Hedgehog as a Pet: 10 Facts About a Domesticated Hedgehog

Wild hedgehogs have been residing in Africa forever however only in the last few years have they been kept as pets. A lot of North American pet hedgehogs, usually called African pygmy hedgehogs, were reproduced from African species and are considered domesticated. These little animals can make excellent companions when housed and fed appropriately, and their popularity appears to be increasing. However hedgehogs are not meant for everybody. Before you consider bringing a hedgehog into your home, there are a number of things to be aware of.

1. Hedgehogs Are Prickly
Like porcupines, the skin over hedgehogs’ backs is covered with sharp spinal columns that safeguard them from predators. The good news is, unlike our native porcupines, hedgehogs can not shoot their quills out in defense. When caught in the mouth of a predator, nevertheless, hedgehogs will jerk and jump so that their quills poke into the skin and lips of the assailant, making things generally unpleasant till they are launched. Dealing with a nervous hedgehog can be tricky for an owner, and you may have to hold your pal in a small towel up until he unwinds.

2. They Like to Play ‘I’m Out of Here’
As a defense mechanism, hedgehogs roll their bodies into tight little balls when threatened, triggering their spinal columns to point outward so that predators are not able to see their faces or limbs. They have extremely strong muscles over their backs, and it is nearly impossible to unfurl a hedgehog once he’s huddled. Family pet hedgehogs should be dealt with gently and frequently to get them to unwind and uncurl. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time looking at a charming but prickly little ball in your lap.

3. ‘Spit Balls’ Are OK
When a hedgehog encounters an item with a new scent, he will lick and bite the object and after that form a frothy “spit ball” in his mouth consisting of the brand-new aroma. He will toss his head back and spit this frothy saliva over his spines with his tongue, possibly to camouflage himself with the new scent and make himself less obvious to predators. If you see your family pet hedgehog engaging in this “self-anointing” behavior, do not stress: It’s gross but entirely typical.

A hedgehog is any of the spiny mammals of the subfamily Erinaceinae, in the order Eulipotyphla. There are seventeen species of hedgehog in 5 genera, found through parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in New Zealand by intro. There are no hedgehogs native to Australia, and no living species native to the Americas (the extinct genus Amphechinus was when present in North America).


4. Hedgehogs Are Not Mini Porcupines
Surprisingly, though quilled porcupines are rodents, quilled hedgehogs are not. They are classified as insectivores (insect eaters) rather. They are not strict insectivores, however, as they consume a range of foods in the wild, including snails, amphibians, lizards, snakes, birds’ eggs, fish, carrion, mushrooms, lawn roots, berries and melons. Domesticated pet hedgehogs normally eat a minimal number of bugs (mealworms, crickets, earthworms, wax worms) in favor of commercially offered pelleted solutions produced just for them. They can also eat a small amount of veggies, fruit and cooked meat. Offered their desire to catch live prey, family pet hedgehogs need to not be provided large quantities of pests or they will likely eat them to the exclusion of other foods required for a balanced diet.

5. They Like the Night Life
In the wild, hedgehogs are active at night, because that is when their food is offered. Domesticated family pet hedgehogs have maintained this nighttime lifestyle, sleeping a good part of the day and running in wheels during the night. If you’re a light sleeper, go to sleep early or are out a lot at night, a hedgehog might not be the best pet for you.

6. Hedgehogs Are ‘Hogs’
Hedgehogs like to eat, and if they are housed in cages with little chance to interact socially and work out, they tend to put on weight. Obesity is a typical problem among pet hedgehogs. Fat hedgehogs typically have really tubby limbs and big quantities of subcutaneous fat extending from underneath their mantel (the spine-covered top part of their bodies). Overweight hedgehogs might not be able to roll up like other hedgehogs, and those who eat extreme varieties of pests might experience calcium shortage and fragile bones. Overweight hedgehogs must be placed on restricted quantities of food and encouraged to run around outside their cages or inside them on wheels.

7. They Squeal, Snort and Snuff
Many individuals believe hedgehogs are quiet, but they vocalize through a variety of grunts, screeches, snorting and snuffling noises. They frequently vocalize when exploring their environments. They might also puff, click or hiss when worried or upset or whistle or purr when pleased. They generally make shrieking sounds when they are in pain.

8. Hedgehogs Carry Human Disease Risks
Like all other animals, hedgehogs may bring a handful of diseases that are contagious to people, consisting of Salmonella bacteria in their stool. They can likewise bring fungal spores on their quills and skin that cause ringworm in people. This fungus might cause quill loss and dry flaky skin on the hedgehog. Similar to all other animals, hedgehog owners ought to make certain to thoroughly wash their hands after handling their family pets or cleaning their cages.

9. Heat and Cold Extremes Influence Their Behavior
European hedgehogs who reside in the wild will hibernate when the environment gets very cold and food sources become scarce. They do this to reduce their metabolism and preserve their body temperature level. Similarly, during hot months, when food supply is minimal, African pygmy hedgehogs considerably decrease their activity and sleep more– a state called aestivation– to decrease their metabolic rate and prevent overheating. Though wild hedgehogs have developed these behavior patterns as adaptations to climate changes, domesticated family pet hedgehogs must not show either pattern however stay active, given that their environmental temperature level and food supplies need to be constant. When pet hedgehogs hibernate or aestivate, they can reduce weight, become ill and even die. If your animal is showing any unusual habits, call your vet.

10. They Bond With Their Owners
Any hedgehog owner who has invested a significant quantity of time communicating with his animal and mingling it will inform you that a hedgehog reacts to an owner’s voice and appearance. Anxious, balled up hedgehogs may unfurl just when they hear their owners’ voices and smell their owners’ fragrances.

Hedgehogs can be adorable, caring animals if they are dealt with often and made less afraid of people. Unsocialized hedgehogs who are never ever or seldom managed, nevertheless, may stay nervous, tense and firmly curled up. So if you’re considering having a hedgehog, recognize that these cute little prickly family pets require time, attention and tender loving care to flourish and be interactive.


Reyus Mammadli/ author of the article

I have had pets since childhood: cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, geese, chickens, ducks, parrots, aquarium fish and dogs (in the yard). Of course, I constantly encountered diseases of pets and treated them. Glad to be able to share my skills and experience, as well as advice on caring for and adapting these critters and birds.

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