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African Hedgehog Care

By: Dr. Dawn Ruben

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In recent years, hedgehogs have become popular pets. Both European and African hedgehogs are kept as pets but African hedgehogs are much more popular. Laws regarding keeping hedgehogs as pets may vary depending on your location. Be sure to check with local authorities to see if special permits or laws are required to keep these animals. Knowing about their biology, reproduction, housing and dietary requirements will help you provide a happy and healthy environment for your new pet.

Biology

Originally from central Africa, hedgehogs are members of the family Erinaceidae in the order Insectivora. Hedgehogs have short spines that cover the back and crown of their head, although they are not barbed and do not cause serious injury to handlers. Coarse, dense fur covers the rest of the body. The normal body temperature of an African hedgehog is 97-99 degrees Fahrenheit and the males are usually larger than the females. Their average life expectancy in captivity is 5-8 years.

Reproduction

The African Hedgehog matures sexually with the ability to reproduce sometime between 2 and 3 months of age. However, for ideal maturity and for the safety of the female, wait until your hedgehog is at least 6 months of age before being bred. Gestation, the amount of time from conception to birth, is 34-37 days and litters can range in size from 1 to 7 pups (3-4 is average). Problems during delivery are rare, but during parturition (childbirth) hedgehogs become very sensitive to minor disturbances, and if stressed, will eat their young. Therefore, after delivery allow the female and her young be left undisturbed for several days. In addition, keep the male away as the time of delivery nears. The male takes no part in parental care and may also cannibalize the young. He may also cause stress to the female. At about 4-6 weeks of age, when the pups are weaned from their mother, they should be moved to a separate cage.

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