Hedgehog pet

Are Hedgehogs Good Pets

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Hedgehog Facts and Considerations

Today, our South Wilton vets share some hedgehog facts and a few things you should consider before owning a pet hedgehog.

Facts about Hedgehogs

What Is Special About A Hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are cute little critters famous for their prickly spines, which they have everywhere except on their face, legs, and bellies. When a hedgehog feels threatened they curl into a tight ball and tuck in their heads, tails, and legs, to protect vulnerable parts of their body.

There are 15 different species of hedgehog, found across Europe, Asia, and Africa. They can live in a variety of habitats, including deserts, forests, and grasslands. The African pygmy hedgehog is the most common species of hedgehog kept as a pet.

How Many Spikes Does A Hedgehog Have?

Hedgehogs are well known for their prickly spines. The back of a hedgehog is covered in a thick layer of spikes known as quills, and they have between 3,000 to 5,000 quills covering their backs.

Are Hedgehogs Smart?

The intelligence of a hedgehog is to that of a hamster, they may learn certain behaviors through positive reinforcement or conditioning but only at a very basic level.

Hedgehogs are known to be very communicative when it comes to their needs, and often make a low purring sound when they are happy or content.

Are Hedgehogs Cuddly?

In the wild, hedgehogs are solitary animals and they spend most of their time alone except during mating season. They tend to be shy and wary of people. It takes patience and a gentle hand to form a trusting bond with a pet hedgehog. Once a bond is established hedgehogs can be quite playful and occasionally cuddly.

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets?

It is essential to do your research before buying a hedgehog as a pet to be certain that its personality and needs fit with your lifestyle. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning that they are awake all night and sleep all day.

Are Pet Hedgehogs Dangerous?

There are several safety concerns to consider when it comes to owning a hedgehog as a pet. Because hedgehogs can carry salmonella they are not recommended for families with children under 5 years of age, seniors, or people with compromised immune systems.

If you handle a pet hedgehog be sure to protect yourself from salmonella poisoning by taking the following steps:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its enclosure.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth.
  • Don’t allow hedgehogs to roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens or dining tables.
  • Clean and wash enclosures, toys, and supplies outside of your house when possible.
  • If you get a puncture from a hedgehog quill be sure to clean your hands and the puncture area thoroughly.

Is A Hedgehog The Right Pet For You?

Owning a pet hedgehog may not be easy, but by doing your research, visiting breeders, and speaking to an exotic mammal vet, you will be able to decide whether a hedgehog is the right pet for you.

Our exotic companion animal vet can help you to provide the best care possible to your hedgehog. Contact our South Wilton vets to book an appointment.

Hedgehog Facts, South Wilton Vet

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From Our Clients

We brought our little hedgie in yesterday for an emergency visit (not many vets see exotic animals) and they took us within an hour and there was no wait once we got there either. We ended up having to put her to sleep as she was very ill. Dr Robertson was very compassionate and gentle with her and us. They even did a little ceramic pawprint as a keepsake for my daughter. And I was actually surprised by how fair I thought the bill was as well, all things considered. If we lived closer I would use them for our other pets, but we are over 30 mins away. I would definitely recommend them

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Are Hedgehogs Good Pets?

Adrienne Kruzer, RVT, LVT

Adrienne Kruzer is a veterinary technician with more than 15 years of experience providing healthcare to domestic and exotic animals. She is trained as a Fear Free Certified Professional to prevent and alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets.

Natasha Diehl

Dr. Diehl is a passionate veterinarian pursuing specialty medicine with over 6 years’ experience with exotic pets. She now works with a team of other experienced vets to provide the best advice and care for their clients’ pets.

Hedgehog looking at the camera on a white background.

The African pygmy hedgehog fits the bill for those that are looking for a unique but small and quiet pet but are they ideal for everyone else? Hedgehogs have special diets, sleep routines, and exercise regimens that might not suit every lifestyle but for many people, they can make really good pets.

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets?

Yes, hedgehogs can make good pets but only for those that don’t require a super cuddly caged pet, are okay with feeding some insects, and don’t mind if their pet sleeps during the day and runs all night on its wheel. Hedgehogs are very quiet, don’t take up much space, and are pretty low-maintenance pets, which makes them a good pet for many people.

What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

Hedgehogs don’t eat seeds or hay like most other caged pets but they do eat special kibble, insects, fruit, and other things. Hedgehogs used to be considered insectivores but due to their varied diet of much more than just insects, they are now classified as omnivores. This means that if you want a hedgehog as a pet, you need to be willing to feed some bugs, fresh items, and formulated kibble. This variety in their diet is essential in helping them stay healthy.

Do Hedgehogs Like To Live Alone?

Some pets, like guinea pigs, do better when they live with friends, but hedgehogs actually prefer flying solo. This means when you decide to have a pet hedgehog, you don’t have to have two or three pet hedgehogs to ensure their happiness. One hedgehog only needs an enclosure that is 2 feet by 4 feet, but bigger homes are also appreciated by these spikey critters since they roam for hours in the wild and like to exercise.

Are Hedgehogs Very Active?

Hedgehogs may not look like very athletic animals, but they are extremely active. In the wild, hedgehogs travel about two miles a day, so they are definitely not sedentary animals. Pet hedgehogs need a lot of exercise not only for their mental health but also for their physical health. Hedgehogs that don’t get an appropriate amount of exercise each day are likely to become obese, so plenty of play time outside the cage as well as an exercise wheel inside the cage are often necessary.

Are Hedgehogs Awake During the Day?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals so this means that they are more active at night than they are during the day. Your hedgehog will spend most of the day sleeping so if you want to spend time with them, the evening hours are when they will awake to eat and exercise. This might not be ideal for someone that has an early bedtime but if you work during the day and have free time in the evening, this schedule could coincide with a hedgehog’s normal schedule.

Do Hedgehogs Bite?

While hedgehogs can have up to 44 teeth, they do not typically bite. If a hedgehog is frightened or scared, they will roll up into a spiney ball before they bite anyone. If the rare bite does occur, it is probably because they are extremely annoyed, painful, or startled, but a hedgehog is unlikely to attack and attempt to bite anything.

Are Hedgehog Spines Dangerous?

It’s no surprise that a hedgehog has a lot of spines but these tiny quills don’t cover their entire body and they aren’t always in positions that cause pokes, so hedgehogs are safe to hold at times. Spines are very sharp but when a hedgehog is relaxed, these spines will lay flat against the body. This means that as long as you don’t pet the spines backwards, they won’t poke you.

There are also no spines on the belly of a hedgehog so this makes holding a happy hedgehog even less prickly. But when a hedgehog balls up, their spines stand at attention and their body position hides their soft belly, so they are pretty prickly all around. Despite this though, hedgehogs cannot shoot their spines like a porcupine shoots its quills and the spines do not contain any type of poison or venom. The spines are actually hollow and filled with air and don’t even have barbs on the end of them.