Why we need to control the temperature?
The normal standards of temperature defined by the International Hedgehog Association (IHA) for a good home are around 25°C (77°F). This will be affected depending where the hedgehog will be living. In places with constant warm weather the temperature control doesn't represent a problem, instead in chilly places where constantly the weather is cold, or in places where the weather in unpredictable, the temperature control must be of great importance.
The main problems with a bad temperature control are:
- Extreme cold weather: hypothermia.
- Moderate cold weather: Hibernation phase.
- Hot weather: hyperthermia.
There are several option to control the temperature in our hedgehogs habitat, some are cheaper and some require more time and money, but in the end the main goal is to keep our pets in the perfect range of temperature.
Why is hibernation bad for a hedgehog?
First of all, we need to make clear that the home/pet hedgehogs don't have the same metabolism and necessities than the wild hedgehogs, talking about food, temperature and hibernation periods.
In this case our hedgehogs don't feel the treat of the winter and that's why they don't start eating big amounts of food to make a fat reserve for this harsh seasons, instead they keep their normal metabolism, eating the normal portions everyday. The home hedgehogs keep a normal amount of food, they don't have a fat reserve to survive the hibernation, that's why if the owner don't pay enough attention to their pet, the animal surely will die from starvation in the middle of the instinct of hibernation because of the lack of a temperature control system.
It's really important in the case of any exotic pet to take at least one visit to the vet every year and it's crucial to improve the home if the time is cold, just adding some heating panels or cables, it's advised to have a good knowledge in electric systems.
Control in warm/hot weather places.
In this case the main problem is the dehydration of the hedgehog, this is the easiest scenario to control because we don't need to over think the situation, the recommended tips are:
- Put the house/home/habitat of the hedgehog into a more fresh area for example inside the house in a fresh room with fan inside, the hedgehog must be away from the direct sunlight.
- Pour fresh water in the water bowl.
- If the heat is too much, you can take your hedgehog to a nice fresh bath, not a cold one, only fresh.
- Fill water bottles with cold water and leave them inside the habitat of your hedgehog, this way the hedgehog will come closer to the bottle if the heat is too much or step away from the cold water if the weather improved.
Control in cold weather.
In this case the main problems are: Hypothermia and hibernation.
We already talked about the hibernation and why our hedgehogs doesn't need the hibernation like the wild one.
In case your hedgehog roll in and starts the hibernation process, you can do the next:
- If the hibernation just started, wrap him in a towel and kindly with a hair dryer at a safe distance blow gently to higher the body temperature. The hedgehog will start to unroll and make basic movements, take small pieces of food and water and leave them close to their mouth, they will start eating and drinking, and in a couple of hour will be okay.
- If you don't realize that the hibernation started, check that the hedgehog is still breathing, don't be scared wrap him around a towel and hug him against your chest and take him/her to your vet, in this case is urgently to recover the weight and fluid of your hedgehogs.
In case of Hypothermia:
- Elevate the temperature gradually not to high in just one moment, this can cause a thermal shock.
- Take your hedgehog to the vet immediately.
There are several system now a day that we can use to keel control of the temperature and avoid all this problems in cold weathers:
- Heat rocks: this rocks use energy in a resistant wire, which emit heat in the surrounding, it's a good option if this rock is away from the hedgehog, because it turn really hot in contact, and the hedgehog can suffer burn in contact.
- Hot wire: Same mechanism that the heat rock, and same precaution in contact. This one is useful in combination with two ceramic sheets, making a sandwich (Ceramic sheet with hot wire in "S" form with special heat resistant glue and then another ceramic sheet over). This is really useful, safe, and easy to make, also you can add a timer and a thermometer to maintain the temperature at 25°C (77°F). ***RECOMMENDED***
- Electric blankets: Useful in case of hibernation, but dangerous because the possibility to cause an electric shock due the combination of claws/teeth and the urine/water that can make contact with the system.
- UV light/heat lamps/Infrared light: depending on the level of Watts is the price. They are dangerous because they heath themselves and can cause burns to our hedgehogs, but if the habitat is big enough and the power of the lamp is minimum can be a good option too. WARNING: if you choose this option, be sure that the system is in good shape and with all the levels of quality, you don't want to start a fire in the habitat because the lamp fell down.
Options in temperature control.
Good amount of heat.
Can burn the hedgehog
Best option due the many option to hide it and make it safe.
With proper use, no dangers
Useful in hibernation.
Electric shock due the combination of water and claws of the hedgehog.
Good but needs a spot.
Can cause a fire.
How to Keep Hedgehogs Warm during Winter.
About the Author.
My name is David Zermeño, i wrote another hub about having basic information of the hedgehogs, for me is very important the control of the temperature to avoid all the problem I mentioned before. Keeping your hedgehog in good health will be a good sign about you being a good owner.
Any questions or suggestions I will gladly answer them.
Thanks for reading and happy caring.
David Zermeño (author) from Mexico on June 28, 2013:
Thank you Is2222, I'm glad to hear your opinion :)
Paul Barlow from Louisville, KY on June 28, 2013:
Good work David