Animals

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets? Discover the Pros and Cons of Ownership

Are hedgehogs suitable as pets? They are adorable and compact, but those aren’t the only important aspects. For hedgehogs to be content and healthy, a variety of special requirements must be satisfied. Continue reading to learn about the benefits and drawbacks of owning a hedgehog and determine if this small pet is perfect for you!

What Are Hedgehogs?

Within the subfamily Erinaceinae, there are 17 species of spiny mammals, grouped into five genera, which include hedgehogs. They originated in Europe, Asia, and Africa and were brought to New Zealand. Native to North America, there are no hedgehog species currently in existence. These little creatures resemble porcupines quite a bit and are distantly related to shrews. Specifically, two species of hedgehogs have gained popularity as pets: the African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) and the European hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus).

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets?

A hedgehog’s suitability as a pet primarily hinges on the owner’s ability to give it proper care.You can use the list of benefits and drawbacks below to choose whether or not this is the right pet for you. It covers things like the normal hedgehog’s habits and disposition. See the following section, “Caring for a Hedgehog,” for a more thorough explanation of hedgehog maintenance.

Advantages of Keeping Hedgehogs as Pets

The following are some benefits of owning hedgehogs as pets:

They are small and compact: Compared to larger pets, hedgehogs usually require less space due to their compact nature. Nevertheless, it’s crucial to avoid cramping them due to their small size. Hedgehogs enjoy exploring and getting lots of exercise.

They’re adorable: The majority of people acquire hedgehogs as “pocket pets” mostly due to their adorable nature. Hedgehogs are very cute, even with their spines, but you probably shouldn’t put one in your pocket.

They’re inexpensive to buy: Hedgehogs are quite inexpensive, especially when compared to other specialty pets or breeds that might cost you thousands of dollars up front. Currently, the cost of a regular hedgehog ranges from $100 to $500, albeit this does not include veterinary bills and continuing care.

Cons: Does Hedgehog Make a Good Pet?

The following are some drawbacks of owning hedgehogs as pets:

They are spiky: Hedgehogs can defend themselves with their razor-sharp quills. The quills stand straight when they sense danger. You can be guaranteed that hedgehogs do not shoot quills like porcupines do. On the other side, handling a hedgehog carries the risk of puncture wounds, which can cause pain and infection.

Hedgehogs are not very social animals and are solitary by nature. They generally strive to stay away from human contact and prefer to live alone. That implies your pet won’t be very cuddly, but it also means you won’t have to spend a lot of time with it.

Hedgehogs need particular care because they are not like other domesticated animals; in fact, some groups, such as PETA, contend that they have never really been domesticated. To keep them healthy and happy, a variety of particular demands must be satisfied. View the upcoming section, “Taking Care of a Hedgehog,” for a broad overview of the necessary maintenance.

Hedgehogs have the potential to harbor diseases: Regrettably, they may harbor bacteria such as salmonella and mycobacteria, which can cause leprosy and TB in humans. Hedgehogs have also, but less frequently, been linked to human ringworm skin illnesses caused by fungi.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal by nature, meaning that night is when they are most active. This pet might not be ideal for you if you sleep lightly.

They self-anoint with their own saliva; yes, it sounds disgusting. A hedgehog may froth at the mouth and cover its spines with its spit when it detects a new smell or ingests something new that may be poisonous. According to speculation, hedgehogs either do this to mask their scent when confronted with an unfamiliar object or to utilize the poisonous spittle as a barrier to keep predators away. It’s completely unpleasant, but it’s also perfectly natural.

They bite: Hedgehogs don’t bite very often, but when they do, their little, sharp teeth can give you a severe nip.

They need regular veterinary care: Regular veterinarian treatment is necessary for hedgehogs as they are susceptible to many health issues such as fatty liver disease, balloon syndrome, cancer (particularly squamous cell carcinoma), and cardiovascular disease. You will still need to provide them routine veterinary treatment even if none of these problems arise. Remember that not all veterinarians have worked with hedgehogs before.

They’re illegal in four states: Currently, just four states allow hedgehogs as pets: Pennsylvania, Georgia, Hawaii, and California. They are also forbidden in New York City’s five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Before bringing home a hedgehog, always make sure you are aware of the existing regulations in your state as state governments have the authority to change or broaden these bans at any time. Local authorities possess the authority to confiscate and maybe destroy any unlawful hedgehog found within your residence.

Maintaining a Hedgehog

Some basic details about the type of care needed by a hedgehog are provided below. Check out this post to learn about the expected costs associated with purchasing and caring for your new friend.

Water and Food

Being omnivores, hedgehogs need constant access to food and water. For food, use a stable dish that they can’t turn over, and for water, hang a glass bottle to stay hydrated. Buy premium hedgehog food that satisfies your pet’s unique dietary needs to ensure optimal health. Leafy green veggies and berries like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries can be added to this staple. Throw in some mealworms occasionally for added protein.

Housing

Hedgehogs require enough room to move around and hide. A 40-gallon tank that is 16 inches deep, 36 inches long, and 18 inches broad is the least amount of space needed. Smooth aquarium tank sides and wire mesh lids with locking clips are excellent in thwarting efforts at escape. Your greatest option for bedding is to completely fill the tank with natural paper bedding. This keeps waste under control and lets your hedgehog hide. Your hedgehog can sleep soundly in the floorless wooden shelter inside the tank, which also lets waste seep into the bedding that absorbs it.

Companionship

Since hedgehogs are solitary creatures by nature, group housing with other members of their species is not necessary. Actually, it’s likely that your new pet will want to live alone. Hedgehogs are not typically interested in interacting with humans for companionship. Make careful to socialize your hedgehog from an early age if you want a cuddlier version of the average hedgehog. Hedgehogs get scared and curl up into a tight, spiky ball that is nearly impossible to get out of. (And you should never attempt to, as it could cause them great harm). Respect your hedgehog’s need for privacy by not crowding it more than is absolutely required.

Exercise

A daily workout of roughly thirty minutes is required for the typical pet hedgehog. This implies that it must have access to an exercise wheel or be allowed to run about a sizable cage for this minimum period of time each day. It may surprise you to learn that hedgehogs like to swim, but they should always be able to get out of the water on their own to prevent drowning.

Health and Reproductive Care

Similar to other creatures, hedgehogs are susceptible to a variety of illnesses. These include the conditions balloon syndrome, fatty liver disease, malignancy, and cardiovascular disease. In terms of reproductive health, neutering your male hedgehog is usually not necessary. To prolong their lives and prevent certain health problems, specialists advise spaying female hedgehogs. Make careful to spay or neuter at least one of your pet hedgehogs if you intend to keep two hedgehogs of different sexes together and you don’t want hoglets (baby hedgehogs).

Grooming

Regular bathing is recommended for hedgehogs, usually once a month. This can be done in a sink using a toothbrush, warm water, and mild soap. Afterward, be sure to pat your hedgehog dry with a gentle towel or cloth. Once a month, you’ll also need to trim its nails, taking care not to cut the quick.

In summary

Take the time to learn about the requirements and temperament of a hedgehog before opting to bring one home. In the event that you ultimately decide you still want a hedgehog as a pet, be sure to select a trustworthy, moral breeder. Steer clear of pet stores and unskilled, unlicensed breeders as these animals may be suffering from maltreatment and congenital health problems.

Overview for Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets? Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Small and compact Spiny
Cute Solitary
Inexpensive to buy ($100-$500) Need special care
Carry diseases
Nocturnal
Self-anoint using their own spit
Occasionally bite
Need regular veterinary care
Illegal in four states