Can You Have a Hedgehog as a Pet?

Hedgehogs, like all other small animals, are complex and unique individuals who require a lifetime of special care, food, and supplies. So before you go looking online for a hedgehog because you love Segas classic blue guy and want to buy your own Sonic on a whim, read on to find out why a hedgehog is anything but an ideal pet.

Hedgehogs arent native to North America, but that hasnt stopped the notorious pet trade from profiting from this exploited species. Hedgehogs require specialized veterinary care thats almost impossible to find locally and food that many caretakers arent prepared to offer.

Despite claims made by breeders and sellers, much is still unknown about these animals natural behavior, optimal diet, and needs in terms of their environment in order to be happy.

Are hedgehogs good pets for beginners?

So do hedgehogs make good pets? Absolutely! Pet hedgehogs will thrive and be a bundle of fun if you understand what they need and give them proper care. The same can be said for any domesticated animal.

Can I have a hedgehog as a pet UK?

No, our hedgehogs in the UK certainly do not make good pets. Hedgehogs are wild animals, and belong just there, in the wild. … Some international species of hedgehogs have however, been domesticated so that they can be sold as pets in the UK.

Can a pet hedgehog hurt you?

Even in this state, you can touch a hedgehog without too much damage (few hedgehog owners are ever poked hard enough to break their skin). However, try to avoid getting your fingers trapped by a hedgehog rolling into a ball as they are strong and being squeezed and poked at the same time is sure to be painful for you!

Not all animals are cute into adulthood, but hedgehogs are. These nocturnal little foragers are native to Europe, Asia, Africa and the internet, where you can find memes of them bundled into teacups and taking bubble baths. It’s no wonder people want to keep hedgehogs as pets because they’re arguably as cute as miniature horses, but here’s the real question: Is welcoming a pet hedgehog into your life advisable?

“Like every pet, each one has a different personality,” says Sydney Brehm, a veterinarian at Sweetwater Creek Animal Hospital in Lithia Springs, Georgia. Even though the spines are not tricked out with barbs or poisons, and they don’t release once they’ve buried into your skin like a porcupine’s quills , they’re still sharp and there are lots of them.

They are extremely active in the wild they can climb, swim and often run several miles each night (regular hedgehog business hours). Just to be on the safe side, refrain from kissing your pet hedgehog, and defintely wash your hands after handling it. “Hedgehogs are prone to weight gain and obesity, which inherently leads to health problems, so always keep treats limited and always provide a flat bottom wheel for exercise.”

The happiness of the animal should be the prime consideration in your decision to adopt one and, in this case, it’s fairly safe to assume that the hedgehog will be happier in its own world than it will be in yours.

Hedgehogs have gained popularity as pets in recent decades. Before you add one to your family, Dr. Krista Keller, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, recommends learning all you can about these animals unique needs.

This side-view radiograph (X-ray) of a three-year-old companion African pygmy hedgehog was taken during an annual examination to screen for cardiovascular disease. Keep in mind that their nighttime activity, including running on a wheel, may mean you will not want their enclosure in your bedroom.

(Dr. Keller also says that exercise wheels should never have a wire bottom, because this design leads to fractured limbs.) The best opportunity to be able to train a hedgie to accept handling is by obtaining the animal from a breeder at a young age, although there are exceptions to this rule, says Dr. Keller. With annual veterinary visits and early detection, a hedgehog can still have a good quality and length of life.

Petting a happy hedgehog is a bit like affectionately stroking a bristly hairbrush. Attempting to pet an upset hedgehog is more like trying to soothe a wriggly cactus of doom.

This unusual hedgehog behavior involves licking vigorously to build up smelly froth, then contorting like an uncoordinated kitten to spread the foamy spit all over their quills. With the latter, I suddenly have a smug prickly ball who worked hard to reek of dusty wood, nickel, and the faintest trace of oil.

Domestic hybrids from an irregular mix of African hedgehog species are only a few generations separated from their wild kin and not entirely tame.

Are Hedgehogs Cuddly?

Hedgehogs are solitary creatures and generally only interact with each other in the wild during breeding season. That said, if you obtain your pet hedgehog when it’s very young and handle it regularly, there’s a chance it will become one of this world’s rare affectionate hedgehogs.”Like every pet, each one has a different personality,” says Sydney Brehm, a veterinarian at Sweetwater Creek Animal Hospital in Lithia Springs, Georgia. “Many are not the biggest fans of being cuddled and prefer to explore their surroundings on their own.”No matter what its temperament, keep in mind, your pet hedgehog will have lots of stiff spines. Even though the spines are not tricked out with barbs or poisons, and they don’t release once they’ve buried into your skin like a porcupine’s quills, they’re still sharp and there are lots of them. Hedgehogs are particularly pointy when they’re rolled into a tight ball, which they often do when they’re apprehensive or sleeping. So, if you‘re hoping to make your hedgehog into one of the snuggly ones, you‘ve probably got a long, prickly row to hoe.Advertisement

Do Hedgehogs Carry Diseases?

An average, healthy pet hedgehog will live between five and eight years, but they are prone to certain diseases, just like dogs and cats are prone to rabies and distemper. Hedgehogs have the potential to carry and transmit foot and mouth disease, salmonella, ringworm, and may carry various other microorganisms and viral infections, which is the reason they are outlawed in some places.Just to be on the safe side, refrain from kissing your pet hedgehog, and defintely wash your hands after handling it.Advertisement

What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

In the wild, hedgehogs root around in the undergrowth for all manner of small animals like insects, worms, centipedes and frogs (male hedgehogs have also been known to dine on baby hedgehogs if they find a nest of them). You can buy commercial hedgehog food, which, if you must own a hedgehog, is what you should feed it at home.”It is OK to offer the periodic treat — non-starchy vegetables, fruit, even a bite of lean meat here and there,” says Brehm. “Hedgehogs are prone to weight gain and obesity, which inherently leads to health problems, so always keep treats limited and always provide a flat bottom wheel for exercise.”Advertisement

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, athletic, and solitary

Hedgehogs have gained popularity as pets in recent decades. Before you add one to your family, Dr. Krista Keller, a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana, recommends learning all you can about these animals’ unique needs.While the wild European hedgehog freely roams the gardens of the United Kingdom and elsewhere, the species that is raised for the pet trade is the African pygmy hedgehog,

Hedgehog Diet and Housing Needs

In the wild, hedgehogs eat a wide variety of bugs, plants, and roots. That diet can be challenging to recreate in captivity. “The best hedgehog diet would be a specially formulated hedgehog or insectivore diet, of which there are many commercially available preparations,” says Dr. Keller. “This diet can be supplemented with treats such as mealworms, crickets, and fruits and vegetables.”They may be roly-poly, but hedgehogs are actually quite athletic creatures! In the wild they often run several miles a night and are adept climbers and swimmers. To meet their exercise needs, pet hedgehogs need an enclosure large enough to accommodate an exercise wheel and space for natural foraging behavior.The enclosure also needs smooth sides (so the hedgehog isn’t able to climb out) and a hiding spot for sleeping. A 2-foot by 3-foot enclosure is considered a minimum size. Large Tupperware storage containers can be a great option for an enclosure.It is also imperative to include an external heat source (an undertank heater or heat bulb) in the enclosure with multiple thermometers to monitor the efficacy. Hedgehogs come from a tropical part of the world and do best in a temperature of 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler or hotter temperatures can make a hedgehog enter a state called torpor.

Hedgehog Activity

Hedgehogs are nocturnal. They sleep during the day and are very active at night. “They will be getting up for their ‘day’ when you are having dinner, which can be a nice time to interact with them before you go to bed,” Dr. Keller says.Keep in mind that their nighttime activity, including running on a wheel, may mean you will not want their enclosure in your bedroom. Exercise wheels are noisy! (Dr. Keller also says that exercise wheels should never have a wire bottom, because this design leads to fractured limbs.)“Unfortunately, many captive hedgehogs are overweight, so exercise opportunities are very important,” says Dr. Keller. “Allow your hedgehog time outside of the enclosure to explore or swim while supervised a few hours each week.”

Hedgehog Interaction

Hedgehogs are very solitary animals and should be housed separately. In the wild, they are only social during the breeding season.Their solitary nature can make it difficult for these pets to warm up to you. Dr. Keller says with time and patience, you can learn to work with your pet and earn their trust.“The best opportunity to be able to train a hedgie to accept handling is by obtaining the animal from a breeder at a young age, although there are exceptions to this rule,” says Dr. Keller.When you first get your hedgehog, you should allow time for your pet to settle into her new enclosure. Give her a few “hands off” days. Once she is more settled in, start doing some handling at night when she is awake. Handling should be focused on getting the animal used to the scents of the hands. Be careful: hedgehogs bite when startled, so going slow and socializing the animal gradually is very important.