• Choosing A Bedding

    There are many bedding choices on the market for cages. Some of these are completely acceptable, others are not recommended for use with hedgehogs. The decision on what to use should be based on your cleaning requirements, any allergies, hedgehog's behaviors and preferences, and the availability in your community.

    Shavings- This product comes in a variety of different textures and materials. Cedar in NO INSTANCES should be used on hedgehogs or other small animals. It contains harmful levels of aromatic oils that can cause respiratory or skin issues, organ damage, and in some cases, severe chemical burns. Pine can be acceptable, but you must make sure it is kiln dried and not just natural. Natural pine contains the same chemicals as Cedar, though in smaller quantities. Kiln dried pine has been treated with heat to reduce the content, and brings the levels into safe ranges. Aspen is a pretty popular choice, as it does not cause the same issues as the other wood products. Sawdust from any wood should not be used, as the dust can make it hard for hedgehogs to breathe. Wood chips are coarser textured, often containing chunks and long slivers that can be very uncomfortable for hedgehogs, and the slivers have in some circumstances become lodged in hedgehog's genitals, mouths, or eyes. Soft shavings are preferable, with the texture of the shavings produced when pencils are sharpened. These are the most comfortable for the hedgehogs to live on. Be aware that there is some concern that shavings can occasionally be contaminated with mites that can make hedgehogs very uncomfortable.

    Newspaper- Newspaper can be used for hedgehog bedding, as long as it is either unprinted or printed only with natural non-toxic inks. It can either be used in flat sheets or after being shredded. This is very easily available, and can be recycled into mulch after being used. However, it does NOTHING for odor control, and has very limited absorption properties, which makes it a very messy option. Also, printed newspaper can rub off onto the fur and quills of hedgehogs, giving them a very dingy and dirty appearance.

    Recycled Newspaper Beddings- There are several companies that produce recycled newspaper beddings in a variety of textures, from small granules to fluffy pulp to various sized pellets. I personally do not like the small granules, due to their tendency to get stuck to damp areas such as genitals, eyes, and mouths. The fluffy stuff works well, and can be spot-cleaned as needed instead of completely replaced, but the odor control properties are still not very good. The pellets are also acceptable, but tend to turn to mush if damp, which can be rather nasty to clean up. This is a good bedding for people with respiratory allergies, as it is usually not an allergen.

    Processed Hay Beddings- This is usually found in pellet form. It usually does a great job of odor control, and is mostly dust free. It is harmless if a small quantity is eaten, and has not been seen to cause any blockages when consumed. The biggest drawback in my opinion is that in any areas where it gets damp and is not frequently cleaned such as under the water bottle or dish can mold, which is quite unpleasant. This bedding is usually easier than shavings for people with allergies, but is not allergen free.

    Clay Litters-
    These are strongly discouraged for use in hedgehogs, due to the potential for them to get stuck to damp areas, and can cause urinary blockages in female hedgehogs, and severely impacted sheaths in male hedgehogs.

    Corn Cob Litter-
    Strongly discouraged for hedgehogs due to the same reasons as Clay litters.

    Fabric cage liners- These are not commonly available in pet stores for small pet cages, but can be made either very simply out of a vellux blanket cut to cage size or out of custom sewn mats of one or more types of fabric. There are a couple of online retailers who will make these liners specifically for the size of your cage. These beddings solve the issues completely of allergies, dust, messy bedding on the floor and all over the house, and large amounts of trash. They are also cheap after the initial investment, due to them being washable instead of disposable. These are great if you have a hedgehog who is willing to litter box train, because that keeps them quite tidy, and they only need to be washed once or twice per week. However, if your hedgehog is not litter box trained, then it makes it necessary for a complete cage switch and liner wash every day, and if you have multiple hedgehogs, this can create a LOT of extra laundry which can be very inconvenient if you rely on a laundromat or community laundry room.

    Hopefully this will help you make a more informed choice when you examine different hedgehog beddings. There are many theoretically acceptable choices, but which one is most practical for your life is up to only you.