DIY Customise, Housing, naturalistic

Nature Inspired Half-a-Habitat

As described in Hedgehog Basic Equipment, I chose to use a loose bedding hoping Carefresh and soft hay would give more opportunities for foraging and nesting behaviour. Hides provided with an wooden ‘Up’ Themed Trixie House and modified shoe boxes and exercise through a wheel. I wasn’t enjoying it and felt like maybe something else would work and look better.

I’m really attracted to the behavioural and health improvements noticed by Bente the author of ‘Hedgehogs of Asgard’ when she started to use a bioactive enclosure for her African Pygmy Hedgehog: Bioactive Hedgehog Habitats . I wasn’t attracted to the learning curve… so I decided to meet the idea of a naturalistic environment half way.

I put it into a box.

Cocopeat and compost mix for the plants, orchard bark, two grasses from an online garden center, medium aquarium stones, two branches (baked) and chincilla sand (fine) and play sand.

And then added some worms and meal worm beetles; the worms because Chai seemed unable to eat them and they needed somewhere nice to live and mealworms at various stage of development since she would be most likely to eat them without the excitement of her feeding tongs.

And later, because I noticed a bit of mould growth in damp areas I added a colony of springtails to help keep things in the forage box nice and tidy.

The goal of the experiment is to explore what kind of set up will be best if I am ever to move the entire vivarium to a naturalistic (or even semi-bio active). We’ve been feeding Chai her bugs in the forage box and watching how she behaves in it and we’ve noticed a few things.

  1. No matter how fat the mealworm, Chai does not like standing on the compost/soil mix whether it’s damp or dry.
  2. Hay will become the bane of my life; I introduced it earlier to keep the establishing worms covered from curious cats. It became mouldy and disgusting and I removed it soon after.
  3. Under the CHE the bark is needed to stop things from drying out so quickly.
  4. Chai doesn’t enjoy ramps. When the forage box was introduced to the vivarium, a reinforced cardboard ramp attached to a cardboard nesting box was made and glued to the side to give her access to the forage box. Chai will only go down the ramp if put on it and will only waddle up it if we bait her with food. Once up she very much wants to get back off.
  5. It takes time and patience before a hog will begin to exhibit foraging behaviour in a forage box.
  6. Orchard bark is exciting and should be used for anointing
Chai anointing with the reptile bark pieces.

A video of one of the first times we let Chai hunt bugs unaided with feeding tongs directing her to the bugs we wanted her to eat. The forage box was in her vivarium at this time.



Next Steps: I want to give the springtails a bit of time to work out if they’re happy in the vivarium (and I’m happy with how to keep them happy!) before I buy the substrate ingredients I’ll need to replace the current carefresh. I’m glad I tried this experiment, she’d have been pretty miserable if I’d gone for a more soil-based vivarium with just patches of sand.

Let the adventures begin!

If you’re interested in trying out a bioactive or naturalistic and you have Facebook you might want to join: Bioactive And Naturalistic Mammal Setups!

DIY Customise

‘Up’ Themed Trixie House

I’m sure that Chai will be more interested in what adventure (or dinner!) her keen sense of smell and hearing will lead her to as opposed to admiring the latest theme I’ve chosen for her vivarium. Since she won’t mind, and I enjoy Disney, the first theme for her vivarium is Disney Pixar ‘Up’, a heartwarming film full of brightly painted houses, balloons and forest.


What I Used

  • Trixie Wooden House (29 x 17 x 20 cm) I got mine from Amazon
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Cardboard (the amazon box the house came in)
  • PVA Glue
  • Scissors
Unpainted Trixie Wooden House still in packaging. Akira the cat quickly realised it wasn’t for him.

Measuring for the Window Frame

Before painting I pressed the cardboard against the window (using two pens so I had both hands free) to get my window measurement. I eyeballed the sign for in front of the door and didn’t measure for the chimney because I added that at the last minute.

Once I had a sketch of the shape of the window I drew the same shape a few millimetres outward from the window shape, then cut the frame out.


The Trixie House isn’t the same shape as the flying house in Up, the colours I chose to feature was with consideration to the orange and light blue sticky back plastic that will line the inside of the vivarium. The pictures (below) show the second coat of green on the front and the first coat of brown for the roof.

Because I’d painted the front, back and inside of the house first, I had to use masking tape to protect the more visible front from the light blue. In hindsight I should have painted the front of the roof and window panels first, I’d also have not tried to paint the inside of the door frame – it was painted white, blue and finally green when none of the alternatives worked.


Earlier I’d cut out a rectangle for a sign and border for the window. I painted these and using the PVA glue attached them onto the front of the house. Once they were attached the light blue of the doorframe didn’t fit, so I painted it green and mixed the wrong shade – drat!

Leftover paint was used to paint the balloons that will be stuck to the back of the vivarium, another reference to the epic scene in Up when his house flies away under the power of helium!

And we’re done!

A pretty and hopefully cosy sleeping nest for a domestic hedgehog.

I added the red chimney on an impulse, cutting the shape of the roof by hand and using PVA glue to support it. This is where the balloons will connect to the house using string – or not if it looks like this will be hazardous.