So, word around the internet is that Groundhog Day, the day that we look to a fat hibernating rodent to provide us with hope of spring was originally Hedgehog Day. Well. Technically. See, in medieval Europe the Julian and Gregorian Calendars had different markers for spring and before that pagans had their own symbols of the return of the sun. So, somewhere along the line hedgehogs, sacred bears and other hibernating animals emerging from their burrows became a folklore tool to divine whether the bleak winter was at an end or would continue for six more weeks. When Europeans came to North America they brought the tradition but subbed in groundhogs as the animal of choice. Interesting.
Picture: Mr. Pricklepants via filmschoolrejects.com
Toy Story 3 has revealed its newest character, Mr. Pricklepants. I think this is one of the greatest names I have heard for a hedgie! I honestly wish I had thought of it first. It makes me giggle because it is fitting but it sounds so goofy. Although this image looks more wooly than prickly.
I wonder if Peggy ever thinks about being a Mrs. Pricklepants to a handsome Mr.?
Hedgehog playtime is one of the best parts of owning a hedgie. Peggy loves to come out and will play until she literally falls asleep in the middle of her play area. True Story. I have bought and made her all kinds of toys but she absolutely ignores everything but tubes. She only uses the other toys as obstacles to maneuver the tubes around. Her tube collection consists of old toilet paper/paper towel rolls and two store bought larger ones with fluff inside. Giving her a variety of tubes gives her some choice when she is playing and if one gets stuck and she is frustrated she will tootle over and play with another one.
It is important to create a secure area for play time so that she can't get stuck or lost behind furniture or the fridge. I have 2 wire enclosures linked up to create a play zone that she can't escape so that I don't have to 100% supervise her when she is out. Playtime usually goes for an hour or so depending on when she stops. If she is playing hard I let her keep going until she tires herself out and curls up again. Hedgehogs require a minimum of 30 minutes out of the cage a day to maintain good health and prevent depression.
Ideas for toys:
Egg carton cups cut into singles (only cardboard kind)
Balls of paper
Solid surface exercise wheel (her legs would get tangled in a wire wheel)
Wheeled small cars and trucks
Seriously Peggy loves her tubes so much she will play with two at once:
It is a good idea to also have a toy or two in her cage and/or an exercise wheel so she can play whenever she feels like it. Otherwise it is a boring existence for your pet.
It is no secret that I unabashedly love LOLCats. I know, I know ... they have been around forever and yet I never tire of their misspelled mockery of their owners. I am deeply wounded that my Peggy LOLHedgehog submission was never put on the front page but screw them... I have my own blog to post it on! Below LOLPeggy via the LOL builder at icanhascheezburger.com:
Etsy.com is one of my favourite sites for exploring on a slow day. I love how people are able to take the mix of ideas in their heads and produce very unique items of every size, medium, and subject. Below are some cute and creative bags:
Picture: Orwell Clutch from Tsurubride's shop on Etsy.com
I love this clutch from Tsurubride's shop. It is even metallic which appeals to the magpie in me!
Picture: Hedgehog Field Bag from Rainbowswirlz shop on Etsy.com
The functionality of a hedgehog field bag makes the practical part of me smile. Its a practical bag with a sweet little silhouette holding a flower just pour vous!
Picture: Happy Hedgehog Bag from Queenbee55's shop on Etsy.com
Another Hedgehog offering a gift, this time a four leaf clover. I think I could almost get away with this one at work. The contrasting browns and the pop of green from the clover make this one of my favourites!
Picture: Kawaii Hedgehog purse from Cheryland's shop on Etsy.com
This little colourful purse features a hedgehog just out doing some hedgehog things on a hillside. Very cute! I like how it is small enough that you can add a bit of hedgehog to every outfit.
Wild hedgehogs spend their winters burrowed deep inhibernation while domestic hedgehogs spend their winters indoors being forced to participate in Christmas card photo shoots (at least Peggy does). Winter can be difficult for your little hog and it is important that you keep them warm and away from drafts. Ideally your hedgehog should not be exposed to temperatures below 21 C / 70 F. On cold days, especially if it snows, I leave the heat on while I am at work.It is very dangerous for domestic hedgehogs to hibernate and can be deadly so it is important to keep her warm and cozy. I have taken an old fleece blanket (thank you Alaska Air!) and cut it into smaller 8 x 8 inch squares for mini blankets. The fleece is perfect because it has no loose threads to tangle her feet, no need to edge it and can be tossed when it gets gross from little hog logs. Plus it doubles as another toy in her cage for burrowing and pushing around. It gives her some control on temperature and on milder nights I have seen her push it right out of her hut. On very cold nights I have even thrown a small blanket over her cage to keep the heat in after I have turned it off for the night.
Hedgehog grooming is something that I did not think much about when I got Peggy and for the most part she is very low maintenance. The two things I do for grooming are baths and nail trims. Of the two I would much rather give her a bath than a mani/pedi but both are a necessary evil to keep her healthy. For the most part Peggy enjoys a quick bath and can be quite playful during it. The trick is to ensure the water is warm and only come up to her quill line and to make it quick. I use my kitchen sink for her baths because I can regulate the temperature easily and lower the water line if I have misjudged the depth. Also, sometimes she enjoys splashing in a small stream from the tap which is adorable to watch. I only bathe her every few months and use soap every other wash to ensure her skin doesn't dry out. I picked up an unscented no tears pet soap that will last forever because of how few baths she needs.
To bathe her I put a dab of soap in the water and run my hand along her belly (hedgehogs uncurl in water which makes this very easy) and then scoop some soapy water and pour it down her back avoiding her face and ears. I then scoop her up and drain the soapy water and refill with clean, warm water and use this to rinse her (again avoiding the face) and I let her play for a few minutes. Afterwards I scoop her into a towel and let her nuzzle around to dry. This is my favourite part because we cuddle as she dries off. Once she is completely dry I let her play or put her in her cage depending on how long she has been out.
Have everything ready before you start the bath
Keep the water warm
Keep soap and water out of her face and ears
Make sure she is fully dry afterwards and don't expose her to a chill from being wet
One of Peggy's ways of showing her displeasure is to ball up and huff air. I have dubbed this "The Houff". It is like a huff but with her huffing and puffing it begins to sound like houff. This picture is a classic houff after her annoying human woke her up to clean her cage. In my defense it was close to her usual play time. I have taken to using the word houff to express my own displeasure at annoying stuff but it is not as effective without the quills! When she houffs I just leave her be and she will uncurl sooner or later to play.
Home sweet home... well as sweet as I can keep it with her pooping in the corner! Peggy's cage is where she spends most of the day and it is important to me to keep it clean and warm for her. The nice thing about a hedgehog is that they don't have a smell like rodents and other small critters. I originally believed I could get away with cage cleaning only once a week. When I left it this long I found there was an odour and too much poop so I now do it twice a week. I wash her cage and accessories with biodegradable dish soap and put fresh, unscented bedding in the cage.
Things I have learned:
Hedgehogs have sensitive respiratory systems and are bothered by strong scents. Unscented bedding is important.
Hedgehogs have excellent hearing so being housed near a TV or stereo speakers is not the best place for them.
Hedgehogs need a warm place free of drafts. Most sites recommend about 70 degrees Fahrenheit as the lowest temperature.
Watching a hedgehog anoint is one of the funniest things i have seen. Peggy looks crazed as she froths from her mouth and rolls her head back to lick her shoulder with the foamy mess. No one is quite sure why they do this. Most guess it is to take a scent and save it for later as a memory tool or to blend in with the smells around them. I find Peggy does it if I have something on my hands like food, soap residue or moisturizer. The video below is a hedgehog named Brillo. It is the best I have seen showing this goofy looking act:
Peggy the Hedgehog is a rescue hedgie. This little hedgehog had been bounced through homes and been given up and given away a few times in her short life. After a rough start Peggy has found her forever home with me.
The first thing I did was wash her accessories and toys and clean her cage and give her fresh water and food. Afterwards I left her alone even though I was desperate to play with her. The best thing I did was leave her be for about a day and a half adjusting to the sounds and smells of her new home.
Slowly l introduced myself by holding her in my lap and patiently sitting quietly as she slowly uncurled. Initially she would take a half hour or more to uncurl. I discovered this was just her nerves at a new human holding her and touching her. She now uncurls relatively quickly unless I have woken her up from a nap. Then just like her human she is grouchy and unwilling to socialize for a bit.Tips for making friends with your new hedgehog: - Remember you look / smell / sound like a predator to this tiny creature and she will try and defend herself against you in the first weeks by balling up, huffing in air and possibly even biting. The tip to tell if you are about to be bitten is that she will lick you a few times first… as if to baste you before eating you. (Not the same as licking to anoint which will be discussed later).
-Give her a fresh start with a clean cage, toys and fresh food and water. - Leave her alone for the first day or two to adjust to her new environment. - Begin taking her out of the cage when it is quiet so that she isn’t startled by a sudden sound or the T.V. - When you pick her up do not use gloves because you want her to adjust to your smell and associate that smell with treats and play time. If you are afraid of the quills you need to toughen up or this is not the right pet for you. - Treats are a great bribe towards love. It’s awful but true. If you give her a few treats while holding her you will be associated with the treats in her mind and she will like you more. - After she uncurls hold her for a while unless she is struggling to run then put her in her play area and enjoy the show. Sit in the play area on the ground so that she can still smell you nearby and investigate you if she is feeling brave.
- Be gentle and patient and move slowly so that you do not startle her into a ball. Trust me, I thought Peggy hated me for the first few weeks because she was so reluctant to uncurl and play but it was just her adjusting to a new human and new living quarters. Your hedgie will reveal his or her personality and face to you if you are patient!