Hedgehogs make wonderful pets. They’re absolutely adorable and fairly low-maintenance, but they’re a different enough pet that you won’t be yet another person on your block with a cat or dog in the house.
Many people are unfamiliar with how to properly raise them, though, and that extends to buying a properly sized cage for them. This is an extremely important decision, as giving them an enclosure that’s too small can affect both their physical and mental health, and buying one that’s not designed for hedgehogs could allow them to escape.
In the step-by-step guide below, we’ll walk you through what to look for when buying a hedgehog cage, so you and your prickly friend can both be comfortable with their new digs.
First, Evaluate Your Available Space
Hedgehogs don’t need much space — a cage 1’ x 2’ is often seen as the bare minimum, though your pet will need quite a bit more room than that. Typically, expect to aim for 2’ x 3’ at least.
However, the exact amount of room is up to you. Your hedgehog will take advantage of however much space you choose to give them, so it’s up to you what you’re willing to sacrifice to a hedgehog enclosure.
Before you go shopping for a cage, evaluate your home and decide on the best spot to put it. Once you have an idea of where it will go, you’ll have a better idea of what size cage will be ideal.
Remember to Account for Doors
You’ll need a way to access your hedgehog’s enclosure, whether it’s to clean it or simply to take your little buddy out to play with them. That means the habitat will need a door, so make sure the space you’ve picked out has room for that door to open and close.
That means certain tight fits, such as on shelves, will be out, or certain types of enclosures will be disqualified. This isn’t a huge issue, but it may require getting creative. At the very least, you don’t want to bring home a pricy new enclosure only to find out that you have no way of putting your hedgehog inside it.
Also, keep in mind that it needs to be in a convenient spot for cleaning. That means not putting it too high up or in a location that’s awkward to reach.
Vertical Space Is as Important as Horizontal Space
Hedgehogs love to climb and explore, so you’ll want a cage with multiple levels for them to check out. Many hedgehog habitats have a series of enclosed tubes running all over the place, as the animals have poor eyesight and can fall when climbing if not kept in an enclosed space.
You’ll need room for all those tunnels and ramps, though, so make sure you have plenty of vertical space for your tank. Fortunately, vertical space is often easier to come by in most homes than horizontal space, so this may not be much of an issue.
Don’t forget ventilation. Your hedgehog will need fresh air, so when scouting your home for vertical space, make sure there’s nothing that will encroach on top of the cage or otherwise interfere with airflow.
Think About What You’ll Put Inside the Cage
Hedgehogs require quite a bit of stimulation to stay healthy and happy, so you’ll need to provide yours with plenty of entertainment options. These can include an exercise wheel, balls, tunnels, mirrors, and more.
Many owners find that spoiling their hedgehog is incredibly satisfying, and you should assume that you’ll be buying your buddy quite a few toys. That means there needs to be room for them all, so account for their size when figuring out which tank to purchase.
Finally, Consider the Size of Your Hedgehog
There are three different domesticated species of hedgehog, and they can range in size from 5 to 9 inches. It (hopefully) goes without saying that a larger hedgehog will need more room than a smaller one.
Keeping a baby hedgehog in a small enclosure won’t inhibit their growth, so don’t try it. Instead, they’ll just become too big for their habitat, causing them to feel stressed and cramped.
Also, don’t keep multiple hedgehogs in a single enclosure. These animals aren’t social by nature, and keeping two of the same sex could lead to deadly fights. You should generally only keep one hedgehog at a time, which reduces your need for more space.
Remember That Your Entire House Will Become Their Cage — At Least Part of the Time
Hedgehogs require quite a bit of room for such small creatures, but they also love to get out and explore. You’ll likely love to let your little buddy roam around your house, and doing so will be good for their physical and mental health (provided that they don’t get stepped on or eaten by a cat, of course).
Unless you plan on letting your hedgehog roam freely for most of the day, though, buying a properly sized tank is essential. Hopefully, the guide above has demystified the process somewhat so you can purchase your hedgehog’s next home with confidence.
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Featured Image Credit: Amaya Eguizábal, Pixabay