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Pet Talk Column: Hedgehogs

Written By Michael on 6/27/15 | 6/27/15

By Lorraine Fancher

Have you ever thought about having a pet but just couldn’t see all the clean-up of fur from cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.; but still wanted something to cuddle?

Then, you may consider a hedgehog. These spiny little creatures are actually quite cuddly despite their quilled exterior. These African and Southern European native mammals, are nocturnal, solitary creatures, and prefer to be a single pet. They are naturally clean and have very little odor. They like to be active but enjoy a quiet peaceful setting. Children tend to be overwhelming for them and usually end up scaring them. They have a unique ability of curling up into a ball of quills when scared or resting. This quilled armor protects them and helps repel water. Beneath this tough exterior lies a sweet-natured, adorable, inquisitive, soft little animal. They have a long pointy nose with a charcoal tip and small dark, round eyes set against a very fine textured, creamy beige coat. The variety of hedgehogs seen in pet stores is usually of the African Pygmy variety and grow to roughly 6-9 inches. In captivity, their lifespan is usually about 4-6 years but have been known to live as long as 10 years.

They are very easy to care for and after initial set up; are relatively inexpensive to keep in comparison to most other pets, including fish. They require a large cage; over-sized is best. This provides them with ample space to move around and exercise. They like multiple levels, tunnels, and balls to play with. They are incredibly entertaining and really love to play. Their diet is protein based and can be from a hedgehog pelleted food or dry cat food. They also can be fed canned cat or dog food for moisture as long as it’s chicken or beef variety.

They love treats of crickets and meal worms and even enjoy fruits and veggies like, peas, carrots, grapes and apples. A stopper bottle for water is sufficient and also gives them something to play with. Toys and closed wheels are great additions to their cage and should be rotated weekly to clean and just change up their environment. They will use a litter box (hedgehog sized), which should be filled with recycled paper pellets for litter. Bedding is shredded paper as well.

Depending on the personality of your hedgehog, you will know how much handling you can do. They don’t actively seek out attention, but some really enjoy it, while some are indifferent and even others dislike it. Keep this in mind when selecting your hedgehog. When they are raised from a juvenile, they become quite friendly usually. Older adopted ones, tend to be more scared or timid. They are great little animals and deserve to go to great homes.

For more information, I recommend the following websites www.hedgehogcare.org, www.hedgehogheadquarters.com, and www.hedgehogcentral.com. Check these wonderful animals out!

Lorraine Fancher, LVT
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