• Evaluating and Choosing A Cage

    Choosing a cage for a hedgehog is a very important and very controversial topic. There are many acceptable cage styles, and cages should be examined for a variety of features when being considered.

    When examining a cage, your first suitability test needs to be size. A very minimum cage size is to be 2 square foot, and I do mean minimum. A floor space of 3, 4, or even more square foot is to be recommended. Ideally, you would provide a cage that is as large as you can accommodate. The best cage should be a single level cage, though some hedgehogs do take advantage of other levels, as long as they have a solid flooring surface, and are not wire floors or ramps. Wire floors or ramps should be avoided at all costs, due to the chance of a hedgehog stepping through the wires and severely injuring a foot or leg.

    Your second concern in a cage needs to be ventilation. A tall cage with solid sides is going to be very poorly ventilated, and will receive very little ventilation at floor level. Cages should have well ventilated sides, whether total wire walls, wire panels, or holes. Make sure that the holes or wire gaps are too small for your hedgehog to stick a head through.

    Next, you should examine a cage for ease of handling. A very heavy or awkward cage is going to be more difficult to clean, as is one that can break easily. Hedgehog cages do need to be washed occasionally, often in a bath tub, and a heavy cage is going to be very difficult to carry and place in the tub without injury.

    Another important feature is easy access to the inside. If a cage has very small doors, this can make it very difficult to access to pick up the hedgehog, to move accessories, or to feed and water. Some cages will have a top or side that can completely open as well as the smaller access door, which make them very convenient.

    You also need to examine cage materials for easy cleaning and sterilization. Wooden cages are hard to get clean and in case of a problem that needs the cage to be sanitized, wood is almost impossible to completely disinfect. Textured surfaces where the animals have contact can make it difficult to clean, a smooth plastic surface will be easier to wipe clean than a textured surface. As well, cages with cracks, crevices, or sharp edges may make it difficult to completely clean.

    There are some cages that have been tested or examined for suitability and discussed. These include:
    Aquariums- These are available in a large range of sizes, 20 gallon size or up would work for size. However, they do not ventilate well, even with a screen top, they are heavy and hard to lift for cleaning, and they can break. They are easy to access, since the entire top is open, and the glass surface is easy to clean, but overall, the ventilation and difficulty of lifting has to make them a poor choice.
    Ferret Style Cages- The ferret cages with the plastic bases and wire tops can be excellent choices... they offer large floor plans, solid level ramps, excellent ventilation, and are easy to clean. They usually have oversized doors, which make the inside of the cage easily accessible. Be sure you check the wire spacing to make sure that it is small enough that a young hedgehog cannot squeeze through. The biggest drawback to these cages is that sometimes they can be very large, and a little difficult to move without help.
    Rabbit Cages- These come in a variety of styles, but many have a metal pan and wire flooring, which is unacceptable. A good sized, solid floored cage can be used, with basically the same review as the Ferret cages (see above)
    Sterilite Storage Bins- These bins are light weight, easy to clean, available in a variety of sizes of clear plastic, and best of all, CHEAP! They are easily expandable into multi-room cages, with the use of a piece of PVC pipe. The downside to these is that they require a bit of work to have proper ventilation. If you have a good drill and a 1/2-5/8 in. drill bit, you are in good shape, just be careful to not push, or the plastic will crack. For a single room hedgehog cage, I recommend 96 qt. Sterilites, for the more motivated, you may consider a 96 and 2 54 quart Sterilites, joined into a 3 room deluxe condo. a 96 qt. runs around $8 US at Wal-Mart, and the 54s around $4-5
    C&C Cages- (chloroplast and cube)- These are a do it yourself at home cage, involving chloroplast sign board and organizer cube wire grids that are available at any office supply store. These can be made as large as you want, and multistory as desired. These are well ventilated and easily dismantled for cleaning, and the materials wipe or spray clean pretty easily. There are negative aspects though, first up, it can be difficult to find the necessary materials if you live in a small town or out in the middle of no-where. Secondly, while it is great to have a huge cage for your hedgehog, sometimes it is difficult to arrange your living space to have a gigantic pen in the way. C&C cage instructions and ideas can be found at www.cavycages.com

    Determining your ideal cage requires some thought and examination of your circumstances and the cage styles available in your area. For more discussion on these and other cages, please consider becoming active in the forums on www.hedgehogworld.com