Deciding on whether to keep a pygmy hedgehog in a cage or a vivarium is a choice owners will be faced with. I decided to do some investigation on the suitability of using a vivarium.
Can you keep a hedgehog in a vivarium? Pygmy hedgehogs can be kept in vivariums as long as there is enough ventilation for them to breathe, enough space for roaming along with space for housing, running wheels to feeding bowls and a suitable source of heating like a heat lamp to keep the pygmy hedgehog warm.
Vivariums need to be large enough to allow a pygmy hedgehog to explore so they can remain physically and mentally fit. Consideration should be given to items such as running wheels, housing and feeding bowls, as these do take up a lot of space. If the Vivarium is too cramped it will make it difficult for the pygmy hedgehog to explore their Vivarium and will seriously affect the quality of their life.
For Vivariums there is more choice of heating options including heat lamps (ceramic heat emitters), which would pose a fire risk with plastic cages and heat mats can also be used. However, a decent background temperature is required.
When the background temperature of where the pygmy hedgehog is kept is lower, Vivariums can be a good choice ONLY if the heat provided is from a heat lamp (ceramic heat emitter). This will be able to provide enough heating inside the Vivarium, without being influenced by lower background temperatures.
We are thinking of choosing a Vivarium when we move to our new house, as we will probably put our African Pygmy Hedgehog into a summer room (conservatory) which can colder in the winter months.
These are the Top 3 Vivariums for 2020:
- Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi Large Beech (check price on Amazon)
- (US) REPTI ZOO 67Gallon Reptile Large Terrarium (check price on Amazon)
- Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi Large Walnut (check price on Amazon)
- Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi Large Oak (check price on Amazon)
Why I would pick the Vivexotic Repti-Home Maxi Large Vivarium?
When I sat down and compared the different Vivariums, I found the Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi vivarium ticked a lot of the boxes, as it:
- is great value for money, compared to the other options which I found to be very expensive;
- uses wood that’s SAFE for African Pygmy Hedgehogs and isn’t toxic to them;
- provides enough space to house an African Pygmy Hedgehog as it’s over 3 feet long (115 cm) and nearly 2 feet wide (51 cm);
- has space for our hedgehog’s running wheel, Igloo house, toys, and feeding bowls; and
- has the option of a matching cabinet to store items.
Features to look at in a quality Vivarium
These are the features to look at in a quality Vivarium:
- Vivariums are big enough for an African Pygmy Hedgehog to live in comfortable, the Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi Vivarium is well over 3 feet long (115 cm) and nearly 2 feet wide (51 cm);
- Vivariums are easy to clean, the Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi has clips to separate the different parts of the Vivarium, making it easier to clean;
- Vivariums 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 Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi has a lid on top, which is opened to get to the pygmy hedgehog;
- Vivariums have good ventilation for when it’s warmer, the Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi vents on the top, keeps the Vivarium cool (without proper ventilation vivariums can retain moisture, making the environment for the pygmy hedgehog a health issue);
- Vivariums need to have a GOOD heating source when background temperatures are lower, for the Vivexotic Reptihome Maxi, a heat lamp (ceramic heat emitter) can be used to keep the Pygmy Hedgehog warm.
- If we had the extra space, we would go for a vivarium cabinet combo, as the cabinet comes in handy to keep all the pygmy hedgehog stuff, like their food, spare running wheels, bedding etc. Do make sure the cabinet, if bought separately, is the same length and width (depth) as the vivarium.
These are the Top 3 Vivarium Cabinet Combos for 2020:
- Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large Beech (check price on Amazon)
- Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large Walnut (check price on Amazon)
- Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large Oak (check price on Amazon)
Why I would pick the Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large Vivarium Cabinet Combo?
Looking at getting a vivarium meant an opportunity to get a matching cabinet as part of a combo, this makes a lot of sense because:
- The Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large saves space, allowing us to put all the pygmy hedgehog related items like the cleaning, spare running wheels, bedding to food in the cabinet;
- The Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large is incredibly stylish and just look like part of the furniture;
- The Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large is very sturdy, providing an excellent base for the Vivexotic Repti-Home Vivarium & Cabinet – Maxi Large, which is heavy;
Features to look at in a quality Vivarium Cabinet combo
These are the features to look at in a quality Vivarium Cabinet combo:
- Make sure the cabinet if bought separately is the same length and width (depth) as the vivarium, otherwise, the vivarium on top won’t fit in snuggly and safely;
- Make sure the cabinet matches the same style as the vivarium, so getting a beech style vivarium would require a beech style cabinet;
- Make sure the wood used in the cabinet like the vivarium isn’t toxic to hedgehogs;
- Make sure the Vivarium Cabinet is strong and sturdy enough to take the weight of the Vivarium;
Essential vivarium buying tips
1. Avoid aromatic wood
Avoid vivariums made from aromatic woods such as pine and cedar as these can be toxic to pygmy hedgehogs.
2. Make sure wood has been kiln-dried
Make sure any wood used has been kiln-dried, you can tell if it’s been kiln dried as there isn’t an overbearing smell of the wood
3. Avoid glued together vivariums
Make sure there’s no glue used to join the pieces of the vivarium together, as this can be toxic to pygmy hedgehogs. MDF type woods typically use glues for sticking them together, so these should be avoided as a vivarium material.
4. Add more ventilation
With glass fronted vivariums add additional holes for ventilation just to be safe there’s enough ventilation. Even with the ventilation slits added by the manufacturer doesn’t necessarily the vivarium will have enough ventilation. Remember these vivariums are primarily designed for reptiles and amphibians, not mammals like pygmy hedgehogs.
5. Keep glass to a minimum
Glass is fine for keeping an eye on the pygmy hedgehog but too much glass can lead to moisture problems and mould, especially black mould building up.
Black mould can be dangerous to pygmy hedgehogs especially as in the confined space of a vivarium the black mould spores don’t disperse as they would in an open space. Making it more likely the pygmy hedgehog continually breathes in the black mould spores.