How to be a good owner of a hedgehog with pictures.

Updated on February 23, 2016
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Differences between a hedgehog and a porcupine.

It's common to see that the people not familiarized with the hedgehogs constantly confuse them with porcupine. It's important to know the differences and similarities of each one.

Hedgehog:

  • Smaller size: around 300 grams in weight.
  • Have a coat of hollow spines.
  • Nocturnal animals.
  • The face is similar to one of a mouse.
  • Their mechanism of defense is rolling into a ball causing the spines to point outwards.
  • There are 3 types of hedgehogs: African pygmy, Egyptian, and European.
  • Omnivorous.


Porcupine:

  • Medium size: from 6 to 16 kg.
  • Similar to a beaver more than a hedgehog.
  • Protected by a variation of quills.
  • A porcupine cannot throw their quills.
  • Their mechanism of defense is to strike with their quills.
  • Herbivore.


Difference between a hedgehog and a porcupine

A crested porcupine.
A crested porcupine. | Source

The Hedgehog.

A picture of my actual African pygmy hedgehog named "Eric".
A picture of my actual African pygmy hedgehog named "Eric". | Source

Important information about the hedgehog.

Before you acquire a hedgehog you need to know that there are 3 types of hedgehogs:

  • The African pygmy hedgehog: The domestic and peaceful, they are the best option for any pet lover.
  • The Egyptian pygmy hedgehog: similar to the African one, but with pointy ears, there are famous because their are much more aggressive than the African hedgehog. This type is not recommended because they need extra care.
  • The European hedgehog: It's illegal to have one as a pet, hunt them or sell them in several countries because they are a common target for the exotic hunters and black market.

This photo show the face of a hedgehog with a "mask" of pink/brown color.
This photo show the face of a hedgehog with a "mask" of pink/brown color. | Source

Hedgehog as a pet

Would you have a hedgehog as a pet?

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Why a hedgehog?

That's the principal question to all, and it have several answers:

  1. The hedgehog only need a good medium space for living, preferably 1 m2 or a house with several floors.
  2. They sleep most time of the day, around 12 hours a day, a good reason for the workaholic type.
  3. They are nocturnal, and keep it quiet.
  4. They don't need several bags of food or gallons of water. They are easy to care.
  5. They are really peaceful and good with other animals.
  6. Really friendly with kids.
  7. Easy to train and domesticate.
  8. Need little time to have a friendship with the owner, but needs time to have a really strong friendship with the owner.

What a hedgehog eat?

The can eat any insect, fruit or even small animal but there are some better insects and better fruits.

With a domesticated hedgehog the best option is "Cat food", it's the best choice to keep your hedgehog in good shape, but not any cat food you need to choose a low fat and high protein and fiber cat food. Sometimes you can give little snails, earthworms or grasshoppers as a dessert, and once in a while a piece of watermelon, melon, apple, berries, nothing to much citrus.

What do I need to have for a hedgehog?

There are some basic thing you need to have a hedgehog with a lovely home. You need:

  • A home, with the minimum dimension of: 60x40 cm, If you can't have a linear space for you hedgehog you can buy or build a home with several floor to compensate the lack of space.
  • A nest, every hedgehog need a little nest to have their time of sleep in the dark, normally you can use a shoe box or build a wood house, it needs to be big enough for the hedgehog to move inside.
  • Water and food container, from a cheap bowl to fancy modern food and water delivery system.
  • A thermal control system, you can build a system with heat cable between two pieces of ceramic, you need to keep you hedgehog between 28-30 °C (82-86°F).
  • A Bathroom, it's better to train your hedgehog to do their necessities in a spot, leave a different substratum (toilet paper or pressed paper) in a corner of the house and he will go there, it's is better if you leave the bathroom in the opposite corner of the nest.
  • The house need to have a bedding, normally big pieces of sawdust, you can buy it in the pet stores. Try to avoid the fine sawdust, use the big pieces, there is also the Carefresh option or similar, they're really good with odors .
  • An exercise wheel of 12", this part is very important because the wheel helps the hedgehog to keep healthy and stress free.
  • If this is your first hedgehog you can buy a pair of gloves to manipulate the hedgehog, because at the beginning they can be very grumpy, and tend to roll into a ball.
  • Toys: paper tubes, balls, medium figures, stuffed animals.

Taking your hedgehog out helps you to break the routine.
Taking your hedgehog out helps you to break the routine. | Source

Food options

Food
Fruit
Dessert (insects)
1 portion in the night.
1/4 portion in the night.
-
1/4 portion in the night and 1/4 in the morning.
1/2 in the night.
1/4 portion in the morning.
1/2 portion in the morning.
1/2 portion in the morning.
1/4 portion in the night.
1/4 portion in the night.
1/2 portion in the night.
1/4 portion in the night.
The normal size of a portion is around 10grams.

Recommendation with a hedgehog.

A hedgehog can be a lovely pet for kids or adults, it's a unique pet, easy, peaceful, funny and cute. As owner of a hedgehog I can add that the most important part of the caring of a hedgehog are two thing:

  1. Mutual friendship: Maybe the hedgehog can be a little grumpy at the beginning but with some time of sharing, they can be a real friend, they can be friendly, peaceful and very interesting. Don't give up in wining your hedgehog trust.
  2. Health: Once in a year going with the vet can be very helpful, a healthy hedgehog can live years, some of them can live to 10-12 years. A good vet is essential in the caring of your hedgehog.

Tips with hedgehogs.

  • Never piss them deliberately; if you want a good friendship with your hedgehog treat them well.
  • Try to stay with your hedgehog without perfume/lotion, it's better to let them recognize you for your normal smell.
  • If you want to have little hedgehogs, find a suitable mate, learn about the personalities of each one, some can be adorable...others can be little demons.
  • Bath your hedgehog every 3-4 months, if you exceed in this part you can create a serious dermal issue.
  • If your hedgehog bites, train them like the dogs, every time he/she bites you give a little hit with your finger, don't let him/her keep that attitude.
  • Sometimes at the sunset it's good to take your hedgehog out, in the garden or in a close park, let them feel another environment than the house, this will help you with stressed hedgehogs.
  • Be creative, you can build the house of your hedgehog with easy to get material and build a real mansion, keep it fun for you and your hedgehog, build several floors, stairs, a small garden, a little pool, some people even build a little gym for their hedgehog, with paper tube seesaw, obstacle track, and even more, just be creative and original.

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About the Author

My name is David Zermeño and I´m a lover of animal, and I like to share my knowledge and personal experience of the hedgehog caring. Having a hedgehog as a pet is a great experience, they are cute and really close to the owner, if they are treated well. Always I try to teach people about the animals I have had and I will continue giving tips and recommendations.

I hope to create more Hubs about genetics, mate system, and diseases of the hedgehogs and several more animals.

Every comment about hedgehog, recommendations, or questions, will be answered politely.

Thanks, and good caring.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

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      • profile image

        Haley 

        6 weeks ago

        90% of this information is incorrect...

      • profile image

        :0 

        5 months ago

        Never let hedgies cage get above 80 degrees. They can overheat.

        Bathing once a month, at least paws, is ideal or they can get burns cause by urine sitting on their paws for too long. They also need their nails clipped quite often.

        They don't need multiple floors since their eyesite is so bad, they could fall and hurt themselves. If you insist on multiple levels, the they need a sort of railing on the levels and ramps to prevent them from falling and ramps should be a slight angle. Not too steep.

      • profile image

        Kait 

        8 months ago

        This article has many false statements. Kind of dissapointed.

      • profile image

        :/ 

        12 months ago

        I've been told by just about every other source that the ideal temp for them is between 70-80 degreees Fahrenheit. And that they should be bathed every other week.

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile imageAUTHOR

        David Zermeño 

        15 months ago from Mexico

        Hi Curt, Thank you for reading my article.

        If you live in a warm-dry area then you can keep the hedgehog in the outdoor, but If you have changing weather with high levels of humidity, then I'll not suggest that kind of enviorenment for your pet, they are really sensitive to temperature and humidity.

        The recommended temp. is from 20-27 °C, higher or lower temp can cause troubles to you pet.

      • profile image

        Curt 

        15 months ago

        Can I keep him in a mansion, outdoors?

      • Dvd Zermeno Perez profile imageAUTHOR

        David Zermeño 

        5 years ago from Mexico

        They are amazing pets, and worms as source of protein are a good option, I built a three floor mansion for my Hedgehog with a garden within, I like to keep the creativity flowing.

      • Maria Cecilia profile image

        Maria Cecilia 

        5 years ago from Philippines

        I remember when my friend bought one, she even bought him worms or power worms as his source of protein... he even bought him accessories for his cage....

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