• Is A Hedgehog The Pet For You?

    Hedgehogs are not the typical family pet, and have some special characteristics and habits that make them not suitable for some owner situations. Therefore, it is important to be aware and prepared for some of these characteristics BEFORE you purchase a hedgehog.

    Hedgehogs are basically nocturnal- If you go to bed relatively early, and are rushed in the mornings, it is very likely that you won't be awake during the times that hedgehogs are most active. This can be a problem in two different ways. First, when you are ready to play, your hedgehog is most likely going to be wanting to sleep, which could make them rather crabby at you for disturbing them. Also, since they are awake while you are asleep, if you keep the hedgehog near your sleeping area, then you may have a hard time sleeping through the night-time activities of your hedgehog wheeling, running, crunching food, banging water bottles, and just generally shuffling around.

    Hedgehogs have some special medical needs- Ok, hedgehog medical issues aren't HORRIBLY different than most other mammals. However, the methods needed to examine them ARE a bit different, which makes many vets unwilling to treat them, or uncertain on the proper care. If not prepared for, this can make it VERY difficult to find a vet that is willing to see you and is capable of treating a hedgehog properly in an emergency situation. It is therefore a good idea to make sure your vet is willing to treat your hedgehog, and willing to do the research necessary to know how to manage a hedgehog's health care properly.

    Hedgehogs are very scent oriented- If you frequently use scented lotions, perfumes, scented soaps, or other products on your skin, it COULD set you up to be frequently nipped. Hedgehogs rely on their noses to tell them what is food, what is danger, and what is normal. If a hedgehog feels that you smell like food or something harmlessly interesting, then you may get licked, lightly nipped, and annointed with (which will create one messy hedgehog). If you smell like something that your hedgehog associates with danger, your hedgehog may either be less likely to interact with you, or MAY cause your hedgehog to fear bite, which is quite different than the light taste nips. A fear bite usually is a tight clamping of the jaws, often holding on and rolling around your fingers, which can be VERY painful. Another very frequent problem causing scent is tobacco smoke. It is very common for breeders to get contacted by people wanting to get rid of their hedgehogs because they frequently and painfully bite, with the hedgehog stopping their biting immediately when being in an environment without smoking, and handled by people who do not have the scent of smoke on their skin.

    Hedgehogs are not dogs or cats- Sounds obvious, doesn't it? However, many people purchase hedgehogs expecting them to behave like dogs or cats do. Do not expect your hedgehog to come when called, learn tricks (at least not ones that you WANT them to learn), play fetch, greet you at the door (or front of the cage) when you approach, or to litter box train easily. While there are SOME hedgehogs that will do some of these behaviors, it is certainly not something that should be expected.

    Hedgehogs may escape from their cage- not all do, but many hedgehogs will escape from their cages at least once, no matter how secure you think they are. In some cases, a hedgehog will make an obviously enjoyed (on their part) game of escaping from their cage no matter WHAT you do to attempt to secure the cage. If your hedgehog does escape, you must carefully search your house to find it, because hedgehogs who will come and find you when they escape are VERY rare.

    Hedgehogs like bugs- While they are not a MUST have, insects are a important part of a hedgehog's diet. If you can't stomach the thought of feeding live bugs (of the captive bred feeder varieties), then you should make sure that you have access to somewhere that sells either canned or freeze dried bugs.

    Hedgehogs have quills- Another obvious one, right? You would be amazed though how many people purchase hedgehogs, and then give them up because they are poky. While a very well socialized and friendly hedgehog will keep their quills laying flat most of the time, if startled, woken up suddenly, or otherwise having a bad moment, even the sweetest hedgehog will have their quills erect at some point. As well, you need to be prepared (especially with baby hedgehogs) to find the occasional shed quill in your carpet, furniture, and in odd places such as the toes of your freshly laundered socks, in your shoes, the waist band of your clean underwear, your bed, and anywhere else you can imagine.

    Hedgehogs aren't always friendly- Hedgehogs have only been bred in captivity since the early '90s. Because of this, they are still mostly wild animals. Hedgehog personalities have improved HUGELY in this time though. The original imported hedgehogs did have to be handled with gloves, because the typical hedgehog was a hissing popping balls of quills. While you still do see a few hedgehogs that are of this temperament, the typical hedgehog personality has improved to the point of a hedgehog who will quickly unroll when held, will look around and be relatively social, though will still erect quills at sudden movements or noises. This average could continue to improve though, because good breeders are working hard to improve the temperaments of the hedgehogs that they are breeding. Because of this, it is not uncommon to meet a hedgehog who is VERY friendly, and will wait to be picked up with quills laying flat, and will relax and sit on you and observe the world and very rarely raise quills, even some who will not roll into balls at ALL, no matter what is going on. Still, you should be prepared for your hedgehog to be a little nervous and guarded, and with some hedgehogs, even downright defensive and anti-social at times.

    Hedgehogs may be illegal in your area- There are some states, counties, and cities in which hedgehogs are illegal. This list includes the ENTIRE states of California, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, and Arizona, the city of Denver CO, parts of New York City, and Douglas County Nebraska. As well, some areas require special permits, including the states of New Jersey, Vermont, and Georgia. It is YOUR responsibility to check for your area's legal restrictions, and not put a hedgehog in danger by bringing them into an illegal area.