Hedgie Enrichment

Because I am a slightly obsessed hedgehog owner, I spend a lot time thinking about hedgehog enrichment and toys.  My frustration is there just isn’t all that much out there for hedgies.  Perhaps I am too worried about there boredom, but I imagine myself in a room roughly 10 times my size with only food, water, a bathroom, and bed, and think of how absolutely bonkers I’d go.

So I have set out on a quest to find every hedgehog enrichment product (or something that can be used as such) out there and see how my hedgies like it.

#1 Must Have for every Hedgie owner: A wheel!

Remember, it must be a NON-WIRE wheel or the hedgie can break it’s little clumsy legs.  You will most likely have to buy one online as there are very few specialty pet shops left in America. And they need to be the “Large” size.  We have a Storm Wheel from Carolina Storm Hedgehogs, a Silent Spinner, and a Flying Saucer wheel. Our favorite by far is the Carolina Storm Wheel.  It is the easiest to keep clean but it takes up a lot of room. There is also the Super Pet Large Comfort Wheel which SQUEEKS, a lot, but is available at most pet retailers!!!!

Hedgies can run up to 10 miles in a night and that’s a lot of squeeking if you don’t have a Whisper Wheel or something comparable.

Check Katniss out using th Carolina Storm Wheel:

#2 Must Have: A Maze!

Considering the hedgies natural habitat, we decided to construct a “maze” for Mal that attaches to his cage. With about $80 in irrigation supplies, we created a two story, multi-room habitat for him to run around in.  Although a much smaller maze could be used, we’re just that insane.  The 4″ PVC pipes came with the vent wholes already drilled so we just had to cut to length and use elbow connectors to finish the assembly.  They are not glued together and can easily slide apart for a quick rinse out when they get dirty.  If you don’t want, or can’t have one which is connected and accessible from the main cage at all times, we suggest building one which can slide under a bed or couch for easy storage. if you like a puzzle you could store it disassembled as well.

The first few night Mal roamed the tubes, he made sure to leave a mess! We had to spray them down every morning, depositing the lunkers in his basement litter box.  After about a week he figured it out and stopped defacing them.  Now, he has dragged strips of fleece and paper litter into the tubes to sleep on. He has a favorite elbow he prefers to sleep in and can 90% be found there.

Katniss is still too small to have her own maze as she gets chilled easily. Soon we’ll be constructing her one too.

Check out his habitat here:

#3 Must Have: Cat, Dog, and Ferrit Toys!

Helloooo

So the majority of toys out there that can be utilized by hedgies are for cats, dogs, and ferrits.  Take this Kitty Tunnel and Mouse Hunt set from Target.

It is perfect for Katniss to run through the mouse hunt tent and climb out of random wholes.  Mal loves the tunnel. Because they are a ryon (or some such man made product), it can be washed, hosed off, and sprayed with Stink Out if it gets icky (which usually happens). Other options are the Marshall Octo-Play for Ferrets from Petsmart or the Marshall Pop N Play Ferret Ball Pit which connects to the Marshall Pet Super Thru-way .

You can also use cat jingle balls. We put a meal worm in the ball and let the hedgies roll it around to get the worm out. Mal caught on immediately. Katniss just enjoys rolling the ball around.

#4: Fuzzy Socks!

You know those horridly ugly yet wonderfly warm fuzzy socks people tend to give as secret santa gifts? Well now you have a new use: hedgehog play time!!! Mal is the one who utilizes these toys the most.  They’re just not fun to Katniss. BEFORE you give them to your hedgie, make sure to cut out the toe so the hedgie can crawl right thru.  These are also very useful to pick up our hedgie and it’s a great thing to have close by. They are also washable which is a major plus!

Check Mal out in his sock:

#5 Playpen!

Now, with a few dozen zip ties, we have a great playpen.

Whether you are letting your hedgies explore inside or out, I would highly encourage using a playpen.  We have a maine coon cat, and Katniss is a fast little stinker and she senses the moment you are distracted to make a break for it.  She has ended up on the other side of the living room centimeters from getting under the couch with the cat hot on her tail in the 10 seconds it takes to flip the TV channel.  This panic-moment could have been avoided if we had been using a playpen.  The cheapest (and ugliest ) is  the Super Pet Small Animal Playpen although there is a youtube video of a very persistent hedgie climbing over one of these so supervision is still a must. Fill the playpen with toys and odd objects and either live or dried meal worms so the hedgie can scavenge.

#6 Bugs!

Hedgies are insectivores and allowing them to eat bugs is a requirement in my mind.  You can buy live meal worms at most pet stores and there are a variety of articles on the internet about making your own meal worm farm (which we are attempting to do since live worms can get pricey). For the full lowdown on insect do’s and don’ts- please read fellow hedgie lover Hedgehog Headquarters

What not to buy:

When you’re roaming the isles of pet stores, remember to think about the size and personality of your hedgie.  Katniss is very exploratory and likes to interact with her humans at the same time.  Mal is reclusive and prefers to play alone in dark tight spaces.  Remember Hedgies like to pull on or tear at objects so make sure they can’t eat something off the toy like a stuffed mouse’s ear or an easily chewed plastic toy.  Hedgies do not need to chew to keep their teeth short like rabbits, guineas, and other rodents. So don’t buy toys made for that purpose unless you just like how it looks. Don’t buy wire ramps, objects the hedgie can crawl into and not get out, rabbit, hamster, or guinea food (hedgies aren’t rodents after all!), or toys with strings that could wrap around their legs or neck.

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