What is the Best Cage for an African Pygmy Hedgehog? Our top picks

side view of amazons basics pet cage for small animals
Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage For Small Animals JUMBO

You can keep African Pygmy Hedgehogs in a cage, and it is vitally important to make sure the right cage is chosen. Incorrect cage choices can end up causing problems, leading to their health and mental wellbeing suffering.

What is the best cage for an African Pygmy hedgehog? The best cage recommended for an African Pygmy Hedgehog needs to be a good size, allowing hedgehogs plenty of room to move around with enough space for their sleeping area, running wheel, litter box, their feeding and drinking bowls. Cramped cages can be bad for their mental health and wellbeing.

Pygmy hedgehogs who live in bigger cages will end up living a healthier life as they will be content and happy, having enough space to exercise and explore their surroundings. In their natural wild habitat, pygmy hedgehogs cover large distances, covering several miles each night, as they search for food.

Buying a smaller cage will lead to problems with space, as the cage needs to have enough space for a pygmy hedgehogs housing, running wheel, feeding and drinking bowls, with some owners electing to also include a litter tray.

What is a good cage for a hedgehog? We found the Zoozone Habitat Large cage and Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage For Small Animals Jumbo cage ideal for pygmy hedgehogs. Both are good cages as they are not cramped, making it easy for pygmy hedgehogs to explore their cages. Smaller cages can seriously affect the quality of a pygmy hedgehog’s life.

Both these cages, the ZooZone Habitat large and the Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage are reasonably priced (picture below). As well as being a decent size, ventilation is another important factor in choosing a good cage, as it is important the pygmy hedgehog has enough air to breathe.

Some types of cages can restrict the air flow, and this could be detrimental to a pygmy hedgehog’s health. Both these cages have excellent ventilation and provide an excellent environment for pygmy hedgehogs.

How big should a pygmy hedgehog cage be? African Pygmy hedgehogs need cages that are over 3 feet (91 cm) long and over 1½ feet (45 cm) wide with a depth of around 1 foot (30 cm). If litter trays, running wheels and large housing are going to be used, the cage needs to be much bigger to accommodate these.

Larger cages can be difficult to move and transport, as their size and weight makes them quite bulky, so with this in mind, we made sure the cage we chose was made of lightweight but still durable materials.

The heating used to keep pygmy hedgehogs warm also influenced our cage choice, as some cages were not suitable for heat lamps (ceramic heat emitters) as they pose a fire risk.

The background temperature of the area where the pygmy hedgehog is kept is relevant in cage choice. As areas where the background temperature is low, meaning some cages can’t retain the surrounding heat and even with a heat mat may not provide sufficient warmth. 

We chose a plastic cage because we had a good background temperature in our house and therefore could use a heat mat.

side view picture of zoozone habitat large cage
ZooZone Habitat Large cage

However, if the temperature fluctuates too much and the area becomes cold, then a Vivarium may be required. A Ceramic Heat Emitter (CHE) also known as a Heat Lamp can be used to keep this warm.

Warning: Ceramic heat emitters (CHE) also known as Heat Lamps are not recommended for plastic cages as they are a fire risk. Please choose a Vivarium instead, for more information on Vivariums.

These are the Top 3 plastic cages for 2020:

Why I would recommend the Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage For Small Animals JUMBO cage?

When I sat down and compared the different cages, I found the Zoozone Habitat Large cage ticked a lot of the boxes but this cage only seems to be available in Europe. So I looked at the Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage For Small Animals JUMBO cage, as it:

  • is great value for money, compared to the other options which I found very expensive;
  • provides enough space to house our African Pygmy Hedgehog as it’s 4 feet long (123.5 cm) and nearly 2.21 feet wide (67.5 cm);
  • has space for our hedgehog’s running wheel, igloo house, toys, and feeding bowls; and
  • is light enough to carry as we tend to move our cage around the house when we have visitors.
  • WARNING: The Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage For Small Animals JUMBO cage is not suitable for colder rooms.

Why I bought Zoozone Habitat Large?

When I sat down and compared the different cages, I found the Zoozone Habitat Large cage ticked a lot of the boxes, as it:

  • is great value for money, compared to the other options which I found very expensive;
  • provides enough space to house our African Pygmy Hedgehog as it’s 3.2 feet long (100 cm) and nearly 1.67 feet wide (51 cm);
  • has space for our hedgehog’s running wheel, igloo house, toys, and feeding bowls; and
  • is light enough to carry as we tend to move our cage around the house when we have visitors.

Features to look at in a quality plastic cage

These are the features to look at in a quality plastic cage:

  • Cages are big enough for an African Pygmy Hedgehog to live in comfortable, the Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage for Small Animals JUMBO cage is just over 4 feet long (123.5 cm) and nearly 2.21 feet wide (67.5 cm);
  • Cages are easy to clean, the Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage for Small Animals JUMBO cage has clips to separate the different parts of the cage, making it easier to clean;
  • Cages have easy access so it’s easy to take the African Pygmy Hedgehog out as well as making it easier to remove or add items. The Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage for Small Animals JUMBO cage has a grill on top, which we open to get to our hedgehog;
  • Cages have good ventilation for when it’s warmer, the Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage for Small Animals JUMBO cage’s grill on the top, keeps the cage cool;
  • Cages need to have a SAFE heating source, for the Amazon Basics Pet Habitat Cage for Small Animals JUMBO cage, a heating pad can be safely used to keep the Pygmy Hedgehog warm.

Build your own cage?

We did explore the option to build not a cage but a large penned area with heating but we decided against this as heating would have been problematic during the colder months and our hedgehog would have just remained in the heated area and not made full use of the whole space.

The size of the gap between the grills needs to be considered as these could potentially be a hazard to pygmy hedgehogs getting their snouts, limbs caught and causing injury.

A playpen is fine for supervised use but I would not recommend this as a substitute for a cage unless you can control the heating wherever the playpen is place.

This is my recommendation for a good pygmy hedgehog playpen:

What do African pygmy hedgehogs need in their cage? An African Pygmy hedgehog’s cage needs to have plenty of space for their housing, running wheel, feeding and drinking bowls, with optionally space for a litter tray. Some of these items are quite large, so require a lot more space which smaller cages would not be able to provide.

We took out the litter tray we were using because it took up too much valuable space and found it better to have the space and remove our hedgehogs poop each day not too much of a chore at all.

Can hedgehogs have multi level cages? Multi-level cages look like good choices for pygmy hedgehogs as they try to provide more space by cleverly using additional levels through the use of ramps, however this can put the pygmy hedgehog in potential danger, as due to their poor eyesight and depth perception.

They could end up falling off the ramps and injuring themselves. Pygmy hedgehogs do not have the feet capable of holding onto or grasping the ramps, so they end up falling off quite easily if they mistakenly believe the edge of the ramp had additional space beyond it.

It is better to get a larger cage with more space than to get a smaller cage with multi-levels to make up for the lack of space. Pygmy hedgehogs becoming injured or breaking bones is a disheartening site, and any bruising whilst not easily visible to the human eye, will most definitely be painful for them.

Can hedgehogs use hamster cages? Pygmy hedgehogs can use hamster cages only if the cages meet the minimum requirements in size and safety. Hamsters tend to be smaller than pygmy hedgehogs so can survive in smaller cages sizes.

We made doubly sure we bought a cage recommended by many pygmy hedgehog owners and spent more as a result. We could have opted for cheaper hamster cages, but this would have seriously compromised the space for our pygmy hedgehog, and it wasn’t something we wanted to do.

Where should I keep my hedgehog cage? Where you keep your hedgehog’s cage, depends on the room where the cage will be kept. If the room is cold then placing the cage on the floor could be a problem, as heat rises leaving the room floor colder than if the cage were kept on a table in the same room.

We keep our pygmy hedgehogs cage on the floor as the room we use tends to be warm all year round, otherwise if the room was colder than we would like, we would definitely looking at having the cage in a raise position such as on a table.

Are C and C cages good for hedgehogs? C and C cages tend to look simpler than the traditional cages. As a result, they may be more difficult to heat, with retaining heat difficult compared to an all plastic cage. The side grills could also be a hazard for hedgehog’s feet if they stand up against it.

Cleaning considerations for pygmy hedgehog cages

We tend to clean our pygmy hedgehogs cage a few times a week, with a midweek partial clean and a full clean once a week, topped off with a daily clean of any poop. Cleaning is made easier for us due to the easy accessibility our Zoozone cage has, so we do not have to end up wasting time, having to dismantle parts of the cage to get access.

We just have to flip the grill at the top to open, allowing easy access and making it a breeze to move items in and out of the cage. Our cage grill is sufficiently far from the base of the cage, making it difficult to impossible for our pygmy hedgehog to actually escape from the cage and this is vitally important.

As a pygmy hedgehog escape could end up being disastrous especially if the pygmy hedgehog cannot find anywhere warm to curl up.

Partial Wire Cages

Partial wire cages like the C and C cage was one of the options available to use but we did not choose this type of cage. Instead opting for a cage with a deep pan made of plastic with plastic sides and a metal grill at the top.

Many people find wire cages seem to have a lot of floor space compared to other types of cages and this is great for the well-being of any pygmy hedgehog. However, this must be offset against safety and we did not feel comfortable having a cage where our pygmy hedgehog could easily get their feet trapped in the wire grill.

Plastic Cages

The plastic cage we chose, the Zoozone offered us plenty of ventilation and made it easier to heat the cage using a heat mat pad. Some people may prefer to use a heat lamp (ceramic heat emitter CHE) if the distance from the top of the cage to the plastic is sufficient, however, I would throw caution to the wind, to make sure using a heat lamp doesn’t introduce a fire risk.

Whilst we do not have any other pets, a plastic cage like a Zoozone provides protection from any attempts at intrusion, with the grill securely protecting the pygmy hedgehog from any unwelcome guests.

Our Zoozone cage is very robust and has stood the test of time, without any damage from daily use and cleaning.

Cage Pans and Trays

The bottom plastic part of a cage is known as the pan and the deeper this is, that is, the height from the floor to where the plastic ends, the less chance the pygmy hedgehog has of climbing out, thereby protecting them from any attempts at escape.

Deep plastic pans are great at keeping bedding intact compared to having a shallow pan, where bedding could overflow the height of the pan, leaving a mess around the cage and at the same time depleting the effectiveness of the bedding, especially if it’s shavings or pellets.

I have seen cages with metal pans instead of plastic ones and I would not recommend metal pan cages, as any pygmy hedgehog urine and any water from the feeding bowl could cause rust, if there is no rust protection.

I think the metal pan would absorb the cold and heat more than the plastic pans, leading to an extremely cold cage base in colder months and a very warm cage base in warmer and hotter months.

This might restrict the pygmy hedgehog from venturing out, even if there is bedding on top of the metal pan. I found the plastic pan of the Zoozone, quite effective at keeping a moderate temperature all year round, without interfering in the temperature of the bedding.

Wire floor cages are a serious NO NO for pygmy hedgehogs as not only are they uncomfortable for pygmy hedgehogs to walk across but they pose a serious risk of injury, as the pygmy hedgehogs small feet and legs can easily become trapped or snag on the wired frames.

Plastic pan cages like the Zoozone cage are made from a durable robust plastic and easily cope with the wear and tear from a pygmy hedgehog. Some other cages may cost less than the Zoozone cage but will most likely be made from cheaper materials and could have brittle plastic components that wear out very quickly and could depending on how they break, be hazardous to any pygmy hedgehog who comes into contact.

We have also found the Zoozone cage very sturdy when we needed to transport our pygmy hedgehog, generally a couple of times a year to friends and family’s homes when we go on prolonged vacation breaks.

As well, as when we have guests around and need to move the Zoozone into another room or upstairs into one of the bedrooms. The top grill easily comes off and makes the transporting far easier and when the cage is put into position, the top access grill snaps back into place.

High Wire Sided cages

The depth of the bottom of the cage needs to be sufficiently deep to protect against the pygmy hedgehog trying to climb up, or even as our hedgehog does, try to stand on their hind legs with their front legs pushed against the side of the cage.

If the depth of the plastic pan of the cage is insufficient and the top part of the cage was made of wire, there would be a risk of the pygmy hedgehog getting their front legs and feet caught in the wire and worse still they could be left hanging in severe pain and agony.

Cages with wire spacing greater than half an inch can pose a problem with the pygmy hedgehog getting their head stuck, as they try to squeeze their head through to try to get out. So be extra careful ensuring if you do decide to buy a wire cage, the cage mesh is less than half an inch between the wired mesh.

The Zoozone cage not only has high sides but these sides are quite slippery so it is very difficult for a pygmy hedgehog to be able to stand up against the sides and this is great in teaching the pygmy hedgehog to eventually learn there’s little point  in trying to stand against the side of the cage as they will simply fall to the side.

If you do have a cage with a shallow pan, additional materials like Lexan sheets also known as polycarbonate sheets are an inexpensive way to add slippery surfaces to the sides of a cage.

Clear acrylic sheeting and Plexiglas sheeting can also be used but these tend to difficult to cut to size (unless a professional does it) and then there’s the cost factor, as compared to polycarbonate sheeting, these options are far more expensive.

Storage Containers made from plastic 

Using plastic storage tubs, such as the clear variety or even the non-clear variety is a cheaper way to provide somewhere for pygmy hedgehogs to live.

With many owners, especially breeders choosing plastic tubs as an alternative to a plastic cage, as they are a low cost, easy to clean and disinfect choice. Due to them being lightweight, they are also easy to move around and transport pygmy hedgehogs.

It’s important to make sure if the lids are used on a plastic tub, there are enough holes drilled into the lid to ensure air can get in and out, so the pygmy hedgehog can breathe and provide plenty of ventilation to keep the inside a little cooler if it is too hot outside the plastic tub.

We struggled finding a plastic tub large enough for our pygmy hedgehog to use as a bath and getting one that was big enough was difficult. We did even look at a child’s plastic bathtub with some of these being 4 feet long (120 cm) by 2 feet wide (60 cm) with a depth of 2 feet (60 cm) but felt a cage was better, as it wouldn’t look too out of ordinary compared to a bathtub.

More importantly the Zoozone cage allows more light in, allowing the pygmy hedgehog too easily work out when it is day and when it is night, thereby not confusing their normal nocturnal body clock.

Plastic tubs and bathtubs require extra vigilance when using heating sources, as the heat generated can cause damage to the plastic, possibly causing melting and igniting the plastic. This represents a serious fire risk and careful consideration must be taken before choosing this option of plastic tub instead of a cage.

Their taller sides may stop surrounding heat from circulating into the tub, providing an environment that’s either colder than expected or if it is summer, an environment where heat takes longer to dissipate, making it too hot at ground level for the pygmy hedgehog.

As our Zoozone cage has a metal grill at the top making it near enough impossible for our pygmy hedgehog to escape, plastic tubs will not necessarily have anything on top to stop possible escape. Even though the sides of the plastic tub on the surface make them appear as insurmountable, if there is anything in the plastic tub, the pygmy hedgehog can climb onto, they will be partially halfway to escaping.

We use a plastic igloo house and on the rare occasion I have seen our pygmy hedgehog manage to climb onto this, but still not be able to stand up and reach the top of the cage but a plastic tub might be different, allowing them to get up to an escapable position.

Heat Mat pads for plastic cages

Keeping a pygmy hedgehog warm during the colder months is essential as they can go into hibernation and potentially starve to death in their hibernation state.

Heat mats are an inexpensive way of providing heat for a pygmy hedgehog. We use one and have placed the heat mat with his house on top, so he can sleep in his house all warm and snug.

These are my recommendations for a good heat pad mat:

Why I picked the Petnap Flexiguard Metal heat pad mat?

The Petnap Flexiguard Metal Heat Pad Mat comes with a thermostat and a thermometer, allowing the cage temperature to be monitored and carefully controlled throughout the year.

When I sat down and compared the heat mats, I found the Petnap Flexiguard 33 Metal heat pad mat ticked a lot of the boxes, as it:

  • is great value for money, compared to the other options which I found very expensive.
  • has full armored cable protection to provide protection for the main cable that connects the heat mat to the power supply.
  • is designed to be left on all the time, coping easily being on for days at a time.
  • has low running costs with approximately 25 watts an hour in electricity costs, resulting in pennies to run.
  • has a compatible heat mat cover available that is easy to remove for cleaning, is sturdy for the pygmy hedgehog to use and provides a layer of protection from the heat mat itself.
  • has a compatible thermostat to control temperature and a thermometer to measure the temperature inside the cage.

Features to look at in a quality Heat Pad Mat

These are the features to look at in a quality Heat Pad Mat:

  • Has full armored cable protection to protect against electrocution should the pygmy hedgehog start chewing the cables?
  • Has a robust design meaning the heat mat can be left on all the time?
  • Has a low watt running requirement, typically around 25 watts?
  • Has compatible heat mat covers that are easy to remove as well as clean, ideally, these should be zipped?
  • Has a compatible thermostat with a thermometer that can get the inside temperature of the cage?

Putting a hedgehog cage in a cold room isn’t a good idea, as the temperature in the cage falls rapidly. We have a big room at the back of our house that initially we thought would be fine for our hedgehog but this room even with heating is still cold in the winter months.

In fact, during the colder months, we don’t use this room ourselves as it’s too cold for even us to sit or lounge around. So, for a hedgehog, it would be a dangerous room for them to reside in.

Instead, our hedgehog lives with us in the main family room which is heated, with the heating coming on in the morning and early evening for a few hours a day, with the heating thermostat set to come on if the temperature drops below 64.5F (18C).

In an ideal environment the room where a pygmy hedgehog is housed, keeping the temperature between the ideal of 72F (22C) and 80F (26.5) can be difficult as heating a room to stay between these temperatures can be expensive, especially if it’s throughout the day and night and across the year.

We have gas central heating and to keep the heating between these ideal temperatures over the colder months is prohibitively expensive. During the spring and summer months, the natural heat is adequate, but some form of heating is required for the colder months.