Hedgehogs are unusual pets and can be a great companion. In this article, we will outline the general profile and facts relating to this animal and what are the best ways to take care of your pet. We have put in considerable time doing research on hedgehogs. So, if you already have a hedgehog or looking to keep it as a pet for the first time, our article can be of great help to you.
Profile and Facts
Family – Hedgehogs belong to the mammalian family in the animal kingdom. They are naturally commonly found in southern Europe and the African continent. Basically, hedgehogs are insect eaters but they can also eat plant and animal matter with equal appetite.
Physical appearance – Generally, hedgehogs are found in cinnamon, salt, and pepper colors. They also come in apricot, white and black colors. Some hedgehogs have red eyes. Different colors and presence of red eyes can vary the price of the hedgehogs as pets. The most distinctive feature of this animal is his quills. They are hollow hair, which this animal uses as a defense mechanism in hostile situations. A hedgehog can roll into a ball like structure with his quills rolled up in case of any threatening situation. Hedgehogs can grow up to six to nine inches and their quills have white tips with brown/red bands.
Hedgehogs as pets – As pets, hedgehogs can be great. They have the ability to do well being alone and they usually spent their days sleeping and are active during the night. Their physical activities do not make much sound so you do not need to worry about your peace. You will need to accommodate them in a large cage despite them being small in size. Occasionally, a hedgehog will also need some time out of the cage to run around and have some fun.
Hedgehogs and owner’s family – Hedgehogs are great pets for people who are at home during evenings and night as this is the time they are the most active. When you are allowing your children to play with hedgehogs, make sure their time with the pet is always supervised. Children can get over excited with pets and this can cause the hedgehogs to become overexcited and extend its quills. This can cause injury to your children and hedgehog as well.
Following are some of the facts about hedgehogs
- The average age of a hedgehog is 4-6 years but as a pet with proper care and diet, they can live up to 8 years.
- Hedgehogs like to exercise but they do not prefer long walks like dogs and other pets.
- Hedgehogs can do well being alone and do not need a company inside the cage. Some people say that their hedgehogs do well with dogs and rabbits. It is always better to supervise their first couple of meetings.
- Hedgehogs are mostly allergy free animals but it is important to get them checked at the vet before keeping them as a pet.
- Unlike hamsters, rats, and chinchillas, hedgehogs do not have a chewing habit. It means that they will not destroy the cage they live in.
- With time, practice and affection, hedgehogs can become cuddly and stay out of the cage with you without erecting his quills.
- Getting excited around them or messing with them can cause them to become agitated and they can go in defensive phase with you.
- The yearly cost of keeping a hedgehog as a pet can be around $250 to $300, excluding the one-time buying cost or adoption fee.
- It might be illegal to keep a hedgehog as a pet in some states. Remember to check the local state laws; you might need a permit to keep a hedgehog as a pet in some states.
- Hedgehogs like to play with toys. You can buy some toys for them at online pet stores or make some at home for them.
- A hedgehog is a smell-less animal. You will not need any odor eliminators inside its cage.
- Choose a playing wheel that is not noisy. They will not make any sound but the wheel will if it is of low quality. Buy a soundless wheel so that you do not have to bear the wheel sounds during your sleep.
- Never force a hedgehog to uncurl. This can hurt him and you as well.
- Hedgehogs have the habit of self-anointing. They start foaming and start spitting at their feet. Make sure that you clean their feet after they do this.
By relying on the following techniques, you can take the best possible care of your hedgehog.
Cage and environment – Hedgehogs like to exercise a lot. Their cage is just like their home. Recommended size of the cage is 36″ width x 24″ length x 15″ height. Make sure that their cage is large enough so that they can flex their muscles and roam around freely. You also need to supply them with some toys to play, comfortable bedding and a LED Bulb heater to provide them with a cozy environment. They prefer a warm temperature between 75 to 80 °F. It is always better to hang a small thermometer inside their cage to monitor the temperature of the cage. Temperature below 40 °F can be dangerous for them. Your cage should also have a hiding spot where the pet can hide and feel safe and secured from the outer world. Keep a litter box in the cage and hedgehog will soon learn to do its litter in the litter box. The cage should be cleaned daily or on alternate days.
Diet – It is not necessary to provide them with bugs and insects all the time. You can easily find their diet at a nearby pet store or online. Hedgehogs are prone to liver diseases, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. It is in their best interest to provide them with a diet that is low in fat, high on protein and less on sugar. Chocolates and candies are not a good option. Remember to keep their diet bowl full and keep the excess diet refrigerated in order to keep its nutritional value intact. Hedgehogs like to eat all vegetables, fruits, cat food but grapes, raisins are not suitable for them. Hedgehogs are known to eat approximately 1/3 of their body each night so that they can exercise according to their mood. Remember to serve them with some special treats once in a while like insects, corns, apples, chicken or eggs. For food, you should have two (one for dry food and one for moist food) heavy bowls that will not spill food or topple over. You can also attach the bowls with the cage. A water bottle with a stopper or a heavy bowl for water. Make sure that the food and water bowls are cleaned regularly.
Health Problems – Apart from the above mentioned serious health conditions. A hedgehog is susceptible tooth and gum diseases, vitamin and mineral excess or deficiency resulting from an improper diet. The best way to ensure good health for your pet is to give him a proper diet and visit the vet once in a while. Please remember that a hedgehog does not need vaccinations.
Handling, grooming, and bathing – Pick up your hedgehog from the belly while avoiding the quills. Place it on the palm of your one hand and protect his back from the second hand. Do not get nervous and allow him to settle down in your hand. Wearing gloves while handling them is a good option, it will protect your hands from the minor bruises caused by quills.
Toenails of the hedgehog need special attention from you. You can use a baby nail clipper to clip his nails. Remember not to clip too deeply as the bleeding will start and it can cause a lot of pain to your pet.
Hedgehogs are generally clean animals, keeping their cage clean will enable them to stay clean. You will not need to groom them in order to stay clean. It is also possible that the dirt in the bedding or cage can get stuck in the quills of the animal. You can place the animal in the washroom sink or a bucket with one or two inches of slightly warm water, avoid too much-heated water. You can use a toothbrush to clean up the quills gently. If you have used bath gel or shampoo, make sure that it is completely washed out. After the bath, rinse your hedgehog with a towel thoroughly. Make sure that the pet is completely dry before returning to the cage and the cage temperature is comfortable.
We are confident that after reading our article on the hedgehogs, you will be able to deal with your pet in the best way possible and develop a bond of love and affection with your pet.