Yes! You can take your hedgehog outside to play. It is likely that your hedgehog will enjoy the fresh air and change of scenery during the summer months.
However you should always take some precautions to ensure your hedgie is safe from harm.
When taking your hedgehog outside, keep to the following guidelines to ensure your hedgehog is safe:
- Don’t leave your hedgehog unattended.
- Feed your hedgie before you take him out.
- Use a playpen or section an area off for your hedgehog.
- Don’t take him outside in extreme weather conditions.
- Ensure the ground is clean and hasn’t been sprayed with anything.
- Look out for any hazards.
- Give your hedgehog a bath after going outside.
- Have your hedgehog checked by a vet at the end of summer.
In this article we will discuss each of these guidelines in detail, so your hedgehog can play safely outside.
Why you should take your hedgehog outside to play.
During the summer seasons, your hedgehog can really benefit from being outside to play.
Hedgehogs are curious creatures so exploring a new environment can be really stimulating and fun. Your hedgehog also needs daily exercise to ensure that he stays fit and healthy.
Additionally, as woodlands and meadows are hedgehogs’ natural habitat, running around in the grass and chasing leaves feels like home.
If you haven’t got a garden to play in, you can take your hog to the park in a travel carrier. Just read through the guidelines below to ensure your hog stays safe when outdoors.
For guidance on taking your hedgehog in a car check – How to Safely Transport your Hedgehog in a Car
Don’t leave your hedgehog unattended.
Just as play time inside, you should always supervise your hog when he or she is roaming outside. That means not leaving him outside for even a couple minutes while you pop to the toilet.
Firstly, as I’m sure you are aware, hedgehogs can be very accomplished escape artists! If there is a little gap to escape through, I’m sure your hog will find it. Hedgehogs love finding little crevices to burrow into, so if your hog does escape, you may struggle finding him!
Additionally, there have been terrible cases where hedgies have been picked up by birds of prey such as hawks or even seagulls. Therefore, not only is it important to keep an eye on your hedgehog, you must be on the look out for predators.
Finally, you also want to ensure that they don’t eat anything they’re not supposed to. Some bugs can be dangerous if consumed as they may be carrying parasites. This leads onto our next point.
Feed your hedgie before you take him out.
Give your hedgehog treats before heading out for playtime. Hedgehog treats include the following:
- Boiled chicken
- Scrambled or boiled eggs
Hopefully after feeding your hedgehog treats, he won’t be as interested in eating things that he comes across in the outside world. Things that are potentially a danger.
Outdoor insects may be a tasty treat for your hedgehog, but they are no good for him. Firstly they may have gotten in contact with pesticides, and secondly they may carry parasites which will make your hog sick.
Use a playpen or section an area off for your hedgehog.
As mentioned above, hedgehogs can be amazing escape artists and love to bury and hide in dark spaces.
Section off a large area for your spikey friend to run around and play in. You can purchase some cheap play pens or barriers from Amazon.
Just be sure that the gaps are not big enough for your hedgehog to squeeze through. Additionally, ensure that your hedgie cannot burrow out of the pen.
Don’t take your hedgie outdoors in extreme weather conditions.
You want to avoid your hedgehog catching a chill or overheating. High temperatures, low temperatures, rain and breeze are all dangerous for pet hedgehogs.
You also want to avoid him being exposed to direct sunlight.
An outdoor temperature between 70ºF and 80ºF (21ºC and 27ºC) is recommended.
Ensure the ground is clean and hasn’t been sprayed with anything.
If playing with your hedgehog outside on the grass, make sure the grass has not been treated with any chemicals. Many grasses in parks are treated with chemicals such as pesticides. Even if you do not spray your grass, your neighbours might. So, be sure the grass is clean before letting your hog explore.
Chemicals such as pesticides are harmful to hedgehogs and can hurt their tummies if ingested.
If you aren’t sure whether the grass is clean and don’t want to risk it, you could always let your hedgehog run around in an empty paddling pool.
Look out for any hazards.
The outside world is full of hedgehog hazards. These include a whole range of things, including glass that can cut your hedgehogs feet and plastic that your little friend can choke on. Additionally, look out for ant nests as these can bite your hedgehog. Hedgehogs love to sniff around too, so look out for any animal faeces that can make your hog sick.
Before letting your hedgehog run around, do a thorough check of the area. It helps to get down to your hedgie’s level so don’t be scared to get on your hands and knees to Inspect the ground. You will be able to spot more hazards from down there.
As mentioned above, predators are also a hazard to look out for. Hawks and seagulls both have the potential to swoop down and take hedgehogs. Furthermore, if you decide to take your hedgehog to the park, keep an eye out for any dogs which might mistake your hog for a toy.
Give your hedgehog a bath after going outside.
Hedgehogs can easily pick up toxins and parasites from the outside world, which can in turn make them poorly. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to give them a good bath after outdoor play. Give your hog a little soak in warm water to wash away anything that could make him sick.
Just make sure the water is warm as hedgehogs are used to warm climates. As I’m sure you are aware, hedgehogs are hibernating creatures. Therefore, cold water can confuse their bodies into thinking it’s time for hibernation. After bath time, make sure that your hedgehog is completely dry before putting him back in his cage. If your hog is still wet he could catch a cold and get sick.
Additionally, if you decide to use soap, make sure it is non-scented. Scented soaps have harsh chemicals in them that will irritate your hog’s skin.
Baby soaps or oils work well as they are gentle on sensitive skin.
Have your hedgehog checked by a vet at the end of summer.
As mentioned above, hedgehogs can easily pick up parasites, pathogens and toxins from their environment. These can make hedgehogs sick.
Hogs can pick up both internal and external parasites. Intestinal parasites, such as worms, can cause diarrhoea, however, some hedgehogs with worms do not show any symptoms. External parasites include fleas, ticks, and mites, which can cause various types of dermatitis.
Therefore, it is always a good idea to take your hog to the vet at the end of the summer.
Parasites are easily treated so you don’t need to be too concerned if your hog did pick something up. Treatments usually includes deworming tablets, mite sprays and bath treatments.
What are common signs of sickness in hedgehogs?
Symptoms depend on what your hedgehog is sick with, however there are some common non-specific signs. These include the following:
- Lack of appetite
- Changes in activity levels
- Changes in stool
- Hiding or not moving
If your hedgehog shows any of these signs, take him to a vet for a check up as soon as possible.
Taking your hedgehog outdoors can be a really great experience for you and your hog. Most hedgehogs enjoy playing outside, sniffing the grass, chasing leaves and exploring a new environment.
However, for your hedgehogs safety, you must keep a close eye on him. Follow the guidelines listed above to ensure that your hog remains safe and healthy.
If you do decide to take your hedgehog out, take him to the vet at the end of summer to make sure he hasn’t picked up any nasties.
Hope this has been helpful.