My middle daughter has been fascinated with hedgehogs ever since seeing them in author Jan Brett’s beautifully illustrated books. When we got serious about looking into pet hedgehogs, we discovered that it wasn’t as easy as finding a dog or a cat. To begin with, no pet store in our town carried hedgehogs. We learned that in some states they are considered “exotic” animals and cannot be sold.
We had our “Hedgie” for 3 1/2 years before she passed away from a female cancer. Now, my daughter has had a second hedgehog, Georgia, for 3 years. The whole family enjoys our pet hedgehogs a lot. Here are some things to consider if you are interested in hedgehog ownership.
- Hedgehogs are nocturnal. In other words, your pet will basically sleep when you’re awake and vice versa. Our hedgehog is in a cage in my daughter’s room, and she spends a lot of the night running on her wheel (and the “Silent Spinner” wheel isn’t so silent!). This resulted in some lost sleep until my daughter got used to it. If you get your hedgie up during the day to “play” and let him recline on you while you read or watch TV, he will usually cooperate. This is important, because if you don’t interact with your hedgehog he will probably not bond well with you. Just make sure you take the initiative to get him up, because he probably won’t do it on his own.
- A hedgehog’s food is important. I have learned a lot about feeding hedgies, mainly online. What I have learned is that a high-quality dry cat food is usually a better choice for hedgehogs than food specifically labeled “hedgehog food”. Good choices often mentioned are Chicken Soup for a Cat Lover’s Soul, and Innova. Important things to check are that the protein content should be greater than 20% and the fat content should be between 10 and 20% (often necessitating purchase of the “lite” version). Hedgehogs do better with quality foods that don’t have a lot of fillers. And since hedgehogs usually eat less than 1/4 cup food per day, you can afford to get the “good stuff”. For treats, hedgehogs love to eat live mealworms, which can be purchased at pet stores. If your hedgie is like ours, he would probably gladly eat 10 or more worms at a sitting. But since they are high in fat, it’s best to limit the worms to just one or two a day.
- Hedgehogs need a secure cage. Yes, we learned this the hard way … when we bought our hedgehog, we put her in a large plastic bin temporarily. We kept the lid just a bit askew for air circulation. But, one day I came in to check on her in the morning and she had escaped! She had traveled down our hallway and was finally found under a toy truck in another daughter’s room. Make sure your hedgehog’s cage has a secure lid, and also has a small box or “igloo” she can sleep in. Hedgies do like to be cozy and warm. Other necessities for the cage are a wheel since this is a hedgehog’s main means of exercise. We found that a large wheel made of solid plastic worked best for our pet; wire ones have a high potential for little feet getting caught. We put a litter box (actually we use a cereal box cut in half lengthwise) under the wheel and our hedgies use it without many accidents. If you adopt your hedgehog at a young age, she will most likely litter train herself if you provide her with a little tray.
I have found a wealth of hedgehog information online. We have found hedgehogs to be loving, fun, and unusual pets that always inspire a smile in others. I hope you’ll agree!
Have you ever had a pet hedgehog? Have you known anyone who did?
Linking to Works for Me Wednesday.