Hedgehogs are remarkably cute little animals. Their backs are covered with prickly spines and their bellies are soft and furry. When threatened or scared they roll into a tight ball. When relaxed their spines lay almost flat. They make a good beginner exotic pet as they are easy to care for and just plain fun. Despite their impressive display of little spines they are easily tamed, and when they feel secure, their little quills feel like hairbrushes. Hedgehogs love to explore and run around. They also love critter balls and it’s a great way to exercise them.
Our baby hedgehogs are pulled from mom at 6 weeks of age and are then kept in our living room to be handled daily and socialized when they are sent to their new homes at 7-8 weeks old.
Care and Facts:
Lifespan: 5-7 years
Diet: Our hedgehog diet consists of our home-blended hedgehog food, Pokey Crunch. It is a hard kibble with added vitamins, dried fruit, insects, coconut oil and mealworms for additional protein that they need. It is a complete diet and there is no need to supplement with anything else. They are fed 2 level tablespoons of Pokey Crunch every evening. Available on the Pet Supplies Page
Size at Adulthood: Normally no more than 1 pound, about the size of a softball or grapefruit.
Minimum Cage size: Hedgehogs should be provided a cage or container that is draft free, easy to clean and escape proof. We use a Sterilite container with the center of lid cut out to easily access our hedgehogs and to secure the water bottle holder (guard) in place.
What is a Hedgehog?
Is that a baby porcupine?? They look very similar, but they are not even related. An african pygmy hedgehog is an insectivore, not a rodent like the porcupine. A hedgehog's closest relative is actually the shrew. An average African Pygmy Hedgehog will fit in an adult man's cupped hand. African Pygmy hedgehogs have a thick coat of spines, varying in color. There is no fur under the spines, but soft white or brown fur covers the belly, neck, face, and legs. Sight is relatively poor, but hearing, smell, and taste are very well developed in most pet hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs are easy going, non-aggressive and not attention seekers. They are great pets that can be handled by anyone and well adjusted hedgies go to strangers with ease. If you are going to be gone on vacation for a week they normally won’t miss you. When you come back they will willingly go to you as if you never left.
They are easy to keep as pets, all the supplies you need for them can be found at any petstore with the exception of hedgehog food (order online). I have placed many of them in schools as classroom pets as they are cool animals that children are very intrigued by and can learn alot from. They can make good "first" pets for kids with adult supervision.
Costs for keeping a Pet Hedgehog:
*Bag of Pokey Crunch food, every 8 weeks……...$7.50
*Cage setup & Play area..........................................$50-$150
Pine Bedding (monthly cost)..……..........…..........$5-$20
* Items Available in our Pet Supplies Page
How to care for a Hedgehog:
Habitat: There are many options to choose from, I recommend a large plastic sterilite container with pine shavings, water bottle, food dish and one or more hide houses.
Their bedding should be changed at least every 7 days. Inspect your hedgehogs for toe nail trimmings, you can clip long nails with baby finger nail clippers.
Your hedgehog does need a form of exercise and although a wheel in the cage is an option I do not recommend them for the following reasons. They can fall over in the cage on top of your hedgehog, hedgehogs tend to poop vigorously on the wheel which will cause them to have contact with their feces for extended periods of time, this can lead to nail/ feet infections or urine burns. An alternative is to have a seperate play pen area for your hedgehog. You can use another large sterilite container, a kiddie pool, an outdoor play pen or an indoor play pen. Exercise does not necessarily mean running only. Hedgehogs also need activities, and enrichment. This is done by foraging, inspecting surroundings, making new burrows, and encountering new smells & objects. I like to set up thier play area different every time they are put in it. I change the placement of hide houses, scatter food and insects in different areas/corners, and also I move the actual play area from time to time. Grab a couple twigs or leaves from outside and let them investigate the new smells. The hedgehog has something to do, they always seem like they are on a mission to explore and have fun in their play pen. Your hedgehog would enjoy several hours of play each evening in the pen.
Hedgehogs are solitary and once they reach maturity they must be housed seperately. However if two females are raised together we find they will live together with little to no aggression as adults.
Food: Hedgehogs are omnivorous, and should be fed an appropriate diet. Their diet should also consist of dead or live insects, worms, protein kibble, and small amounts of plant matter. Feeding hedgehogs large amounts of fruit can cause loose stool, and hedgehogs do not seem to like many vegetables. I recommend finding a complete dry diet that will meet all of their dietary needs. Check out our Pet Supplies page for our hedgehog food.
Handling: Hedgehogs are not cuddly creatures, and not just because they are full of sharp spines. They do not like to be handled, restrained, or toted around for extended periods of time. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and are awake at night. If you go to get your hedgehog out during the day you will most likely encounter some resistance and even a grumpy hedgehog. During the day, easy handling and even allowing your baby to sleep in a pouch on your lap is best. No activities or extended play time. At night, typically when all the lights go off hedgehogs come alive! This is the time they would prefer to be handled and played with. This is also the time for them to go into their play pens.
Actual holding and touching a hedgehog can be challenging at first but will quickly become an easy task to acheive. Yes they have sharp spines, however , the spines are not sharp enough to puncture your skin by just holding them and they will not come out.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: Do they have scent glands or a smell?
A: No they do not have scent glands or a smell. Their cage will begin to smell if it not cleaned out regularly. You can spot clean daily, or do a full clean of their whole cage once a week. Sanitizing the cage and accessories once a week is important to hedgie health.
Q: Do they like baths?
A: I do not recommend baths for hedgies. They do not need baths, they clean themselves. You can occasionally let your hedgie swim around in warm water, but after you get them out you must make sure they are completely dry before putting them back in their cage. Don't use soap. Using good bedding, not fleece or non-absorbant material, will keep your hedgehog clean and happy. If your hedgehog gets dirty or semlly on a regular basis, you need to clean the cage more, or change their diet. Hedgehogs are naturally clean animals.
Q: Do they require any vaccinations?
A: No vaccinations are needed, although they are prone to mites just like dogs are prone to fleas. They can be treated one every few months with a prescription or over the counter mite control. Keeping them clean and healthy is a great mite preventative.
Q: What is their general personality?
A: They are curious, exploratory, but they can be shy. Each individual hedgehog has its own personality and sex does not seem to determine distinct personailty traits, in other words both males and females make great pets!
Q: How are they with other pets?
A: Larger animals may frighten them, and some animals like ferrets and genets will try to eat them. In my personal opinion hedgehogs should never have contact with any other animal including other hedgehogs, the risk of injury or illness is not worth the risk no matter how friendly your dog or other animal is.
Q: Can I take my hedgehog outside?
A: If the weather is comfortable a hedgehog may enjoy a stroll in the backyard, just remember to keep an eye on them. They are excellent roley poley hunters!
Q: Should I get two, so my hedgehog wont be lonely?
A: Hedgehogs are solitary animals and should not be kept in the same cage with another hedgehog. Two females who were raised together from a young age can share a large cage.
Negative Aspects of owning a hedgehog:
<They may urinate or deficate on you, but very rarely. Babies will do this more often than adults.
< They do have hard semi-sharp spines. If you have sensitive hands or do not like the feeling of their spines you may not be able to handle them properly.
<They are very active at night and can make quite the ruckus when you are trying to sleep
<Although they are active and exploratory, they do not necessarily have playful, or very interactive personalities
< Cleaning thier cage at least weekly can be time consuming but it must be done for health and happiness of your hog.
Think you want to own a hedgehog?
Do you have a vet that has experience with hedgehogs BEFORE you get one?
No....Get one, I am not a vet. Call around and ask vets local to your area until you find one. This should be done BEFORE you get a baby in case of emergency.
Do you have $50-$150 to immediately spend on an initial vet exam?
No... Don't buy a hedgehog. All animals need appropriate vet care.
Do you have one hour a week to thoroughly clean out their cage and replace their bedding?
No.... Don't buy a hedgehog. Keeping them clean is very important to their health and happiness.
Do you have time each evening to feed them?
No...Don't buy a hedgehog. They cannot be fed a lot at one time to last for several days, they will gorge on food. They must be fed each evening.
Do you have the finances to spend about $10-20 a month on food and bedding?
No...Don't buy a hedgehog. There are expenses that are necessary to keep your hedgehog alive, healthy and happy.
Are you able to keep them for 5-7 years and to keep them in a happy & healthy environment for the duration of their life, even if you (or your children) are no longer interested in them?
No... Don't buy a hedgehog. They should not be "rehomed" over and over. You need to understand the pros and cons before getting one and to commit to their full life.
Hedgehogs as pets- REAL owners perspectives and stories:
Linda H.- My hedgehog is shy with a independent personality. He definately knows when he smells a stranger. But I love to pick him up and give him a piece of chicken. His quills relax and I watch his beautiful little face. Hedgehogs make unique pets. They are easy to care for, quiet, and you can't beat the cuteness. Even when they are balled up and peaking out they are quite cute.
Jessie B and Esthon L- Having little Thor in our lives has been nothing but a blessing. We’ve found that hedgehogs are the perfect pet for college students. I used to get lonely at night in my apartment until Thor came along, who always stays awake with me while I study late at night. My boyfriend and I love the little creature so much that we take him just about anywhere with us, even to our classes. He’s a great travel buddy as well, he sits in our laps the whole ride from our school in Austin to our homes in Fort Worth without any problems. We don’t live together so we have to take turns keeping the little guy, and once one of us gives him to the other we already miss him. He watches movies with us, takes naps with us, stays the night at our friend’s houses, and is always up for posing in front of the camera. Our favorite things to do with him are to watch him run around outside and to give him baths. I recommend hedgies to any responsible college student or young adult. They can bring so much joy and laughter into your life. . . if you keep their cages clean! Little Thor has already given us so many memories, and I cannot wait to make many more in the future
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