Hedgehogs

How to Choose the Best Bedding for Your Hedgehogs (With Reviews)

best bedding for hedgehogs

The topic of bedding for hedgehogs is hotly debated with owners favoring everything from plain fleece liners to completely naturalistic set-ups. All substrates have pros and cons but there are several great alternatives.

In this article we will review 10 bedding choices, explaining what they are, what makes them particularly useful, and how they may fall short.

We will guide you through what to look for in a bedding material, and how your good choices can greatly improve environmental and sensory enrichment for your hedgehog.

One Bedding Is Never Enough

As you read our reviews, bear in mind that you aren’t looking for a single hedgehog bedding, but for several products for different areas of their habitat. At the very least you will need:

  1. A floor covering (litter/substrate).
  2. A litter for the toilet area.
  3. A nesting material for your hedgehog’s bed.

Some owners also choose to create a foraging area for their hogs to explore. Others like to give the opportunity to dig. All these areas require bedding with specific properties. In our reviews, we will make it clear which beddings are suited to specific activities using a 5-star rating system.

Our Best Hedgehog Bedding Picks

Here is our selection of what bedding is best for hedgehogs, with reviews.

Hemp Bedding for Hedgehogs

This natural product is manufactured from the shredded stalks of hemp plants, which results in an absorbent bedding. Being a natural product, the quality varies between manufacturers and you should look for one that is clean and dust-free.

You can buy hemp in large bales (marketed for chickens or horses). This will reduce the cost, but some products are not as clean. Hemp, alone, lacks the structure needed for digging but it can be successfully mixed with other bedding – such as shavings – for this purpose.

Dr. Hemp – All-Natural Pet Bedding

Marketed for small animals, Dr. Hemp is a clean and absorbent bedding, which has a small but chunky cut that is perfect for hedgehogs. It has no added chemicals or perfumes and boasts minimal use of pesticides in its production.

  • Floor covering: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 2 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • A clean, dust extracted product.
  • Highly absorbent.
  • Doesn’t need to be changed too often, which increases cost-effectiveness.
  • A natural product that is compostable and biodegradable.
Cons
  • Can be expensive. Buying bigger bags will help to offset this.

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Aspen Bedding for Hedgehogs

Aspen is a natural product that is made from hardwood. The shavings are low in phenols, so do not have the same issues with these volatile chemicals as pine, spruce, and cedar. Always choose dust extracted Aspen shavings.

Aspen tends to have good absorbency, so will reduce odors. However, it can also be messy, with the flakes clinging to fabric, carpet, and socks! This is much less of an issue if you have hard floors.

Living World – Aspen Shavings

These shavings are kiln-dried and dust extracted, leaving a clean product with good absorbency. They are made without any added chemicals or perfumes so won’t irritate your hog’s nose or respiratory system.

  • Floor covering: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 4 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Clean and absorbent.
  • Lasts well between changes.
  • Great odor control.
  • Good structure for digging (can be mixed with other substrates for this purpose).
  • Value for money.
Cons
  • You’ll need to throw away the tiny bits that settle at the bottom of the bag.
  • Can be hard to clean up in the wider environment.

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  1. Living World also does a kiln-dried, dust extracted pine shaving for small animals.

Pine Bedding for Hedgehogs

Pine (along with other softwoods like spruce and cedar) are generally considered inappropriate for small animals, horses, etc. because they contain volatile chemicals called phenols, which can irritate the nose and airways.

However, research in mice (who are prone to respiratory issues) has failed to find any detrimental effect from standard pine, cedar and CareFresh beddings over a 4 month period, but suggests that ammonia build-up probably has the greatest detrimental effect on the airways.

Cedar and pine have also been associated with raised liver enzymes in rabbits, mice, and rats in laboratory experiments. This can potentially lead to issues with metabolizing medication and other toxins.

However, the book The Laboratory Rabbit, Guinea Pig, Hamster, and Other Rodents edited by Mark A. Suckow, Karla A. Stevens, Ronald P. Wilson implies that kiln-dried pine does not have these effects. The process of kiln drying causes the volatile phenols to evaporate, creating a safer product.

Good quality, kiln-dried, dust extracted pine shavings are now widely used in some countries, like the UK across several species. Pine has good absorbency and represents value for money. Large flake products also provide excellent digging and foraging bedding.

Brown’s Naturally Fresh! Soft Pine Small Animal Bedding

This product has a soft flake cut as well as being from recycled wood, making it more sustainable. The shavings are dust extracted and kiln-dried, providing a safe and clean product. Kiln-dried pine can be a versatile and cost-effective bedding choice.

  • Floor covering: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 4 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Highly absorbent with good odor control.
  • Lasts well between changes, so, is cost-effective.
  • Good structure for digging (great to mix with other substrates for this purpose).
  • Soft and comfortable.
  • A natural product that is compostable and biodegradable.
Cons
  • Can be difficult to clean up from the wider environment.

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Meadow Hay Bedding for Hedgehogs

Clean fresh meadow hay can be enriching for your hedgehog through its natural textures and smells. You need to source high quality, soft hay that carries no risk of injury from hard, thick stems.

Hay isn’t particularly absorbent but is great for areas where your hog is less likely to urinate, such as beds and foraging areas. It provides good cover for hiding food for your hedgehog to find.

Oxbow Orchard Grass Hay Small Animal Food

Orchard grass is a green, fruity-smelling grass that Oxbow rate as both sweet and soft. It has a good nutritional profile should your hedgehog have a nibble, but it will certainly create a soft, natural sleeping area.

It will need to be changed frequently if your hog tends to soil their bed, but otherwise will last well and provide warmth and comfort to your pet. As a natural product, it is entirely biodegradable.

  • Floor covering: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 1 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Excellent enrichment.
  • Good insulation to the bedding area.
  • Clean and soft.
  • Smells good.
  • Provides cover for hiding food.
Cons
  • Gets smelly quickly when wet.
  • Can be messy, clinging to spines.

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Paper-Based Bedding for Hedgehogs

Paper-based bedding for hedgehogs comes in several forms:

  • Recycled paper pellets.
  • Paper/wood pulp.
  • Recycled paper strips.

Paper beddings tend to absorb well, though the paper trimmings and strips can soon become wet. For this reason, they are best kept for areas where your hedgehog doesn’t urinate. Pellets are expensive and can be hard on little feet.

Back-2-Nature – Small Animal Bedding

A firm, clean, pelleted litter made from recycled paper. Back-2-Nature is suitable for litters trays as it has great absorbency.

  • Floor covering: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 1 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Controls smell well.
  • Compostable and biodegradable.
  • Lats well if just using in litter trays so is cost-effective.
  • Virtually dust-free.
  • No additives, chemicals or scents.
Cons
  • Although these pellets are softer than many, may still be uncomfortable for use over the whole living space.
  • Not suitable for digging as it doesn’t maintain its structure.

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Petsell Boxo Small Animal Bedding

Boxo bedding is a recycled virgin paper pulp material. It is made from trimmings from the manufacture of paper products. The pulp creates a soft, highly absorbent bedding, which contains no added perfumes or chemicals.

There are many pulp paper bedding products on the market. We chose this one because it represents good value for money and is well-reviewed. It also doesn’t contain the odor-controlling chemicals of some leading brands. It may be harder to source than some other beddings but can be found on Amazon.com.

  • Floor covering: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 2 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Soft and comfortable.
  • Highly absorbent.
  • Large bales – value for money.
  • Good odor control.
  • Made from recycled paper, so, sustainable.
Cons
  • Easily gets stuck in hedgehog spines.
  • The fluffy texture is not the best for digging and foraging.

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Kaytee Clean and Cozy Natural Small Animal Bedding

A different take on the recycled paper pulp type beddings, Clean and Cozy is comprised of small pieces of thick paper-like material. It doesn’t have any perfume or added odorants (which is preferable from your hedgehog’s point of view).

A suitable choice for those who don’t like the fluffy consistency of pulp beddings.

  • Floor covering: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 2 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • 99% dust-free.
  • Great absorbency and odor control.
  • A natural and sustainable product that is completely biodegradable and compostable.
  • Good texture for foraging amongst.
  • Light, soft and comfortable.
Cons
  • Not suitable for toilet areas as becomes soggy when wet.

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FiberCore ECO Bedding

ECO bedding is made from multi-layered, thin strips of paper fiber that have been compressed into a neat zigzag effect. Cutting and folding the paper strips creates a large surface area for absorbency and a springy effect to prevent the paper from flattening down.

Fluid wicks down so that the bedding in contact with your hedgehog remains dry, creating a comfortable and soft sleeping area. Can be used on top of other beddings for comfort – or to create a foraging layer. Great for hiding food.

  • Floor covering: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 3 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Virtually dust-free.
  • Fully recyclable and biodegradable.
  • Clean to use.
  • Can be used for digging and burrowing.
  • Affordable option.
Cons
  • Less odor control than some beddings.

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Naturalistic Bedding for Hedgehogs

It’s becoming more common for people to try to offer their hedgehogs the opportunity to engage in instinctive behaviors (like digging and foraging), using a more natural product that mimics their wild environment.

One easy way to do this is to provide a digging box and a foraging area. The following products are suitable to use to achieve this.

Bosmere F476 Compressed Coco Chips Brick

Compressed bricks of coconut fiber chips which need to be rehydrated in water. Once rehydrated the product should be semi-dried out before offering to hedgehogs to avoid overcooling them. It is also improved texturally by mixing with sand.

  • Floor covering: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 5 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Provides a close to natural experience.
  • Excellent enrichment value.
  • Great digging substrate and foraging material.
  • The coarse texture is less dusty.
Cons
  • Needs to be dampened for use (dusty if dry).
  • Should not be used over the whole floor area because of the cooling effect.

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Reptile Sciences Terrarium Sand

A good quality reptile sand that is suitable for mixing with coir bedding to improve textural qualities. Can also be used as a partial floor covering in a natural Savannah/Grassland type habitat.

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Fleece Bedding for Hedgehogs

Some owners like to use fleece to cover the floor area of their hedgehog’s habitat, primarily because it’s clean, easy to wash and dry, and reusable.

Fleece wicks fluid (doesn’t absorb it) so that it sits under or on top of the fleece. Because of this, a single layer of fleece is insufficient, and two layers are usually used with absorbent material in between. Alternatively, the fleece can be placed over puppy pads.

GuineaDad Fleece Liner

Moisture wicks through the fleece top layer to an absorbent bamboo layer below. The bottom layer is also waterproof preventing fluid from pooling under the liner. Also features a pocket if your hedgehog prefers to go under something to rest.

  • Floor covering: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Litter box: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Sleeping area: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Foraging area: 1 out of 5 stars
  • Digging box: 1 out of 5 stars
Pros
  • Clean and soft.
  • Keeps the habitat dry.
  • After the initial outlay, the only cost is washing.
Cons
  • Can be expensive to purchase as you will need a few to enable washing in loads.
  • Needs to be changed frequently or will start to smell.
  • Lacks any feature of environmental enrichment other than the sleep pocket. This is a major issue for your hedgehog’s well-being and applies to all fleece liners.

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Features to Look Out for When Choosing a Hedgehog Bedding

Safety

Most beddings have the potential to be eaten in small quantities when foraging. Beddings used in foraging and digging areas should be safe in this regard. This means they need to be chemical and odorant free and as natural as possible.

Bedding should be clean and low in dust to prevent your hedgehog inhaling tiny particles that can lead to allergies and inflammation of the respiratory tract. Added odorants can also have this effect on some individuals.

Some male hedgehogs can have issues with bedding sticking to their (external) penis. This should be checked regularly and cleaned if necessary. Beddings do vary in this regard, so you may need to experiment a little to see what works best for your hog.

Comfort

Bedding should provide a degree of comfort, especially when used in the sleeping area. Research shows that some beddings do reduce levels of deep sleep in other small animals. If this is true for hedgehogs, it could be detrimental to your hedgehog’s health and well-being.

This effect was thought in part to be the increased discomfort of lying on a harder (pellet-like) bedding, and shavings do not create this effect. So, we don’t need to apply human ideas of comfort!

Shavings, paper products (other than pellets), hay, and fleece all provide a suitably soft and comfortable sleeping environment. But you don’t need to be overly concerned about the surfaces your hedgehog is moving over in the cage.

A wild hedgehog would spend time moving across earth, sand, vegetation, leaves, sticks, stones and so on. The best that you can provide is lots of variation in bedding in different areas of the cage, as this builds confidence and increases textural and sensory enrichment.

Odor Control

The smell of your hedgehog’s habitat matters to both of you, and artificial perfumes and odorants should be avoided. However, the smell from waste also needs to be controlled using a quality, absorbent bedding and regular cleaning.

Litter trays (with suitable bedding) can help with this and at the very least can be easily removed and cleaned. Many hedgehogs can learn to use a litter tray, or you can simply put one in the area where your hedgehog usually goes to the toilet.

Cost-effectiveness

It really doesn’t matter exactly how much any bag of bedding costs, because this information tells you nothing about how much bedding is in the bag, how thick a layer you will need to use, or how often you will need to change it.

You need to see how a bedding works for you and your hedgehog before you can determine its real value. One tip that is true for most beddings is that using a bit more in the habitat (a deeper layer) can often save money in the long term.

This is because most beddings perform better if they are in thick (2-3″ or more) layers, and better performance means less frequent changes, so, less money spent.

Final Thoughts

There is no one magical bedding that is perfect for all areas within the habitat. Be sure to choose bedding that suits the purpose that you want it for, as this will reduce frustration for you and improve your hedgehog’s environment.

And remember that natural beddings may be beneficial to well-being because they offer instinctively familiar sensory stimulation, such as natural scents and textures.

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