Florida Hedgehogs

A leading hedgehog breeder in sunny north Florida since 2006. 

Hedgehog Owner Checklist

  • Digital Thermometer
  • Heat Lamp/Ceramic Heat Emitter - We recommend a heat lamp with a dimmer switch.
  • 12 inch Wheel - with a solid running surface.
  • Resin/Plastic Hide - 12 inch hides provide room for them to comfortably move around.
  • Cage or Enclosure - with a solid bottom and solid sides.  We recommend Sterilite, Rubbermaid or Hefty storage bins.
  • Food Bowl & Insect Bowl - Shallow and heavy.
  • Water Bottle - 8 oz. or larger.
  • Kibble/Dry Food - See Water, Food & Insects below.
  • LIVE Insects - Never freeze-dried.  Never yard-caught.  We are happy to give suggestions on where to purchase.

Proper Hedgehog Temperatures

While a temperature range of 72°F - 85°F is well tolerated, THE IDEAL TEMPERATURE RANGE FOR HEDGEHOGS IS 75°F - 80°F (23°C - 27°C).

COLD - First and foremost, you need to purchase a digital thermometer. Knowing the exact temperature is essential.
You MUST check the temperature at least every 4-8 hours to ensure that the heat source is reaching the desired temperature. It is best to start with low wattage and increase as necessary. In the event of a power outage during cold weather, please make accommodations for your hedgehog with a family member, neighbor, etc. They cannot endure the same temperatures that we can.

HEAT - Hedgehogs can endure temperatures up to 85°F but should not be allowed to remain in temperatures exceeding 85°F for prolonged periods of time. Over exposure to extreme temperatures can cause heat exhaustion and even death. In the event of a power outage during very high temperatures, a large bowl of ice can drop the temperature in a hedgehog’s enclosure as much as 10°F (which is usually sufficient to reach the ideal temperature range.) Please contact us if you have any questions about temperature requirements or about emergency measures that can be taken.

Hedgehog Housing

Hedgehogs can climb and escape from an enclosure with no top if the sides are not tall and solid (no bars to climb up.) Hedgehogs have tiny feet that will slip through wire bottoms and sides causing injury.  A solid bottom is a must and we strongly recommend solid sides as well.  In a cage (with bars), if hedgehogs reach the top and get their heads through, they can hang themselves :(

Despite what you may read elsewhere on the internet, hedgehogs do not do well in pairs or groups.  Housing more than one hedgehog in an enclosure is NOT recommended.  Squabbling WILL result in injuries and can even be fatal.  We strongly advise 1 hedgehog per enclosure.
Another important reason to keep all hedgehogs housed separately is so that you can monitor food and water consumption.  If you have more than 1 hedgehog in an enclosure you have no way to monitor how much each is consuming.  If you find an abnormal stool in the enclosure, you have no way to know who produced it.  Better safe than sorry.

LOCATION (in your home)
Ensure that you place your hedgehog in a safe and temperature controlled location. The following locations in your home are typically unsuitable:

FIREPLACES – NEVER place your hedgehog near a fireplace. Temperatures near fireplaces can often exceed 90°F-125°F and the smoke and fumes emitted can be lethal to your hedgehog. Caged animals (of any species) should never be placed within 10-15 feet of a fireplace.
NEAR WINDOWS – Windows are often drafty and allow marked temperature fluctuations of as much as 20°F from the center point of the room.
NEAR DOORS – Entry doors are extremely likely to cause marked temperature fluctuations.
LAUNDRY ROOM – It seems an unlikely area to place your hedgehog, but some folks try this.  I strongly advise against it.  In addition to temperature fluctuations, the noise and smells will be harmful to the hedgehog.  They may suffer respiratory, neurological and gastric damage that can lead to death.
KITCHENS/DINING ROOMS – Kitchens can often exceed ideal temperatures when an oven is in use. Fumes from gas stoves/ovens can be harmful or lethal. Kitchens and dining rooms are often stressful areas for hedgehogs.  Increased noise (pots and pans clanging, fridge door being opened and closed, etc.), increased traffic through the area and a large volume of smells.  Too many odor fluctuations can cause your hedgehog to become reluctant to eat and/or become withdrawn or aggressive.
BEDROOMS – Bedrooms may be kept at a cooler temperature for sleeping comfort.  Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal and may keep you awake all night.  It is possible that you may disturb him/her.  Unfamiliar sounds (snoring, beds squeaking) can cause stress which can cause behavioral changes and even health issues.

Hedgehog Food, Insects, Water

Hedgehogs are omnivores and in the wild they are opportunistic eaters.  They will eat a wide variety of foods including insects, small mammals, birds, reptiles, plants, and many other things.  This is not necessarily because that is what their diet should consist of, but because it is what is available to them and a hungry hedgehog has to eat what is available.

Many specialty hedgehog foods are available, however, it has been our experience that these are typically not nutritionally adequate and often contain large amounts of by-products, fillers, artificial preservatives, colors and flavorings, all of which are unhealthy for hedgehogs.  These specialty foods also often contain dried corn, peas, nuts, seeds, etc. which are a choking hazard, could cause broken teeth, and will cause digestive discomfort and possibly illness if the hedgehog is actually able to ingest them.

After many years of observing how the hedgehogs respond to different foods and doing lots of research we have chosen to feed a mix of specific foods.  We do our best to avoid artificial preservatives, colors and flavors.  We also try to ensure that the first 3-5 ingredients are animal protein.

We send all hedgehogs home with a sample of our mix.  This is to either get your started or to help you gradually wean them to the food that you've chosen.

It is essential to offer live insects such as mealworms, crickets, hornworms, grasshoppers, grubs, wax worms, etc. in addition to the dry kibble.

Never offer yard-caught insects as they could contain pesticides or other chemicals such as fertilizers.  They could also contain parasites that could result in a parasitic infection in the hedgehog.
Live insects can be purchased at nearly all reptile shops or from online insect farms/vendors.
Avoid bait shops as the insects are often fed growth hormones and could contain parasites.
Avoid freeze-dried insects as these have been known to cause gastric/intestinal impaction and are not as nutritionally valuable as live insects.

Live insects should be offered a minimum of twice a week, a maximum of every other day.  A VARIETY of insects is recommended.
  **  Feeding only mealworms can cause nutritional and/or metabolic issues.
  **  Feeding only crickets can result in moderate to severe constipation.

The guideline that we suggest to our buyers is as follows:

  Insects commonly sold in most areas  Large  Small
Mealworms (high in fat) 3-55-7
Superworms (high in fat) 1-22-3
Wax worms (high in fat) 1-22-3
NOTE:  Certain roaches are illegal in Florida.  Some roaches are much higher in fat than others.  Please research thoroughly before feeding roaches to your hedgehog.

If you are not willing to handle LIVE INSECTS ... hedgehogs ARE NOT the pet for you.

      Insect Nutritional Value.  Click for larger view.

Observing your hedgehog's weight is important.  Some hedgehogs become overweight from over-eating and/or lack of exercise.  If you notice that your hedgehog is unable to roll tightly into a ball, he or she may be overweight.  If you see a noticeable amount fatty tissue around the front shoulders (the dreaded fat hump) or excessive fatty tissue around the rump (the dreaded big butt), then you'll want to consider either a lower calorie dry food, rationing the amount of food offered daily, or strong encouragement of exercise.  Playing with your hedgehog to keep them moving is very good exercise and we advise more exercise as the first approach :)

Food should be offered in a shallow, heavy dish that can hold approximately ½ - 1½ cups of food.  Unless your hedgehog shows signs of a weight problem, food should be offered at all times. Food remaining from the previous day should be discarded and fresh food offered daily.

Treats that we consider to be safe infrequently and in moderation:
Fully cooked and cooled poultry (unseasoned)
Fully cooked and cooled egg (unseasoned)
Meat or poultry baby foods (preferably organic)
Canned cat or dog food (check ingredient list)
LIVE Insects

Note:  Our definition of infrequently (treat) is no more than 1 day a week.  Our definition of moderation is a portion that is equivalent to the size of a dime.

Water - We recommend a water bottle because most hedgehogs will knock a water dish over, play in it, or fill it full of bedding, resulting in no water available to them.
Clean water should be given daily and bottles/bowls should be washed every few days as they can grow bacteria if not cleaned regularly.

Handling Hedgehogs

When bringing home a new hedgehog, it is often best to give them a few hours to get acclimated to their new surroundings.  For less social hedgehogs, 12 - 24 hours may be needed for them to feel secure.  Hedgehogs typically begin to rouse at sundown and that is when they are most receptive to being handled.

When picking up a hedgehog, it is best to slip your fingers under their belly and lift straight up.  In nature, predators attack from behind so if you grab them from behind, your hedgehog will instinctively curl up to protect itself.  This is a sign of fear, not aggression.  If your hedgehog rolls up and huffs, pick him/her up regardless and wait patiently for them to open up.  If you allow him/her to intimidate you, they will continue with the same behavior.  Holding them in the palm of your hand, being very still and quiet, is the best way to gain a hedgehog's trust.

Do not try to restrain him/her. Allow them to walk around freely (within reason.)  If you try to restrain him/her they will react negatively.  If they are going in a direction that isn't desirable, gently place your hand in front of them and corral them back in your direction.


NOTE: Lay out an old towel or equivalent to protect clothing, carpet and furniture in case he/she makes an oops while roaming.

Hedgehog Exercise

An exercise wheel is a must!  Hedgehogs are foragers and can (and do) walk up to 7 or more miles each night.  The exercise wheel provides the hedgehog with a way to satisfy that natural need to walk.  The wheel also helps to alleviate stress and anxiety as well as ensure that your hedgehog maintains a healthy weight.  The wheel should have a solid walking surface to prevent injuries such as snagged toenails or trapped limbs.  Hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal and most of their waking hours are after sundown, so expect to wake up to a "poopy wheel".

Other suitable exercise options include:
Allowing your hedgehog to run around on a protected surface (with your supervision)
Taking a dip in the sink or bathtub (with your supervision and avoiding bathing too frequently)
Strolling around in a runabout ball (must be ferret size and use a protected surface)
Tunnels and tubes for the hedgehog to walk through (must be at least 4 inches in diameter)
An empty toilet paper tube makes a great toy that will give them a little work-out and is funny to watch.
Remember to remove all toys from the cage when you're not around to prevent injury and ensure that they have access to food and water.

Hedgehog bathing and cleaning

Hedgehogs should only be bathed when necessary.  Each bath removes vital oils from their skin and over-bathing will likely result in dry skin issues.

Give your hedgehog plenty of towel time.  He/She should be COMPLETELY DRY when placed back into their enclosure to prevent any bacterial or fungal issues which can be caused by wet skin.

NOTE:  While we offer organic, dye free, fragrance free shampoo, we recommend only using shampoo when necessary.

Cleaning your hedgehog’s enclosure is simple.  Mix 1 part chlorine bleach to 40 parts water and use this to clean the enclosure, and all accessories such as the litter pan, wheel, hide, food bowl and water bottle.  Make sure to rinse thoroughly and drip or towel dry.  This should be done no less than once a week, preferably every 3-4 days.  This will keep down any bacteria growth and odor as well as keeping your hedgie happy and healthy.

Cleaning doesn't have to be a thankless chore.  Spend time with your hedgie while the supplies dry.  By spending time with your hedgehog, then returning him/her to a clean environment, you may strengthen your bond.

Hedgehog Illness

FIRST AND FOREMOST, if you suspect that your hedgehog is ill or injured, seek the medical attention of a licensed vet that is experienced with hedgehogs immediately.

While we are knowledgeable about many hedgehog health issues, we are not medical professionals though we would like to know about health concerns for our records.

Several things can affect a hedgehog’s health. Hedgehogs can develop or suffer from issues such as obesity, skin conditions, respiratory infections, injuries, mites, fungal infections, congenital defects, neurological disorders, etc.  Some of these issues can be researched on the internet and treated successfully at home; however we recommend that you at least consult with a licensed vet before beginning any treatment.

A very common complaint among hedgehog owners is that their hedgehog is wobbling.  Nearly all cases are temperature related.  When a hedgehog is too cool, they will be very  unsteady and will begin to wobble.  Once they are warmed up all issues should resolve.  If not, the hedgehog could have an ear infection but you should seek medical attention promptly.

Dry skin is another common complaint and is typically easily corrected.  Exfoliating with a brush while bathing, to remove dead skin cells and any debris, then applying a mix of vitamin E oil and flax seed oil will often soothe the skin and correct the problem.

Parasites: It is possible for your hedgehog to contract external parasites. Wood shavings can contain mites, and fleas and ticks can be carried in by other animals or even humans.
Signs and symptoms of external parasites could be:
Constant scratching (all animals scratch occasionally)
Dry and flaking skin
Cracked skin or open sores
Excessive quill loss resulting in bald spots
Caked or crusty eyes, ears or muzzle.
If you observe any of these symptoms, contact your vet.  An infestation of parasites will result in health problems that could lead to death. We are always happy to help and will offer advice in many cases.  When a situation appears to be something significant, we will recommend that you seek medical attention from a vet.