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Hedgehog Guide care: Everything You Should Know

Are you thinking about adding a cute little hedgehog to your family? Our veterinarians in Hohenwald will now discuss the necessary care for a pet hedgehog.

Hedgehogs as Pets

The African pygmy hedgehog is the most popular species kept as a pet, mainly because of its small size. This charming creature can serve as an excellent pet for numerous individuals. However, conducting thorough research before making a purchase is crucial to ensure that a hedgehog's personality and requirements align with your lifestyle.

It's worth highlighting that hedgehogs may harbor salmonella bacteria like reptiles and several other domesticated animals. Consequently, it is not advisable to consider hedgehogs as pets for households with children under the age of 5, elderly individuals, or those with compromised immune systems.

When is the best time to adopt a pet hedgehog?

Baby hedgehogs need special care when they are born. These tiny and vulnerable newborns, often referred to as hoglets, require a warm safe, quiet environment. You can typically adopt hedgehogs from pet stores once they have been weaned and have reached an appropriate age, usually around 6 to 8 weeks old.

Hedgehog Behaviour

In the wild, hedgehogs lead a solitary lifestyle, typically spending the majority of their time alone, except during mating season. Their natural inclination towards solitude makes them inherently shy and cautious around humans. Building a trusting bond with a pet hedgehog requires patience and a gentle approach.

However, if you acquire a hedgehog when it is very young and invest sufficient time in gradually acclimating it to human interaction, hedgehogs can exhibit playful behaviors, although they may not become outright cuddly.

Despite their preference for limited physical affection, once your pet hedgehog has adapted to being handled and settled into its environment, you can gently stroke their quills and allow them to climb up your arms and explore various areas under supervision.

How to Take Care of Hedgehog

While hedgehogs are considerably smaller than cats or dogs, they still require exercise, a nutritious diet, and regular veterinary care. Not only that, hedgehogs come with a host of requirements that will need to be met to keep them happy, including a large enclosure. Although hedgehogs are smaller than cats or dogs, they still need exercise, a nutritious diet, and regular veterinary care. Additionally, to ensure their happiness, you must provide them with a spacious enclosure, an exercise wheel, and toys to prevent boredom.

Another crucial factor to keep in mind is that hedgehogs are nocturnal. They stay awake throughout the night and sleep during the day. Most hedgehogs typically become active around dinnertime and sleep just as they wake up. exercise wheel, and toys so they don't become bored.

Another important factor to consider is that hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning that they are awake all night and sleep all day. You can expect most hedgehogs to wake up and become active at around dinnertime, then tuck themselves into bed just as you wake up.

Space Requirements

Hedgehogs in the wild cover extensive distances nightly as they search for food. This natural instinct necessitates larger enclosures than you might anticipate for pet hedgehogs. Additionally, it is crucial to provide them with an exercise wheel.

To ensure the happiness and well-being of your pet hedgehog, you must furnish an enclosure measuring at least 24" x 24" (although larger sizes are advisable).

It's essential to offer your hedgehog the largest enclosure your available space allows, granting them ample room for nightly exploration.

Please note that hedgehogs are active nocturnal animals, and keeping them in your bedroom is not advisable. They can be surprisingly noisy during the night.

Cage Requirements

Hedgehogs require activity to maintain their happiness and health. An exercise wheel, a litter box, a sleeping box, and an eating area constitute crucial components of a hedgehog enclosure.

To keep your pet hedgehog engaged, provide them with a variety of tunnels and toys, such as stuffed animals or small balls.

You should also ensure that there is an exotic animal veterinarian within your area who is capable of caring for your pet.

A Hedgehog's Diet

In the wild, hedgehogs enjoy a varied diet of insects, plants, and roots. So to keep your pet healthy, feed your hedgehog a high-quality hedgehog-specific kibble with at least 30% protein and less than 20% fat, supplemented with a variety of the following:

  • Fresh fruits (apples, bananas, berries)
  • Live or freeze-dried mealworms
  • Live waxworms
  • Cooked Egg
  • Pinky Mice
  • Cooked meat (chicken)
  • High protein, low-fat dog food
  • Live or freeze-dried crickets
  • Fresh veggies (tomatoes, green beans)

Possible Concerns of a Pet Hedgehog

There are several safety concerns to consider when it comes to owning a hedgehog as a pet. 

Salmonella & Hedgehogs

In 2019, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) investigated several cases of salmonella linked to pet hedgehogs and warned that even hedgehogs that appear perfectly healthy can carry salmonella. If you handle a pet hedgehog be sure to protect yourself from this condition by taking the following steps:

  • Wash Hands Thoroughly: Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its enclosure.
  • Play Safely: Don't kiss or snuggle hedgehogs; this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth. Don't allow hedgehogs to roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens or dining tables.
  • Keep Your Hedgehog's Environment Squeaky Clean: Clean and wash enclosures, toys, and supplies outside of your house when possible. Do not clean these items in the kitchen or any place where food is prepared, served, or stored.

Hedgehog Quills

  • Hedgehog quills can penetrate human skin and spread bacteria that may lead to illnesses in pet owners. If you get a puncture from a hedgehog quill, clean your hands and the puncture area thoroughly. Monitor the puncture area carefully for signs of infection.

Hedgehog Bites

  • Although hedgehogs do bite, their tiny teeth are unlikely to cause you very much pain. The force of a hedgehog bite is typically linked to what your pet is feeling. An angry hedgehog could cause a bite that hurts a bit. That said, hamsters and other rodents are far more likely to administer a really painful bite when angry or scared.

Are pet hedgehogs legal where you live?

Some wildlife experts warn that releasing hedgehogs into the wild could harm local ecosystems. Hedgehogs would compete with native species for food and habitat.

For this reason, several states have banned owning hedgehogs and other exotic pets like sugar gliders, ferrets, and Quaker parakeets.

You cannot legally own a hedgehog as a pet in the following states:

  • Pennsylvania.
  • Washington, DC
  • New York
  • Georgia
  • California
  • Hawaii

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Do you have a new pet hedgehog in need of a wellness exam? Contact our Hohenwald vets to book your exotic pet an examination today.

New Patients Welcome

Hohenwald Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Hohenwald companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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