking to schedule of cleaning,feeding, handling,and ending each handling after positive experience with treats will help encourage your hedgehog to be positive and look forward to being held by you. had chance are honest creatures and always show their moods none of their displays are personal and not necessarily a reflection of you as an owner. Bonding with a grumpy hedgehog can be just as rewarding if not more than owning a friendly hedgehog.

Changes in personality or behaviour can also be a sign of illness or injury.

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Animals have defence mechanisms and a general rule is if they have teeth they bite. Hedgehog personalities and our reactions can be major factors in biting. Hand reared hedgehogs are known to be common biters as well as those hand fed treats such as mealworms.

A nervous or dominant hog will bite more often than confident and calm hedgehogs. If the person holding them is nervous it may show and result in being bitten. Hormones and quilling also play factors in biting.

To inhibit biting be sure you have clean unscented hands (no food or perfume) and know that if bitten it stings but the shock is worse than the incident.

If bitten some hogs clamp or repeatedly bite. Blowing on their face often releases and allows you to regain control. It is crucial to remain calm and continue handling after being bitten. Hedgehogs will repeat buying if it rewards them back into solitude.

Often people are bitten during anointing. This behaviour is when a hedgehog finds a new or unusual scent. They lick building saliva to a froth. To gain more of the taste, after licking repeatedly the hog will bite. This often shocks new owners or handlers.

Biting is natural and can be painful. It us not personal and can be dealt with calmly. Some hogs bite more than others, and even a relaxed hog can bite without warning. If bitten the area should be washed, the hog should continue to be handled to rebuild the bond and ignore the unwanted behaviour. Exotic animals have unusual behaviour.

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This document has been written to help people in making the right decisions for their hedgehogs heating and lighting need, it is not intended to be a complete guide but help in the decision making process and clear up a few common questions regarding heating and lighting

Our African Pygmy Hedgehogs have a specific light schedule and heating needs. They should be getting between 12-14 hours of light each day, and the cage should be kept at a constant 23-25° C. When they get too cold, our hedgehogs could attempt hibernation, also if they get too hot their bodies can overheat, this can be easily spotted by the site of you hedgehogs “Splat” out on the floor of the cage, for these reasons the cage should have an absolute minimum and maximum temperature of 18-28° C. Because of their original habitat, captive breeding, and other factors, our hedgehogs are not capable of successfully coming back out of hibernation, unless this is caught and treated quickly. After some time, instead of waking up when the temperature is increased, the hedgehog will die in its sleep. Make sure your hedgehog does not get cold!

A consistent light schedule is important too. This is as simple as keeping a light on during the day. This helps your hedgehogs set an “internal clock”; without it they can become disoriented and attempt hibernation, the simplest and most effective method is a time clock to turn a light on and off at specific times during the day to maintain you hedgehogs sleep pattern.

When setting up the heat requirements for your hedgehogs it is important to remember that all hedgehogs are different and some prefer a cooler temperature than other, when setting up your heating for the first time it is advised to set it to the middle setting, around 24° C, this way you can adjust up and down to suite your hedgehogs, in all fairness this process is a case of trial and error, as all hedgehogs are different.

The Basics

The African pygmy hedgehog is a hybrid of the four toed hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog, and is the most popular species of domesticated hedgehog in the world. They are not native to this country and have not acclimatised to living here, they are therefore not accustomed to the changes in temperatures that we have, they do not build up a reserve of fat for the winter and are simply not equipped to deal with hibernation.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs that are faced with cold conditions instinctively attempt to go into hibernation and if not caught quickly, will die. Too cold or too hot living conditions or and insufficient light cycle (UK winter) can all cause hibernation attempts.

Preventing hibernation and maintaining your hedgehogs environmental temperature and light conditions is absolutely critical to its life! It isn’t hard to prevent hibernation but it does take some setting up, but once set up correctly all it needs is a regular check on temperature on a daily basis, twice a day if possible.


Hedgehogs need a consistent 23-25° C (73-78°F) at all times for their health and comfort, with an absolute minimum and maximum of 18-28° C.

There are many methods that people use to keep their hedgehogs snug and warm, not all are suited to everyone or every cage type, below are the most popular 6 heating methods and the pros, cons and suitable cage types for each of them.

The best heaters to use are Ceramic Heat Emitters or Space Heaters, although these are not suited to everyone


Heating the Whole House

This basically this means that you turn your home/flat/room thermostat up to keep everything warm

Cxl18 large     small_0011724


Heats the air in the room very well


Can be very expensive and many people are not comfortable in such warm temperatures. It can also be hard to keep the temperature consistent from day to night, when things naturally get cooler, imagine working and sleeping in 23-25°C (73-78°F) temperatures. The ideal temperature for a human is 21°C (70°F), dependant on the layout of the room and the location of the heater will determine how well the heat is distributed within the room, cold spots due to poor air circulation can occur.

Suitable Cage Types:-

Suitable for all cage types

This is better suited to a large amount of cages as you can add cages without adding or changing the current heating arrangement

Space Heater

These are highly recommended for multiple cages because they heat the air well and work with all cage types. They heat the air with heat coils and fans, ceramic heaters, or are oil filled; they are placed in the room and need to be on day and night.

oil-space-heater     57c3d9d3-0ce3-4dc1-ad8d-6ce3e5988f9d


Heats the air in the whole room, they need to be thermostatically controlled to shut of the heat once it has reached the set temperature. Long life span and cheap to buy, cheaper than heating the whole house, ideal for multiple cages as one heater heats all cages, so you can add a cage without worrying about heating


They can be a fire hazard if not checked regularly, uses more energy than some other options because they are heating more than just the cage, dependant on the layout of the room and the location of the heater will determine how well the heat is distributed within the room, cold spots due to poor air circulation can occur.

Suitable Cage Types:-

Suitable for all cage types

This is better suited to a large amount of cages as you can add cages without adding or changing the current heating arrangement


Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE)

These are also highly recommended because they are simple to use, heat well, and are inexpensive to operate. The CHE screws into a lamp holder just like a light bulb, but do not produce any light; they get very hot to the touch and need to be kept out of reach of you hedgehog, needs to be controlled by a suitable thermostat, either pulse of dimming is recommended

DSC00527     DSC00524


Heats the air well, easy and inexpensive to use once set up, reliable, heats just the cage and can be individually controlled to suite the individual hedgehog needs, they last a long time, approximately 10,000 hours usage, easily replaceable


Initial setup cost is expensive, requires more parts than other options (ceramic lamp holder, thermostat, CHE), can be very costly to run if you have multiple cages


Example Costing’s and Calculations

I have a 150 watt CHE in my vivarium that is controlled by a Pulse Potential Thermostat it switches the power to the CHE for approximately 1 second in every 4 seconds (6 hours in every 24 hours). I am paying about £0.15 per Kwh for my electricity.

150watts X 6 hours = 900watts divided by 1000 = 0.9 kWh every day – Multiply by 30 days/month

0.9 kWh X 30 days = 27 kWh a month – Multiply the Kwh by the electricity cost per Kwh

27 kWh X £0.15 = £4.05 a month – Multiply this by 12 to give a yearly total

£4.05 X 12 months = £48.60 a year – Multiply this by 4 vivarium’s and you have a big bill


Suitable Cage Types:-

Suitable for most cage types, has to be used a thermostat, either Pulse Potential or Dimming

CHE’s are not recommended in plastic cages such as Zoozone2 style of cage due to the heat that they produce and the possibility of melting the plastic cage and possible fire risks involved

Always use a thermostat if you’re using a CHE

Take a look at our How to Guide on installing a CHE

The Ceramic Heat Emitter CHE

They are available in 4 different wattages 60w, 100w, 150w and 250w. They are very effective heaters for medium to larger cages with higher temperature requirements.

Precautions. Ceramic heaters operate at very high surface temperatures so caution should be exercised. Guard the heater from direct contact by both you and your animals. Use a heater of the correct wattage for the size of cage and the temperature required. A pulse proportional thermostat is the recommended controller for this heater.

Standard height     80 watt MINI

The Lamp Holder

Ceramic lamp holders are the approved holder for use with ceramic bulbs. These holders are designed to cope with the high temperatures these heaters attain.  They can also be purchased in kit form, which come complete with a silicon cable and plug.

Please Note, not all ceramic lamp holders are suitable for fixing into a vivarium the pre-wired one shown below will cause problems with fixings as it does not come with a fixing method and are designed to hang from the cable which makes them unstable and hang too low in the cage, they are designed for taller reptile cages and NOT vivarium’s, the one on the left has holes in the base to mount directly to a vivarium ceiling

E27 Bulb Holder_small      eurorep_ceramic_bulb_holder

The Ceramic Heat Guard

Made for use with ceramic bulbs this guard will shield the 60w, 100w, 150w and 250w type heaters. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the pendant type ceramic holder. Manufactured from 1mm thick perforated steel, they are easily fitted, not only providing a safe environment but enhancing the appearance of your vivarium, they are not suited to hedgehog vivarium’s as the CHE should be mounted in such a position that they cannot come into contact with the lamp

IMG_0487      WireGuardWithScreen

Electric Heat Mats

A heat mat is generally used to provide heat to a cages sleeping area, unless a suitably sized heat mat is used, one that covers most of the base of the cage, it will not provide sufficient heat to keep the hedgehogs at the required temperature, it will heat the floor but not the whole cage. These are best used under sleeping areas for additional heat. As long as they don’t get too hot, they can be placed under the cage (preferably wrapped in a towel/blanket) unless they are fleece covered. Most require a separate thermostat but some do contain internal pre-set thermostats, care should be taken when choosing your heat mat

41iJ6QvazRL._SX450_     algarde-vivarium-heat-mat


Great for older or needier hedgehogs for extra warmth, some are 12volt and can be used in a car for transportation home or to the vets


May get too hot (which would require a mat thermostat to keep at a constant lower temperature), some have internal thermostats that keep them to a safe temperature, a bit like a heated blanket, but others can be a fire hazard, they do not heat the whole cage properly

If a mat goes faulty or you do not use a mat thermostat you are taking the risk

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Figure 1 – Picture care of Joanne Sharman

The above picture shows a melted mat and vivarium base, it was caused by a faulty batch of heat mats, fortunately the supplier was aware that there may be a problem but unfortunately failed to contact the end user. This goes to show what could happen when they go faulty, or if not fitted with a mat stat. The fumes from melting plastic are more dangerous than the heat or the smoke (luckily no hogs were injured)

Heat mats with internal thermostats generally maintain a safe working temperature of 20° C (25° F)


Example Costing’s and Calculations

I have a 15 watt Petnap vinyl heat mat in my vivarium that is controlled by its own internal thermostat (it is constantly switching itself on and off, but is on for approximately 20 hours in every 24 hours). I am paying about £0.15 per Kwh for my electricity.

15watts X 20 hours = 300watts divided by 1000 = 0.3 kWh every day – Multiply by 30 days/month

0.3 kWh X 30 days = 9 kWh a month – Multiply the Kwh by the electricity cost per Kwh

9 kWh X £0.15 = £1.35 a month – Multiply this by 12 to give a yearly total

£1.35 X 12 months = £16.20 a year – Multiply this by 4 vivarium’s and you will pay £64.80

Suitable Cage Types:-

Ones with bottoms that will not be affected by the heat underneath, if it contains an internal thermostat then it is suitable to be used in a plastic cage as well as a wooden cage

Positioning the Thermostat Probe

When controlling heat mats and strips, the probe should be safely hot glued or fixed to the surface of the mat. You will then be controlling the surface temperature of the mat. A little investigation may be necessary to establish the temperature in the snake boxes that are sitting on the mat or strip.

Once set this should remain a constant.

We find that the Pulse proportional thermostat is a very effective controller as the mat remains warm for most of the time, providing the hedgehog with a warm area.

Suitable Heat Mats

Not all heat mats are suitable for indoor vivarium’s or cages


Figure 2 – Petnap Metal Flexguard 33 heat mat

The Metal Flexiguard 33 heat pad does NOT have an internal thermostat. This is because the primary application for these units is for outdoor kennels, catteries and rescue centres where the units are used in undercover spaces in all weathers.

The temperature the units reach depends largely on the ambient temperature they are used in and the amount of insulation placed on top of them. The higher the ambient and the thicker the insulation the hotter the plates will get, if not controlled they will get too hot for your hedgehog.


Tubular Heaters

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Tubular heaters or commonly called green house heaters are a great heat source for the even distribution of heat in larger, lengthier enclosures, allowing you to save money and give your reptile the perfect heat, all year round.

There are specific heaters made from reptile-safe materials, these tubular reptile heaters need to be run with a Pulsing thermostat, as they need to be closely monitored to ensure the right temperature.

To allow your hedgehogs metabolic function to perform at its best, your hedgehogs’s enclosure needs to be heated to the temperature that is best for your specific hedgehog, and doing this in larger vivarium’s (e.g. over 3-4 feet in length) can be difficult and expensive when using conventional heating.

Tubular heaters act like a large, rigid heat cable in your vivarium, allowing a radiating heat to be passed all the way along the back of the enclosure or at the sides, making them especially useful when it comes to winter – guaranteed to be a season that your hedgehog is not biologically adapted for.


Simple to install, hot to the touch but not hot enough to cause burns with accidental contact, give good all round heat, cheap to buy


They are relatively long and bulky

Suitable Cage Types:-

Suitable for all cage types



Microwavable Heat Mats

A heating pad is recommended only to provide additional heat to the cage; it does not heat all of it. These are best used under sleeping areas for additional heat. As long as they don’t get too hot, they can be placed on the cage floor wrapped in a towel/blanket, most come with a fleece cover

hedgehog-heater-     SONY DSC

If you are good with making things than you can always make your own microwavable heat mat of any size that suits your needs

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Great for older or needier hedgehogs for extra warmth, can be used in a car for transportation home or to the vets or even taken on a bus, great for emergencies and carrying around


They don’t heat the whole cage properly, the documentation states that they will retain their heat for 10 hours but realistically you well get between 6 to 8 hours of suitable heat from them and this depends on other factors. You will need to regularly reheat them to keep you cage warm

Suitable Cage Types:-

Suitable for most cage types but has to be ones with bottoms that will not be affected by the heat underneath

Take a look at our How to Guide on making your own Microwavable heat pad

Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottles are only suitable for emergency or short term use, they should be filled with warm water but not boiling and not over filled just so it’s lays flat, all of the bottle should be covered by a fleece or towel to prevent burns and distribute the heat better.

Hot Water Bottles


Ideal for emergency use and providing additional heating on a short term basis only, they can be filled from a kettle or saucepan from a gas hob, so they do not require electricity. They are not a specialist item and can be purchased from a number of shops; they are also regularly kept in most homes, they pose no fire risk.


They have to be regularly emptied and refilled. If left in for a long period, they draw out heat from the environment; only provide about 3 hours of heat but remain tepid for up to 8 hour, they can get very hot.

Suitable Cage Types:-

Suitable for all cage types, also suitable for travelling and carry cases




The power indicator will shine whenever power is applied to the unit and the heat indicator will shine whenever power is being supplied to the heater, the heat indicator will therefore not be illuminated all the time, it will continually pulse on and off, the longer it is on the more heat will be produced, the longer it is off the less heat will be produced, if the heat indication is permanently on or off, then this indicates that there is a problem with the heating or that the cage has been left open for a long period and the heat has escaped or that the CHE has failed, some also have a third indication for Alarm

  • Power – This should be illuminated all the time
  • Heat – This will pulse dependant on the heat requirement
  • Alarm – This this will only indicate if there is a fault with the CHE or the unit (not always fitted)


1463     microclimate-b1dimmer-stat710

Proportional (Pulse and Dimming)

The other way is called proportional. This is a more effective way of controlling heaters as they are rarely full on and rarely completely off. Just enough power is supplied to the heater to maintain the set temperature.

The two examples of proportional thermostats are the Pulse Proportional and the Dimming Thermostat, both are suitable for CHE’s.

download     dimmerstat

The on/off Thermostat or Mat Stat

The Mat Stat is an on/ off switching device, that can be used with a variety of heaters. Ideal for controlling heat mats, and other low powered heaters up a maximum load of 100 watts, this thermostat is not suitable for controlling light bulbs.


The Pulse Proportional Thermostat

The sophisticated pulse proportional thermostat is ideal for controlling higher power ceramic heaters and for heat mats, where constant warmth and not an on/off cycle is required. The function of this thermostat is far more sophisticated than the simpler on/off switching devices. It will very accurately control heaters and has a maximum load of 600 watts (dependant on manufacturer). A normal thermostat switches a heater on full power until the set temperature is achieved. It then switches the heater off completely until the temperature drops below the set value, when the cycle starts over again. The gap between the heater being switched on and then off is called hysteresis. It is between these points that the accuracy of the controller is assessed. The pulse proportional thermostat pulses electricity to the heater all the time, resulting in constant and very accurately managed warmth.

1463     download

The Dimming Thermostat

The sophisticated Dimming thermostat is designed specifically for controlling light bulbs. The Dimming thermostat is one of the most accurate methods of temperature control and whilst it is perfect for controlling light bulbs, it can be used on almost any heaters. Unlike other thermostats, it does require a minimum load of 40 watts. This is the only thermostat we recommend for use with incandescent light bulbs. It uses the latest technology and operates in a manner similar to the Pulse proportional thermostat. Instead of pulses of power being supplied to the heater, it is supplied with a continuous variable supply of power or voltage. In principle this has a similar effect to light dimmers or rheostats in your home.

microclimate-b1dimmer-stat710     dimmerstat

The Thermostat Probe

That depends on the layout of you cage. Most cages require warm and cool areas; this gives your hedgehog the option to move around to find the temperature it prefers at that particular time. The probe needs to be placed in relation to the heater and not directly underneath it. It would also be pointless to put the probe at the top of a cage housing ground dwelling hedgehog. This would not control the floor temperature where the hedgehog will be spending its time. It needs to be positioned at the height the hedgehog will be sleeping, eating and playing.



thermo1      Thermostat_Diagram

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Our African Pygmy Hedgehogs have a specific light schedule and heating needs. They should be getting between 12-14 hours of light each day, and the cage should be kept at a constant 23-25° C. When they get too cold, our hoggie could attempt hibernation. Because of their original habitat, captive breeding, and other factors, our hoggies are not capable of successfully coming back out of hibernation, unless this is caught and treated quickly. After some time, instead of waking up when the temperature is increased, the hoggie will die in its sleep. Make sure your hedgehog does not get cold!

A consistent light schedule is important too. This is as simple as keeping a light on during the day. This helps your hoggie set an “internal clock”; without it they can become disoriented and attempt hibernation, the simplest and most effective method is a time clock to turn a light on and off at specific times during the day to maintain you hoggies sleep pattern.

The African pygmy hedgehog is a hybrid of the four toed hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog, and is the most popular species of domesticated hedgehog in the world. They are not native to this country and have not acclimatised to living here, they are therefore not accustomed to the changes in temperatures that we have, they do not build up a reserve of fat for the winter and are simply not equipped to deal with hibernation.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs that are faced with cold conditions instinctively attempt to go into hibernation and if not caught quickly, will die. Too cold or too hot living conditions or and insufficient light cycle (UK winter) can all cause hibernation attempts.

Preventing hibernation and maintaining your hoggies environmental temperature and light conditions is absolutely critical to its life! It isn’t hard to prevent hibernation but it does take some setting up, but once set up correctly all it needs is a regular check on temperature on a daily basis, twice a day if possible.

Hedgehogs need a light cycle of between 12 to 14 hours of light a day, this is to balance their internal clock, yes African Pygmy Hedgehogs get Jet Lag too  the daylight lighting change can throw a hedgehog off as it does ourselves when traveling abroad, we can get sick if the sun doesn’t rise and set at the same time each day, the same is true for hoggies.

A suitable lighting setup can be as simple as a desk lamp or even a room lamp; it can also be a more specialised reptile light and a timer.

Some owners choose to turn the light on and off at the same time each day, once you have a system going it’s easy to follow it, but it is easy to forget. You can set a timer to be on for a period of the day from 7am to 9pm, it doesn’t need to be on constantly only from 7am to 10am and then from 4pm to 9pm and plug a desk lamp into the timer

You can also install lighting to your Vivarium’s, I have used an LED strip that can be cut to any length and joined if needed, it is water proof so can be wiped down, it is also low voltage and low wattage, so the running costs are minimal

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Other Pets And Hedgehogs

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The unique feature of our African Pygmy Hedgehogs is the quills. Anywhere in an average range of 5000 to 7000 can be found on a healthy pet. Made up of air pocket filled keratin, this strange hair follicle provides defence and cushion from falls.

Hedgehogs are born with quills beneath the skin that emerge with hours. These first quills are shed during quilling at eight weeks to six months and possibly again at a year. Adult quills fall out after a year but not as frequently as baby quills.

At the base beneath the skin is a ball shaped follicle to keep the lightweight spine anchored. Following up are a network of air chambers that strengthen the quill and maintain the light weight. Finally the sharp point is straight and sharp but bears no poison or barb, it remains with the hedgehog and is only harmful if attacked.

Hedgehogs have been known in the wild to use their spines to kill snakes using their quills. They bite and hold their victim and puncture them with their visor of quills.

The strong quills help hedgehogs in the wild with climbing down. Generally they can get to a height but struggle with poor depth perception and ball to fall down. The unique structure of air chambers and erect ball cushions the fall up to 20 feet.

In order to ball the hedgehog has the orbicularis muscle, which runs along the edge of its body which it tightens like a drawstring to curl up. This ball defense hides the vulnerable face, legs, tail, and underbelly in a spine fortress.

The quills like human hair come in a range of colour from black to white. Caring for them should be done in a tepid bath no more than weekly using mild wash and a toothbrush. Spot cleaning can be done using unscented baby wipes.

Excessive quill loss can require a vet visit to find the underlying cause. Your pet may have a bacterial, fungal, or parasite that needs prompt attention.

Some keep lost quills in a locket or jar. Otherwise people find quills in carpet and bedding as an unfortunate surprise. These tough unique hairs are remarkable even if we find them painful.

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Caring for Hedgehogs


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Bathing Your APH Hedgehog

Your hedgehog will require regular baths to maintain hygiene and reduce smells. Most owners give hedgehog a bath in a sink or a bathtub but some prefer to use a special bowl or baby bath. It is important to maintain a baby temperature so your hog remains comfortable and safe. Using your elbow or underside of your wrist is a good way to test the temperature. Hedgehogs may relieve themselves in the bath so cleaning the bath area after your hedgehog is finished will be essential. Some hedgehogs enjoy swimming and prefer the bathtub or fuller water area. Despite being avid swimmers you should never leave your pet unattended for safety.

Bathing is done on a regular basis and should be part of your care routine, hedgehogs vary in the need, some have parties and use their wheel for toilet showers, others anoint with smelly and colourful items, each hedgehog is unique and you will learn your hog’s needs in time. Bathing can be done too often causing excessively dry skin.

You may choose to follow what most exotic vets advise and use just water but many opt for mild soap or products to help in cleaning and soothing skin. Remember your hog is an individual and their skin needs monitoring for signs of irritation to products. A home-made oatmeal soak can be used by placing a handful of oatmeal in muslin or tights and dredging it under the warm, running water and squish the oatmeal to release the milky coloured emollients into the bath water. These are great for quilling and dry skin. Most tear-free baby shampoos are safe to use on your hedgehog.

Aveeno, oatmeal or baby shampoo are a top choice in store bought products. Remember less than a pea size of your chosen product on a soft bristle toothbrush will clean your pet. The toothbrush will clean any mess off feet, quills, bellies, and get down to their skin. Be sure to rinse all product off your hedgehog to keep skin fresh and irritant free.

Your pet will need at least half an hour in a towel to dry off and ensure there is no catching a draft. Temperature monitoring is important to prevent illness and hibernation attempts that can be scary at minimum and dangerous.

After a bath and nail trim owners hydrate their hog with humilac spray or coconut oil. Sparingly is key to avoid fungus and infection. Less tends to be more. Additionally some owners have used flaxseed oil capsules cut open on the skin and on food to treat dryness. When in doubt of normal dry skin please visit your exotic vet for advice.

Bathing your APH Hedgehog is a good way to bond with them

Never bath a hedgehogs that you suspect could be attempting hibernation.

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Bedding And Liners

When it comes to lining your cage or vivarium there’s no right answer but several to avoid. Despite manufacturer labels not every small animal product is safe to use for your hedgehog, not all vets advice will determine or be accurate in terms of safety. You need to research and be comfortable with your choices. Some helpful hints are to make a pro and con or benefit and danger evaluation list. Some factors to consider when weighing your options include: accessibility (how and where to buy), dangers to health, appearance, frequency of cleaning, and expense. The choice of bedding used can influence the health and happiness of your pet. A majority of wood, paper, or other processed bedding can be dusty with the chance of parasites such as mites. Fincard, paper pellets and carefresh are two trusted brands by hog owners. If using a disposable substrate you can reduce or eliminate chances of mites by freezing materials for at least 24 hours. Cedar and pine are not advised as the risks to hedgehogs include irritation and quill loss, some hogs have damaged eyes and paws in wooden shavings.

Carefresh and lighter options may embed in your hedgehog’s quills, become stick during boy time and cause a mess over the floor posing are hazard to your hoover. Owners avoiding deodorised bedding or bedding with chemicals as hedgehogs sensitive skin, eyes and allergies can be irritated. A thick layer of substrate can provide space to scoop under your hedgehog when removing them from their cage and provides the chance for your pet to practice their instincts of burrowing.

Many owners use fleece or fabric liners. Many work at home makers make them to measure and with your choice in fabric with accessories to match. Owners on a budget choose poundland or primary fleece blankets and remove any stitching that can catch toes or quills. The downside to fabric and fleece is required washing. If your hog is litter trained it may be as few as once a week changing a liner but messier hogs require frequent changes and washing.

When washing fleece it is best to use natural or non biological washing powder options. Bicarbonate soda in the powder tray, or white vinegar work well and are safe to use. Fragrant options such as fairy can irritate your hog and cause skin rash.

Never use tea tree oil or Eucalyptus as they are known allergens to hogs.

It us up to you to decide the best option for your pet. African Pygmy Hedgehogs are unique and in owning more than one you.may have several different types in use.

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African Pygmy Hedgehogs have specific requirements for living quarters. Solitary creatures should be kept alone to prevent injury or fighting.

The minimum size of cage is 36 inches long by 18 inches wide and 18 inches high. Bigger allows more room for play and activities, the preferred size is 48 inches long by 18 inches wide & 18 inches high.


Vivarium’s are popular because they maintain heat and are easy to clean with easy viewing and access. The precautions are ensuring your viv is sealed as wood can harbour mites and smells, also a lick or wedge for the doors as some hogs are escape artists.Zoozone2

Zoozone 2 extra large is only available in blue and can home your pet hedgehog. The only drawback is che can and have melted plastic sides and wheels. The heating mat tends to be the choice for temperature control used with a thermostat and thermometer.

RabitCageAnother option is indoor rabbit hutch with plastic base. These are great for ventilation but can require minimum modifications. With airflow being open the heating source may require more than one source at each end of the unit. Also some hogs will require anti climbing measures with the wire sides. They may climb but falling can lead to injury. Owners have used chloroplast and bumper pads from cots to discourage climbing. All lower bars must be covered for prevention of climbing and injury.

C&C cages have gained popularity through the ability to adjust shape and stack them for multiple hogs. Guinea pig owners have numerous designs and sources out for creating these structures. Ensure the base is solid and easily cleaned. Chloroplast is a popular choice for the base and as climbing prevention. Like the rabbit cage the need for multiple heat sources may arise with this free flow air design. You can buy c&c materials online or at your storage solutions outlets.

Zoozone1There is also a Zoozone 1, which is available in blue and pink, this size of cage is not suitable for hedgehogs, the colour and the single clip on the top is an easy give-away to its type

People have converted hutches and ferret nation cages for their hedgehogs. The bases require solid sealed floors. Wire can injure delicate hedgehog feet and toes. Ramps for multiple levels need barriers or sides to prevent falls. Hedgehogs are known to misjudge depth with poor eyesight and ramps help keep them safe.

Things to avoid are wire flooring, limited airflow, gaps your pet can become stuck or escape through, anything smaller than 36x18x18. Exposed lower level bars-cover them to prevent climbing.

vivalargebeechplantMany second hand homes are affordable on selling sites and new ones online. Check for voucher codes and reputation. Swell reptiles is well known for customer service and affordability for new equipment. A 48x18x18 can be found for £50-60 and free shipping.

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Daily Care Routine

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Main Ingredient

Protein %

Fat %

Advanced Nutrition Chicken 32.0% 9.0%
Almo Holistic Chicken Meat Meal 31.0% 15.0%
Arden Grange Light Chicken Meal 30.0% 11.0%
Bozita Feline Indoor Chicken 32.0% 14.0%
Go Cat Cereal 35.0% 10.0%
Hills Mature Chicken 34.5% 10.3%
Hills Young Adult Chicken 34.5% 11.7%
Iams Light Chicken 28.0% 11.2%
Iams Proactive Dried Chicken/Turkey 28.0% 11.0%
James Welbeloved Light Turkey 34.0% 10.5%
James Welbeloved Senior Turkey Meat Meal 29.0% 12.0%
Joe and Jill Chicken 28.0% 16.0%
Purely Adult Poultry Meat Meal 28.0% 15.0%
Purina One Light Chicken 37.0% 9.5%
Purina One Natural Balance Chicken 34.0% 14.0%
Purina Pro Plan House Cat Chicken 36.0% 14.0%
Purina Pro Plan Light Turkey 38.0% 9.0%
Royal Canin Light 40 Poultry Meal 40.0% 10.0%
Sanabelle Adult Poultry Meal 31.0% 16.0%
Sanabelle Light Poultry Meal 29.0% 9.5%
Science Plan Light Chicken 33.9% 9.3%
Tesco Cereal 30.0% 10.0%
Whiskers Cereal 32.0% 12.5%

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Litter Training

Similar to rabbits and cats hedgehogs may train to use a litter tray. As a hybrid of wild species bred for domestic pets they retain some of their instincts. One instinct is to get away from their excrement. The optimal position for the tray relating to this instinct is beneath their wheel. This allows the urine and feeces to be caught by the litter tray and encourages further use of this area for toileting.

Setup of a litter tray is varied. Ideally the tray is bigger than the wheel with less than 1/2 inch sides to enable the hog to easily access the area (kitten tray or small roasting pan).

Substrate material for the litter can be sheets of kitchen roll, puppy training pad, paper pellets, carefresh, or fincard. The litter material is best different than your lining to the setup (if you have carefresh base then litter tray should not be carefresh). Some tips if using kitchen roll or puppy pads are to use bulldog clips to secure these and inhibit diving.

Begin training your pet with the ideal setup as soon and young as possible. In the litter tray place feeces that you find when spot cleaning. If you wake your hog place them in their tray allowing them to use it before play time. Cleaning the wheel daily will benefit the process and minimizes poo boots. Keeping the remainder of the cage clean will allow your hog to learn the best place to toilet. Clean the tray regularly to avoid health issues and maintain hygiene.

Not all hogs will litter train and some will take longer than others to get the idea. It has been reported that after two years a hedgehog litter trained happily. There’s no reason to the formula for litter training but with patience and encouragement it can happen.

A foot bath before handling your hog can also encourage toileting and removes poop boots. Just a shallow sink of warm water and five minutes letting your hog paddle will relax them and wash away unwanted leftovers.

It is a literal crap shoot teaching your exotic pet to use the litter tray. Hopefully these tips and ideas provide extra luck in your process.

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Nail Trimming

It is important for you to know how to trim your pet’s nails for safety and hygiene. Hedgehog’s nails are relatively clear but vary with their skin tones and within the nail is a quick which is the blood flow. Your hog may require the nails trimmed more frequently than other hogs (weekly) but some hedgehogs wear their nails down during their play so it is necessary for you to monitor growth. More often trimming is better than try to get long nails under control.

Nails that are too long can curl under or upwards and damage even deform the foot, restrict ability to walk or run, and may increase the risk of infection. The best time to check nails in the foot bath or while your hog interacts with you. Holding them in a ball position on their back can allow you to do a check.

To cut the nails you will need either nail clippers for humans, some prefer baby ones, or small animal nail cutters. It is best to trim after a bath as it removes dirt and faeces as well as softening the nails. A bath can also calm a hedgehog. Some owners fond it best to cut the nails in the bath, this prevents balling and biting as your pet is in the water.

Some have a tag team method where one person holds the hedgehog and the other cuts each nail. Letting a foot fall out of the holding person’s hand the cutter grabs this foot firmly but carefully and cuts just to the quick.

Others put their pet on a wire rack or tennis racket allowing one foot to drop through while your hog is treated to some food and maintains balance the distraction allows quick one person cutting. Just switch feet through the gap and trim away. Some tip the device at an angle exposing the nails for easier trims.

Another possibility is to use your finger like a hook while your hog is exploring a flat surface, eating treats, or burying their head from the experience. Curling your index finger while the hog is on a smooth flat surface you can get back feet easily and firmly hold to cut each nail. Front ones require a bit more trust and patience with this method but with repeated routines and time it does get easier.

Sometimes you will catch the quick and your pet may bleed. It happens and if minor just put some flour/water paste to stop the bleeding or sudocream. To reward your pet after can rebuild trust. Always end on a positive and remember you cut nails because you are a caring owner.

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Live Food

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Safe Foods

  • Apple
  • Asparagus
  • Baby Food (all flavours)
  • Banana
  • Beef (lean minced)
  • Steak (cut up very small)
  • Bell Peppers
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Butternut Squash
  • Carrot
  • Cauliflower
  • Rice (small amount)
  • Pasta (small amount)
  • Celery
  • Chicken
  • Cucumber
  • Eggs (scrambled or boiled)
  • Fish (See additional notes)
  • Green Beans
  • Green Peppers
  • Honeydew Melon
  • Kiwi
  • Lamb
  • Peach
  • Pear
  • Peas
  • Plum
  • Potato (Boiled)
  • Pumpkin
  • Raspberries
  • Spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Strawberries
  • Swede
  • Sweet Potato
  • Sweetcorn
  • Turkey
  • Turnip
  • Watermelon
  • Pheasant
  • Kidney (very small amount)
  • Mango
  • Melon

Dangerous Foods

  • Avocados
  • Butter
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Cream
  • Dairy Products
  • Dried Fruit (choking hazard)
  • Fish (See additional notes)
  • Garlic
  • Grapefruit
  • Grapes
  • Insects (house or garden)
  • Lemons
  • Limes
  • Milk
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Peanuts
  • Pineapple
  • Pork (it is high in salt)
  • Processed Foods
  • Raw Meat
  • Raisins
  • Rhubarb Leaves
  • Seeds
  • Sunflower Seeds



  • Black Crickets
  • Brown House Crickets
  • Butter Worms
  • Dubia Roaches
  • Grasshoppers
  • Locusts
  • Mealworms
  • Morio Worms
  • Silent Brown Crickets
  • Silk Worms
  • Wax Worms


Not all fish is bad for your APH but it is advised that fish should only be used with caution, APH’s are rumoured to struggle to digest fish but this has not been proven categorically what is known is that foods containing unnamed fish produces can contain shellfish, which has a high probability of causing an allergic reaction

This is what we learned recently after researching it and asking about feeding fish by people in America etc. we were told that salmon is the only really safe fish for APH’s and any of the larger fish are particularly harmful like Tuna. Sardines and Mackerel were also ok but as Omega 3 oils are available from other sources like flaxseed we don’t even need to risk our babies.

From a human perspective, allergy to fish affects about 1 in 200 people, while allergy to shellfish (for example, prawns and crabs) is more common, affecting about 1 in 100 people.

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Hedgehogs are curious and playful by nature. They push, pull, drag, bite and cuddle objects. Like children, they find amusement in simplicity although many owners enjoy investing money in complex toys. Environmental enrichment is essential for the health and well-being of our pets. It stimulates their senses and aids them to maintain activity which benefits both their mind and body. When choosing toys keep safety and sensory as priority.

Cardboard boxes and containers are basic hideouts. Ensure edges are rounded to avoid injury and holes are at least four inches big to prevent trapping your pet. Boxes are disposable so no cleaning required but some escape artists climb on the tops to adventure out. Hedgehogs sleep in burrows or other dark places in the wild and as pets it is beneficial to have a warm and comfortable place to sleep. Hideouts should have an entrance and an exit (tunnel) or it should be large enough for the hedgehog to turn around. Hedgehogs usually turn around rather than back out of a tight spot.

A popular choice to buy for hiding is an igloo. Igloos made from hard plastic are another toy addition. The cave like structure allows the hedgehog to feel safe and hidden. Plastic igloos are easy to clean and sanitize. Some find getting a hedgehog out of an enclosed igloo difficult so a solution is to put the cuddle sack inside the igloo for your hedgehog.

Large diameter PVC pipes can be purchased at most hardware stores. Thoroughly wash each piece and make shore there are no sharp edges on the pipe. Pipes can be easily cleaned and connecting several pieces makes a lengthy tunnel. The biggest disadvantage of PVC pipes is that it is difficult to get your hedgehog out of the without “dumping” them. Most PVC pipes are not large enough to allow your hand to slip inside to lift the hedgehog out.

There are various wooden shelters and boxes available for pets. Hedgehogs aren’t known for chewing but may bite on the wood. Most owners seal wood to make it cleaner and easier to sanitize. Contaminated wood can harbour bacteria that can make your hedgehog sick, also mites live in wood. If you paint and seal your wood please allow it to be odour free before placing it in with your hog. The same ideals apply with size of entrance, rounded edges, ability to turn around, and escaping to cardboard boxes.

Kitchen roll and toilet roll tubes are the cheapest and most popular hedgehog toys. Occasionally a hedgehog will burrow their head so far in the tube that its head may become stuck. To prevent this problem cut the tube the full length prior to giving as a toy. Some owners cut the tube in half width ways as well. The cut is a safety measure preventing breathing obstruction and allowing it to come off with ease.

Some hedgehogs enjoy playing with ping pong balls, lattice bird or cat balls, or small balls with bells inside. Make sure the balls are sturdy and not easily chewed or damaged. Also beware tiny toes and nails become trapped or damaged in holes. Another version of the plastic ball is a ferret treat ball. As the hedgehog pushes around the ball a treat will come out.

Some hedgehogs are known to have taken a shine to stuffed animals and plush cat toys. Plush animals are best the same size as your hedgehog or smaller. Your hedgehog may simply ignore the stuffed animal or you may see your hedgehog snuggling with it in its hedgehog hideout. Be sure to check for damage such as holes and loose threads as these are safety concerns. Always wash or replace a soiled stuffed animal.

Another option is a small plastic car or truck to push or drag around your hedgehog’s cage. Make sure the vehicle has no detachable parts or sharp edges that could harm or injure your hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are very active and need lots of exercise to avoid becoming obese in captivity. A quick and inexpensive dig box can enrich your hedgehogs environment and encourage “natural” foraging behaviour and exercise. Finding a shallow tray fill it with forage materials. These range from large glass flat marbles, fleece strips, pom poms, torn kitchen roll, and other safe material that your hog can push and dig. Keep it safe with no thread or sharp bits to prevent injury. Place treats such as mealworms and dreamies in the box. Supervision is advised and fun. Clean it after each use.

Playpens keep your pet safe while allowing them to explore. There’s a metal version for small animals. Beware clever escape artists can open, push, or climb out. Supervision is essential. Another option is a ball pit from your local supermarket or outlet store that sells toys. Another option is a padding pool. Again maintain supervision and sanitize after use.

Another cheap and cheerful toy is a fleece forest. Hedgehogs love to hide in fleece forests constructed from hanging strips of fleece. Some creative owners construct elaborate hideaways for their hogs, but not necessary. Instead, simply cut up some pieces of fleece, hang them on a grid, and put them in your hedgehog’s playpen. Most love to hang out in the dangling strips.

You can buy scraps of fleece very cheaply at a store like Hobby Craft or cut up a fleece from asda. Using a c&c square or cookie cooling rack to attach strips securely.

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About Hedgehog Wheels

Most if not all of the wheels you see in petshops and eBay are exercise toys made for hamsters and other rodents, most of these wheels are composed of a runged wheel held on a stand by stub axles. Hamster wheels allow rodents to run even when their space is confined.

Most wheels are constructed of a steel frame and a plastic wheel, both with advantages and problems. Solid plastic wheels are safer for some types of pets, such as hamsters and hedgehogs, because there are no rungs and the running surface is solid, so the animal’s feet or legs cannot get stuck between rungs.

Do I Need a Wheel?

Hedgehogs are highly active creatures at night; they will constantly run around and explore their surroundings during the night. When hedgehogs are enclosed in small cages, they will often run rampant trying to get out and explore, it is not uncommon to find a cage trashed when you get up in the morning. One easy way to combat this urge is to provide a means of running on the spot, this can be done with the aid of a wheel.

Hedgehog wheels need to be solid, or else their delicate legs can get stuck in the bars, this can lead to broken bones and claws. If there are any gaps in the wheel surface claws can also get stuck and ripped out easily. Hedgehog wheels need open on one side only. If the wheel is supported from both sides by a metal bar the hedgehog could get trapped between the bar and the support causing serious injuries.

Hedgehogs and Wheels

Most hedgehogs will use a wheel if it is given one and it is advisable that you do provide your hedgehog with a wheel. If you give your hedgehog a wheel and you don’t think that they are using it. Do not remove it thinking you are helping to make more space. Your hedgehog may not be used to it, or they may be shy and only run on it if you are not watching and it will probably be late at night or early morning when they do use it. One way to tell is if there is poo and wee on the wheel, although not all hedgehogs do this on the wheel (but most do). If you constantly have to clean the wheel, you know your hedgehog is using it and is happy.

If you do not provide your hedgehog with a wheel it may run up and down the cage back and forth constantly rubbing it’s nose against the cage and rubbing it raw. A hedgehog needs something to do and it needs to be active, running is number one on their priority list.

Toileting on the Run

When a hedgehog is running it believes it is leaving its waste behind it, it us not expecting it to come around again and again and continues to run through it. Unlike cats and dog they will not search out a quiet place to go. When a hedgehog runs it releases its bowels and urinary tract. By running the hedgehog is kick starting its metabolism and urgently needs to expel waste, this is something a hedgehog does very well.

You are more than likely going to need to clean the wheel daily and provide your hedgehog with weekly foot baths in a shallow water to remove the poo boots.

Ages for Wheeling

Hedgehogs need wheels to stay active and health as already explained, but at what age can a hedgehog start using a wheel?

Some breeders will supply their hedgehogs with a wheel for supervised play time at 6 weeks of age, any sooner than that and you can risk injuring the hoglet, this supervised play time should only be short and is not advised by some breeders.

When a hedgehog comes home at around 6-7 weeks, it should not be provided with a wheel full time until it is 12 weeks of age, as it is becoming more and more active.

If you notice your hedgehog is not being active and just sleeping, don’t be alarmed, this is normal, as hedgehogs get older they sleep less, and will begin using the wheel much more.

Mothers and Wheels

When a hedgehog becomes pregnant and reaches the 20 day mark her wheel should be removed, this is to stop them accidentally hurting the babies, or even accidentally giving birth. Removing the wheel will often cause the expectant mother to trash the cage in discussed, they are so used to expelling energy at night but without the wheel that can’t do that, its and unfortunate thing that has to be done.

After the mother has had the babies, the wheel should not be put back until the babies are weened this is to prevent the mother ignoring the babies and instead of taking care of them, using the wheel. Some mother will even pick up hoglets and put them on the wheel when she wants to run, so that she doesn’t leave them behind. This will most likely cause them to be trample on, or they could fall of the wheel and hurt themselves.

Different Types of Wheel

There are many different types of wheels available, some good, some bad and some atrocious. Below is a list of good and bad wheels for hedgehogs. Each wheel has its pros and cons, and when in doubt ask!

So what should I be looking for in a wheel.

Mesh. Wheels with mesh of any size are dangerous and can catch toenails, toes or legs. Rungs are also dangerous and can break legs.

Cross bars. These are dangerous as hedgehogs usually step off the wheel while it is still moving. The hedgehog could hit the crossbars as he steps off and cause injury. Cross bars and angled frames are especially dangerous as the animal can get trapped between the crossbar and frame as they step off.

Narrow Wheels. A running tread of at least 10cm is recommended as anything narrower than that is too difficult for a hedgehog to run on. 12.5cm or 15cm is ideal.

Centre bars. These are not advisable as the bar can hit on larger hedgehogs back as they run.

Usable wheels

Flying Saucer

pPETS-3766196t400The flying saucer wheel is a commercially made wheel and available in 3 sizes, only the large wheel should be used for Hedgehogs.

It features a flat running surface with indents that allow for grip for your hedgehog. The wheel does not have any bearings, and it’s on a metal rod that extends from the base. The wheel is very low laying, but for a hedgehog you will need the 12″ size.


  • Easy to clean.
    • The flying saucer wheel comes apart very easy, and for even the dirtiest of hedgehogs, with just a soak in the tub it cleans itself.
    • Surface is hard plastic making it very easy to clean despite the grooved surface.
  • Very low height.
    • It can fit in the lowest of cages, as it only stands 15cm tall at its highest point.
    • It is ideal for Zoozone 2 cages
    • All you can hear on the flying saucer wheel is the pitter patter of hedgehog feet. As long as the wheel isn’t too close to the edge of the cage, it is virtually silent.
  • Gripped running surface may help some hedgehogs who tend to “slide” on wheels.
  • Easily available you will find them in most pet shops.


  • Takes up a large area of floor space.
    • Hedgehogs love to hide under it.
    • It takes up much more room than other conventional wheels.
  • Takes time to learn how to use.
    • Because of its tilted running surface it often takes a while for older hedgehogs to get a hang of running on it, but once they do, they often run in different directions.
  • Ribbed and hard running surface may hurt the hedgehog’s feet and have a tendency to run their feet raw.
  • Due to the running angle it causes the spine to twist sideways when running, this could cause spinal injuries.
  • Large hedgehogs may not be able to use the wheel.
  • Could fling poo and wee all over the cage.
    • This may not happen if they are litter trained.
  • Colour of the wheel may hinder the sight of blood or off coloured faeces and urine.

Good Wheels

Bucket Wheel

s316768604068141_p7_i1_w829Bucket wheels are just as the sound, they are the bottom half of a bucket connected to a bearing that often hangs off a PVC stand. The bearing is connected to the bucket, and does not come apart easily. The wheel needs to have a 12″ diameter and is therefore very tall and like all wheels are covered in poo and wee in the morning. All bucket wheels are Home Made.


A bucket wheel can be made very easily as a Do It Yourself Project. Instructions are listed on our websites.

A quick Google search will also find many instructions on the internet or how to build DIY bucket wheels, they are not hard to make.

The list below shows the pros and cons of the bucket wheel, but you need to remember that these bucket wheels are to all intense and purposes DIY home made wheels, you may be buying from a website but you are most likely buying from a breeder that just happens to make wheels, they are not generally designers, engineers or have insurance, so this list assumes that the pros and cons list assumes the wheel is properly made.


  • Level running surface, there is no twisting of the spine.
  • Almost silent. Usually all that is heard is the little pitter patter of tiny feet.
  • Only noisy if they bang against the side of the cage, when placed too close to the side.
  • Takes up very small amount of floor area.
  • Solid running surface with no risk of catching toes or toenails.
  • Wide running surface which is comfortable for even the largest hedgehog.
  • Wide stable base will not tip over.
  • White and some coloured surfaces show up any discolouration in urine or faeces.
  • Easily washed surface.
  • Angle adjustable to allow urine to run off.
  • With proper care and regular greasing of bearing, this wheel will last for years.
  • Many Breeders sell their own home made Bucket Wheels.


  • Cannot get bearing wet while cleaning or it will rust.
  • They are quite tall and do not fit in all cages.
  • May need to modify the cage if it is not at least 14″ high in order to accommodate the wheel.
  • Not available in pet stores.
  • You are never sure on what you will get, unless you are ordering from recommendations.
  • No quality assurance with the wheels, they are purchased on trust.
  • If using a coloured bucket wheel, the colour may hinder the sight of blood or off coloured faeces and urine.
  • Some makers use inferior materials, like cheap bearings and galvanised nuts and bolts.

Things to look for in a bucket wheel

Some of the items listed below may sound trivial but it is a combination of things that make the difference between a dangerous wheel, an average wheel and a good wheel. We have seen many complaints and seen many problems with bucket wheel, but you will not go far wrong with a Carolina Storm Wheel.

  • No galvanised nuts, bolts or washers used.
  • All Stainless Steel nuts, bolts and washers used.
  • Nuts and bolts should be at least 8mm in diameter.
  • Correct spacing between the wheel bearing and the frame, this must allow the wheel to spin without catching with a hedgehog on it.
  • Check that the wheel has been cut straight and is not wavy when rotated.
  • No sharp edges where the wheel or pipe ends have been cut; also no unnecessary scratch marks where the wheel has been deburred.
  • Quality bearings used; unfortunately you won’t know this until you have had the wheel for some time.
  • Make sure that the angle is tilted back far enough that when you hedgehog is running it does not slip off.
  • Make sure that the back support that holds the wheel is not overtightened.
  • End caps are fitted to all pipe ends.
  • Fully glued frame construction, no overspill of glue to drop off.
  • Cosmetically that the pipe used matches the fittings used and that the pipe identification is not showing, after all you are paying for this wheel.

Bad Wheels

Comfort Wheel

comfort wheelThis is another commercially sold wheel for small rodents that some have used for their hedgehogs. This wheel is readily available at most pet shops, and resembles the bucket wheel, but it not ideal for hedgehogs. You will need the largest size for use with a hedgehog.


  • Available at pet stores.
  • Cheap to buy.
  • Gripped running surface may help some hedgehogs who tend to slip and on their wheels.


  • They are not suitable for large hedgehogs as the shaft in the centre can rub when running.
  • Quite noisy. It tends to bang and knock.
  • The grooves can be more difficult to clean.
  • Gripped, hard running surface may hurt hedgehogs with a tendency to run their feet raw.
  • Some hedgehogs can tip it over as the base in quite narrow.
  • When it wears, the wheel can come off the shaft and cause injury.
  • Colour of the wheel may hinder the sight of blood or off coloured faeces and urine.

Silent Spinner

2851Silent Spinner is a wheel for small rodents. This wheel was never meant for use with hedgehogs, but some people still use it. The wheel is noisy and it has a high lip that the animal must crawl over to get into the wheel, as well as drainage holes in the bottom of the wheel for urine to run out because of its large sides. This wheel is not ideal for hedgehogs and should not be used.


  • Available at most pet shops.
  • Reasonably priced.


  • The base is not large enough and the wheel is known to tip over when a hedgehog enters or exits the wheel.
  • The centre nut can unwind causing the wheel to fall
  • Brittle, hard plastic cracks easily
  • The two piece design has slits that can catch toe nails and rip them out.
  • The silent spinner is far from silent.
  • High sides make it hard for hedgehog to get in and out.
  • Hard to clean as surface is shaped like a U and access isn’t easy.

Wire Wheels

292tv1gThese should not be used with a hedgehog under any circumstances. The spacing between the rungs could catch a hedgehog’s leg and break it causing injury. Your Hedgehog could also be caught in the 2 metal bars supporting the wheel causing severe injury or death.



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Mealworms that we give to our hedgehogs and reptiles aren’t really worms at all. They are in fact the larvae of Darkling Beetle. There are somewhere in the region of 20,000 different types of darkling beetles and one of them is the Tenebrio Molitor species or more commonly called the mealworm.

A darkling beetle experiences complete metamorphosis which means that it has four distinct stages of life. The four stages are egg, larva, pupa, and beetle which is the adult. Dependant on environmental factors like temperature, humidity, food, and water depends on how long they spend in each stage.


The first stage of life is the egg, so if you were contemplating the question “which came first, the mealworm or the egg” then the answer is the Egg. The white oval egg and is as tiny as a speck of dust. The egg is sticky and is quickly concealed by dirt and dust, from the substrate material. It usually take around one to four weeks for an egg to hatch and the larva will emerge.

Larva (Mealworm)
The second stage of life is the brown larva and lasts about eight to ten weeks. At this stage the insect is now a mealworm. When first hatched, it is very small but will grow to 2.5cm to 3.5cm long.It has a hard exoskeleton, the mealworm will need to molt frequently and shed its hard outer shell in order to grow. Molts will happen ten to twenty times during this stage of life. Recently after molting the mealworm will be soft and white, but the exoskeleton will quickly harden. A mealworm spends its time eating and growing in order to store up energy ready for the next transformation.

Pupa (Alien)
During the mealworm’s last molt it will turn into a white alien-like pupa. It has no mouth or anus so does not eat, drink or defecate. It does have tiny leg and wing buds, but they do not function. The pupas only movement is to wiggle. This stage of life will last one to three weeks as the pupa transforms its body and organs into the adult form.

Adult (Darkling Beetle)
The final stage of the insect’s life is as the darkling beetle and lasts one to three months. The beetle will be white with a soft exoskeleton when it first emerges. As the outer shell hardens, it will turn brown and then black. The beetle does have hard wings, but it is unable to fly.

After about one to two weeks of adult life, beetles will begin to mate and reproduce. A few days after mating, female beetles will burrow into soil or substrate and lay eggs. Darkling beetles are prolific breeders and females can lay hundreds of eggs during their adult lives.

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Grumpy Hedgehogs

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Regular Handling

A unique exotic pet with individual and unique personality, a hedgehog can be a rewarding pet but requires patience and understanding. The response of each prickly pet to your interactions can take time and will reflect your response to their needs.

Hedgehogs are prey animals in nature. They have a shy demeanor but once trust is earned and bonding is achieved they can appreciate your affection.

Hand washing is a necessity when interacting with your hedgehog. It protects both you and your pet from pathogens and illness. It is recommended to use unscented antibacterial wash before handling your pet. Hedgehogs have a great sense of smell and will annoint to fruity or strong aromas including scented handwash.

Timing of handling can be just as important as the process. Nocturnal by nature means early morning or late evening are best times to interact. Maintaining a schedule of when you handle your hedgehog can improve their trust and sociability.

It is suggested a minimum of 30 minutes each day to bond with individual hogs, longer is better. Increase the time by using a bonding bag when you are busy around the home and allowing your hedgehog to acclimate to various noises.

Another way to increase your bond is to place a well worn article of clothing or used pillow case in their environment to provide your scent when you aren’t interacting. Consider when you walk into someone else’s home or return to your own home after holiday and the smell. You don’t often notice your home smell after a day of work or trip to the shops because you know it. The same goes for hedgehogs smelling people. If they are surrounded by your smell in their cage they will relax when interacting outside their home.

When bringing home a new hedgehog it has been recommended to allow then to settle for 12-72 hours before interacting with them outside their cage. Individual preference and judgement are your discretion. Some relaxed hogs will not benefit from lack of interaction. On the contrary a curious and healthy hoglet or adopted hog will maintain or gain confidence through continued handling and interaction.

Hedgehogs display stress in several ways. Initial indicator will be a frantic desperate need to escape. Most hedgehogs are curious explorers and want to elude handling to find new turf but the normal hog will be easily distracted and redirected. A stressed hog will continually exhibit the flight reaction. The stressed hedgehog may shake their head or exhibit a nervous twitch. This will be repeated and persistent. The hedgehog can give warning bite if the above behaciours are ignored. It is not aggression but a way to communicate that your hog has needs you are not acknowledging. Discolored feeces is an obvious sign of stress. It occurs when digestion of food is too rapid and bile becomes visible when toileting.

In handling the best advice is to be firm, calm, and regular with your approach. Do not hesitate, gentle waking but definite touch will show your confidence and care in holding your pet. Even pressure assures them you are there and mean no harm. Cup your hands beneath your hog and pick them up. If your sensitive to quills or have a huffy hog using a shirt or fleece can make this more comfortable for both you and your pet. Gloves inhibit your interactions and scent, therefore are not advised

When waking your pet for interaction it will naturally be defensive and often pull spines to protect themselves. The noises that accompany defensive behaviour are referred to as huffing and clicking. These noises and movements are your pet communicating they are unsure and frightened. Listen to your hedgehog’s message and be mindful in handling your hedgehog to understand and meet their needs minimising stress.

Your hog may exhibit balling as extreme defense and should be allowed to relax calmly while being held. Avoid jostling or stroking your hedgehog until they unball and relax. Once relaxed your hedgehog will lay down its quills and walk about on your hands. When you hold your hedgehog close to your body they can smell your clothing and may want to burrow into your clothing.

After picking up your hedgehog and allowing it to relaxing your hands it will likely become curious and try exploring. Holding your hands at an angle with your hedgehog’s head slightly lower than the rest of their body may help it to relaxing. This position gives the feeling your pet is going downwards and result in your hog nosing to find what is going on. Be mindful not to tip your hands as your pet may roll off. A couple of gentle lifts (raising then lowering your hands less than an inch) can entice your hedgehog to relax and explore. Once your hedgehog see it is out in the open they will begin to explore your hands. Watch for your hedgehog to bring down its visor, an initial form of self-defense. Observe the cause of the reaction as it may have heard a unpleasant, unfamiliar noise, or disliked the approach you used to interact. You can desensitize your hog by exposing them safely to things that are new and socialise them to become less huffy. Like people, hedgehogs can be naturally grumpy.

The name pet is misleading as hedgehogs don’t enjoy being stroked. It is necessary to earn your hog’s trust and meet its needs before displaying affection such as cuddles and strokes. Upon earning trust and becoming relaxed, your hedgehog will be more receptive to your touch and interaction. When a hedgehog pulls their “visor” down over the eyes take it as communication of discomfort with what you are doing. When your hedgehog huffs or puffs, relax and let your hedgehog relax on their own. Time, trust, patience and understanding are all requirements. Wait for relaxed signs to continue interaction and touching your hog.

Best practice is to pet a hedgehog from head to tail similar to you any other animal. Some hedgehogs respond to stroking when able to see your hand, smell you, and know what is about to happen. It is helps to approach hedgehogs from the front and lower than eye level. A frequent mistake in hedgehog handling is people tend to approach the hedgehog from behind. Being firm and deliberate when touching rather than light pressure over the top of the spines provides security and comfort to your pet. Compare the light pressure approach to a tickle and the more firm interactions to a massage. Being tickled causes tension and defensive response in people while most will pay to relax with a massage.

Practice and patience will be rewarded as you continue to interact with your pet.

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Quilling is a phase experienced by all hedgehogs and similar to teeth it is a passage while growing. It is uncomfortable for hedgehogs and can be painful. Quilling causes itching, dry skin, and irritability like teething in humans. A first quill is begins from 7-8 weeks until around 15 weeks but can be shorter or extended, and hedgehogs can quill after this time. Quilling is when old spines fall out and new ones come through the skin.

Be sure to inspect lost quills for the ball on the end. If it is there, this is a healthy loss. If the ball is missing then there could be a vet trip for other skin ailment. Some owners collect quills as keepsakes in jars, jewelry or create artwork with lost quills.

To help ease discomfort try bathing your hedgehog in Aveeno oil or oatmeal tied in cloth or sock in lukewarm water which can help soothe irritated skin. Flaxseed oil and humilac spray also help to provide skin comfort and hydration during this period. Flaxseed oil is available at health food stores and online. Humilac can be found online and in some pet stores.

Hedgehogs quite often become anti-social during quilling. They may lose their appetite, be huffier, use their wheel less or not at all, and cause excessive concern to owners.

Despite the change and discomfort of your pet during this time please be sure to continue to handle them daily. When interacting with a quilling hedgehog it is important to remain calm, patient loving and extremely gentle. When stroking your quilling hedgehog avoid the back area especially near their bum. This area is particularly sensitive during quilling as many new quills and thin skin I located there. If you’re her child is particularly unsociable use a snuggle sac and soft deep pressure to provide comfort.

As with any photos in owning a pet this too shall pass and hopefully with your effort and patience you’re happy prickly pet will return to their former self. Please remember consistency and patience with these animals please keep maintain their routine and spend a minimum of 45 minutes a day with them despite their protests and discomfort.

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As a hybrid domestic animal, African Pygmy Hedgehogs are prone to several ailments. Keep cotton buds, seudcream, emergency heat source, humilac spray, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, oatmeal sacks for bathing, flour for nails that get quicked, tweezers to remove fluff stuck in quills, nail clippers and small scissors to hand. Always know a veterinarian that will treat aph in emergency. The important thing is to monitor your pet and in the event of possible illness immediately visit your exotic veterinarian.

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Dental Health

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Dry Skin

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Hand Feeding Babies

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Hedgehog First Aid

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What is Hibernation?

Hibernation is defined as to spend the winter in close quarters in a dormant condition. Many animals that live in areas of the world that have extremely cold winters, including our own native hedgehogs, do hibernate; this is to reduce the amount of energy that they use when food supplies are short. However, our APH’s are originally from Africa and these areas do not usually experience cold winters, making them unprepared by nature for hibernation. They do not store the energy needed for hibernation, and their bodies do not naturally slow down to the extent that is needed to survive this state.

Sometimes, due to temperature, atmospheric or lighting conditions, our APH’s do attempt to enter a hibernation state. This can be VERY dangerous for them, and if they are not warmed quickly and correctly, hibernation can be fatal. Even if they are warmed in time, hibernation attempts can be very hard on hedgehog’s health. Respiratory infections, lowered immune system, dehydration, and organ failure can occur as a result.


Symptoms of hibernation attempts a cool belly, wobbliness, unable to stand, lack of eating, inactivity, unable to unball, any of these symptoms can indicate an attempt to hibernate.

  • Cool or cold belly
  • Wobbliness or unstable
  • Unable or unwilling to stand
  • Not eating
  • Inactivity
  • Unable to unball
  • Tightly balled

What should I do?

If you think your hedgehog is attempting to hibernate, you should take steps immediately to begin warming them back up. Even if you have misdiagnosed the symptoms, you will not do them any harm, the best method to warm up and APH is to place them close to your skin and cover them in up, your body heat is ideal for transferring heat to them. See the Do’s and Do Not’s for further options.


  • Do warm them slowly by laying them against the skin and cover them
  • Do take them to bed with you and keep them against your skin
  • Do place them on a heating pad set on low temperature and cover them
  • Do covering them with a towel that has been slightly warmed in the dryer
  • Do place them indirectly on a hot water bottle

Do Not’s

  • Do not place them on an extremely warm surface
  • Do not put the hedgehog in the oven or in an extremely warm location
  • Do not place them in warm water, being wet actually cause heat loss faster
  • Do not warm them too rapidly though, because this can cause them to go into shock
  • Do not let their water bottle get cold, this will drain the heat from their bodies

What next

As soon as your hedgehog starts waking up and moving around, offer lukewarm water and small amounts of soft foods. Continue your efforts to warm your hedgehog until the belly is warm and the hedgehog is fully alert and able to move around normally with no shakiness or instability.

Continue monitoring your hedgehog closely for several days after a hibernation attempt, as they may be prone to a repeated attempt. Also watch for signs of respiratory problems, such as loud breathing, nasal discharge and open mouth breathing, or exaggerated movement of the chest while breathing. Monitor food and water consumption, and encourage sluggish eaters by softening their dry food with a little warm water, and providing favourite treats to build them back up to health.

Prevention is better than cure

The best way to deal with hibernation is to prevent it from happening. Keep your hedgehog’s environment at a comfortable temperature, for most hedgehogs this is between 23 and 25 degrees C. make sure your hedgehog’s cage receives appropriate lighting for at least 12 hours per day. This doesn’t have to be extremely bright, and it is ok if the hedgehog is sleeping during the light times. If you live in an area where there is a chance that you will lose heat or electricity during the winter, prepare ahead of time by stocking up on air activated hand warmers that can be wrapped in a tea towel or small blanket to provide your hedgehog with a warm area.

Some APH’s, especially those that are older, very young, or have health issues, may be prone to hibernation even at 23 degrees. These hedgehogs may benefit from having a heat pad set on low under one corner of their cage to provide them with a warmer zone to go to in case they get cool.

Please remember

Hibernation is NOT natural or normal for an APH. It can be fatal within a short period of time. Prevent hibernation with a correctly heated and lit environment, and always be alert for signs of hibernation.

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External parasites are unwanted and irritants for both pet and owner. Mites are the most common in African Pygmy Hedgehogs. Mites are arachnids related to spiders. They are red or black and commonly spread by direct contact.

This contact can be from cross handling (a person holds an infected hog then a different hedgehog) passing the mites. Mites are also known to be passed in bedding (untreated substrate) and live food bedding (mealworms sawdust).

Mites are difficult for the human eye to see and requires vet diagnosis for treatment. The vet will take a scraping of your pet’s skin for analysis under a microscope. Treatment should be a topical one not an injection.

Symptoms of mites include excessive dry skin, scratching to extreme, quill loss missing the bulb on the end of the will, and irritability.

In treating your pet for mites their enclosure will need treatment. It is best to throw out current bedding and buy new. If using disposable substrate you can freeze it to kill any parasites and increase the safety without chemicals.

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In general African Pygmy Hedgehogs do not need to diet, if they are being fed the correct mix of foods they will maintain a healthy weight, obesity is often due to lack of exercise, incorrect food, use of high fat foods, and too many treats, is a common and serious problem among domesticated African Pygmy hedgehogs but one that can be easily avoided by correct feeding.

Since a healthy hedgehog is a bit on the plump side naturally, determining the difference between a healthy animal’s chubby appearance and obesity can be somewhat difficult. Since there is such a wide variety of size in African Pygmy Hedgehogs, an obese hedgehog can be as little as 250 grams to as much as 2085 grams in weight, so weight guidelines are of little use in identifying an overweight hedgehog!

Far more useful than a set of scales is a weekly visual inspection of your hogs, a healthy hedgehog should be able to ball up and have a pear/tear drop shape appearance when looking down from above there should be no obvious sinking in at the side’s and no prominent bones i.e. spine hips or rib cage.

In saying that the scales are of little use is probably incorrect, they do serve a purpose, weekly weigh-ins is a good routine to get into, that way you can trend your hedgehogs weight pattern

On average a full grown adult hedgehog can weigh anywhere between 255 and 540 grams, plus or minus 50 grams either way, this is dependent on frame size, shape and age.

Check the front legs and chin, while a hedgehog in its normal trim will be a bit chubby in these two locations, an obese specimen will have a double chin and “ham-hocks” for legs and sometimes even rolls of fat under the arm-pits. Such animals will be so fat that they will even be incapable of rolling themselves into a ball!

If your hedgehog should become this fat eliminate all treats from its diet but DO NOT reduce the amount of dry food you feed them on, as this is the primary source of necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals, reduce live food to 5 mealworms a day but DO NOT stop feeding live food. Seek medical advice before starting a diet.

Some hedgehogs appear more prone to obesity than others, and they need a little help to maintain a healthy weight, but dieting is a last resort and shouldn’t be undertaken without getting advice, you can count out the number of pieces of food they were getting each day, and scattered them around the cage to force them to move around and forage for food.

A basic rule of thumb is, if your hedgehog appears plump, but can still ball up; the chances are it does not need to diet.

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Syringe Feeding

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Things Toxic To Hedgehogs

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Many hedgehogs can travel well, often they will spend the entire journey sleeping or relaxing in the comfort of a travel carrier. It is important to introduce the hedgehog to their portable carrier that will be used at the end of the destination and maintain their schedule as much as possible despite time zone and climate changes. Planning for the journey is essential, taking with you water from home, food, toys, and wheel to maintain stability and minimise stress.

Choosing how to transport your hedgehog is as important as planning your journey and how you are going to get there. If you’re travelling by car it is vital that you have a secure hard sided carrier for your hedgehog to maintain safety. The upside is too hard sided cat carriers or small animal carriers is they provide protection for your hedgehog and can be buckled into the seat preferably the back seat for optimal safety in case of accident. Lining the interior of the cage with blankets adds comfort and safety cushion for your pet while maintaining airflow. Buckling the carrier adds to the safety. If the unfortunate happens rescue members will recognise the animal transport and provide accordingly. Avoid placing the carrier on the floor or in the boot of your vehicle as this can be dangerous, the rough ride can cause or enhance motion sickness and stress, in addition to unstable temperatures which can be unsettling and uncomfortable for your hedgehog.

Hedgehogs tend to travel well. It is possible for them to become motion sick. The best idea is to build tolerance to journeys through practice and short trips. Extend the time each journey which has been known to help reduce sickness. Adding blankets and fleece strips softens the ride and boosts comfort. While driving remember you have a very important hedgehog in your vehicle and drive carefully to avoid sudden stops, swerving, or jolts that may upset your passenger. For them, a car journey can be worse than a fun fair.

Safely strapped in
Safely strapped in

Be prepared and have a spare set of liners for your carrier. Consider it important in case your hedgehog experiences travel sickness, or uses the toilet. Carry tissue or baby wipes for clean-up and ensure that your hedgehog drinks plenty of water afterwards. Vomiting and diarrhoea can cause dehydration and make your hedgehog even more ill.

Before travelling, plan for the season, weather and temperature of your vehicle. Hedgehogs require consistent temperature and cannot adapt to extreme changes. Make use of internal temperature controls to maintain the normal range for your hedgehog minimising stress. You may invest in a wireless temperature monitor to keep tabs on how comfortable your hedgehogs are. Placing the base unit in the front of the car and the remote unit next to your hedgehog’s cage to provide a view of your pet’s temperature and road awareness while driving.

On hot days avoid placing the carrier in direct sunlight and NEVER leave any pet unattended in your car. Heatstroke, hibernation, and death can result with the best intentions while you are only leaving them for a minute.

To provide additional heat on cold days it is beneficial to invest in disposable hand warmers, hot water bottle, rice or buckwheat sack, or snuggle safe disc. Always provide these following user instructions with a barrier to prevent overheating or burns. Insulating your carrier while maintaining airflow can provide comfort and safety, just maintain airflow for ventilation.

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Find a Vet – Advanced Search

Find an exotic vet in your area, Click the RCVS link above or view the recommended vets in the list below, all of the vets in the below list have been recommended by fellow hedgehog owners.

Ambivet Veterinary Group

24 Mundy Street
DE75 7EB
Phone: 01773 717 780
24-hour Emergency Number: 01773 717 780

Ambivet Veterinary Group

Little Hallam Hill
Phone: 01159 309 729
24-hour Emergency Number: 01773 717 780


St Johns Road
S41 8QN
Phone: 01246 269 666
24-hour Emergency Number: 01246 269 666

J. Hall Veterinary Surgeons

15 Temple Sheen Road
East Sheen
SW14 7PY
Phone: 02088 769 696
24-hour Emergency Number:

Chine House Veterinary Hospital

Sileby Hall
12 Cossington Road
LE12 7RS
Phone: 01509 812446
24-hour Emergency Number: 01509 812446

Holly House Veterinary Hospital

Holly House Veterinary Hospital
468 Street Lane
LS17 6HA
Phone: 0113 2369030
24-hour Emergency Number: 0113 2369030

Lawrie Veterinary Group

Cumbernauld Surgery (By Appointment Only)
Kenilworth Court
North Carbrain Road
North Lanarkshire
G67 1BP
Phone: 01236 727876
24-hour Emergency Number: 07718 424688

Lawrie Veterinary Group

Falkirk Surgery
25 Griffiths Street
Phone: 01324 624361
24-hour Emergency Number: 07718 424688

Northwich Vets

469 Manchester Road
Lostock Gralam
Phone: 01606 359789
24-hour Emergency Number: 01606 359789

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Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome

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Diarrhea is always a concern with any animal and can be life threatening and deteriorate health very quickly. Diarrhea quickly causes dehydration. To check to see if your hedgehog has become or is becoming dehydrated, lightly pinch some skin and hold it a few seconds. When you let go, the skin should spring back to its normal position in less than a couple of seconds. Try it on yourself. Pinch your arm and let go. You skin pops back immediately. If it doesn’t then your hedgehog is dehydrated and needs fluids fast. You can carefully syringe them with some water or alternatively try the Dinks chicken soup recipe.

If diarrhea continues for more than a day and water/chicken soup did not help, you need to visit your vet as diarrhea can be fatal if not brought under control quickly.

We have some useful advice on how to syringe feed a baby hedgehog which may also be useful.

Dinks chicken soup recipe 

Syringe feeding


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If the amount of bowel movement has decreased, and you suspect constipation you can try a footpath, allowing your hedgehog to play in a couple inches of warm water for quick relief. Following this, try feeding him some pureed pumpkin. Pumpkin is a laxative and is a natural remedy. Another option is to stimulate the bowel area with a cotton bud and seudcream. If condition persists, get your hedgehog to your veterinarian.

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Possible upper and or lower respiratory infection. Keep your hedgehog warm and dry and get to the veterinarian.

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Many types of cancer are, unfortunately, common in hedgehogs. Feeding the best diet, void of chemical preservatives, artificial colours and flavourings can inhibit the possibly, but many other factors exist which influence this disease:

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Numerous causes including stress, change in food, infection, injury, constipation, cancer, tooth decay, gum disease, abscess, digestive issues. **It is important to note that sometimes a new pet will not want to eat when settling into a new home. Changeover food is important as the digestive tract is sensitive. Integrating new food slowly over time is best. Monitor water intake for hydration. A hedgehog refusing water will usually stop eating. As with any concerns please get a veterinarian’s professional advice.

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This recipe is great for getting food and water into unwell hogs.

Boil some chicken thighs or legs for approximately 30 to 40 minutes until fully cooked. Chicken on the bone is believed to be best as this gives extra flavour to the soup, not sure if hedgehogs agree with this, but chicken fillets are also just as good to use.

Once the meat is cooked through, pull all the meat off the bone including the red meat next to the bone whilst still warm, be careful not to leave any bone on the meat.

Liquidize the chicken using the water the chicken was boiled in. You can make it as thick or as thin as needed. If you are syringe feeding then you will need to make it runny enough to fit through the syringe end.

If the hedgehog turns its nose up at the delicacy, you can add a drop of honey to make it more appealing.

If feeding hoglets or sometimes really sick hedgehogs, you can add goat’s milk into it, but add this to the serving as opposed to the whole mixture, as it will go off quite quickly.

You can also add crushed dried meal worms to the soup and soaked biscuits; it all depends on what your hedgehog is willing to eat. If plain food is required, usually start with just the chicken soup, then add the mealies and eventually add the cat biscuit to wean them off it (be wary though, some cat biscuits go sour once soaked in water).

The soup is best served warm, never serve cold as this will take heat away from an unwell hedgehog or hoglet.

The mixture can be stored in the fridge or frozen for further use, make sure to warm it up before feeding.


(recipe taken from Pygmyhogs Uk)

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Rough edge ears can be caused by mites, fungal infection or poor diet. If mites and fungal infection are ruled out, apply seudcream to ears several times weekly to soften them, and bathe in a fragrance-free oatmeal based soap such as Aveeno, or put a drop of flaxseed oil in the bath water. Humilac spray and coconut oil are also moisturisers that can treat dry skin and ragged ears.

In addition you can add a drop or two of flaxseed oil to food each night as it has been known to help dry skin.

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Possible ear infection, fungal infection, mites, or head injury. Please seek medical attention from your veterinarian.

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Green soft faeces or stool is not uncommon in hedgehogs, it can be something most hedgehog owners see during their time keeping them, it is most common when you first bring home your new pet and it can be caused by stress, a change in food or house it is usually nothing serious. The change in environment and often a water and food upsets their delicate tummies and causes the green stool. It is always best to minimize the changes as much as possible. This is why all re-homes should come with a care package; this should include a supply of food. This is so that you can continue to feed the same food as the hedgehog was used to in its former home. A change in water can be as upsetting to tummies as food.

You should not introduce your chosen new food to your pet until it has had time to settle in and get acquainted with its new surroundings, then introduce it gradually starting by mixing small quantities into its old food and slowly increase the ratio until it has been changed over completely, hopefully you should have been given enough food to last a couple of weeks, if you intend to feed the same food as the hedgehog was fed before then this process will not be necessary.

Over indulging in a new food can also cause green stools, all new foods as well as treats should be given gradually and in a very small amount to start with. A few pieces of kibble, or a mouthful or other food will be enough to get them started. If there is no reaction, then you can increase the quantity the following day. You should never introduce more than one new food or treat at a time.

Green stools can also be a cause of other illnesses, so you need to keep an eye on things and if it continues more than a couple of days, you need to seek medical advice

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Dental disease, abscess or infection. Have your veterinarian perform a thorough dental exam, and treatment.
**A swollen jaw can indicate a more serious condition, such as cancer.
Hedgies Have Teeth Too! By: Marion Brown.

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Possible hibernation attempt. Immediately place your hedgehog on your skin on your chest or stomach. Bundle yourself and continue this slow increase in temperature via skin contact until your pet is warm on their stomach and shows normal activity. You will need to increase room temperatures of your heat source (che) and can provide some additional source of heat in the cage such as a Snuggle Safe Disc as subsequent attempts to hibernate are likely. Monitor your pet closely. If this problem persists, see your veterinarian as it may be an indication of serious illness.

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Possible cysts, infection, fungus, tumors, or even pregnancy. Seek medical attention from your veterinarian.

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May be caused by injury or infection (staphylococcus is common and transferred from animal to human back to animal). Infection requires antibiotics. Wash with boiled and cooled water, if minor you can treat with seudcream. See your veterinarian.

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Several possible causes, among them a neurological disorder called; Degenerative Myelopathy (WHS) Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome. See your veterinarian immediately. Refer to the following website:
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome

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Possible stroke, injury, tumor, cyst or ear infection. Seek immediate veterinary attention.

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Possible cause; obesity, which could lead to FLD: fatty liver disease, a very serious and often fatal disease, if not treated. Increase your hedgehog’s activity with stimulating toys like fleece forest, dig box, tunnels. Allow supervised free-roaming and running in a playpen. Put your hedgehog on a low fat diet and reduce it’s daily caloric intake. A visit to your veterinarian required to diagnose.

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F10 Technical Information


F10® Core Actives

RTUTThe F10 disinfectant and treatment range are based on F10’s tested and proven core actives – a quaternary ammonium compound, Benzalkonium Chloride, and a biguanide compound, Polyhexamethylene Biguanide (PHMB). The antimicrobial mechanism of action of the F10 products is derived not only from that of each of the individual compounds, but also the novel synergistic action of the components.

The attributes of the F10® Core Actives are:


  • total spectrum activity
  • bactericidal
  • fungicidal
  • virucidal
  • sporicidal
Speed of kill:

  • gram positive bacteria
  • less than 15 seconds to fungicidal in 15 minutes

  • non toxic oral and dermal LD50 > 5000mg/kg,
  • inhalation nil
  • ocular irritation draize score 4 @ 1hr, 2 @ 4hrs
  • skin irritation 0 score after 48 hrs on both intact and abraded skin
  • free rinsing
  • very low insoluble matter content
  • aldehydes and iodine free
  • biodegradable
Equipment friendly:

  • Olympus approved
  • noncorrosive after 30 days on polished aluminium

  • SABS, SAIMR, ARC, Inst. for Animal Health, Vet Institute, Vet Faculty Poultry Lab

  • Act 29 in SA, Act 36 in SA, MAFF in UK, MAF in NZ.
  • NRA, TGA, AQIS in Aus, Min. of Ag. In Uruguay.
Quality Marks:

  • SABS 636, 639; SABS 1828

  • good dilution rates

Performance and speed of kill of F10®SC Veterinary Disinfectants

Micro- organism Dilution Contact Time
Gram Positive bacteria: e.g. Staphylococcus aureus 1:1000 water 2 minutes
Gram Negative bacteria: e.g. Pseudomonas aeruginosa 1:500 water 2 minutes
Fungi,Yeast, Moulds: e.g. Candida albicans 1:500 water 15 minutes
Fungal spores: e.g. Aspergillus niger 1:250 water 30 minutes
Virus: e.g. Newcastle Disease Virus 1:500 water 10 minutes
Rabies 1:500 water 30 minutes
Infectious Bursal Disease 1:250 water 20 minutes
Parvovirus 1:125 water 30 minutes
Bacterial spores: e.g. Bacillus subtilis spores 1:125 water 30 minutes

F10® Wipes Solution is effective against E. coli, S. aureus, Salmonella typhi, Candida albicans in less than 30 seconds

Test data

There is a large amount of test data pertaining to the efficacy of the F10 range. Some example of the commonly requested organism are listed here.

For further details, or information on organisms not on the sample list please visit the site of the South African manufacturers, Health and Hygiene (Pty) Ltd Or contact us.

Testing standards

  • South African Bureau of Standards
  • South African Institute for Medical Research
  • South African Vaccine Producers (Pty) Ltd
  • University of Pretoria, Poultry Reference Laboratory
  • Agricultural Research Council, Veterinary Institute, Onderstepoort
  • Agricultural Research Council, Animal Improvement Institute, Irene
  • Complies with AFNOR standards, as well as EN Standards for chemicals and antiseptics within the EU

Safety Data Sheets

F10®SC Veterinary disinfectant products are:


  • acute oral and dermal LD50 > 5000mg/Kg
  • inhalation – non toxic


  • Proven in supervised independent field trials
  • score of zero on intact and abraded skin when tested to SABS method 671

Free rinsing

  • complies with (SABS 1593 6.11).

Water insoluble matter content

  • 0,3g/litre (SABS 1593 6.12)


  • zero hazard rating to EU standards


  • passed SABS 1615 after 30 days

Material Safety Data Sheets for all products:


  • SABS Approval Mark 636 and 639, for Efficacy and Quality Assurance
  • SABS Mark 1828. Chemicals for use in the Food Industry approval to EU Standards
  • SABS Standards Act 29/1993 Compulsory registration of disinfectants
  • SA, National Department of Agriculture, Stock Remedies Act 36 for surfaces, equipment and air spaces
  • NZ, MAF approved for food, beverage, farms, and factories.
  • Australia, NRA, TGA, AQIS for surfaces, equipment and air spaces
  • Uruguay, Min of Ag for surfaces, equipment and air spaces

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Avoid too much humidity and moisturisers as they can promote bacterial and fungal growth. Ringworm is a common fungal infection. It is medically known as “tinea”, not serious and easily treated. However, fungal infections are highly contagious and easily spread inter species (animals to humans to animals). A quick trip to your veterinarian will sort it if caught early.

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Hedgehogs can develop a crust-like formation on their feet. Be sure to was off the feet to rule out poo boots. If the crust remains after the bath it may indicate a fungal infection. Thus requires treatment by your veterinarian.

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Further information and reading can be found in the following publications


Clinical Approach To The African Hedgehog. By: Heidi L. Hoefer DVM, ABVP

Hedgehog Lameness. By: Teresa L. Lightfoot, DVM

Common Disorders of the African Pygmy Hedgehog. By: Cathy Johnson-Delaney

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How to Guides

What you need:


  • Approximately 1 metre of 21.5mm overflow pipe
  • 1 No. 21.5mm overflow tee
  • 2 No. 21.5mm overflow 90 degree bends
  • 1 No M8 x 70mm set screw (bolt)
  • 1 No. M8 nyloc nut
  • 1 No. M8 stainless steel dome nut
  • 1 No. Scooter wheel with bearings
  • Plumbers cement
  • Cable ties
  • Spacer (I use 10mm aluminium tube cut down, skateboard/inline/scooter bearing spacers may be ok)
  • 22mm plastic ferrules (end caps for the pipe)


  • 8mm wood drill bit
  • 16mm flat wood drill
  • 2 No. 13mm spanner/ratchets
  • Drill bit that is the same size as your cable ties
  • Hacksaw
  • Angle grinder/means of cutting the bucket
  • Knife
  • Scothcbrite/sandpaper

Cutting the bucket:

Drill the base of the bucket in the centre – I use a 16mm flat wood bit.

You drill the bucket first to ensure that the base of the bucket is level.

Cover hole in base of bucket with tape

Fill bucket with sand to keep the shape of the bucket while cutting – important

Cut the bucket with an angle grinder or other cutting instrument

File the top of the bucket to remove roughness

Use a knife to round the edges

Use an abrasive (scotchbrite or sand paper) to further smooth the bucket

Attaching the scooter wheel:

I use a wooden template that was made to automatically centre. This isn’t really viable for one or two wheels so an alternative method is needed. The easiest way is to use cable ties. I personally dislike cable ties and think it is a pikey way of doing things, but needs must. Besides, it makes changing the bearings easier.

With the wheel placed on the back of the bucket, measure the distance from the edge of the wheel to the outside of the bucket. When the distance is the same all around, using a drill place the drill bit through the “spokes of the scooter wheel and drill a number of pairs of holes between the spokes of the wheels. You are aiming to not drill the wheel, but to drill the bucket. You want the label of the scooter wheel to face inwards for aesthetics.

Then you zip cable ties through the holes with the ties looped through the wheel so that the ends of the ties are at the back of the wheel. Measure that the wheel is central again adjusting where necessary.

Making the stand:

Cut the inner and outer legs and the vertical piece to size.

Drill an 8mm hole in the vertical part of the stand – I use wood drill bits as they are less likely to split the wood than metal drill bits.

Place the M8 by 70mm bolt through the holes with a washer either side of the stand. Add a nyloc nut to secure the bolt.

Assemble the stand by placing the inner legs into the tee, then the 90 degree bends, then the outer legs. It is important that all casting marks on the bends face the floor so that the stand looks as aesthetically pleasing as possible. The same goes for marks in the pipe.

You can use a few options for securing the stand, the easiest and quickest is solvent plumbers cement. I also use some pop rivets to add a mechanical fixing to the stand, you could use screws or just glue. It is important that you use something though.

The stand should be tilted backwards. This is to compensate for the angle of the bucket/tub/bowl the wheel should tilt backwards slightly. If you have ever watched a ‘hog running on a wheel tilted forwards, you’ll understand why.

When you attach the bucket to the stand, you place hole in the middle of the scooter wheel (the bearing) onto the bolt on the stand. The scooter wheel has two bearings and a spacer inside it, sometimes this spacer can become dislodged and will need aligning, you can do this by simply inserting something through the bearing to line it up. You then fit a spacer to allow the wheel to turn and spacing the nut away from the bucket. Then comes the nut. I use a stainless steel dome nut to keep things tidy.

(Article written by Hogwheels)

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Instead of using electric heat pads & blankets or hot water bottles for your aches and pains, these microwaveable packs are just the ticket!

These serve a dual purpose as you can also keep them in the freezer to use has a cooling pad or freezer pack when needed.

If you’d like to learn how to make them, you’ll find a tutorial below along with tips for different kinds of fillers to try and directions for using them.

images      125


No pattern is necessary, simply cut two pieces of cloth in the size/shape you wish (leave a seam allowance about 20mm). More detailed instructions are found below.

Some prefer regular square shapes, others prefer tubes or more rectangular shapes. Experiment, whip up a few different sizes and shapes to try.

These are really easy to whip up as well as cheap!

Filler Options


  • Uncooked rice
  • Wheat
  • Feed corn
  • Buckwheat hulls
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Beans
  • Flax seed
  • Cherry pits

Fabric Options

dyed-cotton-fabric-250x250      SUGARBUNDLE005

Cotton: (plain, prints, flannels, denims)

Alternate ideas: old socks (sew or knot end closed), washcloths, old towels

You can also make cozy, removable & washable outer pouches, this is especially nice to do when using for hedgehogs.

Fabric Ideas: use old towels, fleece, velour knits, pretty fabric prints and flannels (don’t microwave anything other than cotton fabrics). The softer & fluffier & better!


Cut and sew the fabric in the size and shape you want (usually a large teacloth size works well).

Leave an inch or two open on one side so that you can fill pouch with your choice of filler (about 1/2 to 3/4 full, more or less as you prefer). You don’t want it too full though, the sack should be able to mold itself around your hedgehog.

Once it’s full, sew opening closed either by hand or machine (keeping filler pushed to the opposite side of bag while sewing).

If wanting a removable cover, just sew a “pillowcase” idea with your soft, plushy fabric by making it a little larger than your pad and leaving an open end (make sure to finish off ends by sewing a hem). Or you can add a strip of velcro to close it. Careful: Make sure to never microwave this cover unless its content is full cotton. Remove cover to wash as needed.

Heat for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the size and power of the microwave. Do not leave unattended “just in case” the filler smokes or starts on fire. As a precaution, you can set a cup of water inside along with it to add moisture or spritz sack lightly with water first. If you add spices and herbs, this is a good idea to do.

If You’re In a Pinch:

If you need something “now” and don’t have time to sew one, try filling a ziploc freezer bag (use the microwaveable kind) 3/4 full with uncooked rice, seal shut. Zap it for a minute or two then wrap in a hand towel and use as needed.


You can also fill a clean tube sock, tie closed the open end, heat and use as needed.


Be careful before putting your hedgehog on it as it may be too hot. Shake it first, feel around and check that it’s not too hot and won’t burn.

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MealwormsRaising mealworms is fairly easy since they are prolific breeders and are hardy insects. It is also fairly inexpensive and can save you quite a bit of money if you use a lot of worms every month. They rarely smell, are easy to care for, and don’t take much work.

Breeding will take a while to get started, but once there are plenty of beetles laying eggs you will have worms for as long as you need. You should start with at least one hundred mealworms, but can begin with many more. Then, all you need is a container, substrate, and a source of food and water.

20150620_101918The container should have a large surface area and smooth sides. The sides of the container only need to be a couple inches higher the substrate in order to prevent the worms from escaping. An aquarium, terrarium, plastic box, or Sterilite container will make an excellent home.

The container will also need a screened lid to prevent other insects and creatures from getting in and to allow airflow. Good ventilation is needed to prevent the container from getting to warm and to prevent the buildup of humidity and mold growth. If you are using an aquarium, there are screened lids available. For a plastic box you can cut away most of the lid and attach some window screen.

Food Substrate
oats-03The substrate of the container will be the food. You can use wheat bran, oatmeal, cornmeal, wheat flour, Wheaties, Cheerios, ground up dry dog food, or a mixture of these dry foods. Fill the bottom of the container two or three inches deep with the food substrate. You will have to add more food regularly since mealworms are big eaters.

20150620_102035Slices of potatoes, apples, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, or other fruits and vegetables can supply water to your worms. Potatoes are often preferred since they last a while and do not mold quickly. Do not use a bowl of water since mealworms will crawl in and drown.

Temperature, Lighting & Humidity
The ideal temperature for growing your colony is around 75 degrees F. A heat emitter may be necessary if you are in a cold climate. You will want to keep the container away from windows and direct sunlight to prevent it from becoming too warm.

Light is not necessary. A normal day and night cycle of light will be fine.

You colony of mealworms will reproduce more quickly with a higher humidity, but for most areas the natural humidity in the air will be sufficient. If you live in a dry climate, you can place a smooth glass or bowl of water into the container to raise the humidity. Make sure the water container is tall enough to prevent the worms from crawling in.

20150620_101847Any dead worms, pupae, or beetles should be removed from the container regularly. If the container begins to smell like ammonia or becomes moldy, it is time to clean the container. You will need to remove all of the mealworms, beetles, and pupae, discard the food and waste, and clean the container. Once clean, replace the food substrate and return the insects to the container.

It is helpful to have a second container to aid in raising mealworms and keeping them odor free. After your colony is going strong, you can move any beetles to the second container where they will begin a new colony. By the time the second colony is established, the original container should have very few mealworms. You can move any remaining worms to the second container and the original container can then be cleaned and prepared to repeat the cycle.


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