Do Hedgehogs Need Bedding?

Bedding is a very important part of a hedgehog’s cage/enclosure. While bedding may sound like a luxury or a form of extra comfort for most pets, it goes beyond just that for hedgehogs.

Hedgehogs are naturally burrowing animals, meaning they need something to burrow in.

And when being kept indoors and in cages or enclosures, bedding is the perfect material to allow them to burrow safely.

So, when it comes to the question of whether hedgehogs need bedding, the answer is most certainly yes! Bedding is a part of the essentials when it comes to keeping a pet hedgehog.

Without bedding, your hedgehog might be unable to burrow, hurt its delicate underbelly and small legs, or even slip and slide in its enclosure.

What Kind of Bedding You Should Get for your Pet Hedgehog

If you want to give your pet hedgehog the best life possible, that includes giving it a comfortable and practical place to live.

When setting up your hedgehog’s cage or enclosure, you must consider what bedding you should get.

No one kind of bedding is considered perfect for hedgehogs or superior to other kinds of bedding.

To help you get an idea of which type of bedding you should get, let’s go over some of the main options that hedgehog owners prefer:

Paper Options for Bedding

If you want a DIY option for paper bedding, then old and recycled newspapers are the way that many pet hedgehog owners go.

However, you should be cautious when using paper bedding because some hedgehogs might try and snack on the paper every so often, which can lead to their stomachs expanding much more than is normal.

This can, in turn, lead to fatal health complications for your pet.

Besides recycled newspapers, you can use any other kind of paper cuttings from around the house or even check out the different kinds of paper bedding available on the market.

Many brands are now introducing non-toxic, recycled, and extra-absorbent paper bedding.

Wood Options for Bedding

Wood shavings can offer a very comfortable enclosure for hedgehogs and also give them the perfect material to burrow in.

However, when choosing wood bedding, you must be very careful about the kind of wood you choose, as some can be toxic for hedgehogs.

Aspen or pine wood shavings are usually the way to go. Aspen shavings give off a pleasant scent and are also quite absorbent.

They can be quite dusty at times and can cause a mess in your hedgehog’s enclosure and the surrounding area.

Pine is comparatively less absorbent and can sometimes be so fine that it causes small cuts and abrasions to your hedgehog’s underbelly, legs, and sexual organs.

Wood pellets would be the best way to go for wood bedding. 

Cedar, on the other hand, must be avoided at all costs. We’ll discuss the risks of cedar to hedgehogs in the next section.

Fabric Options for Bedding

Fabric bedding actually offers quite a few advantages. Fabric is comfortable, allows your hedgehog to burrow to its heart’s desire, is very absorbent, and can be washed and reused.

There are also plenty of options for the kind of fabric you use, ranging from blankets and towels to old pillowcases and t-shirts.

To stay on the safe side, it is advised to use larger pieces of fabric that do not have loose threads.

Hedgehogs can get tangled in loose threads and might hurt themselves in the process. As such, you should avoid using any knitted fabrics since they pose a higher risk.

Corn Cob Options for Bedding

Bedding made from dried corn cob is probably the cheapest option for bedding. Not only is it inexpensive, but it is also pretty absorbent.

However, corn cob offers very little odor absorption, and your hedgehog’s enclosure might start to smell very soon.

Additionally, when not constantly monitored, corn cob can grow mold as it dries and decomposes.

So, unless you are very diligent with monitoring the corn cob, it is probably not the best option to choose.

What Kind of Bedding You Should Avoid Getting for your Pet Hedgehog 

There are certain kinds of bedding that you might think could work well for your hedgehog but are actually very bad ideas.

Some bedding can cause physical harm to your hedgehog, such as cuts, scrapes, irritation to the eyes and lungs, or even the development of cancer over time.

In order to keep your hedgehog completely safe and comfortable, here are the kinds of bedding you should avoid at all costs:

Cedar Wood Bedding

As mentioned before, cedar wood should be avoided at all costs. This is because cedar can pose some very serious health risks to your hedgehog.

Cedar is toxic to many animals other than hedgehogs, too. This is usually because of the plicatic acid found in cedar shavings.

Over time, exposure to this acid can cause respiratory and allergic reactions, liver problems, and can even cause certain kinds of cancers.

Sawdust Bedding

Sawdust is more trouble than it’s worth when it comes to bedding for hedgehogs. The sawdust can often be so fine and lightweight that it gets everywhere in the enclosure and surrounding areas.

But that isn’t even the biggest problem with sawdust. What you should really be wary of is that sawdust can be inhaled by your hedgehog and can cause lung disease and problems with breathing.

Soil and Leaves

You may think it is a good idea to try and replicate a hedgehog’s natural environment by using soil and leaves as bedding.

However, it is recommended that you avoid doing that for your indoor enclosure, which is likely closed off and does not get enough sunlight and ventilation.

Also, soil and leaves likely carry plenty of bacteria and harmful parasites, and there is also the problem of eventual decomposition, which can result in even more bacteria.

Gravel

Gravel can also seem like a good option for bedding, and many people assume it would allow their hedgehogs to burrow as much as they please.

However, gravel is usually a too harsh and rough material and poses a high risk of your hedgehog getting injured.

The rough gravel can cause tears and cuts to your hedgehog’s delicate feet and underbelly.

The Bottom Line

Bedding is definitely necessary for your pet hedgehog and is an essential part of their cage or enclosure setup.

When choosing bedding for your hedgehog, you have to find a balance between cost, comfort, and safety.

The best options are non-toxic paper bedding, fabric bedding, and bedding made from aspen or pine shavings/pellets.

Remember to avoid cedar shavings and other kinds of bedding that can cause more harm than good to your hedgehog.

Ultimately, whichever bedding you go for, remember to keep it clean and switch it out often. Certain kinds of bedding need more upkeep and monitoring than other kinds.

It might be a good idea to try different kinds of bedding and see which one suits you and your hedgehog best.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When to Change Hedgehog Bedding?

Hedgehog bedding should be changed at least once a week or more frequently if it becomes noticeably soiled, wet, or has a strong odor.

It is important to maintain a clean and hygienic living environment for the health and well-being of the hedgehog.

Do you need to put bedding in a Hedgehog House?

Yes, it is recommended to put bedding in a hedgehog house to provide warmth, comfort, and insulation for the hedgehog. Some suitable bedding options for hedgehogs include shredded paper, straw, hay, or specialized hedgehog bedding.

It is important to ensure that the bedding is clean, dry and changed regularly to maintain a hygienic living environment for the hedgehog.

Is Pine Bedding Safe for Hedgehogs?

Pine bedding is not recommended for hedgehogs as it can cause respiratory issues and skin irritations.

Cedar bedding should also be avoided for the same reasons. Instead, hedgehogs should be provided with paper-based or aspen bedding.

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