Hedgehogs & Temperature

Always keep a thermometer near your hedgehogs cage to monitor the temperature daily. The temperature of the room should stay between 72 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. With 74 – 78 degrees is the ideal temperature for a pet hedgehog. We have found that our hedgehogs breed much better when we keep the room they are in between 75 – 80 degrees. We have a separate building with its own heating and cooling system to maintain the temperatures. On really cold nights we use portable heaters with built-in thermometers to help maintain this temperature. We also have several digital thermometers in our hedgehog room that display the highest and lowest temperatures for a 24 hour period. These can be found in the lighting section at Wal-Mart and are very needed if you suspect that a room is getting too cold or hot while you are away or sleeping at night.

Hedgehogs can die from both cold and heat extremes. If a hedgehog is too cold they will not be as active and will be more grumpy and huffy when handled. Below 70 degrees they will start to go into a false hibernation, but since the African Pygmy Hedgehog is from a warm climate in the wild, they do not have the ability to actually hibernate, unlike their cousins, the European Hedgehog. So letting them become too cold will eventually cause internal organs to shut down, respiratory problems, or sudden death. The signs that your hedgehog is too cold are if it is very lethargic, much huffier/grumpier than usual, slow to respond to being woken up, has a cold belly or feet, or is even wobbling. Immediately begin to warm him up, but do so gradually.

In the same way, heat can cause death as well. Never keep your hedgehog outside unattended, especially in a glass aquarium or enclosed cage. And never leave them in a hot car for even a minute. If somehow your hedgehog does become too hot and you find him sprawled out with his back legs behind him, sluggish, breathing heavy, and even wobbling when he walks, then get him to a cooler room immediately…And provide him something to drink, but do not try to force him to drink since it could cause a respiratory problem. If within 10 minutes of getting him in a cooler room he does not start to perk up and want to drink, get him to the nearest vet ASAP…Heat stroke kills faster than cold!

To add heat our first recommendation is to use a space heater to heat the entire room that the hedgehog is in. If this is not possible or is too expensive, then the next best option is to use a heat lamp with a ceramic heat emitter (produces no light, only heat which is the best for a nocturnal animal). NEVER USE A REGULAR LIGHT BULB FOR A NOCTURNAL ANIMAL – they will not exercise enough at night and will become overweight. A red bulb is another option, but they are more expensive and burn out quickly. Over the course of a year you would need to many, where as the ceramic heat emitter cost more to start with but can last for a year or two.

The other option is to use a Heat Pad under the cage, but this is only possible if you only need to raise the temperature no more than 2 degrees.

Please see the Hedgehog Shopping List page for more details about the following items:

Heat Lamp Fixture

If your home does not stay about 72 degrees at all times and you do not want to use a space heater to heat the room the hedgehog is kept in, then we recommend using a heat lamp over the cage. You need a fixture pictured to the left and a bulb like the ones shown below in combination. The fixture must be bought at a pet store to make sure that is rated to be left on all the time. A reptile/pet rated heat lamp fixture will have a ceramic socket that will prevent it from starting a fire. DO NOT RISK USING A CHEAPER TYPE WITH A PLASTIC SOCKET THAT COULD CATCH FIRE! Also, make sure that the fixture is rated to handle the correct amount of wattage for the bulb that is needed. The one pictured to the left can be purchased at PetSmart in the reptile section.

Ceramic Heat Emitter

Instead of using a light bulb in the Heat Lamp Fixture that would also produce light, we recommend using a Ceramic Heat Emitter. They cost more initially than a light bulb, but will last much longer (bulbs often must be changed every month or two and the heat emitter can last more than a year or two). Since hedgehogs need heat 24 hours a day and especially at night in most homes, using a light bulb would prevent them coming out and running on their wheels or exploring as much as they normally would if the room were dark at night. This can cause a hedgehog to become overweight quickly. If you do use a light bulb, at least use a red bulb.

Ceramic Heat Emitters come in different wattages like a light bulb, so the wattage needed in your home will depend on how much you need to raise the temperature. We recommend buying the heat emitter at a local store and keeping the packaging and receipt so it can be exchanged if the wattage needs to be different. Remember to use a thermometer to monitor the heat at all times.

Remote Sensor Thermostat

To keep the temperature more consistent a thermostat can be used. It will turn on and off at the set temperature – a separate thermometer is still necessary to monitor the actual temperature. However, if the wattage is to low on the heat source then it will stay on all the time. Hedgehogs are comfortable up to 82 degrees, so it is better to go a little warmer than not warm enough. It can also be used with a Heating Pad shown below.

Small Animal (Mammal) Heating Pad

The 25-watt 9″ x 12″ heated pad can be used inside the hedgehog’s cage or under it depending on how cold your house is kept. The pad is durable and easy to clean and comes with a 5’6″ cord with steel chew-guard. It is not normally sold in PetSmart store and is not on their website consistently, but they are often sold on Amazon and other online pet sites. We prefer the pad be placed under the cage, but the weight of the cage should NOT sit on the pad or it can start a fire. Slats of wood or books can be placed under the cage to elevate it so the pad can be slid under the cage.

This pad should only be used if the temperature needs to be brought up a couple of degrees above 72. If the temperature is below 72 degrees or needs to be brought up more than that, then another heating method should be used as described above.

NEVER use a reptile heating pad under or in a cage with a plastic bottom. Reptile heating pads get much hotter than mammal heating pads and can melt a plastic cage. Please read all the safety warnings and directions of any added heat source you buy for your hedgehog.