Have you been considering adding a pet to your family? Perhaps you’re seeking something less traditional. You love the small, cute nature of cats and dogs but aren’t sure about some of their louder tendencies. You may decide to consider a hedgehog. As long as you don’t want to snuggle at night this may be a great pet for you. Hedgehogs are less maintenance than some animals such as dogs and cats, but they still required specialized care and devotion. If you’re ready to take the step up from other small pets such as rodents and reptiles than a hedgehog may be the perfect pet for you.
What Is A Hedgehog?
Many people think hedgehogs are rodents but in reality, they’re actually a part of the Erinaceidae family. The common domesticated species of hedgehogs can range anywhere from 5 to 9 inches long and typically don’t weigh much more than a pound. Despite common misconception, hedgehogs are in fact not baby porcupines. Among other differences, a porcupine can shoot their quills whereas hedgehogs don’t use their spines to attack.
Although hedgehogs are cute, they’re not soft. You might need to use a towel to handle a pet hedgehog until you get to know the little guy better. A hedgehog’s spines may stick out if the animal isn’t quite comfortable, making bonding with your hedgehog a vital task in the care for these unique creatures. In order to bond with your prickly friend, you’ll want to first place him or her in a safe area. Create a small distance between yourself and the hedgehog and offer your hand. Allow the hedgehog to approach and smell you while maintaining a relaxed demeanor. When your hedgehog’s quills relax, he or she is likely feeling more at-ease. While we’re on the topic of their spiky nature, you may be interested to know that hedgehog spines are actually modified hairs. Though their spines are spiky, they don’t have barbs. Hedgehog bellies on the other hand are soft, furry, and white – perfect for a nice long tummy rub.
Domesticated hedgehogs are bred in several varieties, which we will illustrate shortly. As far as color types, you can purchase albino, salt-and-pepper, and pinto hedgehogs, among others. Hedgehogs begin to develop their true color after 9 weeks of age, though their distinctive color begins to fade after a year. A typical Hedgehog can live anywhere from 4-10 years.
Which Types Of Hedgehogs Make Good Pets?
Hedgies are relatively easy to care for because they’re fairly low-maintenance and not costly. Better yet, they’re unique and quite interesting. According to Hedgehog Central, there are 14 species of hedgehogs, but not all of them make good pets. Certain species are quite large. The European hedgehog, for example, can grow up to a foot long. These cute animals live throughout Western Europe and can be fairly friendly in the wild, however, European hedgehogs have not been domesticated and cannot be kept as pets.
The most popular type of hedgehog to keep as a pet is the African Pygmy Hedgehog. The African Pygmy Hedgehog is also referred to as a white-bellied or four-toed hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). This hedgehog type typically ranges from ½ to 1-¼ lbs. and will measure approximately 5 to 8 inches.
Other common types of domesticated hedgehogs include:
Egyptian long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus auritus)
Indian long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus collaris)
Is A Hedgehog Right For You?
A hedgehog is relatively easy to care for because they are inexpensive to feed and house compared to many other household pets. You don’t have to walk or provide your hedgie with a lot of exercise and it won’t roam around your house or chew up your furniture. Most people say that a hedgehog’s temperament is delightful. Although genetics, age, and environment are variables that can cause temperament to vary from one hedgehog to another, most will develop into friendly pets if raised properly. Being intelligent creatures, these curious mammals enjoy playing in their enclosures or running through mazes and tunnels. There quick speed and high intellect makes watching these zipping little pincushions vastly entertaining for those of all ages.
If you ask any hedgehog owner they’ll tell you that hedgehogs seem to have permanent smiles on their faces. This unique feature might be one of the reasons that they’re so popular nowadays. Hedgehogs are not very social creatures, making them make great companions for people who only want one pet. African pygmy hedgehogs are quiet which makes them ideal for apartment dwellers. Vet Street explains that hedgehogs may make soft noises like squeaks and snorts. Unlike some larger pets, hedgehogs won’t keep you up at night whining in your ear or meowing for food.