How to Care for Pet Hedgehogs – The Basics

Pet hedgehogs are a playful and adorable addition to your family. When you are looking for an exotic pet, a hedgehog is an excellent choice. They’re notoriously easy to care for, easy going, and don’t take up much space or make a mess. They’re perfect for a busy family, especially if you only have time to spend with your pet in the evenings, since hedgehogs are nocturnal.

 
You can never mistake a hedgehog for something else. Their unique, spikey nature gives them a stand-out appearance you can’t forget. Pet hedgehogs are becoming more popular because of their gentle nature and insanely cute faces. They’re also unique creatures, and must be handled with the utmost care.

 
baby hedgehogIn the United States, the most common type of pet hedgehog is the African Pygmy variety. African pygmy hedgehogs, also called four-toed hedgehogs, are common natives of many African countries. These small mammals are nocturnal and energetic. When threatened, this hedgehog curls into a tight ball and contracts its muscles to make the sharp quills stand erect. They’re the most quiet and calm of the different breeds of hedgehog; however, you still need to be sure to not startle them, or they’ll deploy their quills. Hedgehogs have over 7,000 quills each, and those spikey things are very sharp if you get poked with one directly. Each quill on a hedgehog points in a different direction and forms a protective barrier around the animal when it rolls into a ball. This is how a hedgehog protects itself in the wild.

 
Virtually all domesticated hedgehogs are captive-bred and descended from the African pygmy hedgehog or a close relative such as the white-bellied hedgehog or North African hedgehog. Hedgehogs are bred for specific color morphs and temperament. In captivity, they typically live four to six years, weigh 6 to 20 ounces, and reach 12 inches in length.

 
hedgehogs feedingOne of the most challenging aspects of keeping a pet hedgehog is feeding it. These animals are omnivores in the wild, eating both plants and other animals. Dry cat and dog food can satisfy a hedgehog, and provides it with the essential nutrients it needs to live. Giving it some meal worms and other small insects will also help it thrive. For treats, hedgehogs love fruit; this isn’t an everyday food for your pet, but giving him a little bit of his favorite fruit a few times a week will certainly make him happy! Experiment with different kinds until you find the type he likes best (every hedgehog is unique and has his own personal favorite foods).

 
Please make sure you always keep a sufficient amount of water available to your pet, since hedgehogs need to drink liberally while they’re awake.

 
As far as your pet’s living space goes, he’ll need a large cage, as hedgehogs like to move around. Like any animal (including humans!), he also needs exercise to stay healthy, so be sure to put wheels and tubes in the cage so he can have some recreation. In fact, without recreation, your pet will get bored and make a mess of his cage!

 
If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll find that having pet hedgehogs is a real joy! Properly cared for, your hedgehog will give you many years of enjoyment, and the two of you will likely become the best of friends.

 
 


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