If you have been inspired to adopt a hedgehog, this may be because you have seen the videos and pictures of people’s hedgehogs. Many of these videos and pictures will include the hedgehog roaming freely around the house, outside of its enclosure.
When you adopt the hedgehog for yourself, you may begin to have second guesses and you may wonder if it is really okay for your hedgehog to be able to walk around your house without a problem.
For many other small animals that are able to be free in the house, but also have an enclosure to return to, the answer to this question is that they can roam around the house as long as you have successfully proofed the home and made it safe for the animal in question.
For example, if you have a ferret, you will need to store cords in a way so they cannot be chewed. If you have a rabbit, you need to make sure they have quick and easy access to their litter. The same concept applies to hedgehogs.
This means that hedgehogs can absolutely roam around the house, so long as you take the efforts needed to make sure that the rooms your hedgehog visits are safe and non-hazardous. Whether or not you are up to these efforts is another question.
There are many things that you will need to do to successfully hedgehog-proof a room, and even more things you will need to do to proof an entire house.
The Off-Limit Areas
Naturally, there will be some rooms of the house that will be far more trouble than they’re worth to hedgehog-proof, unless you are adamant about letting your hedgehog roam the house the same way a cat or dog would.
Typically, these are going to be rooms that fall below the safe temperature limits for a hedgehog, rooms with furniture that your hedgehog can get behind/under, rooms that are cleaned with non-pet-friendly cleaners, and so on.
First things first, hedgehogs are one of the few mammals that will attempt to hibernate when temperatures get too low. Because most domesticated hedgehogs are an African breed, what a hedgehog considers to be “too low” of a temperature is often going to be somewhat warm to you.
This means that if you want your hedgehog to be able to roam around a room, you will need to keep that entire room at the hedgehog’s temperature requirements, especially since it’s not safe for a domesticated hedgehog to go into hibernation.
Hedgehogs are small animals, and they are not the smartest creatures around. They might be interested in a small, enclosed space behind or underneath furniture, get themselves into the space, and then either injure themselves in that process or be unable to get out.
If you are not watching the hedgehog when it is roaming, there is a chance you may not notice it getting stuck, leading to a disastrous situation. In rooms that have a lot of furniture that is not against the wall, it can be more trouble than it is worth to rearrange or block everything off for the hedgehog.
Finally, you should make sure that any room your hedgehog will be in will be a safe place. This means that there shouldn’t be any pests, mold, or any parts of the room cleaned with toxic cleaning chemicals.
Hedgehogs, being the curious creatures that they are, will probably try to eat and lick things that smell different, and with these substances, that can be lethal. Hedgehogs should not be allowed in any rooms that have these features.
Making Your Home Hedgehog-Safe
The best way to let your hedgehog roam is to allow it to roam around the room where its enclosure is, during supervised parts of the day.
This ensures that the hedgehog’s curiosity is sated, and that it is watched so that it won’t get into anywhere it shouldn’t, as you will be able to pick it up and stop it. There are a few things you will need to do to make the hedgehog’s room safe for it.
As mentioned earlier, you will need to keep the room warm enough for the hedgehog. Because a domesticated hedgehog’s diet does not provide enough body fat for a hedgehog to survive hibernation, it is imperative that you keep the temperature at a level the hedgehog will be safe at.
A hedgehog’s environment needs to be kept between 72 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit, or between 22 and 28 degrees Celsius. For some people this can be uncomfortably warm and expensive to maintain, so keep this in mind if you are deciding where you want to let your hedgehog roam.
You will also need to hedgehog-proof the furniture in the room. Consider the size of the hedgehog and try to make sure that there are no openings behind or below furniture that the hedgehog could squeeze itself into.
If there are any openings, make sure that they are large and accessible enough that your hedgehog can climb itself out if it feels that it doesn’t want to be there.
Remember that the safest way to let your hedgehog roam is to supervise it at all times for a few hours a day before putting it back into its enclosure, so that if it does manage to slip somewhere, you will see it and pick it up to put it back to a safe area.
Finally, as with letting any small animal roam, you will want to keep all cords and objects the hedgehog shouldn’t lick or chew away from where the hedgehog can access. Luckily, hedgehogs cannot jump, so it is pretty easy to lift cords half a foot off the ground, although it is still something you should be mindful of.
As a general guide, hedgehogs have very similar proofing requirements as rats and ferrets, and because rats and ferrets are more common pets than hedgehogs are, you may find more examples of how you need to proof the room through searching for these proofing methods.
The only key difference is the temperature of the room, as hedgehogs are rather unique in their ability to hibernate.
If you are able to keep a room at the appropriate temperature and ensure there are no spaces the hedgehog can get stuck in, then you can feel confident in knowing that you will be able to let your hedgehog roam across your room, giving it a whole separate world to explore than just its own enclosure.
For many hedgehogs, this will be an exciting part of their night and will be something that they will appreciate you for, even if they cannot vocalize it on their own.