How to Train Your Hedgehog: A Guide for Beginners - Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are adorable, spiky, and surprisingly smart animals that can make great pets for the right owners. However, they are not as easy to care for as some might think. Hedgehogs have specific needs and preferences that must be met in order to keep them healthy and happy. In this article, we will cover some of the basics of hedgehog ownership, such as how to choose a suitable cage, what to feed your hedgehog, how to handle and socialize your hedgehog, and how to train your hedgehog to do some simple tricks.

Choosing a Cage - Sleeping Hedgehog in Cage

Hedgehogs are active and curious creatures that need a lot of space to explore and exercise. A minimum cage size for a hedgehog is 4 square feet, but bigger is always better. The cage should have a solid bottom, as wire floors can hurt your hedgehog’s feet and cause infections. The cage should also have a secure lid, as hedgehogs are good climbers and can escape easily.

The cage should be located in a quiet, well-ventilated, and temperature-controlled area of your home. Hedgehogs are sensitive to noise, drafts, and extreme temperatures. The ideal temperature range for a hedgehog is between 72°F and 80°F. If the temperature drops below 70°F, your hedgehog may go into hibernation, which can be fatal. If the temperature rises above 85°F, your hedgehog may suffer from heat stroke, which can also be fatal. You can use a thermometer and a heating pad or lamp to monitor and adjust the temperature of your hedgehog’s cage.

The cage should be furnished with bedding, toys, food and water dishes, a litter box, a hideout, and a wheel. The bedding should be soft, absorbent, and dust-free, such as fleece, paper, or aspen shavings. Avoid cedar or pine shavings, as they can cause respiratory problems and allergic reactions. The toys should be safe and stimulating, such as tunnels, balls, chew toys, and puzzle toys. Avoid toys with small parts, sharp edges, or strings that your hedgehog could choke on or injure itself with. The food and water dishes should be heavy and stable, such as ceramic or stainless steel bowls. The litter box should be shallow and easy to access, such as a plastic tray or a corner box. You can use the same bedding as the cage or a different material, such as paper pellets or cat litter. The hideout should be cozy and dark, such as a wooden box, a plastic igloo, or a fabric pouch. The wheel should be large enough for your hedgehog to run comfortably, at least 12 inches in diameter. The wheel should also have a solid surface, as wire or mesh wheels can cause injuries to your hedgehog’s feet and legs.

Feeding Your Hedgehog - Eating Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are omnivorous animals that eat a variety of foods in the wild, such as insects, worms, fruits, vegetables, eggs, and small animals. In captivity, hedgehogs need a balanced and nutritious diet that mimics their natural food sources. The main staple of your hedgehog’s diet should be a high-quality, low-fat, and high-protein dry cat or hedgehog food. You can supplement this with fresh or frozen insects, such as mealworms, crickets, or waxworms, and fresh or cooked fruits and vegetables, such as apples, bananas, carrots, or broccoli. Avoid foods that are high in fat, sugar, salt, or spices, such as nuts, seeds, chocolate, cheese, or onion. Also avoid foods that are toxic or harmful to hedgehogs, such as grapes, raisins, avocado, garlic, or alcohol.

You should feed your hedgehog once or twice a day, depending on its age and activity level. A young or active hedgehog may need more food than an older or less active hedgehog. You can use a measuring cup or a scale to measure the amount of food you give your hedgehog, and adjust it according to its weight and body condition. A healthy hedgehog should weigh between 250 and 500 grams, and have a round but not obese shape. You can check your hedgehog’s weight and body condition by using a digital scale and a body condition score chart, which you can find online or ask your veterinarian for.

You should always provide fresh and clean water for your hedgehog, either in a bowl or a bottle. You should change the water daily and clean the bowl or bottle regularly. You should also monitor your hedgehog’s water intake and output, as changes in these can indicate health problems or dehydration.

Handling and Socializing Your Hedgehog - Hedgehog Care

Hedgehogs are shy and defensive animals that need time and patience to bond with their owners. Hedgehogs have a natural instinct to curl up into a ball and raise their quills when they feel threatened or scared. This is their way of protecting themselves from predators and potential harm. However, this does not mean that hedgehogs are aggressive or unfriendly. With proper handling and socialization, hedgehogs can learn to trust and enjoy human contact.

The key to handling and socializing your hedgehog is to be gentle, consistent, and positive. You should start handling your hedgehog as soon as possible after bringing it home, as this will help it get used to your scent and voice. You should handle your hedgehog for at least 15 to 30 minutes a day, preferably in the evening or at night, when hedgehogs are most active and alert. You should use a soft towel, a fleece blanket, or a pair of gloves to pick up your hedgehog, as this will protect your hands from its quills and make it feel more secure. You should hold your hedgehog close to your body, in a cupped or cradled position, and avoid sudden movements or loud noises. You should talk to your hedgehog softly and calmly, and offer it treats or toys as rewards. You should also expose your hedgehog to different people, places, and situations, as this will help it become more confident and curious.

You should never force your hedgehog to uncurl or interact with you, as this will only make it more scared and stressed. You should respect your hedgehog’s personality and mood, and give it space and time when it needs it. You should also observe your hedgehog’s body language and vocalizations, as these will tell you how it is feeling and what it wants. Some common signs of a happy and relaxed hedgehog are: uncurled, walking, sniffing, exploring, licking, nibbling, purring, or clicking. Some common signs of an unhappy or stressed hedgehog are: curled, hissing, popping, squeaking, or biting.

Training Your Hedgehog - Happy Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are intelligent and trainable animals that can learn to do some simple tricks and behaviors. Training your hedgehog can be fun and rewarding for both you and your hedgehog, as it can strengthen your bond, stimulate your hedgehog’s mind, and improve your hedgehog’s health and well-being. However, training your hedgehog is not as easy as training a dog or a cat, as hedgehogs have a different learning style and motivation. Hedgehogs are more independent and less eager to please than dogs or cats, and they respond better to positive reinforcement than to negative punishment. Therefore, you need to be patient, creative, and flexible when training your hedgehog.

The basic steps of training your hedgehog are: choose a behavior, choose a cue, choose a reward, shape the behavior, add the cue, and fade the reward. Here is an example of how to train your hedgehog to spin in a circle:

  • Choose a behavior: spinning in a circle. This is a natural behavior that hedgehogs do when they are curious or excited, so it is easy to capture and reinforce.
  • Choose a cue: a verbal command, such as “spin”, or a hand gesture, such as pointing or circling your finger.
  • Choose a reward: a tasty treat, such as a mealworm, a cricket, or a piece of fruit, or a toy, such as a ball, a tunnel, or a puzzle toy.
  • Shape the behavior: use a lure, such as a treat or a toy, to guide your hedgehog to spin in a circle. Start by holding the lure in front of your hedgehog’s nose, and slowly move it around your hedgehog’s body, until it completes a full circle. As soon as your hedgehog spins, mark the behavior with a clicker or a word, such as “yes”, and give your hedgehog the reward. Repeat this several times, until your hedgehog follows the lure consistently.
  • Add the cue: once your hedgehog is spinning reliably with the lure, you can add the cue. Say the cue or make the gesture right before you move the lure, and then reward your hedgehog as usual. Repeat this until your hedgehog associates the cue with the behavior.
  • Fade the reward: once your hedgehog is responding to the cue without the lure, you can start to fade the reward. Gradually reduce the frequency and the amount of the reward, until your hedgehog spins for the cue alone. You can still reward your hedgehog occasionally, to keep it interested and motivated.

You can use the same steps to train your hedgehog to do other tricks and behaviors, such as: come when called, sit, stand, roll over, fetch, or use a litter box. The only limit is your imagination and your hedgehog’s willingness!


Hedgehogs are amazing and unique animals that can make wonderful pets for the right owners. However, they are not suitable for everyone, as they require a lot of care, attention, and understanding. Hedgehogs have specific needs and preferences that must be met in order to keep them healthy and happy. Hedgehogs also have their own personalities and moods, and they need time and patience to bond with their owners. Hedgehogs can learn to trust and enjoy human contact, and even perform some simple tricks and behaviors. If you are interested in owning a hedgehog, you should do your research and prepare yourself for the challenges and rewards of hedgehog ownership. Hedgehogs are not just pets, they are companions and friends. 🦔❤️

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