What is a Hedgehog?
Is that a baby porcupine?? While they look very similar, 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 dark fur covers the belly, neck, face, and legs. They have relatively poor sight, 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 be depressed or angry. When you come back they will willingly go to you as if you never left.
They are easy to keep as pets, 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 a lot from. They can make good "first" pets for kids with adult supervision.
Lifespan: Up to 5 years
Diet: Our hedgehog diet consists of our home-blended hedgehog food, Pokey Crunch. It is a hard kibble with added vitamins, dried fruit, insectivore diet, coconut oil and meal-worms for additional protein that they need. It is a complete diet and there is no need for supplements. They are fed 2 level tablespoons of Pokey Crunch every evening. Available on the Exotic Supplies Page and at pickup.
Size at Adulthood: Healthy hedgehogs are normally no more than 1 pound, about the size of a softball or grapefruit, small guinea pig size-ish.
Captive Environments: Hedgehogs should be provided a cage or container that is draft free, easy to clean and escape proof. We use a Sterilize container with the center of lid cut out to easily access our hedgehogs and to secure the water bottle holder (guard) in place.
How to care for a Hedgehog Habitat: There are many options to choose from, I recommend a large plastic sterile container with pine shavings, water bottle, food dish and one or more hide houses. We sell complete hedgehog cage setups for our clients who are local and picking up their baby, Their bedding should be changed at least every 5-7 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. Hedgehogs tend to poop vigorously on the wheel which will cause them to have contact with their feces and urine for extended periods of time, this can lead to nail/ feet infections or urine burns. An alternative is to have a separate play pen area for your hedgehog. You can use another large sterile container, a kiddie pool, an outdoor play pen or an indoor play pen. Exercise does not necessarily mean running on a wheel 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 their 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. Hedgehogs love 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 separately. However if two females are raised together we find they will live together with little to no aggression as adults. Food: Hedgehogs are omnivorous insectivores, 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 achieve. Yes they have sharp spines, however they are easy to handle and even novice owners will be playing and holding their babies in no time.
FAQs About Hedgies Do they need baths? If your hedgie gets dirty and is unable to clean itself then you can give him/her a bath using warm water and 2 tablespoons of melted coconut oil. You can also do this if he/she is itchy, has dry skin or any other irritation. Be sure to keep your hedgie warm until fully dry. Should I get two so my hedgehog will not be lonely? Hedgehogs can live fully happy lives as solitary creatures. If you do want a second it is recommended to get 2 females, or have them in separate cages. Do they require Vaccinations or shots? No vaccinations are needed. Can I take my hedgehog outside? Your hedgie can have supervised outside time but be sure to keep a close eye on him/her - they are fast! Do they have an odor, or offensive smell? No, they do not have scent glands and do not produce an odor. How are they with other pets? Larger animals may frighten them, I would recommend not having direct contact with larger animals. You can purchase a 'hamster ball' and let them roll around without worrying about direct contact. What is their general personality? They are fun, curious, loving creatures. They enjoy being handled, going outside, and playing with their owner. Every hedgie has a very unique personality.
Things to consider before owning a hedgehog
Cleaning their cage at least once a week can be time consuming but it must be done for health and happiness of your hog. Although they are active and inquisitive, they do not necessarily have playful, or very interactive personalities They may urinate or defecate 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. Some cities and states do not permit the possession of hedgehogs. Finding a vet that will treat a hedgehog can be challenging especially in smaller cities.