Housing – Heating is Important
I wanted Chai in the living room where we spend the majority of our time. This room is the most likely to be warm on a sunny day, but it also subject to the same temperature dips as any other tenement flat with a cheap clunky central heater. African Pygmy Hedgehogs need an environment which is maintained at 22-24°C, my original plan to make a C&C cage wasn’t going to work.
A 4ft Vivarium with a Ceramic Heat Emitter connected to a pulse thermostat felt like the best option for me to maintain the correct temperature. We’ve chosen a position which won’t have a lot of direct sunlight but I’ve also got a thermometer which will show the maximum and minimum vivarium temperature.
We live with three cats two of whom are very curious. This isn’t an essential for all but to prevent breakouts and escapes we picked up two vivarium wedges.
There are a lot of different substrates available for hedgehog owners to use, since she’ll be without a wheel/litter tray and I can’t store a bale of cardboard-based bedding we’ll be starting with Carefresh and experimenting with different options as a nesting material.
I really liked the result from other owners painting the Trixie Wooden House for their hedgehogs and got one as a sleeping box.
For the kitchen we have three ceramic bowls: one for water, dry cat biscuit mix and for feeding perishable cooked food.
Hedgehogs forage far and wide looking for their food, which is something I can’t mimic in captivity as a pet. What I can (and you should too!) do is provide her with access to an at least 12″ wheel, I’ve chosen a UK provider of the Carolina Storm Wheel. Since hedgehogs walk on the pads of their feet the smooth surface of the wheel won’t hurt her pads and the circumference should mean she won’t bend her back too much.
It seems inevitable that all hedgehogs will need a bath, they aren’t tidy with their toilet and can develop ‘poop boots’ or mess their quills, but the use of soap (even for human babies) will dry out their skin and make them feel incredibly uncomfortable. As a wash I’ve chosen to use Oatmeal (porridge oats) infused in warm water – I already eat porridge and I’m happy to share. In case Chai develops dry skin,or if she starts to quill, we have Flaxseed oil to add to her food to help. Finally, to keep her nails at a comfortable length we have a set of baby nail clippers.
A Large Pod Pet Carrier will be the Hog-exclusive carriage for transport, we already have plastic pet carriers for the cats but having been evacuated from my flat a few years ago when a neighbouring flat became unstable I like to have a carrier for each animal – just in case! Unfortunately the width of the product is not the floor space so the SnuggleSafe Microwaveable Heatpad doesn’t fit comfortably.
Finally, though I’ll go into this in more detail in other posts we’re using modified Storage grids kept previously for a custom C&C cage.
Based on starter packs online, this seems to be the minimum housing equipment needed to set up a safe home for an African Pygmy Hedgehog in my situation.