Hedgehogs can make great pets for the right people but are you one of them?
To answer the above question, you need to learn the basics on what to look for when purchasing a hedgehog and how to take care of it.
Here, I’ll go over the main information about what to expect when owning hedgehogs as pets.
If you’re still on the fence about whether it is right for you, check out our “Is a Hedgehog Right for You?” article. This way, you and your family will be all set for a good experience.
Facts When Having Hedgehogs
“Domesticated hedgehogs are legal to own in most of the United States, but not in ALL states”.
Keeping African Pygmy hedgehogs as pets is legal in most states. This is to protect these mammals and the fact that they are considered a exotic and protected species.
If you live in any of the states where they are protected, and some other countries, you will not be able to keep one of them.
Inactive and active hours
Just as in the wild, hedgehogs sleep during daylight hours and can be sensitive to the light.
While some rare hedgehogs are okay with being played with or awaken during the day, most of them will become very grumpy when they aren’t awake during their natural time.
It may be great for families who are not around during the day. This is as long as there is someone that can look after the mammal.
May not be suitable for rough children or under 12 years old
Though hedgehogs are generally calm and peaceful pets. Also, they are very timid creatures and can become nervous and extend their quills if handled roughly.
“For this reason, they should not be handled by very young children”.
If your kids are typically loud and rambunctious, you may want to consider another pet. Hedgehogs can become very frightened by loud noises!
Hedgehog Temperament & Personality
They are generally solitary creatures.
Hedgehogs require only 30 minutes of socialization per day, and some are perfectly content being left completely on their own.
Whatever your hedgehog’s personality is, it is suggested that you spend a small amount of time with it out of his cage each day.
“Hedgies should be handled gently and kept in a quiet, clean area”.
Although they may look a bit dangerous with their sharp-looking quills, they are not typically harmful at all, and hedgehogs rarely bite.
Hedgehogs and their quills
While a hedgehog’s quills are not as sharp as they look, they can poke you, especially if they have adopted a defensive mode.
It’s important to handle your pet hedgehog with care, and consider that you will have to handle the quills when caring for him.
“People with sensitive skin and young children may not be suitable for holding hedgehogs”.
It’s up to your own discretion whether or not you feel comfortable with a hedgehog’s quills.
A good way to test this is to visit a breeder and have them show you the proper way to handle a hedgehog.
Bite and training.
Pet hedgehogs are not naturally aggressive animals, and while they have the ability to bite, they will only do it for a few reasons:
– Discomfort / Defense: If you are handling your pet hedgehog when it feels overwhelmed or uncomfortable, or if you mishandle it, it may bite in attempt to let you know that it wants to be left alone.
– Eating: If you have any scent of food on your hands, your hedgie may attempt to nibble, thinking that you are a tasty treat!
– Curiosity: They may bite when exploring a new environment, in attempt to become more familiar with their surroundings.
If you find that your hedgehog bites, you can train him not to.
For more information, we’ve outlined the steps to help you train your hedgehog in our “Do Hedgehogs Bite?” article.
Your experience and hedgehog’s personality
Hedgehogs typically have one of four (4) types of personalities:
– Cuddly. They enjoy human interaction and are happy to snuggle on your lap.
– Explorer. Usually looking for a lot of exercise, and preferring exploring during social time rather than being held or snuggling.
– Shy. they are naturally shy creatures, but some are more shy than others. As a sign, they may curl up when you go to hold them, and be a little less social than others.
– Grumpy. as expected, they don’t want to be held or played with – they’d much prefer to simply be left alone in their cage.
Check out our Hedgehog Spotlight section to see interviews with real hedgehog owners. Each owner describes their hedgehog’s individual personality so you can see what it’s really like to own hedgehogs as pets!
Care Required When Owning a Hedgehog
Fairly inexpensive and low maintenance pets.
Getting a pet hedgehog may require more money spent upfront than some small pets like hamsters of guinea pigs.
However, since your hedgehog’s food should be primarily small amounts of cat food, it is very inexpensive to feed them in the long run.
Keep in mind, however, that if your hedgehog becomes sick and requires veterinarian attention, this can cost up to $300 if he requires treatment.
As far as maintenance goes, you will need to replace your hedgehog’s food and water each day.
To keep the cage clean, you can spot clean daily and do a full cage cleaning about twice per month, or you can just clean the entire cage out once per week.
Don’t leave them home alone for more than a day
While hedgehogs are content in solitude, they do need to be fed and checked in on daily.
If you travel a lot or are out of the house often, you should make sure that you have a family member, friend or neighbor that is willing to check them daily.
As they would be not familiar with who ever you choose to help out, it is important to have them introduce a few days in advance.
Thank you, Charlotte Hu Photography, for the hedgehog photo featured above!