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Want to time-travel into the past? Amazingly, you don’t even need a time-travel machine to do so. The hedgehog is a portal to the past; the present day hedgehog looks almost identical to the hedgehog that lived 15 million years ago. Obviously, the hedgehog has something good working for it, since it has not had to evolve to live in changing environments for this extensive period of time. The hedgehog has also found a place in many people’s homes because there is no other pet quite like this.

The African Pygmy hedgehog is the most commonly kept hedgehog as a pet. Hedgehogs have a few characteristics that you should be aware of if you are planning on having one as a pet. First, they are nocturnal. This means that their natural time to sleep is during the day, and they will be more active into the evening and night. They may make noises such as grunts, snuffles, and sometimes screams that could interrupt your sleep should they be near your bedroom and you are a light sleeper. Additionally, they are omnivores so basically they need to eat both meats and fruits/vegetables to get the necessary nutrients to thrive. Thus, it is likely very difficult to make a diet that will always satisfy these needs, and any animal can get very sick if they are missing an important part of their diet. It is important to either get a commercially available food or do proper research and discuss this with your exotic animal veterinarian. Lastly, though this may seem obvious to some, hedgehogs are NOT cuddly. People may be thrown off by their cute face and inquisitive nature but they are not lap pets meant to be petted like a cat. The main reason for this is that they have spines! The entire body of the hedgehog is covered by these spines, except for their underside. They are not barbed so if they get stuck in your flesh they are easy to remove and not as painful as porcupine quills, but they still hurt. When a hedgehog is scared or threatened it will roll into a ball exposing its spines. This is definitely not a ball that you want to play catch with!

Now that you know three important things about hedgehogs as pets, here is some more interesting hedgehog information. Hedgehogs like to bathe themselves in their own saliva whenever they smell something they haven’t smelled before. Does this seem irrational to you? Can you imagine smelling a nice bouquet of flowers then feeling the insurmountable urge to lick your entire body? Strange, but this is exactly what hedgehogs do. When they come to a new scent they lick and bite the object until they form froth in their mouth that is scented. Then they lick the spines on their body. This process, called ‘anting’ supposedly gives the hedgehog a kind of camouflage with the smell, providing protection from predators since they smell like their surroundings. This can also lead to poisoning or infection if their spines impale an animal that tries to eat the hedgehog.

Before you go plunging headfirst into hedgehog ownership you should know that they are not like other small rodents that only live a couple of years like hamsters or mice. Hedgehogs can live up to 10 years when properly cared for. Not providing all the essentials they need to thrive such as a proper diet can significantly decrease this life span. All in all, the hedgehog is relatively easy to care for and can be kept in a large aquarium or guinea pig sized cage, and is fairly clean – some even learn to use litter boxes. Though you cannot cuddle the hedgehog, if you are kind and gentle it will enjoy exploring you and perhaps sit in your lap; hopefully not rolling into that prickly ball too often.

By Laura Platt- writer

4 Responses to this Article, So Far

  1. Avatar Lilly says:

    Gosh! This was extremely helpful, thanks :)

    • Avatar Paulette Boston ( Hedgehog Lodge) says:

      I beg to differ with you on a nuber of comments/facts. I have been raising and b freeding hedgehogs for a number of years. I love them dearly, they are some of the best pets over my 60 yr lifespan that \Ihave ever had.

      Fact 1: they are not rodents but are insectivores. In the wild a big part of their diet is hard shelled bugs, hence their teeth are very sharp in order to hand onto and bite into insecst.. Athought most are placid, like any animal when hurt or threatened can and will bite. Because of this, hedgehogs do not make good pets for children under the age of eight.

      FAct 2: Not cudddly? Just not true! Many a beloved hedgie love nothing better than to cuddle with their owners. ( I lave the pictures to prove it!) A well socialized and happy hedgehog very rarely or ever erect their quills! The quills, up to 5 000 of them are hollow hair shafts. The hedgie cannot release these quills and most hedgies over the toddler stage do not verbalize or vocalize, other than if frieghtened will click or rumble and males will call and’ sing’ to females. Hedgehogs do get along with other househod pets, and most cats and dogs have a healthy respect for this delightful quilly little critter

      FAct 3: A good balanced diet will help keep your hedgie healthy; and like all pets, should be seen at least annually see a vet Like us some will like vegatables while others will not, and others will like fruits, boiled eggs. \most hedgehogs love the occasional live cricket and or meal worms.

  2. Avatar Janet says:

    Wow. So much of this information is misleading!

    They are NOT nocturnal, they’re dirunal – most active at dawn & dusk.
    Hedgehogs can be easily litter trained – easier than cats. They’re clean & non-smelly. They love baths and brushes with a toothbrush.
    They DO cuddle (mine snuggles right up to my neck under my ear when I’m reading a book, plays in the tunnel of my hoodie pocket when I’m playing video games or surfing online) and can easily be petted when they are relaxed and happy, which is often if you take the time to let them get to know you.
    My cat and my hedgie get along famously and even goof around together, which is pretty funny to watch.
    Because my hedgie is litter box trained, he is allowed to wander freely through my bedroom and office (which is a huge area), not kept in a cage used for guinea pigs like the above article states. I’d find that pretty cruel to keep a hedgie all closed in like that! They’re too intelligent for that and like to explore, play and snuffle new scents.

    Despite that very misinformed article (I think whomever wrote it may have just looked at other websites or a book and not actually owned one as a pet), hedgies are extremely personable, have their own little personalities, cuddle, are really funny when upset (startled by a sudden sound or not sure of their environment – to me, they sound like a coffee percolator brewing up a pot! – I usually ask for decaff, but my hedgie ignores me on that request) and easily calmed down.


    They do require time to get to know you. Handle them often. Oh – and their sleeping habits can be altered a bit, if you handle them regularly, though through the brightest part of the day, they’ll still sleep.

    I hope that, should you decide to get a hedgehog, to look much farther than this article. YouTube has some awesome videos on how to care & pick them up (no gloves needed – I use my bare hands, even when they’re balled up & chuffing & upset), and there are some excellent and more informed articles out there by those who have owned a hedge.

  3. Avatar Sammi says:

    I have a question I have A female hegdehog and I had her for 3 weeks now an she is about 9 wks old…the past few days I swear she is humping me…se likes to cuddle up under my hoodie on my shoulder and the past few days I feel a few secs of wht feels like she is humping me….have anyone ever had this with a female??

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