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How to Be a Good Hedgehog Owner (With Pictures)

I'm David Zermeño. I love video games, especially RPG, RTS and MMORPGs. I'm a pro-gamer and reviewer of many popular titles.

how-to-be-a-good-owner-of-a-headgehog

Why You Should Get a Hedgehog as a Pet

There are several reasons why you might choose a hedgehog:

  • Hedgehogs only need medium-sized living quarters, preferably 1m2 or a house with several floors.
  • They sleep most of the time, around 12 hours a day—good for the workaholics out there.
  • They are nocturnal and keep quiet.
  • They don't need several bags of food or gallons of water. They are easy to care for.
  • They are really peaceful and good with other animals.
  • Really friendly with kids.
  • Easy to train and domesticate.
  • It only takes a little time to create a friendship with the owner, but they need time to form a really strong bond.

Basic Facts About Hedgehogs

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

  • 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, they are famous for being more aggressive. 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 the black market.
A picture of my actual African pygmy hedgehog named "Eric".

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

What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

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

With a domesticated hedgehog, the best option is cat food—it will keep your hedgehog in good shape. However, choose a low-fat and high protein and fiber cat food. Sometimes you can give them little snails, earthworms, or grasshoppers as a dessert, and once in a while a piece of watermelon, melon, apple, berries—but nothing too citrusy.

How Much Should You Feed Them?

The normal size of a portion is around 10 grams.

FoodFruitDessert (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.

What Materials Do I Need for My Hedgehog?

There are some basic things you need to make sure your hedgehog is comfortable. You need:

  • A home, with a minimum dimension of 60x40 cm. If you don't have a linear space for your hedgehog, you can buy or build a home with several floors to compensate for the lack of space.
  • A nest. Every hedgehog needs a dark little nest to sleep in. You can use a shoebox or build a wood house, as it is big enough for the hedgehog to move around arinside.
  • Water and food containers. It doesn't matter what it's like—it could be anything from a cheap bowl to a fancy, modern food and water delivery system.
  • A thermal control system. You can build a system with a heat cable between two pieces of ceramic. You need to keep your hedgehog between 28-30 °C (82-86°F).
  • A bathroom. It's best to train your hedgehog to do their business in a particular spot. Leave a different substratum (toilet paper or pressed paper) in a corner of the house and he will go there. Leave the bathroom in the opposite corner of the nest.
  • Bedding. You can use big pieces of sawdust that you can buy in pet stores. Try to avoid fine sawdust. There is also the Carefresh option, which is really good at eliminating odors.
  • An exercise wheel of 12" in diameter. This part is very important because the wheel helps the hedgehog stay healthy and stress-free.
  • If this is your first hedgehog, buy a pair of gloves to use when handling the animal. In 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.

Important Tips for Caring for Your Hedgehog

  • Never piss them off deliberately; if you want a good friendship with your hedgehog, treat them well.
  • Avoid wearing perfume or lotion when around your hedgehog—let them recognize you by your normal scent.
  • If you want to have baby hedgehogs, find a suitable mate and learn about the personalities of each one. Some can be adorable, but others can be little demons.
  • Bath your hedgehog every 3-4 months. If you miss this part you can create a serious dermal issue.
  • If your hedgehog bites, train them as you would a dog. Every time they bite you, give a little hit with your finger—don't let them keep that attitude.
  • Sometimes at sunset, it's good to take your hedgehog out in the garden or in a close park—let them explore another environment outside the house. This will help stressed hedgehogs.
  • Be creative! You can build your hedgehog's enclosure 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, and a little pool. Some people even build a little gym for their hedgehog, with a paper tube seesaw, an obstacle track, and even more. Just be creative and original.
how-to-be-a-good-owner-of-a-headgehog

The Two Most Important Aspects to Owning a Hedgehog

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

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

What's the Difference Between a Hedgehog and a Porcupine?

People unfamiliar with hedgehogs constantly confuse them with porcupines. It's important to know the differences and similarities between the two.

Hedgehogs:

  • Are smaller in size—weigh about 300 grams.
  • Have a coat of hollow spines.
  • Are nocturnal animals.
  • Have a face similar to a mouse's.
  • Defend themselves by rolling into a ball, causing the spines to point outwards.
  • Come in three varieties: African pygmy, Egyptian, and European.
  • Are omnivorous.

Porcupines:

  • Are of medium size, weight between from 6–16 kg.
  • Are more similar to beavers than a to hedgehogs.
  • Are protected by a variation of quills.
  • Cannot throw their quills.
  • Defend themselves by striking with their quills.
  • Are herbivores.

Having a hedgehog as a pet is a great experience. They are cute and will get really close to the owner if they are treated well.

A crested porcupine.

A crested porcupine.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where do you find hedgehogs for sale?

Answer: Some pet stores may sell hedgehogs, but I recommend online hedgehog breeders with certifications.

Question: Does it hurt your hands when picking your Hedgehog up?

Answer: If this is your first hedgehog, I recommend you to buy a pair of gloves to use when handling your pet. In the beginning, they can be very grumpy because they don't know you and they are in a new place, they tend to roll into a ball and give small jumps to pinch you. With time, love and dedication you'll leave those gloves behind, they will relax and be more friendly and even loving pets.

Question: If I wear lotion (not perfumed) every-day would that be okay for my hedgehog?

Answer: Yes, that would be okay. They're very curious but they won't have a problem identifying you.

Question: I have had a hedgehog for about 2-3 years, how do I make him more domesticated?

Answer: Male hedgehogs are moodier than females, you can leave close to him a piece of an old t-shirt or cloth that you have used, this way he will be more relaxed with that odor which he uses to identify you. Sadly hedgehogs have bad eyesight, therefore they use their nose, if you have lotion, cream or something with a different odor, he can feel disoriented.

Another important thing is the exercise, having an exercise wheel is a must, this way he can discharge all the tension and relax, when they are in a small space and cant do exercise they can tend to be a little more aggressive, also if they cant sleep that's why you should keep them in a room with controlled temperature and no heavy noises like with the washer or dryer.

Question: Do the insects have to be alive when feeding a hedgehog?

Answer: Not necessarily but it would be better, because of the freshness of the food and the hedgehog will be more interested in the living insect's movements.

Question: Where can you buy a hedgehog in Austin TX?

Answer: Sadly I can't help you directly because I'm not from Austin Texas or have a contact in there. I can recommend you to ask for information with "Austin Pets Alive" is the only group I know from there. I hope you find your ideal hedgehog very soon.

Comments

mary groves on September 19, 2019:

these articials are great...they really help me with my hedgie

:/ on July 05, 2017:

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.

David Zermeño (author) from Mexico on April 04, 2017:

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.

Curt on March 28, 2017:

Can I keep him in a mansion, outdoors?

David Zermeño (author) from Mexico on June 04, 2013:

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 from Philippines on June 04, 2013:

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....