Please review and self-answer all of the following questions. If your answer to all of these questions is "YES" than a hedgehog is probably a good pet for your lifestyle and level of commitment.
If you answer "NO" to any of these questions (especially the ones marked with *), a hedgehog may not be a good fit. If you have * marked questions answered as "no", a hoggo might not be a good match, though you may wish to shoot me an email or text to review your answers and receive more educational material ( as appropriate)
*Are you going to be bothered by getting poked by sharp quills?*
Hedgehogs have thousands of sharp spikes called quills.
These quills will cause you discomfort if "poked" by them.
If you do not wish to bet poked or are sensitive to different textures, a hedgehog likely isn't the pet for you (I'm sorry)
*Are you one hundred percent confident that you will be able to provide your hedgehog with a temperature of at least 75 degrees via a supplemental heat source?*
It is absolutely vital that you understand and feel confident in your ability to provide proper temperatures to your hoggo.
If there is even a slight doubt that you'll be able to do this, then a hoggo sadly isn't the pet for you.
*Are you okay knowing that a hedgehog may not "love you" as portrayed on social media?*
Some hedgehogs just do not enjoy being held that often, it's normal, there is nothing "wrong" with the hedgehog.
When getting a hedgehog there is always a risk that it will be/become shy or "huffy". Plenty of socialization can help thwart that but is not a guaranteed preventative.
*Are you able and willing to provide veterinary care as needed?*
Hoggos need medical care too and it's important to provide routine and as needed emergency care.
Do you have at least 60 minutes to hold your hedgehog per day?
This time can be consistent or split up into three 20 minute or two 30 minute sessions.
This is especially important with young hoglets. As hedgehogs age they tend to do well with less hands on interaction in order to remain accepting of your presence.
*Are you able to provide a hedgehog with a safe and appropriate cage that offers a wheel?*
A hoggo appropriate cage is a must when getting a hoggo. See the hedgehog care page if you need to review hedgehog care.
*Are you okay in knowing that your hedgehog has the ability to bite you? *
We sometimes forget that anything with a mouth has the ability to bite. Hedgehogs are extra cute so it seems even easier to forget that they have little chompers that can be used in defense or curiosity .
A hedgehog's primary defense mechanism is to ball up, however sometimes a hedgehog will bite you.
Usually when a hoggo bites (not when/while anointing or exploring) it is due to stress.
As an owner of a hoggo you have to be okay knowing that your hedgehog may bite you.
*If you have children are you able to be the hedgehog's primary care taker?*
Children may be inconsistent in providing care to a pet or may loose interest, you'll have to be prepared to oversee all the daily care your hedgie receives.
*Are you ready to spend the next 5+ years providing care to a hedgehog?*
Hoggos live an average of 5 years in captivity, however the life expectancy is increasing due to better care information and medical treatment. A hedgehog is a commitment for the life time of the hedgehog. You have to be prepared to care for him/her regardless of lost interest or life changes.
Are hedgehogs really what social media portrays them to be?
I wrote this to provide new owners with important information to consider before adopting an African Pygmy Hedgehog. The internet is full of adorable photos and stories of hedgehogs floating on pool toys, snuggling with other animals, and wearing cute clothes.
Hedgehogs make GREAT pets if you have realistic expectations and knowledge of the species. A hedgehog NEEDS frequent handling to remain fairly easy going pet. A lot of owners get their hedgehog thinking it'll always remain a friendly and out going critter, this simply is not the case. Your hedgehog will be the result of the handling and care you give it. If you hold your hoggo a lot after bringing it home, it will most likely become very used to being handled. If you do not hold your hoggo often, it may become more "huffy". The hedgehogs we see online wearing cute socks and getting belly rubs are the result of frequent handling.
With all these adorable photos being shared, hedgehogs might seem like the perfect balance of cute, cuddly, and social. Unfortunately the internet photos and stories give many the wrong idea of what hedgehogs really are and what they need to be kept successfully by their owners.
The rise in the hedgehogs social media popularity seems to be creating a rise in the number of hedgehogs being kept by new and uneducated Owners. Hedgehogs are "trending" and it's hurting hedgehogs.
If you are considering adopting a hedgehog, or are a new owner, I hope the information provided here can provide you with some insight to the tough stuff, the not so cuddly side of hedgehog ownership.
Most of the shared posts featuring hedgehogs on social media show adorable little hedgehogs floating on donut or flamingo pool toys. These hedgehogs are living the dream, pool side with margarita in hand. These hedgehogs are some cool hoggers.
Truth is its pretty rare that a hedgehog will ever be calm enough to stay seated on a floatie toy. The relaxed hedgehogs exhibited in such media posts are usually the result of routine handling by their owner OR they're not healthy hedgehogs. I have seen some pretty cute photos of some pretty sick hedgehogs. The ill hedgies are weak and not well enough to exhibit natural defensive behaviors when being posed for cute photos. The ones that aren't sick were most likely handled A LOT from a very young age.
To find a naturally 500% chill hedgehog is a rarity. I have had many hoglets born here that are very curious and out going! They develop into wonderful animals who cherish their owners. A lot of handling has been put into them while in my care and within their new owner's care.
Other social media posts show multiple hedgehogs snuggling with each other, sharing meals and having a grand old time in the company of other hedgehogs.
These posts could lead folks to believe hedgehogs are highly social animals who need the companionship of their own species to feel complete happiness.
This could not be further from the truth. Hedgehogs are solitary creatures. They spend their lives alone and away from other hedgehogs. In fact they even have great "territories" in the wild that they've been observed defending from other hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs only "desire" each other's company for breeding. After the breeding the male and female hedgehogs part ways and the female is left to birth and raise young on her own. Yup, hedgehogs are single mothers and they like it that way. Mamma hogs don't even desire their own young to be in there presence for too long. Hedgehogs wean their young early compared to most other mammals. Babies are sent on their way into the big world all alone, at about 5-7 weeks of age.
Two male hedgehogs housed together could very well fight to the death. I have seen two male hedgehogs bite each other's penises off. Males are territorial and its the "survival of the fittest" in their little hedgehog biology that'll cause them to rip each other to shreds over the little cage they consider territory. It's not just males, females can do this too, well, except for the penis biting part.
If you look at all those cute photos of mamma hogs nursing their babies you might get the idea that a hedgehog is missing out on all the joys of life is she never has babies of her own.
These photos are the most irritating to me because they give new owners and potential owners the idea that female hedgehogs should be bred in order to be happy. They also give the impression that hedgehogs are amazingly dedicated mothers who love each of their little babies with all of their heart.
Reality is hedgehogs don't desire having babies at all. Female hedgehogs don't go into a regular heat cycle in which they'd seek out a mate. In fact, females only go into heat when stimulated to do so by the male. A female hedgehog living solo in her burrow would be just fine never meeting the man of her dreams and raising a family of her own.
Baby hoglets sure are cute, but they're kinda hard to keep alive for the first few weeks of life.
A majority of hedgehog mothers kill or reject their own babies. There are various reasons for this; medical issues, a change in environment, a skittish mother, among possibly dozens of other reasons. In fact, the risk of mortality is so high that professional breeders have a "2 week rule". They don't check on the babies for 2 weeks after birth to avoid any slight factors that will trigger the mother to kill her young. Even after the first 2 weeks of life, mamma hog could decide to kill her babies for a reason we possibly couldn't identify.
You also might have scrolled across some photos of hedgehogs being kissed and cuddled by their owners. How cute right?
Well, truth is a lot of hedgehogs will never be "tame" enough to be cuddled and kissed. More likely than not a hedgehog will initially ball up upon being handled. They are biologically prey animals and it is perfectly normal behavior. If you do get a hedgehog hold it often. form that bond, get the hog accustomed to your touch. I have hedgehogs who were born here and are very used to my handling. they still, after all these years, ball up or huff when I first pick them up. I do not let this bother me, I understand their nature. They always unball after a few minutes of patience.
Hedgehogs can also carry and transmit some pretty freaky diseases to us.All animals can actually make us sick, so this section applies to all pets. Salmonella, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus are a few of the bacterium that can be transmitted between humans and hedgehogs IF YOUR HEDGEHOG has come into contact with such bacteria.
. Strep and Staph infections are pretty common in hedgehogs and by kissing your little hog he could be planting a big old wet staph infection on your mouth. Keeping your hedgie clean is your best defense.
Hedgehogs need to be kept clean in captivity and owners need to practice good sanitation and universal precautions around their hedgehogs. Staying healthy while having a hedgehog is actually super easy. Wash your hands, no kissing, and keep your hedgehog clean. (and its cage)
Many internet pics show hedgehogs "bonding" with other animals. I have never seen a hedgehog that's in love with the family cat in real life. Hedgehogs are solitary creatures. I believe most of the videos of hedgehogs "following the cat to spend time with it" are really just hedgehogs telling mr. Kitty to get out of his territory. As far as the cuddling photos, hedgehogs love heat. A nice warm cat in a cool house is better than death I suppose.
Another tough part of hedgehog ownership is providing the correct temperature for your hedgehog to survive and thrive.
I have seen countless videos of hedgies frolicking in the fall leaves or exploring the snow. This is actually extremely dangerous. Hedgehogs need a constant temperature of AT LEAST 75 degrees*F (and possibly higher for some hedgehogs). If a hedgehog is exposed to lower temperatures, for even a short period of time, they can die. Its a very scary but very real aspect of keeping hedgehogs.
In Summary, Hedgehogs can be great pets for the RIGHT owner. Although hedgehogs are cute to just about everyone, they really only make a good pet for a small percentage of folks interested in them. They have alot of special care needs and there are many factors to weigh before adding a hog to your life.
Please do your research before adopting any animal.
I think it's super important for all pet owners to understand the species they keep, have realistic expectations and always be open minded and willing to try new things when keeping animals as pets!