Cage Bedding

Your hedgehog’s cage needs to have some sort of substrate on the bottom for them to live on. A bare cage can get cold and is not very comfortable! I use fleece in my regular cages. My cages with mothers and hoglets have a mixture of aspen shavings and Small Pet Select paper bedding in their nests/hides. When babies are weaned, they then go onto fleece bedding.

 

With all bedding, make sure your hedgehog is not trying to eat it - ingestion can cause blockages. Some hedgehogs develop allergies to their bedding material, and they can also be allergic to certain laundry detergents if using fleece. 

 

 

Fleece Liners 

My absolute top choice for bedding is fleece liners - they are safe, comfortable, and reusable. You can buy pet specific liners on Etsy that often come with an absorbent layer sewn into the fleece, or you can make your own. You can also use plain fleece fabric, either from a fabric store or fleece blankets. I use blankets since they often come in nice colors and patterns, and easily fold to fit any size cage. You can spot clean your fleece daily and switch them out 1-2 times per week, or as needed. I shake my blankets off outside to get rid of any tiny pieces of stool and food, then wash them in my washing machine. I use regular detergent, though you may have to use unscented detergent if your hedgehog finds the scent overwhelming.

 

Pros

  • ​No dust or mites

  • Easy to clean (machine washable) and easy to change in cage

  • Comfortable

  • Inexpensive and last for years

  • Easy to keep an eye on urine (with light colors) and feces

  • Come in a variety of colors and patterns

Cons

  • Hedgehogs may try to liner dive (burrow underneath) and end up knocking things over in the cage - a fix for this is to give another piece of fleece for them to burrow under

  • Can get “pills” of fleece fluff that can get caught on nails or quills

 

Paper bedding - Small Pet Select

The best type of paper bedding I've found is the Small Pet Select paper bedding available on amazon (here). It is less dusty than other paper bedding brands, is light, fluffy, soft, and holds its shape well when your hedgehog makes a den/tunnel in it.

Pros

  • Soft and comfortable

  • Can be dug and burrowed in

  • The white variety shows urine and feces for easy monitoring

Cons

  • Can be messy – a cage with a deep base is needed

  • Can get caught in genitals or quills 

  • A continuous expense

 

Shavings - kiln-dried pine or aspen

Wood products naturally contain phenols, which are toxic chemicals that can irritate the respiratory systems of small animals and can poison your pet over time. This is one reason your shavings or wood products must be kiln dried. As the wood is heated up, the phenols are released, making it safer for your pet. Heating the wood can also kill mites that may be hiding within.

Cedar is a type of wood that should never be used, as it does not lose enough phenols during the kiln drying process to make it safe.

Aspen shavings have less phenols than pine, though both are acceptable to use.

 

Shavings are quite good for odor control, but cages with shavings should still be spot cleaned daily and changed fully once a week. I do find the shavings quite messy. Pieces tend to cling to clothing and fall off the hedgehogs when you have them out of their cage.

 

Pros

  • Can be dug and burrowed in, though it doesn't hold it's shape well

  • Good for odor control

Cons

  • Can be dusty and harbour mites if not kiln-dried

  • More expensive than fleece liners long term

  • Can be messy – a cage with a deep base is needed

  • Can get caught in genitals or quills

  • Difficult to see urine

 

 

Kiln dried wood pellets

If you use pelleted wood, be sure to still check what type of wood they are made out of and avoid cedar. I would not suggest using pellets though, there are much more comfortable, clean options available.

 

Pros

  • Less dusty than shavings, though they break down after getting wet and may get dustier

  • Larger pieces than shavings so less likely to get stuck in genitals

  • Absorbent

Cons

  • A continuous expense

  • Difficult to see urine

  • Easier to cause a blockage if ingested

  • Harder on their feet

 

 

Bedding to avoid:

  • Newspaper, flyers - some inks are harmful, they aren't comfortable, and they get cold when wet

  • Cedar bedding (see shavings section above)

  • Corn cob bedding – stays wet longer and can mold, can get caught in genitals