• Down At The Water WHAT??

    There are several different waterer choices available for hedgehog cages. Each has it's own benefits and drawbacks. The choice is up to you, depending on which of these options is the most suitable for your lifestyle.

    Water bottles- Available in a variety of sizes, styles, colors, and brands, bottles are a popular choice for many small animals. They are commonly available in 4 oz, 8 oz, 16 oz, and 32 oz. sizes. 4-8 oz sizes are best for single hedgehogs, 8 oz. is preferable for multiple hedgehogs in a single cage. Bottles are good for providing a contaminant proof source, that can be secured to the wall of the cage. The main drawback of water bottles is that they eventually will probably leak, making a replacement necessary. They also can be used by some hedgehogs as a ladder to escape with, if they are secured to the inside of the cage. There is some
    discussion of hedgehogs who have broken teeth by biting at the water bottle, and while I suppose it is quite possible, I have never personally experienced this. Bottles should be checked daily for leaks, flow blockages, and lowered water levels.

    Water bowls- There is a completely endless source of water bowl options. There are companies who make them with holders to secure them to the sides of cages, or free standing bowls. Glass, plastic, ceramic, metal, clear, colored, something to suit every cage decorator's dream. These provide the more natural drinking position, in comparison to bottles. They also prevent the possibility of tooth damage. However, it is almost impossible to keep hedgehogs from dumping these bowls, which leave them without water until refilled and dampen bedding choices. They also tend to become easily contaminated by bedding, food, droppings, and other debris. Bowls must be checked very frequently, up to 3-4 times per day, to keep the water clean and readily available, which is not always practical. It also can be hard to keep track of your hedgehog's water consumption when the bowl is frequently dumped.

    Freestanding waterers- These are a bit harder to find in some small areas, but are available in most major pet stores. They consist of a water bowl type base, with a reservior that screws into the base. These combine some of the best features of both styles, but also the drawbacks of both. The base provides the natural drinking position of the bowl, but is also easily contaminated with debris. The reservoir provides a larger amount of available water, which helps prevent the hedgehog's bowl from going dry, however, it provides that much more water to flood the cage if tipped or a fabric cage accessory is placed into the base. These must be checked at least a couple of times per day for contamination and spilling.

    Automatic water systems- These are usually made of an out of cage water source of any size, often a gallon or more, with piping run to each cage and ending at a valve type nozzle. These are obviously unsuitable for single hedgehog households, but can be adapted to water multiple cages very conveniently. They are basically impossible to contaminate, and cut down time of filling water bottles for each cage. However, they do occasionally leak, and the large water source can make a cage very uncomfortable very quickly. The nozzles can become jammed, though these systems have usually been tested and designed to prevent this. One of my major issues with this type of system is that it is impossible to track individual hedgehog's water consumption, making it hard to catch quickly if a hedgehog stops drinking for any reason. The watering system must be checked at least daily to make sure that all nozzles are in working order, none are leaking, and the water levels are maintained.

    Photo courtesy of terrapinhedgehogs.com