Owning A Hedgehog | Hedgehogs As Pets Pros And Cons
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Over the past few years, hedgehogs have become really popular as pets. This is not surprising given their adorable appearance in a variety of colors, interesting personality, low costs of maintenance, and high level of happiness they bring into your home. Owning A Hedgehog has never been easy and more fun!
They are unique animals and require special care and consideration. We’ll cover a few things you should know before you buy a hedgehog.
Owning the best hedgehog cage is a very important factor, but first let's learn some fun facts about hedgehogs.
Things To Know Before Getting A Hedgehog
Undoubtedly, according to most pet owners they are adorable as pets. However, your expectations should be based on knowing basic facts about hedgies and on your expectations of a pet as well as your preferences.
Before buying a hedgehog as a pet you need to understand what type of pet you are buying and how you can make them feel safe and secure in your home. First time buyers often ask themselves “how much money is a hedgehog”, but sometimes forget to factor in other costs like hedgehog cages, hedgehog food and hedgehog accessories.
Pet owners who are looking for an exotic pet are attracted to hedgehogs because of their uniqueness. This is one of the biggest reasons for Owning A Hedgehog.
They do have the advantage that they have been captive bred for many generations. They are cute, curious and they can be cuddly, regardless of their spiny appearance.
They are not aggressive by nature and they use the spines as defense only when they are scared, nervous, or feel threatened. Another advantage is that they do not have dander like cats, dogs, or other animals, so they make better pets for people who have allergies.
There are plenty of hedgehogs as pets pros and cons.
Hedgehogs are not rodents, and they do not chew, gnaw on, or destroy their cage or your furniture. Also, they don’t bark or squawk and won’t disturb you or your neighbors. You may hear your little pet running on a squeaky wheel or roaming in his cage, but in general, hedgehogs are quiet pets.
On the negative side, they ARE prickly, nor as cuddly as some other small pets, they are quite messy and need a lot of care and some cleaning and maintenance routine on your part.
Real Facts About Hedgehogs: Hedgehog Personality
Some things to know before getting a hedgehog is that most Hedgehogs are full of a character. They like to explore, they are very active at some times of day and they are grumpy when you wake them up or refuse to give them treats.
They may sometimes cuddle up in your hand but they are not particularly affectionate so you’re looking for a solitary, independent and resourceful pet, hedgehog’s personality and lifestyle will be perfect for you.
Hedgehogs do not come when called and they don’t actively seek human interaction.
They can, however, learn certain behaviors through positive encouraging or conditioning but only at a very basic level.
Most experts strongly believe that hedgehog personality is molded through owner interaction and affection. Proper handling and consideration of the hedgehog’s needs is paramount to successful bonding and Owning A Hedgehog.
Real Facts About Hedgehogs
- An “Array” Is The Correct Term For A Group Of Hedgehogs
- Hedgehogs Are Illegal In Parts Of The United States.
- Hedgehog Have Around 5000 And 7000 Quills. (On Their Coats)
- All Hedghogs Are Not Native To The United States
- There Are 17 Different Species Of Hedgehog,
- Hedgehogs Have Very Bad Eyesight So Rely On Hearing And Smell.
- Hedgehog Spikes Are Not Barbed,
- Hedgehog Spikes Are And They’re Not Poisonous
- The Hedgehogs Name Originated From Their Favourite Place To Live (Hedges) And The Grunt Sounds They Make When They Speak (Hogs)
- Some Hedgehogs Hibernate, But Some Do Not
- Most Hedgehogs Are Immune To Most Snake Venom.
Hedgehog Lifespan As A Pet
Hedgies can live from 3 to 10 years, depending on their genetics, general health, living condition and owners care.
Your hedgehog’s lifespan may vary greatly so do your best to make their life with you happy and pleasant.
Your pet hedgehog needs a well balanced diet which is high in protein to stay alive for longer. How much you should feed him depends on how active he is. If you see that your pet is putting on weight, you should cut down on his meals.
Overall, they eat various foods but not everything is good for them. Hedgehogs are insectivores and they require a varied, high-protein diet.
Quality hedgehog or cat food can be the basis of a healthy diet but make sure to add freeze-dried meal worms, cooked meats, fruits and veggies, as well as other treats to keep your hedgehog healthy and happy.
How Much Money Is A Hedgehog?
Owning A Hedgehog prices from about $70 to $250. This depends on the hedgehog’s breed, age, color, and temperament. Other costs include a cage and accessories such as a wheel, a hiding place, a water bottle and feed bowl.
Buying a hedgehog as a pet is not a small decision. You will need to make sure you have the correct setup to keep your pet happy and healthy for as long as possible.
However, once you have the bulk items out of the way hedgehogs are very easy to maint. Later on, you will be buying only food and bedding, so costs should be pretty low compared to most pets.
Now you know how much money is a hedgehog, you need to factor in the other big cost: The hedgehog cage.
How Much Is A Hedgehog Cage?
Most hedgehog cages range frm $50 from the smallest start packs to $500 for the ultimate hedgehog havens.
We’ve compiled the ultimate list of the best hedgehog cases here:
Remember, it’s important you choice the right type of hedghog cage. Learning how much is a hedgehog cage is only half the battle. Next you need to avoid making common mistakes most new pet owners do.
Since your pet hedgehog will most probably spend most of his time in a cage. You need to make sure he has the best hedgehog cage and accessories possible.
A good cage will help ensure that your pet is safe, which is the most important concern for you as a pet parent.
They don’t do enough research on how big should a hedgehog cage be or how much space does my hedgehog need overall.
In order to prevent that, we compiled a list of possible mistakes related to buying the best hedgehog cage and accessories.
Follow our advice and both your pet and you will be happy and without worries, mishaps and you will enjoy a loving and hassle-free.
9 Common Mistakes When Buying A Hedgehog Cage
1. Do not buy a cage with a wire floor
A large wire cage is what you need but the floor needs to be solid. Don’t go for a wire-floor cage however cute it may look because it will be painful for your pet’s feet and injuries might occur easily.
A hurt hedgehog is a sad companion and you will need to go to a vet and pay for the professional treatment and care. This can be easily avoided so do follow our recommendations.
2. Avoid multi-level cages without protection on the sides of each level
Hedgehogs do like to climb so multi-level cages might seem like great homes. In addition, there are many commercially available pet hedgehog cages that may work great if you don’t overlook the proper protection from accidental falls.
So, remember to consider a multi-level cage as a potential safety issue: they are not the best option because hedgehogs have poor eyesight, which means they can trip easily and plummet straight down.
Although hedgehogs are excellent climbers, this does not apply when they are going down… fast and in a free fall. Personally, I would avoid multi-level cages unless they provide adequate protection from falls at each level.
3. Don’t position the cage in inadequate spots
Bear in mind that your pet’s cage needs to be placed away from drafts, air conditioners, heaters, windows, and other locations where the cage temperature would get too hot or too cold. Your hedgehog will be perfectly healthy when the room temperature is around 75 to 80 degrees F.
You should also remember to position the cage in a spot where your pet will experience both day and night. Although hedgehogs are nocturnal, they do need periods of light and darkness to remain healthy.
Hedgehogs need to have about 12-14 hours of light during the daytime to help avoid hibernation attempts. Additional lighting should be provided rather than depending on daylight, especially when there is not enough daylight during the winter to prevent hibernation. Lighting can be any of your table lamps near the cage or a light specifically designed for small animals and mounted on the cage.
4. Don’t forget to buy suitable bedding for your hedgie
Before thinking about Owning A Hedgehog, you need to avoid using wood shavings because some types are harmful to your companion. In addition, wood bedding can harbor mites, and occasionally get caught in your pet’s private parts which can be very unpleasant and irritating.
Aspen or kiln-dried pine shavings (BUT NOT CEDAR!) can be used for bedding. There is a variety of other types of bedding that will work well and make your pet feel cozy and safe.
The fluffy bedding made from recycled paper or pulp is a great choice, for example. These beddings can be dusty so watch for that, On the plus side, they allow for burrowing behavior and are unlikely to get stuck in your hedgie’s private parts.
Occasionally, hedgehogs can try to eat these beddings, so make sure that they don’t. If they can’t resist a fluffy snack, change the bedding to a different type.
As for the amount of bedding, don’t put less than two inches of bedding material so that the pet can burrow and fool around. Spread the bedding evenly over the floor of the cage and watch him enjoy playing in it.
5. Hide area for your hedgehog is a must-have
A hide area is a place where your hedgehog can have some privacy, hide, feel safe, and play. Anything from a wood box, pet igloo, PVC tubing, half log, or tunnel can all be used as a hide area. You can also use an old shoe box with a hole cut in one end but due to the material, you need to replace it every 2 to 3 weeks.
There’s nothing wrong with saving a few bucks on accessories but please go for a professionally made hide area if you cannot guarantee that a DIY solution is with no sharp edges or splinters.
6. Do not neglect the hygiene – get a litter box and some litter
You can train your hedgehog to use a litter box. His cage will definitely need a small animal litter box placed where he prefers to do his…business. Litter pellets made from recycled paper are a good solution for the inside of the litter box.
Since not all hedgehogs can be trained to use a litter box, think about the best place to put it if your pet simply doesn’t care where he pees or poops. The best spot for a litter box is under the wheel because most hedgehogs will go on their wheel anyway.
One more thing: you should best avoid clay cat litter, clumping or non-clumping. It’s usually quite dusty, which is bad for your pet’s lungs.
7. Don’t forget to provide fresh drinking water
Your hedgehog needs fresh and clean water. In most cases, a stoppered water bottle is often the easiest and cleanest way to supply water. You can also use a heavy bowl, to prevent spilling as an alternative if your hedgie doesn’t like a water bottle.
8. Don’t use only one food bowl
You will need two food bowls for your hedgehog’s cage, one bowl for dry food and the other for moist food. The bowls should be quite heavy or easily attached to the cage to prevent spilling.
9. Don’t forget fun and exercise
The best part of Owning A Hedgehog is buying the toys! Your pet will need a variety of toys and items to keep him happy and entertained. A large exercise wheel is a must in order to keep your prickly buddy healthy and active. In addition, you should consider suitable pay tubing, PVC pipe, ramps, tunnels, ledges, and other toys.
For the play time when you take your pet out of his cage, a small animal playpen is a good way to keep track of him. The playpen will also give your hedgehog extra room to run around and explore while preventing him from escaping or getting stuck somewhere in the home.
Hedgehogs rarely seek attention, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t handle your pet. Some hedgehogs don’t mind handling, some are indifferent, and some dislike it. It really depends on your prickly companion’s personality
How Much Space Does My Hedgehog Need?
One important factor to take into account when buying a hedgehog as a pet is space.
Most first time buyers get this wrong. and don’t do enough research into how big should a hedgehog cage be.
Although hedgehogs are small, they are very active and need quite a lot of space. Knowing what size cage for hedgehog will help.
The cage should be at least 4 feet long and 2 feet wide, so 8 square feet at least. Do not buy a starter cage! You will soon discover that it is too small and you need a bigger one.
Try not to waste of money. Simply go with the biggest cage you can afford having your own living space in mind, of course. Bigger is always better when it comes to your hedgehog’s new home.
Hedgies are quite active and need a roomy and cozy cage for a happy and active life.
Before you come to your final decision on what size cage for hedgehog, you need to know how big your hedgehog is.
Most pets are around 5-8 inches in length so you need to buy a cage which is minimum 2 x 2 feet or bigger so that your pet has enough room to play.
Since they are quite active (mostly at night though), you need to provide them with enough room to move around safely and get plenty of activity. This will keep them happy and occupied but also prevent obesity due to little activity.
Typically, a hedgehog weighs between 6 ounces and 2 pounds and requires about the same amount of space as a guinea pig so a lot of rabbit and guinea cages are suitable, too, as long as there are hedgie-friendly sleeping area and accessories.
Remember, If in doubt ask your local pet store how big should a hedgehog cage be or how much space does my hedgehog need?
What To Use For Hedgehog Bedding?
Many people ask me, ‘what to use for hedgehog bedding’ or “what kind of bedding does a hedgehog need” and my answer is always the same. Your hedgehog needs soft bedding such as a recycled paper material or towels that are replaced regularly.
African pygmy hedgehogs, which are the most common breed in US, are sensitive to inappropriate bedding so avoid bedding made of clay pellets, wood chips or paper pulp. They have lots of splinters and broken pellets which can pierce the hedgehog’s skin or get lodged between their toes and up penile shafts. Avoid possible injuries and infections by investing in paper bedding from a reputable brand.
Cages should be placed in a warm, comfortable room in an area without drafts and away from direct sunlight. Normal sunlight in a room is fine. Hedgehogs seem to be most comfortable between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lower temperatures can be an environmental stress for your hedgehog which will affect the overall health of your pet and they may even go into false hibernation, which can be deadly. We have found hedgehogs tend to be healthier, more active, and eat better in warmer temperatures.
This is a perfect example of what to use for hedgehog bedding.
What Do Hedgehogs Eat As Pets?
A guide to Owning A Hedgehog includes understanding what they eat on a regular basis. These prickly little guys require a mixture of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, water, and some vitamins from fruits and vegetables. Protein in the food for your hedgie should be over 20% while fat should be between five and 15%, and a good amount of fiber is also needed for a healthy diet.
Apart from the usual daily diet, treats are very important. Different tastes and textures of food provide enrichment as well as a source of nutrients that may be missing from the staple diet
There is commercially available hedgehog food, but it is not always in stock at some pet stores so a chicken dry cat food which is high in protein is a solid alternative. Dry food should be the primary portion of your hedgie’s diet generally speaking.
In their natural habitats, hedgehogs are mainly insectivores, but they often eat whatever is available. They are known to eat insects, baby mice, frogs, fish, worms, even small snakes, various eggs they can find unprotected, and fruit. They are definitely not picky eaters.
Learning what do hedgehogs eat as pets also means giving them a well balanced diet which is high in protein. How much you should feed him depends on how active he is. If you notice your hedgehog becoming obese, you need to decrease his portions.
A nutritious, carefully chosen and varied diet will make sure you have a happy and healthy little companion for many years.
Hedgehog breeders, enthusiasts, homeowners but also dietary experts recommend and use a wide variety of foods. A varied diet is the safest way to meet a hedgehog’s nutritional needs.
Variety in diet can be gained through a blend of dry foods combined with a variety of nutritious treats to supplement their main diet.
Giving them a variety of foods will prevent hedgehogs from getting attached to only one food. They could have a serious weight and health problems if their diet is not varied or if you constantly give them the same food and suddenly they refuse to eat anything else.
What Do Domesticated Hedgehogs Eat?
Domesicated hedgehogs’ diet should be a healthy mixture of proteins and fat. Meat protein sources should be the top two in the ingredients list. Chicken and lamb are the best quality protein sources for insectivores because they are the most easily digested.
Pork and beef are cheaper sources of protein but they are not as easily digested and are not the best choice. Foods that contain several protein sources tend to be more beneficial because they provide a wider variety of amino acids that are the building blocks of all cells.
Different protein and fat levels are required during different times of the hedgehog’s growth and development. Nursing moms and growing babies need more protein (30-35%) than grown up hedgehogs.
A higher fat content is beneficial for animals that require more calories. Too much fat can lead to obesity and the related health problems.
Most people recommend a quality, dry, hedgehog food with at least 20% protein and fiber content with double digits as the staple food. You should also make sure the food has L-carnitine listed as an ingredient. It’s great for heart health and to supplement the diet with just a small amount.
Still not sure? See here for a perfect example of what do domestic hedgehogs eat.
In addition, you should offer live insects, cooked chicken, vegetables, and fruits. A very small amount of canned cat food can be offered only as a treat. You should stay away from seeds, raisins, and dried fruits and vegetables as they get stuck in their mouths.
What Do Domestic Hedgehogs Eat (Alternatives)
Premium cat food is available to almost everyone, it’s often on sales and there are always coupons so it’s more affordable. It contains protein and is a small kibble that hedgehogs can eat. This is why many people still choose to feed hedgies cat food rather than hedgehog kibble. Another reason is that cat food is small enough kibble that most hedgehogs can chew.
Hedgehogs’ owners who have only had experience with the early days of hedgehog food, or low-quality brands feed a very high protein brand of cat food instead. The protein source doesn’t bother them and the fiber in the diet replaces the chitin component.
They can also easily get a high protein cat food from their local supermarket, grocery or pet store instead of having to order a good hedgehog food online or drive to a specialized pet store miles away.
What Fruits Can Hedgehogs eat?
As for fruits and vegetables, there are a wide vareity they can chocice from. Remember to not overfeed your hedgehog and watch out for rotten food that may cause digestion problems.
What Can Hedgehogs Eat List (Safe)
- Carrot (preferably cooked as it is too hard when raw)
- Melon (popular, but pretty much all water and sugar so it’s best used in moderation)
- Swseet potato
- Strawberries (and other berries)
- Dandelion greens
- Green beans
- Cucumber (pretty much all water, little nutritional value)
What Can Hedgehogs Eat List (Unsafe)
- Anything citrus or too acidic (orange/lemon/lime/grapefruit; pineapple, tomato, kiwi pomegranate,)
- Anything seasoned
- Certain herbs (because of potentially harmful medicinal properties)
- Fried foods
- Milk should be avoided (as well as large portions of dairy products)
- Hard foods such as peanuts, almonds, and raw carrots are choking hazards.
- Sweet foods which contain refined or processed sugars
- Sticky foods such as raisins (discomfort and tooth decay)
- Fibrous or stringy foods such as (celery).
- Raw eggs or meat should be completely avoided because of the risk of Salmonella.
So, look after your hedgies diet and you will have a healthy and active cute little pet for years to come! F
Owning A Hedgehog – Handle with care!
African pygmy hedgehogs have a lot of spines but that doesn’t mean they aren’t fun to hold, as long as you know how to handle them. Tame hedgies will crawl into your hands, take treats from you and even enjoy being carried for a bit. Typically hedgehogs don’t like their heads being pat and will roll into spiny balls when scared.
They aren’t big fans of water so if you are having trouble cleaning your hedgies feet while holding him try giving him a shallow bath where just his legs are immersed in water or have him walk on a wet towel.
Younger hedgehogs are easier to tame than older ones, so your best chance to have a hedgehog that loves to cuddle and to be held is buying one at about six to eight weeks of age.
Hedgehog Health Problems
One factor to consider after finding discovering how much money is a hedgehog, is your pet’s health bill.
African pygmy hedgehogs are prone to a variety of illnesses and health conditions. These hedgehog health problems include upper respiratory infections, weight problems and skin issues. Hedgehogs are also especially susceptible to tumors, cancers and a degenerative condition called Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome.
Remember, If you don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to veterinary care in such cases, you not be the best fit for Owning A Hedgehog.
Other hedgehog health risks include Dental disease, skin issues including mite and lice infestations, intestinal parasites, and tumors are all known issues with pet hedgehogs. Spaying and neutering is recommended to avoid reproductive organ cancers and tumors later in life.
Dental checkups at your yearly exam and the occasional dental cleaning under anesthesia are recommended to prevent your hedgie from losing any teeth or developing a dental abscess. Some pet owners are able to brush their hedgehog’s teeth using a cat toothpaste and small head toothbrush weekly.
Exercising and being active is also very important to reduce long term hedgehog health problems and any hedgehog health risks.
A large running wheel should be provided for your hedgie to exercise. Don’t forget to buy a wheel with one side open, along with a hide box, food bowl, and water bottle. Make sure you cleaned the running wheel regularly to avoid fecal matter from building up and causing foot infections.
Hedgehogs are very active at night and will run several miles a day on their wheel or roam in their enclosed play area. If they are unable to get enough exercise they may become depressed, overweight, and develop foot sores.
Hedgehog Hygiene | How Often Should You Bathe A Hedgehog?
Once of the best parts of Owning A Hedgehog is bath time!
Hedgehogs produce quite a bit of waste. In order to keep you hedgehog healthy, hygienic and happy, you have to clean their cage at least once every three days. Dirty litter causes health issues, including upper respiratory problems and skin infections.
If the cage smells bad to you, it probably smells really bad to your hedgies. The average hedgehog cage needs to be thoroughly cleaned once a week but spot cleaning may extend the life of the bedding, too.
Different types of bedding have different absorbency levels so your cage may need to be cleaned more of less often depending on the size and general messiness of your pet.
Pelleted beddings may allow you to sift the good bedding from the soiled bedding to be reused after the bottom has been cleaned. It is a good idea to wash or soak the plastic bottom when doing a complete bedding change. Plastic can absorb odor and a good disinfection will help to eliminate lingering bad smell.
A very important question i get is usually get is how often should you bathe a hedgehog?
Hedgehogs also require baths, so, once a week, fill a tub with an inch of warm, soapy water and scrub your hedgehog’s quills with a soft-bristled toothbrush. This will keep your hedgehog clean and healthy.
To conclude, make sure you provide your hedgehog with a cozy home, a good running wheel, brightly-colored toys and deep, burrow-ready bedding. Hedgehogs do become lethargic and depressed without mental and physical stimulation, so it’s important to provide and maintain a healthy, playful environment for them.
A healthy diet is a must and don’t forget to handle them regularly to maintain a trusted and friendly contact. Hedgehogs are fascinating, intelligent and resourceful animals. As long as you provide proper care, close attention and a lot of love, it’ll be a truly wonderful pet experience. If you’re up to the challenge, a pet African pygmy hedgehog will really enrich your life.
Although pet hedgehogs are legal in most of the US, they might not be legal in your state, so check that before buying a hedgehog, as they can get confiscated and you will be fined. If there are pet shops and breeders selling them where you live, then hedgehogs are legal to keep as pets.
Georgia, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Maine, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and the five boroughs of New York City declared it illegal to keep hedgehogs as pets.
Hey, I’m Amy and I’m in love with my Pets! I have a diverse variety, including 2 cats, 1 dog, 3 rabbits, 2 guinea pigs, a rat and a beautiful macaw. I love writing about everything pet-related and spend as much time as I can sharing my personal experiences.