Oh my, best first post of the day to read. You have very cute piggies. So this may sound silly but with Willow I could use woodshavings as bedding but it is said that it could cause upper respitory infections and if not treated quickly she could die. Do wood shavings increase the chanced of your piggies to get a URI or no?
@Foodhog - Hi! Sorry to jump into this conversation, but I just thought I'd add my two cents...
I would stay far away from cedar and pine shavings (cedar especially), but you should be fine with aspen. I have used aspen in the past for hamsters and one very handsome hedgehog, and I never had any problems at all. Nowadays, I do prefer using Carefresh for my furbabies, since the material is softer and I assume that it would be more comfortable for the animals than wood shavings. I currently use Carefresh for my Syrian hamster, Elliot.
Oh, here's some information pulled from hamsterific.com (I know we're talking about hedgehogs and guinea pigs, but the information is just as applicable)...
"If you don't already know, you should never use Pine or Cedar bedding for your pet hamster. Cedar bedding is a rough material that can cause splintering, chapped feet and is almost impossible to correctly digest. Worse yet, cedar reacts to urine, causing toxic fumes called phenols to be released as long as it is in contact with the ammonia. While pine may be a bit softer on a hamster's feet, it often goes through a curing process that leaves dangerous chemicals on the product. Unfortunately there are not usually warning labels on these two types of bedding, potentially leading many new hamster owners to believe they are safe for their pets, but this is not the case."
@GiasCritters - Thanks! You 2 cents is always welcome, I love hearing what other perspectives and ideas. I did know all that actually, I spend way to much time on hedgehogcentral.com. Aha. I actually don't like using wood shavings at all. They easily cause URI in hedgehogs, they do all othe the stuff you said, they get all over the house and I find it a pain in the but to clean it all out once or twice a week. I tried them for a bit and only used Aspen. Now she has 3.5 sets of puzzle mats for flooring, much easier to clean and she loves the feeling of them. I also find she doesn't get as much gunk in her eyes as well.
@Foodhog - Aw, I used to be on hedgehogcentral.com quite a bit, but that was a few years back... I've only ever had one hedgehog, so I'm sure you know loads more about them than I do... oh, and I've seen pictures of your Willow... she's gorgeous (as are you!) I can tell you that you really love her so much and that you take spectacular care of her... it's a beautiful thing to see. :)
This is a picture of the hedgehog that I had when I was younger: http://i194.photobucket.com/albums/z114/LittleBluePikachu/PlatinumPinto10-07web-large.jpg
His name was Albus and I got him from a breeder in Chicago (that's actually the very first picture of him that I ever saw; the breeders emailed it to my mother)... He was sent on a plane to me (I was living in Las Vegas at the time).
Anyway, it's been a pleasure chatting with you, and I do applaud you for educating yourself so well and being an awesome mama to Willow. :]