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Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
Section - <5.5> I'm having problems litter-training my hedgehog. What should I be doing?

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
Previous Document: <5.4> What kind of litter should I use?
Next Document: <5.6> Hedgehogs and wheels
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I wish I knew the answer to this one!  Velcro and Popeye insisted that one's
so called master is there for the express purpose of feeding tasty tidbits
then cleaning up the results wherever they decide to leave them.  As for the
litter box, well that's just a playpen for digging in, isn't it?  On the
other hand, Sprocket and Hocus as well as Pocus seemed to just naturally seek
out and use a litter box, and so do some of my current `ladies,' so there was
no training involved.  Now if I could get them to teach Popeye some manners!

That having been said, the recommended approach (which did not receive the
Velcro stamp of approval, I might add) is to put all the droppings you find,
into the litter box, daily.  The idea is that the hedgehog will come to
associate the litter box with where the droppings are supposed to go.  Some
hedgehogs apparently take to this quite readily.

In all seriousness, I suspect that hedgehogs which are taught from birth to
use a litter box, will generally do so quite happily, while those that have
not been taught, or didn't receive adequate training while quite young may
not be keen on using the litter box, but persistence may pay off eventually.

For what it is worth, cleaning up hedgehog droppings is not exactly a
difficult or messy task.  In a pen with pine or aspen shavings it is simply a
matter of quickly sifting though the shavings with a cat litter scoop to
clean up the droppings.  Fortunately, there is virtually no odour, and the
droppings are big enough to clean up easily.

In addition to everything above, here are some interesting, and very
promising tips on litterbox training:

    I had the same problem [not using the litter box -- ed.] with my 
    hedgehog Quincy.  To resolve the problem, and he still misses the 
    mark at times, I built a cardboard enclosure with a small entrance 
    opening to fit over the litter pan in the corner of his cage - He has 
    one of the small animal corner litter pans.  Unable, to resist a small
    opening, Quincy soon began doing his business in there.  I put him in
    there every time he finished eating, and it didn't take long before he 
    got the idea.  Before, I added the cardboard cupboard, he would only use
    the litter pan as a ``sandbox,'' and could often be spotted sitting in 
    the pan, eating the corn cob pellets.  Thankfully, he doesn't do that 
    anymore either.
    -- Michelle Baker

Given the appeal of small openings to hedgehogs, it's a wonder why nobody
thought of using that for any number of hedgie herding or training actions.
My thanks to Michelle for this -- I'll definitely give it a try with my
ill-behaved bunch.

Hot on the heels of the idea above, came the following suggestion from
Melissa-Lee:

    Neither of my hedgehogs were litter trained when they came home, but I
    figured out how to train them.  My male was easier to train because I
    just put some of her [the female's] waste in his litter pan and of 
    course he had to cover up someone else's smell, and he never stopped 
    using it.  The female just naturally took to the litter box when I but
    it in the corner where she went and she took to it.  

This is another fine example of "why didn't I think of that!"  I suspect this
would generally work best with males, who tend to be somewhat more
territorial than females, but the idea of using a different hedgie's
droppings to coerce one into knowing where to go has a lot of merit.

As with all things hedgehog, patience is the key.  These ideas aren't likely
to result in instant results, so be patient, and keep at it.

Don't expect perfect results, however, hedgehogs are just not going to be
that fastidious about things.  There are going to be exceptions, no matter
what.

Some factors that will, however, make `mistakes' worse, are things like
wheels.  Remember that hedgehogs feel an almost irresistible need to go while
on the go.  As a result, you can often count on wheels becoming an alternate
litterbox (not to mention a poop slingshot of sorts).  Some hedgies will also
get into the habit of stopping briefly, to hang their backsides over the edge
of the wheel to `go' making it a bit easier to clean up afterwards.

In the end, there is no magic bullet to getting a hedgehog to use its litter
box.  Try the ideas above, and if it doesn't work out, it's not that bad --
trust me, I know!

User Contributions:

Rio
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Hi, my hedgehog started running around her cage squealing so I took her out to see what was wrong. Her genital area was inflamed and she had open sores all around that area. I gave her a bath, but I'm really worried about her. Do you have any idea what this could be?
Thank you!

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
Previous Document: <5.4> What kind of litter should I use?
Next Document: <5.6> Hedgehogs and wheels

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