Q: I am a new hedgehog owner and have encountered many contradicting opinions on everything from the bedding to use, to the food they should and shouldn’t eat. What type of bedding do you recommend? I have tried the aspen shavings and these made my hedgie itchy. I am now using the corn cob bedding and have read that this might not be a good choice either. Another question is about food. What veggies and fruit should I not feed her, and can I give her the same treats I give my cats? Also what can I do about dry skin if she has it? I really enjoy her and wish to take the best care of her that I can.
A: Hearing conflicting information can be very frustrating to the new hedgehog owner. I have found from my experience that certain beddings work better and are healthier and safer for the hedgehog. I try to use non-dusty bedding, such as a paper-based CareFRESH®. Aspen bedding is usually fine, but if you feel your hedgehog is itching due to the texture, I would avoid it. Kiln-dried pine shavings are another good choice. Cedar shavings should not be used due to possible harmful levels of aromatic oils.
Hedgehogs love treats. Insects, such as mealworms, crickets and waxworms are a natural treat because hedgehogs are insectivores, or insect eaters. Fruits and veggies are also good for hedgehogs. Avoid hard fruits, citrus and foods with seeds or pits. Always cut fruits and veggies into small pieces. Cat treats would probably not hurt your hedgehog, but I would stick to treats that are more natural. Any treats can cause obesity in hedgehogs and should make up only a small portion of their daily intake.
Dry skin is common in hedgehogs. If it’s just dry skin, then a warm bath with about half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of oatmeal shampoo, vegetable oil or vitamin E mixed in can help hydrate hedgehog’s dry skin. If it is accompanied by quill loss or bald spots, which could be a sign of mites, a visit to the vet would be in order.