Providing your hedgehog with opportunities for enrichment is an important part of being a prickle parent, and one of the questions we get asked frequently is, can I take my hedgehog outside?
The answer is *usually* a resounding, yes! But with the caveat that it is important to take some precautions when giving your quill kid some well-deserved playtime in the great outdoors.
We’ve put together our top 6 tips to help make your outdoor adventures safe and fun!
Say Yes to Outside, but No to ‘Cides - Pesticides & Herbicides that is!
Many lawns and public areas routinely use pesticides and herbicides to make their green spaces attractive. Unfortunately these chemicals can have nasty side effects for your little sidekick. While you can vouch for whether or not your own outdoor oasis is safe from these sprays, it’s best to be cautious about unfamiliar or public areas. If you’re not sure whether or not the area has been sprayed, it’s best to avoid it.
Check the Weather
It may seem obvious, but checking the weather is an absolute must! Hedgehogs thrive in warm temperatures with 75-80˚F being ideal. While most owners know that hedgies that get too cold may attempt hibernation, which can be life threatening, sometimes they forget that extreme heat needs to be avoided as well. A hedgehog that is too warm will sploot, flattening themselves in much the same way a dog might on cool tile.
- If planning an outing in cooler conditions, keep the excursion brief, check their temperature and energy levels often, and make sure to provide your hedgie with a warm place to rest post-adventure (we like to bring a handwarmer or two encased in a sock to provide a cozy place to snuggle up).
- If planning an outing in warmer weather, make sure to bring plenty of water, keep an eye on their energy levels and temperature, and provide a place in the shade where they can rest/cool down a little post-adventure.
Fuel Up Before You Head Out
Your hedgie is 100% likely to try to nibble on things they find outdoors - they are inquisitive after all! Make sure to feed your hedgie a solid snack before hitting the great outdoors. This helps reduce the likelihood of them chowing down on bugs/plants they find in the wild - stuff that may have been sprayed with harmful chemicals.
While there are exceptions to every rule, our general rule of thumb is not to let our hedgies consume anything they find outside on a lawn or public green space.
Don’t Leave Your Hedgehog Unattended
Do not, under any circumstances, leave your hedgie unattended. They are relying on you to keep them safe from things like neighborhood dogs and cats, opportunistic predators like owls, hawks, foxes and raccoons (depending on your area), cars, bicycles and other pedestrians who may not be expecting to have a hedgehog in the area, etc.
Having a small gated, secluded or closely supervised area is the best way to keep your hedgehog safe while exploring. We’ve also seen some scrunchy-style harnesses that some creative owners have used to take their hedgie on a more traditional walk. If considering this accessory, just make sure that the lead doesn’t interfere with your hedgehog’s mobility or ability to curl up to protect themselves.
Pack Creature Comforts
Even the most adventurous hog sometimes needs a break - especially as they’re nocturnal by nature. Make sure you’re stocked up with everything your hedgie needs to relax and recoup from their trek:
- Carrier or travel-safe enclosure
- Igloo or hide
- Water Bottle or Dish
- Snack / food
Bring a Hedgie First Aid Kit
Routine vet visits are always a must, but in addition to regular maintenance, it’s important to have first-aid tools on hand (especially if you and your hedgie are avid adventurers) so you can help your hog in a jiffy, should a problem arise!
Some essentials to help stock your Hedgie First Aid Kit:
- Ouchie Oops Styptic Powder - If your hedgehog runs into a minor bleed from a small cut or scrape, Styptic powder effectively and safely stops bleeding on the spot.
- Dr. Quill Wound Spray - This antiseptic wound spray is made with soothing aloe, calendula, and eucalyptus. It will get your hedgie healing in a pinch!
- Nail trimmers - to help prevent injuries by trimming too long nails
- Cotton swabs - helps in the application of antiseptic sprays/ointments, for removing debris from paws, noses and ears, etc.
- Hand warmers - to help warm up your hedgie in case of emergencies
- Paper towels
Splish, Splash! Time for a Bath!
Taking your hedgehog on a fun-filled outing can be messy business - whether it be mud/dirt, weeds, pollen, or enthusiastic anointing from all of the above. To help avoid tracking the outside in, it’s always a good idea to clean them up post-adventure with a gentle, yet effective shampoo like Hogwash. This will prevent bringing outdoor messes/germs inside, help maintain a clean and safe cage, and you’ll have a happy, dirt-free hedgie!
What’s your favorite place to explore with your hedgehog? Let us know in the comments below!