• Picking The Perfect Hedgehog

    Health- The most important factor in choosing a pet hedgehog should be the health of the animal. There are several factors that should be looked at when considering which hedgehog to choose.
    Weight- The hedgehogs that you look at for purchase should not be either overweight or underweight. Either of these conditions can increase the chances of your hedgehog becoming ill, and can in fact be symptoms of illnesses.
    Eyes- Healthy hedgehog eyes are round, slightly protruding, and bright. If a hedgehog's eyes are sunken, extremely bulgy, dull, half open, or show any signs of discharge,that hedgehog most likely is showing signs of some illness.
    Nose- The nose shoudl be just slightly moist. If the hedgehog's nose is wet, crusty, bubbly, or shows any signs of discharge, that hedgehog is NOT healthy.
    Skin and coat- Healthy hedgehog skin should be smooth and pliable, a hedgehog with crusty or dry skin could have a case of mites, which must be treated by a vet. The quill coat should be even without bald spots. Do take in account that baby hedgehogs between the ages of 8-12 weeks may be quilling, which includes loss of baby quills, and growing in of adult quills, which may only be visible as points breaking through the skin. This should be an even process, and should never leave bald spots.
    Ears- Hedgehog ears should be smooth and round, and should not be missing peices, or have rough edges.
    Genitals- Your hedgehogs genitals should be clean and dry, with no discharge, swellings, or redness to them. There should be no sign of blood or soft stools stuck to the genitals or surrounding areas.
    Droppings- Your hedgehog's droppings should be firm and brown, and should not contain signs of blood, pus, parasites, or discolorations.
    Another aspect of health that is often overlooked, and in some cases (such as pet stores) unavailable, is the health of the family line. A breeder should be able to tell you whether your hedgehog's family tree tends to be healthy, or if there may be some health risk that you need to be watching for.

    Temperament- Ideally, you should pick a hedgehog that is friendly and not afraid to be handled. It is common for babies to ball very briefly and keep quills up for a few seconds, but they shoudl unball quickly and start to look around and explore the surroundings. A test of friendliness would be to turn the hedgehog over in your hand, and see if it remains in a balled position, or quickly relaxes and waves feet in the air. If you have a very good trustworthy breeder, LISTEN to their suggestions. While a hedgehogs' behavior may not be exactly the same with you as it is with the breeder, they usually can come close. If they say a hedgehog tends to be friendly and relaxed, or if it tends to be timid and less likely to enjoy handling right away, please realize that this person has spent a lot more time with that baby than you have in your short visit, and will probably have at least a decent understanding of the personality that you are likely to experience.

    Age- Ideally, a hedgehog purchased shoudl be between 8-12 weeks of age. A baby hedgehog should NEVER be available for sale before 6 weeks of age. After the 12 week point, a hedgehog can still be a perfectly happy addition to your home, but you have missed the true baby stage. If you specifically want a full adult, any hedgehog after 6 months of age is considered adult, but be aware that if you get a hedgehog over the age of 2 years, you may not have much time left to spend with your hedgehog before it passes away.

    Sex really isn't an important decision point for choosing a single pet hedgehog. For more information on sex differences, see the article on male and female differences.

    Color- Color should not be a major factor of picking a pet hedgehog. Color makes no difference in personality, lifespan, health, or any other important parts of your hedgehog ownership.

    Photo courtesy of terrapinhedgehogs.com