An increasingly popular pocket pet, Hedgehogs can be great for the right people. They don’t require as much attention as a cat or dog, but still are interactive and interesting. The care of a hedgehog can be considered easy by exotic pet standards.
The caging for a hedgie can be a standard guinea pig or rabbit cage. They do not climb or chew so one level homes will do very well. They should always have a large solid exercise wheel, they use them a lot! They love to burrow so a nice soft bedding of recycled paper is perfect.
The diet of a hedgehog is very important. They are insectivores, so they must have a very high protein food. Being prone to obesity the food should also be low in fat and higher in fiber. There are many commercial hedgehog diets but many are low quality. Some recommended brands:
Purina One Beyond Chicken and Whole Oat Meal Recipe, Chicken Soup For The Cat Lover’s Soul Lite, Blue Spa Select Weight Management
Spikes Delight Ultra
Provide a water bottle at all times.
Hedgehogs do require an ambient temperature of over 72 degrees. They are from Africa so if you keep a cold house you may have to provide extra warmth for a hedgie. If they are too cold, they may attempt to hibernate and that is very dangerous for their health.
Buying a hedgehog from a reputable breeder will insure a well socialized pet. If your new pet is shy or unhandled you will have to earn their trust. They are not known to bite, but anything with teeth can bite. Usually a scared hedgehog is more likely to ball up. It may take time and treats to win them over.
Health problems they are prone to include obesity, mites, cancer, wobbly hedgehog syndrome, fatty liver disease and more. Veterinary visits are very important annually and when a problem arises.
Some things may be alarming, but can be normal. It is normal for a young hedgehog to lose many quills at once, this is called quilling. This is when they shed the baby quills and grow in the adult ones. They may be cranky or eat less at this time, because it causes the skin to be tender and may even be painful as the new quills poke through. Kind of like teething!
Self-anointing is a behavior that may have a new hedgehog owner puzzled. If you see him foaming at the mouth and then spreading it all over his quills, this is normal. Strange but normal.