Do you find yourself totally smitten over hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs are undoubtedly some of the cutest animals in the world!
They are tiny little creatures that like to curl up in a ball. They are so small that you can easily fit them into the palms of your hands and easily carry them around with you. The best part is they are easy to breed and domesticate, especially by first-time pet owners.
However, if you are planning on getting a hedgehog as a pet, there are some things to know before bringing a hedgehog home. Let’s discuss some lesser-known facts about hedgehogs before you consider getting one!
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1. Hedgehogs are Nocturnal
As nocturnal animals, hedgehogs have poor eyesight. Therefore, you should be careful when dealing with one. Make sure not to catch them off guard as this could literally frighten them to death.
These creatures typically rely on their other senses – smelling and hearing – to figure things out in their surroundings. Whenever you’re handling a hedgehog, be kind and gentle toward it.
2. Their Spikes Can Hurt You
This is a no-brainer, but yeah, hedgehogs are covered with needle-like spines (quills). Their prickly upper-body acts as a defense mechanism against their enemies, so you need to be careful when handling hedgehogs. Make sure to hold them when their otherwise prickly spines are relaxed because that’s when they’re harmless.
3. Hedgehogs Take Time to Settle In Fully
Don’t be disheartened if your hedgehog won’t come near you or doesn’t let you touch them. That’s because hedgehogs take time to get accustomed to their owners. Initially, they will be too scared to come close to you when you call them. However, you should be patient. It may take weeks or, in some cases, months for hedgehogs to get used to your scent and your handling.
The trick is to pet your hedgehog every 20 minutes or so every day. As time goes by, increase the petting time by 10 minutes, making sure your pet is happy and comfortable all this while. Do this at least twice a day!
4. Hedgehogs Need Care and Attention
Like any pet animal, hedgehogs need undivided love, care, and attention. No matter how busy you are, you will need to take some time out of your busy schedule for your hedgehog. This bonding session can be during morning or evening hours.
Since hedgehogs rise early and go to bed early, you will need to spare some time accordingly.
5. Different Hedgehogs Have Different Personalities (and Appearances)
Depending on their type, the personalities of different hedgehogs will vary. Some of them are very social and friendly, while others are quite shy and introverted. Hedgehogs not only differ in personalities but in appearance as well. For example, Brandt’s Hedgehogs have big ears and intense black spikes while Amur hedgehogs appear to be lighter in tone.
Different hedgehogs are indigenous to different parts of the world, which explains why they have different appearances and behavioral patterns. It is believed that there are around 17 species of hedgehogs in the world!
6. Hedgehogs Are Not Picky Eaters
Hedgehogs are not finicky about food at all. They’ll eat whatever you give them, including eggs and fruits. However, make sure not to provide them with cat or dog food. Also, avoid feeding them milk as this can cause diarrhea. A better alternative is a small bowl of pure water.
Hedgehogs also love to eat small insects such as worms, baby mice, slugs, baby snakes, frogs, fish, etc.
7. Never House Them with Other Pets
Hedgehogs are solitary creatures by nature, so make sure you house them alone. Never put them in the same room as your other pets in. This will make them panicky and uncomfortable. Always place these pets in a strong, robust cage.
You can also accommodate a 20-gallon aquarium in the cage for your hedgehog. Don’t forget that hedgehogs are great swimmers, and having a small swimming pool for them will be a nice way to make them happy!
8. Hedgehogs Like to Have Small Hiding Places
Hedgehogs love to hide. So, give your pet a few hiding spots in the cage. For this, you will need to make sure their cages are big and spacious. You can create their hiding places using a cardboard box or PVC tubing. You can also add in an exercise wheel to keep your hedgehog happy and active.
When preparing bedding for hedgehogs, make sure to create it from newspapers, paper cuttings, or wood (pine or aspen). However, make sure not to use cedar or loose, dusty shavings as these can be prickly to these creatures.
Before you think of adopting a hedgehog as a pet, please check which type you are getting and whether or not they are legal pets in your state. Not all types of hedgehogs can be kept legally as pets. For instance, four-toed hedgehogs may be considered legal in some parts of the world, but not in all. You can own a hedgehog in most parts of the United States, but they are illegal to keep in states such as Hawaii, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, and Maine. Additionally, European hedgehogs are also illegal to own in Spain and Sweden.