What is a Hedgehog? Hedgehogs are a small, insectivorous (insect eating) mammal that can be found throughout the world. They are native to England, Europe, Africa and Asia. The hedgehog that is now kept as a pet in North America is the Pygmy Hedgehog from Central Africa.
Since there are no native species of hedgehog in either Canada or the United States, many people still mistake the domestic hedgehog for the porcupine - an entirely different and unrelated animal. While porcupine quills are extremely sharp, barbed and very dangerous, the hedgehog quill is smooth and not nearly as sharp. Petting a friendly hedgehog can be compared to petting a hairbrush - bristly, not prickly.
The average African Pygmy Hedgehog weighs about ½ to 1 ¼ pounds and is 5 to 8 inches long - about the size of a Guinea Pig. There are some that will grow to as much as 1 ¾ to 2 pounds (without being fat) while others are as little as 6 or 7 ounces.
Your pet should be kept indoors at normal room temperature (70 to 80*F); can be fed a good quality dry cat food or a specially formulated hedgehog food.
Besides simply being enjoyed as pets, there is also an active hobby. Thanks to the International Hedgehog Association, (IHA) there is even a working show system and standard of perfection for African Pygmy Hedgehogs.
Where is the Best Place to Buy a Pet Hedgehog?
The answer to this question varies depending on many factors, but there are some basic guidelines. Generally, it is better to purchase your new pet from a breeder rather than a pet store, but unfortunately, this isn't always possible. No matter where you end up looking, though, make sure that the breeder or store has at least some information on the age and background of their hedgies.
If There are Several to Choose From, Which Hedgehog Should I Select?
You will want to choose a single hedgehog since they are solitary and don’t normally like to share a cage. Never buy a male and female to be placed in the same cage unless you intend to breed! Hedgehogs are ready to breed as early as 8 weeks and females should never be bred before 5 months, so be careful!
SEE SEXING HEDGEHOGS
You may decide to either go to a pet store or check ads and buy from a breeder. In either case, you are looking for a good healthy animal.
Temperament - This is of major importance and should be a deciding factor as to whether you buy a particular animal or not. After picking a potential pet up, examine it closely. Does it unroll after a few seconds? Does he click, jump or hiss? Hissing is okay. It is simply frightened because it doesn’t know you. Clicking, however, means that it's trying to threaten you. This is NOT acceptable hedgehog behavior and you should look at a different, better-tempered animal. Every hedgehog is different and unique. Some like to play and explore, while others are more content to cuddle. You will be most satisfied with your new pet if you carefully choose the one that best suits your own personality and lifestyle.
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Choosing a Healthy Hedgehog
Look for the Following:
Are the eyes nice, round, beady, wide open, and bright, without discharge?
Is the nose clean and not running?
Are the ears short, clean, with no discharge or crustiness behind them? Sometimes an ear has been chewed on by a sibling. As long as it has healed, this is not something to worry about.
Is the fur on the belly soft and not matted?
Are the spines all there with no bare spots? Bare spots indicate an unhealthy animal. Is there any sign of mites, fleas, or crustiness on the back?
Check the pen, are there any green droppings or diahhrea?
Is the hedgehog's body plump? (not fat)
Place it on a flat surface such as a table and watch it walk. Does it wobble or have difficulty staying upright? A healthy hedgehog should have a stride that is somewhere between a walk and a shuffle.
Can you here a rattle when it is breathing? (do not mistake normal hedgehog "talk" such as chirping, purring or cheeping for a pneumonia-related rattle)
Both male and female hedgehogs make equally good pets so this decision is entirely your own. You can readily tell a boy from a girl. If the hedgehog is tame and friendly, gently roll it over and look at the area closest to the tail. A female's genitals are immediately next to the anus, while the male's penis sheath, or "belly button" is farther up the tummy. The distance between the anus and belly button will be approximately 1/2 inch on a six week old male hoglet. However, this distance can increase to as much as an inch or more once it fully matures.
How Old Should My Hedgehog be Before I Take it Home?
Never take a hedgehog home before it is at least six weeks of age. Older hedgehogs are OK too, but keep in mind that the younger the hedgehog, the better the odds of him bonding with you.
What Kind of Housing Will He Require?
Your hedgehog will require a secure home since they are very good climbers and can easily escape from open-topped cages that are designed for animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits. If you do use a cage with an open top, it must have slippery sides that are at least 12" high and a floor space of at least l6” x 24”. A 20 gallon aquarium is ideal. It must also have good circulation and be well lit but not exposed to direct sunlight during the daytime.
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Place your hedgehogs new home in a comfortable, warm, well lit area that is free of drafts and direct sunlight. They are most comfortable at temperatures of between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. (18-27 degrees Celsius) The basic rule of thumb is, if you are comfortable without a sweater, they will do just fine.
In addition to a cage, your hedgehog will require the following accessories:
BEDDING : Aspen, Pine or White shavings (NOT CEDAR!) are by far the best choice for bedding material. Crushed corn cob makes a relatively good bedding and is safe to use for females and adults, but it SHOULD NOT be used for young male hedgehogs. Place approximately two inches of bedding material evenly over the floor of the cage.
FOOD BOWL : The food bowl needs to be fairly wide and heavy to prevent your pet from dumping out its contents and using it as a toy. Small ceramic crocks that are designed for small rodents are perfect food dishes for hedgehogs. The width or diameter of the dish can be 3 to 6 inches and it should be no more than 3 inches high.
WATER BOTTLE : Water bottles are preferred over open dishes. Hedgehogs love to fill open water dishes with shavings and this prevents them from getting enough water to drink.
HIDING PLACE : This can be as simple as a piece of 4 inch PVC pipe, an old plastic pitcher, or an old shoe box with a hole cut in one end. (this should be replaced every 2 to 3 weeks).
LITTER BOX : Your pet will use a litter box if you provide it with one. A small box that is 2” deep x 6” x 9”, half filled with dust free cat litter does very nicely. Non-clumping cat litter is the safest choice.
TOYS : If you choose, you can also add a few toys for your hedgehog to play with. An exercise wheel is an excellent addition and will help him to stay healthy and trim. Although a guinea pig wheel will suffice, there are now specially designed Hedgehog Wheels available from many pet suppliers. These are safer for your pet since they have a solid or mesh-covered running surface rather than the more common metal bars which they sometimes get their long legs caught in.
What Should I Feed Him and How Much?
Although there are hedgehog foods available in stores, dry cat and kitten formulas are equally good choices. Whatever commercial food you choose should be supplemented by a variety of other foods such as vegetables, mealworms and crickets, cooked meats and fruit and vegetables. However none of these should be fed as anything more than a treat 3 or 4 times a week. The dry food should be the staple. While the dry food can be fed free choice to all but the more obese hedgehogs, the supplements should be offered for no more than 15 minutes and then removed.
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Care and Management
When you bring you new hedgehog home, place him in his new cage and let him have absolute privacy for at least a day. You may pick him up and hold him once or twice for a few minutes the first day, but remember, it will probably be more like a week before he begins to feel at home.
Baby hedgehogs need quite a bit of sleep the first month after they come home with you, so don't be too concerned if he sleeps a lot at first.
Since a healthy hedgehog is a bit on the plump side naturally, determining the difference between a healthy animal's "chubby" condition and obesity can be somewhat difficult. Since there is such a wide variety of size in domestic stock these days, an obese hedgehog can be as little as
8 ounces to as much as 2 pounds in weight, so weight guidelines are of little use in identifying a fat hedgehog!
Of far more use to you than a set of scales is a weekly or monthly visual inspection of your pet's front legs and chin. While a hedgehog in its normal trim will be a bit chubby in these two locations, an obese specimen will have a double chin and "ham-hocks" for legs and sometimes even rolls of fat under the arm-pits. Such animals will be so fat that they will even be incapable of rolling themselves into a ball!
If your pet should become this fat eliminate all treats from its diet but do not reduce the amount of dry food - the primary source of necessary proteins, vitamins and minerals. If after a month you see no evidence of weight loss, change the type of dry food that you are feeding to one that has a fat content of at least 20 percent. The theory is that the added fat will cause your pet to "bulk-up" and eat less and will actually help it to lose weight.
All of this Info came from The International Hedgehog Association at this URL.
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i dont no any one in england who has a hedgehog as a pet but at the rate they are being killed by cars i think people should. my husband and i found a small hedgehog on my grass, the problem was it was during the day, i didnt no a thing about hedgehogs but something told me he shouldnt be out in the day. i went back about 30minutes later and he was still there so i walked over and picked him up, he didnt curle up like they do he just looked at me as if to say help. so i went on the internet and found out what they eat and what weight they should be and my husband and i made a nice home for him in our house and fed him until he reached the weight he should be. we released him and hes still alive and comes back every night to say hi.
How do I make my garden hedgehog safe? July 03, 2007 1:27 AM
I have a garden, and I would like to know how to make it into a nice place for hedgehogs. I live in an area where hedgehogs are quite common, but the sad thing is: I often see dead hedgehogs on the road nearby. So I want to provide a safe place where they want to stay, and won't get killed in traffic.
can anyone please help me find a hedgehog? we had one from school over the summer vacation. i did see one at a pet shop-but i think a $99. is ridiculous. then again, what do i know about price.can give it a great home. thanks-tim
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If you are interested in adopting a hedgehog, please contact Steph at firstname.lastname@example.org for an adoption application. Once the adoption application is filled out and returned to us, you will be placed on a waiting list until a rescue/adoption situation arises in or near your area. Many times a hedgehog that becomes available never makes it onto our Petfinder web site if we are able to find a home for him/her through people who are on our waiting list first. So even though we may not list a hedgehog for adoption on our Petfinder web site that is in your area, it doesn't hurt to write to us anyway to begin the adoption and/or learning process.
How to adopt a quilly friend:
You can adopt a hedgehog too! Hedgehog Welfare Society members across the United States and Canada take in homeless hedgehogs and prepare them for adoption into loving forever homes. Our Petfinder volunteers are always working and updating information about hedgehogs who need homes, so please check back often! Please do not ask us to ship our hedgehogs. We DO NOT ship. No exceptions. Thank you for understanding that transportation by land is the only option.
When we first hear from you, we will ask you to fill in a basic questionnaire. You will tell us who you are, where you live, what you know and do not know about hedgehogs, and whether you all ready have other pets. We will put you directly in touch with a Hedgehog Welfare Society volunteer. We are not a single shelter, but operate as countless "rescue stations" across the United States and Canada. Click here to see our adoptable hedgehogs!
Special notice: Hedgehogs are illegal to own as pets in the following locations: Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, New York City boroughs (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Staten Island), Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Washington D.C. Please check with your local state, city, and county ordinances to find out if there are any laws or regulations about owning exotic pets in your town. A permit may be required. If you need assistance with locating your states specific regulations, or you live in an area where hedgehogs are illegal and want to find a safe home for your quilly friend, the HWS is there to help.