• Where Should You Get A Hedgehog?

    One factor to consider when you decide to purchase a hedgehog is where to get it from. Depending on your area, you may have a different set of options.

    For the first time hedgehog owner, I strongly encourage purchase from a highly recommended breeder. Good breeders are very likely to offer pre-sale education, thorough during-sale discussion and suggestions, and continuing after-sale support. Their animals are more likely to be carefully bred to produce the healthiest most friendly animal possible. As well, you are able to meet the parents of the hedgehog, sometimes even extended family and siblings, and learn about any health problems that have shown up in the family lines.

    Second hand hedgehogs can include hedgehogs found through species rescue programs, humane societies, classified ads, or online boards. This can be an ok place to get hedgehogs, but it can also be awfully risky. It is often hard to know how a second hand hedgehog has been treated, whether it has been handled properly to make it a friendly animal, or if you are going to end up with a ball of spikes who has never had friendly human contact. It is also hard to know whether the hedgehog has had proper food and caging, and therefore whether there are going to be issues to deal with from that. Has the hedgehog been treated by a vet? If a hedgehog has never had health care, then it is possible that you could bring home a case of mites, fungus, intestinal parasites, untreated injuries or illnesses, or who knows what else. It is possible to get a healthy, well socialized hedgehog in some cases through second hand adoption, but you also must be prepared to recieve a special needs hedgehog with dietary, health, caging, cleanliness, behavioral, or multiple issues. I don't recommend this for the beginning hedgehog owner, but experienced owners who are prepared to deal with special needs may be well suited for a second hand hedgehog.

    Pet stores are, in my mind, the very last resort for a hedgehog purchase. If you do consider a pet store, ask LOTS of questions, and prepare to believe only about half of what you hear. Examine the hedgehog's housing carefully to make sure that it has been kept on proper cage and bedding options, fed a good quality food, has clean food and water available, the cage is clean and well maintained, and that any feces contained in the cage appear healthy. Also, be aware that most pet stores house male and female animals together, so if you get a female, she MAY be pregnant by one of her cage-mates, which is possibly even a sibling. Then, examine the hedgehog to make sure that it appears to be healthy. Ask the pet store for the general age of the animal, and any other information they can provide. This is where you need to be very suspicious minded. I have NEVER heard of a store that admits that they purchase from brokers who purchase hedgehogs from mass wholesalers who produce hundreds or thousands of animals per month. Every pet store that I have asked or heard of claims that their hedgehogs come from local breeders. However, SOMEWHERE is buying the mass-milled babies, so I don't really believe this. Also, many pet stores sell second hand hedgehogs that have been returned from owners after weeks, months, or occasionally even years of ownership. As well, it seems that almost all pet store hedgehogs are about 8-10 weeks old. Even a full sized hedgehog who has been there for several months is 8-10 weeks. If the hedgehogs are very small, be aware that you may be purchasing a hedgehog who was weaned VERY young, even as young as 3-4 weeks instead of the proper 6 weeks. If the hedgehog is very large and or very grumpy, you may be purchasing a second hand hedgehog, or one who has sat in the store for several months. Pet stores usually offer NO after sale support, or guarantees. If you must purchase from a pet store, make sure that the hedgehog appears healthy, seems well taken care of, and is friendly. Sadly, purchasing a hedgehog that is from a less than ideal store tends to encourage that store to buy 2 or 3 more hedgehogs to replace the one, since there is obviously a market, since that one crabby/sick/old/whatever hedgehog sold. While the first hedgehog may appreciate your saving them, the followers won't.