• Free-Ranging Hedgehogs

    Free ranging for hedgehogs is a cageless way of owning and housing hedgehogs. This is definitely NOT an option for all hedgehog owners, or for the hedgehogs themselves. There are several aspects to consider when looking into a free-range option.

    Evaluating your home- It is best to restrict your hedgehogs' free-ranging activities to one or two rooms, to limit the amount of space that you have to secure and that your hedgehog can get lost in. If possible, choose a room with solid flooring, such as linoleum, tile, or wood. It will be much easier to clean up messes from these surfaces than it will be carpet. Make sure that the room is comfortably warm, and doesn't have any floor level drafts or cold spots. If a room such as this is available, then free-ranging is a possibility.

    Evaluating your lifestyle- Having a free-ranging hedgehog can require some special personality traits and habits. In order to successfully live with a free-ranging hedgehog, it is important to be relatively tidy. The more clutter in your house, the more places that a hedgehog can hide. However, you must also be willing to deal with a little bit of mess, because most hedgehogs will not reliably litter train, or will not travel far to reach the litter box if they do master the usage, and will therefore leave little messes in various parts of the house. Hedgehogs will also shed the occasional quill, which can make bare feet or sock feet rather uncomfortable. Do you have other free-ranging pets? Free-ranging a hedgehog along with dogs, cats, or other animals can cause danger to the hedgehog and or their food and litter supplies.

    Evaluating your hedgehog-
    If your hedgehog has no desire to be social, it may be rather difficult to keep track of where he is. A social hedgehog who seeks attention (or at least does not avoid it) will come out once or twice a day for food and interaction, and will be much easier to check on than a hedgehog that has to be hunted daily.

    If you decide that your house, lifestyle, and hedgehog are all suited for free-ranging activities, then your next step is to prepare your house for hedgehog habitation. Choose the room(s) that you wish to have your hedgehogs occupy. If possible, close doors to all of the other rooms that are outside of the chosen area. Pick up any clutter, especially laundry and newspapers, and create deposits for these items in solid sided containers. Make sure any houseplants are set up on shelves, or are at least non-toxic varieties. Then, get on your hands and knees, or even better, flat on your belly. Go all around the room, and mark all holes, openings, or gaps that are big enough to put 2 fingers into. The gaps under sofas, recliners, bookshelves, entertainment centers, appliances, and other pieces of furniture should be blocked off, an easy way to do this is to cut a piece of cardboard the right height to fill the gap, and then fold it back and forth, creating a VVVVVVVVVV shape. If necessary, you can anchor this with staples or tacks to the furniture, to prevent the hedgehog from pushing through. Recliners and appliances are ESPECIALLY important to secure, because they have moving parts that can severely injure or kill a hedgehog. Kitchen cabinets also often have gaps in them that can be tempting to a hedgehog, and are very hard to remove a hedgehog from once they are discovered. While hedgehogs don't usually chew, it is still a good idea to secure all electrical cords, look into the special wraps or tubes that are intended to bind cords together in a chew-resistant bundle. Then, you need to prepare your hedgehog's supplies. If your hedgehog is litter box trained, it is a good idea to provide multiple boxes scattered all over to make it more easy for them to be able to reach one rapidly. The small ferret corner pans work well for most hedgehogs, but you will just have to see what your hedgehog prefers. Also, make sure that your hedgehogs' food and water is easily accessible, if necessary, use multiple feeding stations as well. Once you let your hedgehog into his free-range environment, make SURE that you check your hedgehog EVERY DAY to make sure they are eating, drinking, pooping, and otherwise healthy. Also, if you have more than one hedgehog, make sure that they are either well separated, or get along well. It is NOT a good idea to free-range a male and female or two males together. Usually, 2 or more females can be free-ranged together, but make sure that you can supervise them and check them frequently to avoid any squabbles.