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Winterizing for your Pet Hedgehog

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by Marian Brown

Although our hedgehogs are indoor pets and most of us keep the temperature controlled year round, now is the perfect time to think about “winterizing” your home and giving it the once over for your hedgehogs and other pets.

The main concern for hedgehogs is temperature. In the Pacific Northwest, we do not suffer the harsh winters Mid-westerns face, we do feel the occasional chill when the power may go off. Having alternative heating sources prepared for is very important for hedgehog health. We have faced 3 – 4 days without power. It is important to consider how you would handle the loss of your hedgies’ heat source for several days. Heat disks are great, however, be sure you have alternatives that don’t rely on power (such as the microwave for heating) or are limited to just 10 or 12 hours.

Alternatives can include extra snuggle saks, vellox blankets and there are even some “battery-operated” heating devices that may come in handy. Keep these alternatives in your Hedgehog First Aid Kit. This also reminds us that now is a great time to clean, restock and replenish our Hedgie Emergency Kit. Like our human first aid supplies, toss the ones that are expired (or questionable) and replace any items that are low in supply. In your Hedgie Emergency Kit, you may also consider adding a small container of food, jars of baby food, supplements and even a bottle or two of drinking water. If for some reason you can not get out to the store, having these items on hand and available will make caring for your pets much easier.

You may also want to consider a sheet of simple instructions (when to feed, how much, etc) in case you get stranded somewhere and need to call on a friend or neighbor to check on your pet.

As we winterize, many of us also decorate for the holidays. Be very careful in choosing decorations and how we decorate. A new electrical cord or extension outlet can be curious for any animal and potentially dangerous as well. If your hedgehog “free roams”, watch for placement of any large decorations that could make for dangerous hiding places.

Decorative plants can also be toxic. The most common “toxic” holiday plants include the Christmas rose, holly, mistletoe, philodendron, and dieffenbachia. Even when placed out of the pet’s reach, some leaves may fall and look like a tasty treat.

Treats we intentionally give our pets may also be toxic. Some small amounts of a “treat” may be safe, but drastic changes in diet should be avoided during the holiday season.