Pet hedgehogs are wonderful pets and very easy to look after by keeping them in cages. The cages used need to meet minimum requirements to keep the hedgehog safe and healthy. Before we bough our hedgehog I had a lot of questions about cages that needed answering for my own piece of mind, as I was worried in making a wrong decision that could be a problem for a hedgehog.
I’ve come up with 19 frequently asked questions about hedgehog cages that could help you better understand what cages are good and what additional information about cages is relevant.
1. Do hedgehogs need a cage?
Hedgehogs need a cage as a cage is easier and cheaper to heat as it’s a smaller space than leaving the hedgehog in an open room. Cages also make it easier to clean the urine and poop hedgehogs leave as bedding can easily be removed and replaced.
I quickly learnt about temperature control being an essential part of ensuring our hedgehog remained healthy. So, whilst it may be tempting to assume hedgehogs will have more space when they are kept in a room, temperature control is going to be an issue. As the hedgehogs needs to remain within 72F (22C) to 80F (26.5C) and sometimes it’s difficult to keep the heating in a house on all the time, due to cost.
Leading to sharp drops in temperature when the heating goes off, especially during the night when hedgehogs are at their most active. So, it makes sense to use a cage and keep areas within the cage warm using either a heat mat pad or a heat lamp, commonly referred to as ceramic heat emitters (CHE). As these devices are inexpensive to heat.
2. Do hedgehogs like multi level cages?
Hedgehogs have poor eyesight and depth perception, making multi level cages extremely dangerous for hedgehogs as they can easily fall off the slopes as they try to climb to the next level and injure themselves.
When I was talking to the breeder before we bought our hedgehog, they did mention the fact hedgehogs had poor eyesight. Meaning hedgehogs ideally should have a level area where there is no climbing involved and a cage without multiple levels is ideal. As a single level cage helps the hedgehog freely roam around the cage without putting themselves in any danger.
Getting a cage with multiple levels usually means the overall size of the cage is too small or too many items are going to be put into a cage. We found that putting in a litter tray took up too much space reducing the overall space our hedgehog could move around in. We decided to remove the litter tray to free up the space, even though we could have put in another level where we could have moved the feeding and drinking bowls.
We decided against this as we felt the risk of injury was too great and we’d rather contend with our hedgehog pooping all over the cage instead of putting in a litter tray and a second level.
3. Can you keep a hedgehog in a glass tank? Is it healthy?
Keeping a hedgehog in a glass tank is only possible if the glass tank has good ventilation and doesn’t get too hot. As this will provide a healthy environment for the hedgehog to live in. Otherwise, without good ventilation the hedgehog can easily suffocate and end up overheating.
As the temperature range a hedgehog needs to survive in is vitally important, I looked at whether a glass tank could be a suitable housing for a hedgehog. So, whilst keeping warm was essential, I also looked at the flip side of getting too warm, leading to aestivation.
Aestivation is the process of overheating where the hedgehogs body temperature gets too hot and as a result the hedgehog can end up splatting with their legs sticking out, as they try to cool themselves down. Hedgehogs need to be in the range of 72F (22C) to 80F (26.5C) ideally. Anything above this can be a shock to their system and cause them to overheat and this can lead to their health being damaged.
Glass tanks come in a variety of sizes and some of these sizes are not suitable for a hedgehog. A hedgehog needs a minimum of 6 square feet to live in as this is considered the minimum for them to remain healthy both physically and mentally.
The different sizes of tanks are compared below in table 1 by taking their length and width in feet to come up with the minimum square feet they provide for hedgehog living space.
|Gallons||Length(ft)||Width(ft)||Height(ft)||Length(in)||Width(in)||Height(in)||Square feet||Square inches|
As you can see the 75, 120 and 180 gallon tanks provide enough space, based on the dimensions shown, as the same gallon tank can have lower space per square feet with different dimensions, especially if they are taller.
I’ve also done the same table in metric measurements as shown in Table 2 below:
|Gallons||Length(cm)||Width(cm)||Height(cm)||Length(m)||Width(m)||Height(m)||Square cms||Square meters|
4. Can hedgehogs live in glass tanks like vivariums and aquariums?
Hedgehogs can live in glass tanks like vivariums and aquariums as long they have good ventilation, the temperature can be controlled, and they provide a minimum living area suitable for hedgehogs physical and mental wellbeing.
Vivariums also sometimes known as terrariums can provide a good environment for hedgehogs as long as they have good ventilation. Vivariums are quite stylish and with different wood finishes they can easily fit in with existing furniture.
Vivarium’s and aquariums used for hedgehogs can easily be heated using a heat lamp, like a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) as there’s less fire risk compared to a plastic cage. Careful planning is needed though to make sure the heat lamp can be safely mounted so it doesn’t fall off and burn the hedgehog, ideally a heat lamp guard should be used.
5. Are glass cages good for hedgehogs?
Glass cages are only good for hedgehogs if they have good ventilation, can be temperature controlled and are big enough for the needs of the hedgehog. Glass cages need to have easy access to remove soiled bedding as generally they are too heavy to lift because the weight of the glass.
Heaviness can be a problem, and this is one of the reasons we chose not to get a glass based cage as we tend to move our hedgehogs cage to different parts of the house, depending on whether we have visitors or not. A glass cage would have just been too heavy for my husband to carry with the added risk of one false move and the cage could easily fall and shatter.
6. How do you set up a hedgehog cage?
A hedgehog cage needs to be set up in an area away from drafts with housing inside for the hedgehog to sleep and hide. An exercise wheel is essential as hedgehogs as they run a lot at night. Feeding and drinking bowls are required and some owners also add a litter tray to their cage.
Keeping a hedgehog cage temperature controlled to remain within 72F (22C) to 80F (26.5C) is important, to stop hedgehogs becoming to cold and slipping into hibernation. Using either a heat mat pad or a heat lamp are good options, but care needs to be taken with the heat lamp, especially if a plastic cage is being used, as a heat lamp could become a fire risk.
Hedgehogs do a lot of running at night on their exercise wheels, allowing them to stay fit. A silent running type exercise wheel is recommended if the noise of the wheel going round and round is going to be a problem. Ideally, having two exercise wheels makes sense as one can be used in the cage and the other can be cleaned by soaking. Allowing the dried up poop on the exercise wheel to disintegrate, leaving the wheel clean.
We use ceramic bowls in our hedgehogs cage, one for his food and one for his water. We found out that the heaviness of the ceramic bowls made it difficult for our hedgehog to tip these bowls over. This is important as you don’t want to end up with their food all over the floor of the cage where they’ve pooped, or the cage bedding soaked with their drinking water.
Some owners use the water dispensers that can be attached to the side of a cage that has a grill or using stick on suckers. These water dispensers save on space, but care should be taken to ensure the hedgehog is drinking from these water dispensers as they could end up becoming dehydrated if they don’t drink from these dispensers.
A litter tray can also be included in a cage setup and when we did this, it didn’t take too long for our hedgehog to use the litter tray to do their business. That being said, the litter tray took up too much space, so we decided to remove it and to us, the concern over the hedgehog pooping all over the cage wasn’t a problem for us.
7. What’s the best cage for a hedgehog? (Safe Choices)
The best cage for a hedgehog is the Amazon Basics Small Animal Cage Habitat in the Jumbo size. This cage is 4.07 feet (124 cm) long, 2.23 feet (68 cm) wide and 1.71 feet (52 cm) high. This cage has easy access from the grill openings at the top and on the side and is lightweight is enough at 17.6 pounds (8 kg) to move easily.
This cage comes with accessories including a water bottle that’s non-drip, a food dish that’s tip proof, making it difficult to knock over and spill the food everywhere. There is also an access ramp to a mezzanine level where the hedgehogs food dish can be placed. For me, removing the mezzanine floor is a good idea as hedgehogs can easily fall of ramps and injure themselves.
This cage is simple to assemble and does not require any tools to do so. The size of the cage makes it easy to put in a location that’s not only provides the hedgehog privacy but also won’t get in the way.
The base of the cage is solid keeping the hedgehog safe from getting their limbs trapped as would be the case with cages that don’t have solid floors but instead have a wire grill type mess as the floor.
8. Are C and C cages good for hedgehogs?
C and C cages are a good choice for hedgehogs especially if they are 2 foot wide and 4 foot long, as this provides more than enough space for a hedgehog. These cages are made of a wired grill mesh with a tray at the bottom made from coroplast.
The coroplast tray is easy to clean as it’s made from a plastic like material, but it’s still recommended to use bedding. Lightweight fabric bedding would be ideal, as heavier bulkier fabric might elevate the hedgehog in the cage, so they could be closer to the grill side. This could be problematic if the hedgehog then get exposed to the cold.
The addition of side fleece linings can help keep the heat in the cage, as it’s wire mess style can aid heat loss compared to a plastic cage which only has a wire mesh grill at the top of the cage.
The gaps in the wire meshing aren’t too small to get an inquisitive hedgehogs limbs or nose trapped and additional fleece liners can be added to make sure the hedgehog is limited from getting to close to the grill.
Are C&C cages sturdy?
C&C cages are sturdy and have enough strength to attach multiple heat lamp holders, allowing heat lamps to be used. Water bottle dispensers can easily be attached, and other cage items can be locked into place using cable ties, that are tied to wire grills.
Some people tie additional cable ties at key points around the C&C cage to provide further strengthening, as this gives them piece of mind. Whilst other owners are quite satisfied by the sturdiness without the need for further strengthening.
9. Can you use a rabbit cage for a hedgehog?
A rabbit cage can only be used for a hedgehog if the cage can retain some heat otherwise it might make the environment too cold for a hedgehog. The cage needs to be the right size for a hedgehog, giving them plenty of space to move around.
Rabbit hutches and runs aren’t ideal as they have a front and some sides that are exposed, leaving them prone to the cold. This makes it difficult to retain the heat in this type of housing and a hedgehog could easily become too cold and fall into hibernation.
Whilst rabbits can be kept outdoors in a cage, hutch or run in temperate climates, the same cannot be said for pet hedgehogs, as their temperature needs are much more stringent. Pet hedgehogs need their environment to be around 72F (22C) to 80F (26.5C) and being outside this might not be possible especially at night.
10. How many square feet does a hedgehog need?
As a general rule, hedgehogs need at least 6 square feet to live as this allows them plenty of space to move around their cages. The cage space also needs to accommodate their housing, their exercise wheel, their feeding and drinking bowls.
Bigger cages are better for hedgehogs and having a cage that is 8 (0.74 square meters) to 10 (0.93 square meters) square feet provides a good amount of space for hedgehogs. Giving them ample space to move around and explore their cages and forage for their food.
Some owners stick litter trays inside the cage, and these take up valuable space so a cage that’s at least 8 square feet is better. Table 3 below gives some indication of how big the cage needs to be depending on the items put inside the cage.
|Cage Size in square feet (square meters)||Cage Items|
|6 (0.56)||Standard house, exercise wheel, feeding bowl and drinking bowl|
|8 (0.74)||Standard house, exercise wheel, feeding bowl, drinking bowl and litter tray|
|10 (0.93)||Large house, exercise wheel, feeding bowl, drinking bowl and litter tray|
11. Can a hedgehog live in a 10, 15 or 20 gallon tank?
Hedgehogs cannot live in a 10, 15 or a 20 gallon tank as these are not big enough to provide the minimum space of at least 6 square feet for a hedgehog needs. The 10, 15 and 20 gallon tank only provide 1.12, 2 and 2 square feet respectively, well below the minimum space required.
A tank of at least 75 gallons would be required with dimensions of at least 4 feet long by 1.5 feet wide, as this will provide the minimum 6 square feet (0.56 square meters) needed for hedgehogs to live in.
Tanks are deceptive in their volume sizing, as the height can sometimes be greater than the length, so whilst the volume in terms of gallons is quite large taking the height into consideration. The overall living space, which only based on the length and width, might actually be too small.
This is why it’s important when selecting a tank for a hedgehog to make sure the living area is the most important factor that’s considered and not the volume in gallons. As you could end up with a tank with a large volume but a really small living space that could end up being detrimental to a hedgehogs well being.
13. How much does a hedgehog cage cost?
Hedgehog cages are not cheap and a good cage suitable for hedgehogs can easily cost $50, with larger cages costing around a $100. Cages with solid floors and sides are more expensive than those with wire mess grills and also protect the hedgehog better against getting injured.
A solid floor cage with some solid sides is much better for hedgehog safety than a cage that’s made entirely out of wire mesh. This means these solid floor cages are more expensive than the wire mesh cages as there’s more material used in them, generally plastic flooring. It is highly recommended to pay the extra to make the hedgehog safe with solid flooring.
Some cages have a plastic tray that is placed at the bottom of the wire mesh cage and this provides an adequate solid floor with a couple of inches of solid side walls too. This provides good protection for the hedgehog against any accidental injury as wire mesh floors are easy for hedgehog to become trapped in.
14. What is the minimum cage size for a hedgehog?
The minimum size for a hedgehog cage is 3 feet long, 2 feet wide and at least 2 feet high. Cages bigger than this are better as long as they can be adequately heated using a heat mat pad or a heat lamp. Cages need space for housing, exercise wheels, feeding bowls and drinking bowls at a minimum, with still enough space for the hedgehog to move around in.
Table 4 below shows the width and length dimensions and the corresponding square footage of suitable cage sizes. I’ve started with cage dimensions for the minimum amount of space a hedgehog needed.
|Length(ft)||Width(ft)||Square Feet||Length(cm)||Width(cm)||Square Meters|
15. Do hedgehog cages need a top?
Hedgehog cages need a top like a metal grill as this makes it easier to remove items from within the cage during cleaning and taking the hedgehog out a night to play with. Grills at the top also stop hedgehogs climbing out of their cage as they are smart enough to climb onto housing in their cage and then use this as springboard to climb out.
Cages with more depth will be harder for a hedgehog to climb out of and our cage has a depth of 1.83 feet (22 inches) with sloping sides at the top part of the cage. Making it very difficult for a hedgehog to get a grip and get climb out.
For glass based cages like vivarium’s, aquariums to glass tanks, any top used must be appropriate in that it doesn’t impede the cage ventilation. As the hedgehog could run out of breathable air and suffocate.
16. Where should I put my hedgehog cage?
Hedgehog cages need to put in an area of the house that is warm and free from drafts, as cold air can lower the overall cage temperature even when heating using heat mat pads or heat lamps is being used.
We put our hedgehogs cage at one side of our main living area downstairs in our house. This area is warm enough during the day and shows only a moderate drop in temperature during the night. The living area has internal doors and at night we close these to make sure more of the residual heat in the space where the hedgehog cage is, stays and doesn’t escape.
From time to time, we also move the hedgehog cage to my daughters bedroom especially when we have visitors. My daughters bedroom is adequately warm enough for our. Hedgehog.
We sometimes use the conservatory area at the back of the house but only in mild weather as this room is very cold during the colder months and very hot during the summer months. Too much heat can be just as bad as too much cold, as hedgehogs can overheat due to aestivation and this could be fatal if not spotted early enough.
17. What temperature should a hedgehog’s cage be?
The hedgehogs cage needs to be at a minimum temperature of 72F (22C) to stop the hedgehog getting too cold and going into hibernation. The temperature can be controlled by a thermostat which automatically switches on the heating in the cage when the cage thermometer reading drops below the minimum temperature of 72F (22C).
Sometimes it is not possible to heat all of the cage to a minimum temperature as we found out. We made sure the most important part of the cage was heated, that was the housing where our hedgehog slept and hid. We placed the heat mat pad directly underneath the housing, allowing our hedgehog to remain warm whilst he slept.
We also made sure the room where our hedgehog was kept, was one where heat was easily retained from the central heating running during the daytime. As well, as a room which didn’t allow in any cold drafts and overly cool the room.
The room we used was always around 61F (16C) to 64.5F (18C) in the colder months and in the warmer months, we’d open the doors to the rooms during the day to allow the hot air to dissipate. This meant we didn’t have to worry about our hedgehog getting too hot.
18. What does a hedgehog need in its cage?
A hedgehog needs housing in their cage where they can hide and sleep, exercise wheels to keep them fit and healthy, feeding and drinking bowls for their food and water along with some form of heating either from heat mat pad or heat lamps. Litter trays can also be put inside a cage for hedgehogs to poop in.
Housing is important in a hedgehog cage as it provides a comfort area where the hedgehog can escape to hide and more importantly sleep. We use a plastic igloo house which we cover with fabric fleece to make it dark inside the igloo house. Fabric based sleeping pouches can also be used, as long as they are large enough for hedgehog to move around in.
Exercise wheels are an essential piece of kit for hedgehogs, providing them a great way to exercise without needing a large amount of cage space. These wheels do get noisy when being used but there are silent running options which are designed to run quietly even when used vigorously.
Feeding and drinking bowls are a must and the ceramic ones make a good choice as they are heavy enough to remain upstanding when knocked against by the hedgehog. Stopping any food or water from tipping out and being wasted.
Heating is vitally important for any hedgehog cage and using a heat mat pad to heat the hedgehog housing is one way to make sure the hedgehog is warm enough. This option only works well if the environment the hedgehog is kept in, has an adequate residual temperature.
Otherwise a heat lamp, that is a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) can be used, as long as there is no fire risk, as is the case when heat lamps are used with plastic cages. It’s important to make sure only heat lamps that emit heat are used, as some also emit light and this can play havoc with a hedgehogs body clock.
Litter trays can also be put inside cages, but we found this to be a bulky option that took up too much cage space. If we had chosen a much larger cage, then we would probably have included a litter tray in the cage.
19. What to clean hedgehog cage with?
Hedgehog cages can be cleaned with water alone to remove the any urine dried out poop stains. Soapy water can only be used if the soap is mild and doesn’t have a strong odor, with thorough rinsing recommended to remove any residual soap.
Using stronger cleaning agents like bleach are not recommended because any residual bleach if not thoroughly removed, can be damaging to a hedgehogs health. Bleach tends to also have a strong smell, and this can linger causing distress to hedgehogs.
We only use water without any detergents or soaps to clean our hedgehogs cage and the items in our hedgehogs cage too, like the plastic igloo house, the exercise wheels, the feeding and drinking bowls.
We find this more than adequate to clean the cage and the cage items and feel reassured we’re not leaving any chemical residues behind including smells that could be detrimental to our hedgehogs health.