Hedgehogs can make excellent pets if it is the type of pet you are seeking. I am more of a traditional pet owner but if you are looking for something a bit more exotic, such as a sugar glider or a hedgehog, here are some pros and cons to becoming a hedgie owner!
Tiny hedgehogs are ridiculously cute mammals that have been around for millions of years. Watch as the dog meets the hedgehog. They weigh in at a mere six ounces to two pounds and are five to seven inches long. The space requirement for hedgehogs is similar to the space needed by a guinea pig.
These little exotics live throughout most of Africa and southern Europe. They have a relatively short lifespan of four to six years. The most common type of hedgehogs sold as pets is the African pygmy. See the listings for Hedgehog Breeders.
Hedgehogs As Pets – The Pros
If you are searching for a non-aggressive, easy to care for, non-stinky pet then the hedgehog may be the pet for you. Here are some more reasons to consider owning hedgehogs.
Unlike some of your more traditional pets, hedgehogs do not bark, meow or squawk. They are the ideal pet for small apartments or if you have sensitive neighbors that do not like to be disturbed. Other than the occasional midnight run on their wheel or the rearranging of their cage furniture, they are usually very quiet.
Do you deprive yourself of pets because you feel like your allergies are triggered every time you even look at a pet? Hedgehogs have no dander like cats or dogs, so there is nothing to trigger your allergies!
Hedgehogs are very active and need lots of daily exercise in their cage and outside their cage. They are not rodents, so they can safely roam your house. They have no propensity to gnaw on, chew up or destroy their surroundings (I left my gerbil out one night, and he chewed up everything in sight!)
Routine maintenance for hedgehogs consists of making sure they have fresh food and water daily, and a weekly cleaning of their cage. Of course, you may get a hedgehog that loves to make a mess of his cage that may require a touch-up or two during the week.
Hedgehogs are not known to carry any diseases dangerous to humans. They do not require regular vet visits, routine shots, or vaccinations. For more information on health and illness, click here.
You do not have to take hedgehogs for walks or give them baths (unless they accumulate feces on their feet or quills). With frequent cage cleanings and a healthy diet, they will have no odor. Hedgehogs are neat with their elimination habits and will frequently use a litter pan. They will take care of their personal grooming needs through licking, shaking, and scratching.
Hedgehogs As Pets – The Cons
Hedgehogs are not aggressive by nature but will use their spines as a defense mechanism if they are scared, nervous, or feel that they need to protect themselves.
Although they can be cute, cuddly, and curious; they are prickly. These exotic pets will poke you (and yes it hurts). If the quills do not get you, their teeth might. Hedgehogs have teeth and will bite. Biting is usually not due to aggression but used as a form of communication.
Hedgehogs are shy, nervous, and do not display a great deal of outward affection. In fact, they are nocturnal so that they may spend a large portion of their day curled up in a ball. They may take a long time to adapt to their new owners and a new home.
You are limited to females if you want multiple hedgehogs because only females can safely cohabitate.
Hedgehogs require their environment to be at a toasty 70 – 80 degrees F. Be prepared to provide an additional heat source if you like to keep your home at cooler temps.
Since hedgehogs are considered exotic pets, the veterinarian visits may be more costly. Be sure to check with your vet clinic to see if they charge higher fees for treating exotic pets.
Although hedgehogs appear to be self-sufficient, they should not be left alone for extended periods of time. This may mean boarding them or hiring a pet sitter while you are away.
The hedgehog’s exotic pet status may mean restrictions according to the state laws governing exotic animal ownership. Review your state’s laws on exotic animal ownership, and see if there are any requirements or restrictions regarding hedgehogs.
To be an excellent pet owner to hedgehogs, you must be patient, calm, and kind. As with any new pet, you should educate yourself on basic hedgehog behavior to reduce or eliminate the risk and/or frequency of biting or poking! Tips for handling your hedgehog.