Positive and Negative Aspects of Owning a Hedgehog...

Mar 6, 2015 by

Positive Aspects of Hedgehog Ownership The typical pet hedgehog weighs between 6 ounces and 2 pounds and requires approximately the same amount of space as a guinea pig. Hedgehogs don’t bark or squawk and won’t disturb their neighbors. You might hear your hedgehog running on a squeaky wheel or rearranging its cage furniture, but for the most part, hedgehogs are very quiet pets. Most hedgehogs only require weekly cage cleaning but some hedgehogs are messier and may require spot cleaning throughout the week. A healthy hedgehog on a good diet does not have a distinct body odor like a ferret or male mouse. Hedgehogs do not have dander like cats, dogs, or other animals, so they are a better pet option for people who have allergies. Hedgehogs are NOT rodents, and they do not have a propensity to chew, gnaw on, or destroy their surroundings. Hedgies do not require routine shots, vaccinations, or veterinary testing but annual vet-checks are highly recommended. Hedgehogs are not aggressive by nature. Their spines are used as defense only when they are scared, nervous, or feel they have reason to protect themselves. People that are looking for an exotic pet are attracted to hedgehogs because of their uniqueness, but hedgehogs have the advantage that they have been captive bred for many generations. Hedgehogs are cute, curious and they can be cuddly! Negative Aspects of Owning a Hedgehog Hedgehogs are...

General Requirements

Sep 2, 2013 by

Maintenance Requirements Most hedgehog owners agree that hedgehogs are relatively easy to care for and maintain. Fresh food, water, and regular cage cleaning are it’s basic requirements.  One must be careful not to take the hedgehog’s easy care for granted.  A hedgehog not closely monitored, can become neglected. A small problem can result in death of the hedgehog, if a problem is not addressed in a timely manner. The amount of maintenance required is determined in part by the cleanliness of the hedgehog and your perception of ‘work’, as an owner. Cage Requirements Most breeders recommend a medium size, solid surfaced, guinea pig cage with a minimum of four square feet.  Ten to 15 gallon aquariums were once recommended, but most hedgehog enthusiasts and experts now agree that aquariums this size do not have adequate floor space for hedgehogs. Diet Requirements Many commercial hedgehog foods are available but they are all not equal in nutritional value or ingredient quality.  One should become familiar with their hedgehog’s needs, before purchasing foods, because some foods marketed for hedgehogs are quite inappropriate as a staple diet. Spike’s Delite Ultra by Pet Products (1-877-977-8310) is a quality hedgehog food that is used by many breeders. Other breeders use a blend of dry cat foods. Hedgehogs should be kept on the same diet as the breeder/previous owner for at least a week of adjustment before changing foods. Please review...

Positive Aspects Of Hedgehog Ownership...

Sep 2, 2013 by

They don’t need to be walked or require a large amount of space for them to exercise. Most hedgehogs clean themselves through a process of licking, scratching, and shaking and seldom need bathed. Hedgehogs are quiet by nature, and the most noise they make is their wheeling activity and possible cage rearranging or water bottle banging. Most hedgehogs only require weekly cage cleaning but some hedgehogs are messier and may require spot cleaning throughout the week. A healthy hedgehog on a good diet does not have a distinct body odor like a ferret or male mouse. Hedgehogs do not have dander like cats, dogs, or other animals, so they are a better pet option for people who have allergies. Hedgehogs are NOT rodents, and they do not have a propensity to chew, gnaw on, or destroy their surroundings. Hedgies do not require routine shots, vaccinations, or veterinary testing but annual vet-checks are highly recommended. Hedgehogs are not aggressive by nature. Their spines are used as defense only when they are scared, nervous, or feel they have reason to protect themselves. People that are looking for an exotic pet are attracted to hedgehogs because of their uniqueness, but hedgehogs have the advantage that they have been captive bred for many generations. Hedgehogs are cute, curious and they can be cuddly! Primary Author:Gail Dick, Millermeade...

Human Allergic Reactions To Hedgehogs...

Jul 23, 2013 by

Introduction We are often asked about allergic reactions and hedgehogs. Many potential customers want to know whether or not hedgehogs are good pets for someone who is allergic to cats and dogs.  A quick search on the internet will uncover a variety of answers to this question.   Hypoallergenic? Hedgehogs are often sought out as an alternative pet for individuals who are allergic to cats, dogs and/or other pets. Although hedgehogs may be a good pet alternative for individuals who are allergic to cats and dogs, according to an article titled “Hedgehog Hives,” the presence of allergies to other pets may be predictive of hedgehog hives. Therefore, hedgehogs are not, per-say, 100% hypoallergenic. It is always a good idea to visit a hedgehog prior to purchase if you are allergic to other animals and want to make sure you are not allergic to hedgehogs as well. Allergy symptoms can vary between each person and various animals. Many people with mild allergies can handle hedgehogs. Types of Reactions Hedgehogs may elicit the same types of allergic responses, as other types of pets and allergens do. Several people have told us that they owned a hedgehog (or multiple hedgehogs) for quite some time when they suddenly developed sensitivity to their pet.  The most common skin related allergic reaction is the development of skin redness with some type of white or red bumps. Another type of allergic...

Zoonotic Diseases

Jul 15, 2013 by

Illness Potential To Humans Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Any animal has potential to transmit illness to humans, just like humans can spread contagious diseases to other humans. Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and Clostridia  are all considered normal flora of a hedgehog’s digestive tract. Such bacteria may be shed in feces at any given point in time. Hedgehogs are not known to carry any diseases dangerous to humans. However, hedgehog feces does contain bacteria (including those mentioned above) so young children, the elderly, and others with compromised immune systems are at greater risk for potential problems. Proper hand washing and cleaning practices are keys to preventing illness. Young children are prone to putting their hands in their mouth, which is also likely to increase the risk of potential problems. Hedgehogs are cute and cuddly and it is tempting to kiss our sweet pet but kissing our pets does dramatically increase the risk of ingesting fecal bacteria.   Quick Reminder Please wash your hands before after handling your pet. Do not wash pets or pet related items around food. Remember: Pets poop. Small animals may walk in their poop. Poop has germs. Germs can make you sick. So please do not eat poop!...

Pets For Youth & Children

Jun 13, 2013 by

Hedgehogs can be absolutely wonderful pets for adults, youth, and children alike.  However, hedgehogs can also be one of the worst pets for the wrong person of any age. Are Hedgehogs Good Pets For Children? Each child and family will have a different experience with his or her hedgehog. Some families do absolutely wonderful with their new pet and their hedgehog is an integral part of their family. Other families end up with an un-socialized, huffy, puffy hedgehog that is rarely taken from its cage. Our experience over many, many years is that a child’s experiences with other animals plays only a small part of the success with being able to bond with and handle a hedgehog.  While the experience of responsibility and patience is important, hedgehogs have their own unique handling requirements, which are much, much different than other animals. Keys To Success With Hedgehogs As Pets We have found that hedgehogs do best in families where both children and adults learn about the care and needs of a hedgehog before a hedgehog is purchased.  Many times, preparation can avoid serious problems. Carefully researching the needs and characteristics of hedgehogs will ensure that a hedgehog is the right pet for your family. The ideal situation is when an adult has as much interest in the hedgehog as the child.  When a child loses interest in their pet it is the parent’s responsibility to...

Cleanliness

May 27, 2013 by

Naturally Clean Some hedgehogs might be considered naturally clean and tidy. They use their litter pans faithfully, and leave their cage pretty much as the owner has arranged it. Other hedgehogs are slobs!  They will try to defy every sense of cleanliness and make a complete mess of their cage. Most hedgehogs are somewhere in the middle. Their cage will need to be tidied, but it would not take more than a minute or two each day. Unfortunately, there is no way to look at a baby hedgehog and decide how its personality will grow and develop in this aspect. Cage Trashing Some hedgehogs routinely rearrange their cage furniture by dragging, pushing, or shoving their wheel and other large accessories. They drag their blankets and sleeping bags around their cage and scoot around their cage liner. Other hedgehogs might turn over food dishes and knock off water bottles.  Having heavy food dishes and a quality water bottle hanger will certainly help this problem. Litter Pan Use or Lack Thereof Some hedgehogs take to using the litter pan as if it is the most natural thing in the world. Hedgehogs that use litter pans are obviously much neater and require less maintenance than hedgehogs that view the litter pan as something that merely shares their cage space. Other hedgehogs just refuse to do their business in a designated spot. The most common spot for hedgehogs...

The Best Pet Test

May 25, 2013 by

This fun test is designed to introduce topics to potential hedgehog owners to ensure a hedgehog is a good choice as a pet. I live where exotic pets are illegal but I doubt I will get caught. exotic pets are illegal but it is unlikely that I am going to have a problem and I have a back-up plan in case a problem occurs. exotic pets are legal. I want a pet that is likely to live a relatively short period of time (less than two years) because it is for a child who may lose interest or because I know my life’s circumstances are likely to change. a relatively long period of time (more than five years) because I can’t handle death well and I am looking for a long term pet. an average of three to four years with some living up to seven years but I understand others may live less than the average life expectancy. I am looking for a pet that can live in a small space such as a ten gallon aquarium. a guinea pig size cage (approximately two foot by two foot or 576 square inches.) a small fenced in area in the back yard. I am looking for a pet that is active on its own and does not depend on me for entertainment. during the day so I can watch it. for short bursts of...

Personality Of Hedgehogs When Making Your Purchase...

May 22, 2013 by

Overview Each hedgehog will have its own personality. That personality can be shaped and molded through proper handling. The personality you see at the time of purchase may change and develop over time depending on how you handle your new pet. Most hedgehogs will be a little nervous when a strange person handles them or when they first wake up. The hedgehog should come out of a ball fairly quickly so that you can see its feet and nose. It may cover its forehead when it is nervous. You should be able to be visually inspect your hedgehog to ensure good health. Some hedgehogs will completely lay down their spines, while other hedgehogs may keep their quills somewhat erect due to nervousness. Huffing is okay because that is part of hedgehog nature and communication. The hedgehog should not click, jump, or pop. This behavior means that the hedgehog is trying to defend itself by threatening you. Keep in mind that most babies go home right around the time of their first quilling. This will make the hedgehog more agitated and uncomfortable than when it is not quilling. Selection Considerations  Choosing the right hedgehog for your pet can be hard. Every hedgehog has its own personality. There are several key things to keep in mind when you first meet your prospective hedgehog. Are they quilling? This may make even the sweetest hedgehog grumpy. It is...

Socialization & Pet Potential

May 21, 2013 by

Socialization Defined All hedgehog pet owners want a well-socialized hedgehog, but the term “well socialized” can have different meanings and contexts. Most hedgehog enthusiasts consider a socialized hedgehog to be one that uncurls, relaxes its spines, and generally appears to enjoy being handled. How a hedgehog gets to this point and stays well socialized can have many variables. Hedgehog Nature Hedgehogs are, typically, naturally shy creatures that tend to fear the unknown but once they are comfortable in their surroundings they are quite inquisitive and curious. Their poor eyesight but heightened sense of hearing, motion detection, and emotion detection makes them sensitive to their environment and how they are handled. When a hedgehog is nervous or scared it will ball up and use its spines not as a form of aggression but as a form of protection. You must prove yourself trustworthy before a hedgehog will completely relax with you. Hedgehogs have a strong sense of emotion detection. Your hedgehog will be scared and nervous during handling if YOU are scared or nervous. This is one of the main reasons why hedgehogs may not be the right pet for every person. Hedgehogs with health issues may also be less responsive to handling. An uncomfortable or sick animal may rather be left alone. Quilling is an example of a normal process that can be very uncomfortable for a hedgehog and can impact how the hedgehog prefers...

Where To Purchase & What To Look For When You Buy...

May 21, 2013 by

Where to Purchase Hedgehogs can be found in a few pet stores, through brokers at flea markets or animal sales, or they can be purchased directly from breeders When buying animals, we recommend that you check out the source. Observe the health of the animals, the sellers’ knowledge, and their reputation and experience.  Compare buying hedgehogs to buying strawberries.  It is possible to find great strawberries at your local super-store. On the other hand, these strawberries are mass-produced, artificially ripened, and probably do not have the wonderful flavor as some of your other options. The stock person may not be as knowledgeable as other vendors as to how they were produced, the quality, or other information.  Another place to buy fruit is from a local fruit market or a roadside stand. These markets can be more selective in the quality and freshness of their products. This retailer tends to have more invested interest in you as a customer and is probably a little more educated in the product.  Finally, you can go to a strawberry farm and pick your berries yourself. Your tasty treat may be a little more difficult to obtain, will take more work, but you will have a completely different product in the end. Purchasing animals should not be a matter of convenience and lowest bottom dollar. It may be well worth going out of your way to select a hedgehog...

The Hedgehog Owner Test

May 21, 2013 by

Questions Hedgehogs kept as pets in the United States are the domestic “pygmy” version of the wild European hedgehog. a hybrid of the Algerian and White Bellied African hedgehog. cousins to the American Porcupine. endangered in their native countries and captive bred to prevent extinction. Hedgehogs are always friendly to everyone and do not take much time to warm up to strangers. mostly shy and defensive and do not enjoy regular handling. cuddly creatures constantly looking for human contact. shy and quiet by nature and need to learn to trust new people. Hedgehogs make great pets because they were first domesticated by cavemen and have been kept as pets for thousands of years. they are easily trainable, can be called by their name, and seek attention by their owners. they have lots of personality and can form a bond with their owners. they are hypoallergenic, eat cat food, and can live in a small space. Hedgehogs are nocturnal by nature, but they will accept handling given some time to wake up. learn to wake to the sound of an alarm like humans. completely change their night cycle through constant daytime handling. frequently wake up and play on regular intervals after three hour naps between activity. Hedgehogs need their cage covered because they like the dark. regular day and night cycles to maintain their circadian rhythm. a heat light all the time to keep them...

Legality Of Owning & Selling Exotics...

May 21, 2013 by

Legality of Exotic Pets Each state, city, township, or municipality may have their own restrictions on exotic animal ownership. Most exotics, including hedgehogs, are prohibited in Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii.  We suggest that you investigate further the legality of hedgehog ownership if you live in one of these states. Some states such as: Arizona (nearly impossible to obtain a permit), Maine (requires an importation and possession permit),  require a permit to own exotic animals. We suggest that you further investigate the legality of hedgehog ownership if you live in one of these states.  It is always best to check your state’s Department of Agriculture to In Pennsylvania hedgehogs may not be imported into the state, but hedgehogs in the state as of 1992 and their descendants are, at least theoretically, allowed. State laws change so please let us know if the above listing needs to be modified. Why Are Exotic Pets Illegal? Many exotic animals are illegal in states where they could easily proliferate and damage the natural fauna of the area. Other states regulate all exotics because of the perceived risk to human health.  Many exotic animals and reptiles can be dangerous to humans and instead of banning some species and not others; all exotics are banned across the board. Hedgehogs are banned primarily because they are considered exotic, even though they are not a health or environmental threat. How to Determine...

Ownership Considerations

May 21, 2013 by

Introduction The information presented here is based on hedgehogs in general. There are always exceptions to guidelines in the animal world, but we have tried to provide tips and suggestions for a great start with your new pet. Please be advised that many books, websites, and even veterinary articles and manuals may contain outdated or inaccurate information. We strongly encourage you to refer to our Resource and Reference Guide for more details on the topics addressed here. Topics to Consider Behavior Characteristics Biting Potential Cohabitation Daily Care Diet Grouchy Hedgehogs Handling Requirements Legality Longevity Nocturnal Nature Noise Odor Personality and Intelligence Physical Size Pokes and Prickles Quilling Safety Space Requirements Temperature Traveling With Your Pet Veterinary Requirements Characteristics of Hedgehog Owners Knowledgeable – The more you know about hedgehogs the better you will understand them and be able to meet their needs. Patient – Hedgehogs are shy and nervous by nature and the bonding will depend on your patience as they learn to trust you. Thick-skinned – Hedgehogs are prickly and you will get poked! This is something you can learn to tolerate, but if you are afraid of getting poked then hedgehogs are certainly not for you. Gentle – You must be gentle with hedgehogs if you want them to trust you. Physically responsible – Your hedgehog is going to depend on you completely for its needs. This includes its safety, food, water,...

Hedgehogs & Other Pets

May 21, 2013 by

 According to Lianne McLeod, DVM, former About.com Guide, “African pygmy hedgehogs are pretty well-equipped to defend themselves from other pets and seem to tolerate other pets quite well.” A huffing and puffing ball of prickles may intimidate some cats and dogs, which could be just enough to keep them at a safe distance. The compatibility between pets will depend on each pet’s personality. Many hedgehog owners and enthusiasts have had positive experiences introducing hedgehogs to other pets. Some hedgehogs may develop bonds with other pets, and even sleep and play together. Protect Your Hedgehog It is important for your hedgehog’s cage to be safe and secure from other pets until you know how they will interact. All pet interactions should be closely monitored until you are sure your pets are safe in each other’s presence. Even though hedgehogs have a great built in defense system, their spiny coat of armor is not 100% protection from enemies or tormentors. Some pets may simply be annoying to hedgehogs rather than dangerous, but one should protect their pet hedgehog from a miserable life. Remember: accidents are called “accidents” because we don’t anticipate the danger or harm. All pet interactions should be carefully monitored from being injured or torment. Torment can included excessive barking at your hedgehog or attempting to roll your hedgehog like a ball. Another word of caution:  bacteria can be transmitted between pets. What is normal bacterial...

The Hedgehog As A Classroom Pet

May 17, 2013 by

 Introduction A hedgehog can make a wonderful classroom pet,ONLY under certain conditions. Some teachers do an outstanding job with their hedgehog in the classroom. If the hedgehog is well socialized and easy to handle, it can interact well with the children in the classroom. In some cases, the hedgehog is merely a novelty animal in a cage, rather than a pet that is loved and cared for by the class. Unfortunately, there are times when a classroom hedgehog suffers greatly. The hedgehog becomes nervous and agitated, and can even be intentionally or unintentionally abused. A hedgehog that is not happy is not only unfortunate not only for the hedgehog, but also for the students who may be missing out on valuable learning opportunities.   Necessary Criteria The primary caregiver must understand all of the requirements and guidelines of having a hedgehog as a pet. The hedgehog will need a period of adjustment after leaving its birthplace and before entering the classroom. Care must be taken to ensure that it is legal to keep an exotic animal in a classroom setting. Not every hedgehog is a good candidate for classroom living. The primary caregiver should be willing and excited to have a hedgehog as a pet even if it doesn’t work out in the classroom. The primary caregiver should be comfortable and skilled at handling the hedgehog before teaching others to properly care for and...

Pet History

May 17, 2013 by

 History in the United States The first recorded hedgehog in the United States was a female European hedgehog displayed at the New York Zoological Society in 1900. In 1946, the New York Zoo imported a long-eared hedgehog from Cyprus. The African species are smaller than the European hedgehogs making them more suitable as pets. At one time they were not protected in their native environment, thus making them available for importation into the United States. Most believe that the hedgehogs currently being bred in the United States, are descendants the 80,000 hedgehogs imported from Nigeria between 1991 and 1994.  The two most commonly imported species were the Algerian and the Four Toed White Bellied (Atelerix albiventris). Most of the pet hedgehogs available today are a hybrid of the White Bellied and Algerian hedgehogs and are commonly called African Pygmy Hedgehogs. There is some terminology debate in the name African “pygmy” hedgehogs. The African species are really not “pygmy” hedgehogs, but they are significantly smaller than their European cousins. European and other species are NOT found as pets in the United States. The original hedgehog imports were all the “standard” color, but through selective breeding a wide variety of colors are now available. It is unlikely that hedgehogs could survive in the wild in most parts of the United States. It is both cruel and illegal to release unwanted hedgehogs into the wild. In 1992,...

Training Potential

May 15, 2013 by

Misconceptions Hedgehogs are obviously not like dogs or cats. However, many people purchase hedgehogs expecting them to behave like dogs or cats. Do not expect your hedgehog to come when called, learn tricks (at least not ones that you WANT them to learn), play fetch, greet you at the door (or front of the cage) when you approach, or to litter box train easily. While there are SOME hedgehogs that will do some of these behaviors, it is certainly not something that should be expected. They are not usually animals that you can teach to be obedient. They don’t really care if you, their owner, are pleased or displeased and do not care how much you love it or how much it would mean to you if it would love you back. Ways to Train One of the best comparisons of hedgehog intelligence is to that of a hamster’s intelligence. Hedgehogs may learn certain behaviors through positive reinforcement or conditioning, but only at a very basic level. Hedgehogs can in no way be disciplined. The hedgehog is naturally shy and defensive so any negative action on your part will only hinder the bonding and handling process. Some hedgehogs can be trained by basic Pavlovian methods. A hedgehog may learn that a certain sound is followed by a certain action, so the hedgehog may anticipate or prepare for that action. It is doubtful that you...