Do hedgehogs make good pets? This is a must-answer question since it is difficult to find pet hedgehogs in many homes. However, having a pet hedgehog that falls under the exotic pets category would be great fun.
There are 17 different hedgehog species. Of these, only 4 species can be kept as pets. The African pygmy hedgehog is the smallest among the hedgehogs and is most frequently sold for the pet trade.
But wait! Before you opt for a pet hedgehog, one important point must be considered. Are you curious about it? Here you go. Hedgehogs can’t be owned so easily, unlike other pets, including dogs and cats. You must first confirm if it is legal to have a pet hedgehog.
Owning a pet hedgehog may not be legal in all countries. You must check the legal status before proceeding to keep hedgehogs as pets. For instance, it is legal to own a pet hedgehog in the United States, excluding the following states – Georgia, California, Omaha, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., New York City’s Five Boroughs, and Hawaii.
In other cities and states, you might have certain restrictions, or a permit will be required to own a pet hedgehog.
Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets- Let’s Find Out
1. Hedgehogs Have a Solitary Nature
The very prominent exotic pet hedgehog is the African pygmy hedgehog. As the name suggests, these hedgehogs are bred from African species in captivity and are considered domesticated.
Though you can keep a hedgehog as a pet, they are generally solitary animals and prefer living alone in the wild. You can find them interacting with other hedgehogs in the wild only during the breeding season. So, do hedgehogs make good pets?
You can turn these cute creatures into great pets with bonding, proper care, and feeding.
2. Hedgehogs Are Very Prickly
All hedgehogs, be it a pet African pygmy hedgehog or others, have sharp spines similar to a porcupine and are quite prickly too. These sharp spines help them stay safe from predators.
However, a hedgehog cannot shoot their sharp quills, unlike a porcupine. When inside a predator’s mouth, they become all defensive by twitching and jumping, thereby making their quills poke into the lips and skin of their captor, resulting in their release eventually.
In case you plan to keep these cuddly animals as a pet, do be careful with their quills and spines.
3. Hedgehogs Might Turn Nervous at Times
Hedgehogs prefer living alone and don’t long for humans to interact with them, unlike your other pets. So, if they sense something wrong or a threatening environment, you can notice your hedgehogs curl up and tense. They even twitch and jump, which signifies they are nervous.
Hence, you will find it delicate to handle a nervous hedgehog, and you need to find towels or gloves to hold them till they relax and turn normal.
4. Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets As Hedgehogs Are Nocturnal Animals
When you have a pet hedgehog or the African pygmy hedgehog, you would have noticed them being very active at night. This is because hedgehogs are nocturnal. Pet hedgehogs are not your forte if you love peaceful nights or are a light sleeper.
You can find them running and playing during the night; this noise will keep you awake.
5. Self-Anointing in Hedgehogs
Have you seen your pet hedgehog covering itself with spit? It is not a matter of concern, as it is their nature. But when does this happen? You can find your hedgehog doing this when encountering a new scent.
Your hedgehog will lick and bite the new object, forming a frothy spitball in its mouth that belongs to the new scent. That’s not all. Your pet hedgehog has more to offer.
After forming the spitball, it will use this frothy saliva to cover its spines. Now, your hedgehog will be covered with this new smell and hence can escape from predators in the wild. This is known as the self-anointing behavior of hedgehogs.
6. Can You Uncurl a Hedgehog
As seen earlier, hedgehogs prefer curling up into a very tight ball when they feel bad. This will make their quills stick out from their back, making it extremely difficult to hold them in your hands.
Not only this, but you will also find their limbs and face completely covered. So how do you uncurl them? With their strong muscles, it is not practically advisable to uncurl them with your hands since it might harm them. So, the only option is to wait patiently for them by holding them in a towel till they come out.
So, till they come out, you can do nothing but simply stare at your African pygmy hedgehog who is just a spiky ball now.
7. Hedgehogs Are Very Active
Hedgehogs love running all around the house when awake. They become very active and energetic. With good bonding, you can have a great time with them.
8. Hedgehogs Are Not Quiet Animals
No, hedgehogs are not quiet. They make grunting and snorting noises for communication and clicking noises when they are unhappy. So what noise can you hear from them when they are happy? You can hear them purring when in a happy mood.
So, as pet owners of a hedgehog, you have to be familiar with the sounds they make and the reason for that sound to understand their needs better.
9. Bonding Between a Hedgehog and Its Owners
With a hedgehog as a pet, you can have a nice time with them as they bond greatly with their owners. You can turn it into a cute, adorable pet hedgehog once you get familiar with it.
You may even make a nervous hedgehog uncurl with your scent since they recognize you through your scent. This reveals the thick bonding between a hedgehog and its owners.
Though initially, you may have difficulty getting hedgehogs to open up to you since they are scared of humans, sufficient time and effort will make them the best pet you ever had.
10. Climate Impacts on a Hedgehog
European hedgehogs are found in the wild and hibernate during cold weather when food is scarce. This hibernation is essential for them to decrease their metabolism and manage their body temperature.
African pygmy hedgehogs, on the other hand, stay less active and sleeps more during the hot weather when there is a limited food supply. This way, they decrease their metabolism and manage their body temperature. This state is known as aestivation.
Such behaviors are common for wild hedgehogs as they adapt to climatic change. However, this is not acceptable with your pet hedgehogs. They should always stay active because their surroundings’ temperature and food supply should remain stable.
If your pet hedgehog ends up hibernating or aestivating, it risks losing weight, falling ill, and sometimes even death.
Having seen all these, it’s time to look at a hedgehog’s eating habits.
11. Hedgehog’s Eating Habits
Have you wondered what hedgehogs eat? When you look for hedgehog food at your local pet store, it will be very rare to find. But no worries, you can feed them cat food as most of them are enough to meet their necessities.
But remember that you should not overfeed them with cat food since their size is smaller than average cats.
You should also ensure that their nutritional needs are satisfied by giving them different foods, including fruits, vegetables, insects, etc. Hedgehogs enjoy catching live insects.
As for water, you can provide them in a water bottle or a small bowl.
12. Obesity In Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs love eating, and a lot of captive hedgehogs are obese. They eat even when bored, leading to an increase in weight. It is also not advisable to leave them in their cage as it will lead to your hedgehog becoming obese, resulting in various health problems.
You also must be careful that hedgehogs don’t feast on many insects. Doing so will result in calcium deficiency, causing brittle bones and other health issues. The combination of obesity and brittle bones is very dangerous to their health.
Hence, it is vital to monitor the diet your hedgehog intakes.
13. Hedgehogs May Transmit Diseases
Like dogs and cats, your hedgehog is also susceptible to certain diseases that may put you at risk. This may include foot and mouth disease, which it may carry and transmit, and salmonella bacteria in its stool which is also infectious.
There is also a possibility that your hedgehog may carry fungal spores on its quills and skins, resulting in ringworm infection getting transmitted to you. Hence, as a precaution, you must cleanse your hand thoroughly after contacting your pet and cleaning their cage.
14. Necessities for a Hedgehog
When you opt hedgehog as a pet, ensure that you buy a large cage that is also escape-proof. Avoid wires inside the cage floor since your hedgehog can get stuck. Instead, opt for a solid floor.
Other small animals may need litter pans, but your hedgehog doesn’t since they don’t use them. Also, ensure ample space for hedgehogs when you opt for them as pets; they enjoy running around.
15. Do Hedgehogs Bite
It is very rare for hedgehogs to bite, so you don’t have to worry much about it. If you are taking care of your hedgehog right from a young age, it will be very social and affectionate.
16. Exercises for a Hedgehog
To avoid obesity in hedgehogs, you need to provide them with an exercise wheel so that they remain active. Choose a wheel that is open-sided and also has a solid surface.
Avoid wheels with bars, as it may injure your cute pet. The size of exercise wheel should have a minimum diameter of 1o inches so that ample space is available for them to run.
17. Do They Enjoy the Company of Other Animals
It is alright to have a dog or a cat while having a hedgehog as your other pet, though don’t expect them to be thick buddies.
It is best to keep an eye on when there is any interaction taking place between your hedgehog and some other animal. If you wish to have multiple pets at home along with your hedgehog, you might have to think twice before doing so.
18. Purchase Hedgehogs Only from a Reputable Breeder
Yes, you must get your hedgehog only from a reputable breeder since they know its origin well. If you get an unhealthy one, their babies will also be the same.
Hedgehog owners must question the environment in which it was kept before purchasing. When you buy from a good breeder, you will reap the benefits, though you may find it expensive.
19. Veterinary Care
You have to take your hedgehog for a veterinary check-up every year. This will ensure that your pet stays healthy, as any health issues can be identified early during their annual visits.
Once you acquire them as a pet, you should take them to a veterinarian to inspect whether there are any internal or external parasites.
20. Hedgehogs Produce Little Allergens
You don’t have to worry about allergies as they produce fewer allergens. If you are a person with allergies to fur, you don’t have to worry about this when your pet is a hedgehog.
Now, do hedgehogs make good pets? You can choose between reviewing the facts above and deciding if they make a good pet.
Overall, a hedgehog is a cute animal, and if you feel you are in to opt for it as a pet, go for it.