So You Want to Own a Hedgehog...

Posted by Samantha Bubar

If exotic pets are your thing, you've probably considered bringing a hedgehog home at one point or another. These small animals are adorable to watch, but their care isn't as simple as some other small animals.

Hedgehogs can live for years, so new owners need to understand what they're getting into before bringing one of these pets home.

Hedgehogs pose some challenges. They need a specific diet and handling them isn't as easy as handling a guinea pig is, since they have spikes that can do some damage.

But, with the right care and handling, they can be rewarding pets to have in your home. Here are some pros and cons to help you decide if a hedgie is the right pet for you!

Lifespan

According to Dr. Krista Keller of the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital, the African pygmy hedgehog is the domesticated breed that people keep as pets. This species of hedgehog, also referred to as insectivores, lives for four to six years, so hedgehog owners need to be prepared to provide proper care for their entire lives.

Busy Bee

Although these spiky pets are relatively small in size (6-9 inches long), they need plenty of cage to run around in, as well as time outside of their cage to explore and exercise.

Hedgehogs do prefer to live alone, and cages can be found relatively inexpensively.

Night Owls

Hedgies are nocturnal, and prefer to snooze all day. They make great companions for people who are active at night.

Hedgies are also best for older children and adults, as children can get excited and the hedgies may feel threatened and extend their quills.

Keeping a Hedgehog

Hedgies have a quiet, calm personality. They like to snuggle and cuddle and are relatively low maintenance, making them a good choice for many pet owners. They are rarely aggressive and, when properly socialized, make great companions.

When keeping a hedgehog, owners need to be aware of where to find appropriate hedgehog food. Lianne McLeod, DVM of The Spruce Pets, writes that hedgehogs eat high-quality cat food. They enjoy mealworms and crickets as snacks. They'll also need water in a water bottle or bowl.

Handling

The more you handle a hedgie, the better you bond with them. Hedgies don't typically seek out attention from their human but will learn to enjoy being handled.

Allergies

Hedgies don't have dander like a lot of other small furry pets. This makes them a great option for people with allergies.

You don't have to settle for a fish or a hairless cat, a hedgie could be your new best friend!

Those quills!

Hedgies can be handled despite their quills. Handling will take some getting used to, as they are a little prickly. The quills are only extended when the hedgie feels scared or threatened, and in most cases they will curl up into a ball, which is their primary defense mechanism.

When bringing any new pet into your family it is important to do plenty of research. Hedgies can make a great addition to any family with the proper care and handling.

But keep in mind that a pet hedgehog poses some challenges that other small animals pets don't. A first time pet owner might be better off with a hamster or guinea pig as their first pet, then they can get a hedgehog when they have a little more experience.

NEXT: The Dwarf Hotot Rabbit: Cuteness You Can Hold in One Hand

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So You Want to Own a Hedgehog...