Hedgehogs are becoming increasingly popular as pets, but are they right for you? Only African pygmy hedgehogs (which are bred for captivity) should be kept as pets – wild hedgehogs should not. But what else do you need to bear in mind?
Housing a hedgehog
These little creatures are best kept on their own, like Syrian hamsters; if kept in pairs they are likely to fight. You will need a large tank with plenty of room for the hedgehog to run around and it will need a smooth bottom, as wire can damage their tiny feet. Bedding should be made from shredded paper as you don’t want oils from wood-based products irritating your hedgehog and this should be cleaned out weekly. Keep the tank’s temperature between 72-85 degrees Fahrenheit and don’t forget a dark little box for your hedgehog to sleep in during the day!
Feeding a hedgehog
Normally hedgehogs will spend their waking hours seeking food and will eat slugs, snails and insects. They are nocturnal and eat at night, so it’s best to feed them before you go to bed. If you can’t get hold of special hedgehog food mix you can feed them cat food and treat them with the occasional crickets, slugs or mealworms. Your pet will also need access to fresh water at all times.
Handling a hedgehog
As with any other pet, how tame your hedgehog becomes depends on how often and how well you handle it. Ideally, you should start while your hedgehog is young. Approach them quietly, remain calm and move slowly. If your little friend curls up into a defensive ball, back off until they relax and try again. Scoop the little critter up and support its underside with a towel to begin with to avoid those prickly spines.
Exercising a hedgehog
Don’t worry we’re not suggesting you buy a lead and take it for walks. But you don’t want your pet becoming obese so make sure you provide toys and equipment that will allow it to stretch its legs. You can even get exercise wheels designed for hedgehogs. They also love tubes and pipes to run through but be careful to supervise them in the home.