How To Take Care Of A Hedgehog? Complete Care Guide

Martha Martins
Feb 29, 2024 By Martha Martins
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
African Pygmy Hedgehog in hands.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.4 Min

Recently, hedgehogs have entered the pet world and serve to be great pets.

They are lovely, adorable, and unique as pets. Many kids have adored hedgehogs since the release of the super-power movie made on the animal, 'Sonic the Hedgehog'.

There are people who like to keep hedgehog as a pet and it is mostly found in countries like Africa, Asia, America and many more. It is illegal to keep a pet hedgehog in some areas of the United states like Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, and Pennsylvania. So before keeping a pet hedgehog make sure it is legal to do so where you live. Before picking up your hedgehog you should make sure that you gather all necessary supplies like an enclosure, a food and water bowl for the feeding process, a hut for sleeping with something warm to cover them, bedding, a toothbrush, and hedgehog friendly body wash for maintaining its personal hygiene. Keep checking your hedgehog and especially those hedgehogs which are bought from pet stores to make sure they are not suffering from any illness. Some signs to check whether they are in good condition or not include looking for any kind of injuries which may have gone unnoticed by the breeder; looking for excessive filth around quills and fur; noticing if the hedgehog is very lethargic and responds very slowly; looking for swollen, sunken, cloudy or crusty eyes; looking to see if the hedgehog is overweight; looking for green droppings of diarrhea in the cage; and looking for constant scratching or tattered ears.

Sometimes pet hedgehogs may not feel comfortable and safe so you should make an ideal place for them and make them feel safe which can be done by keeping them in a quiet and cozy space away from the noise. Irritation and distress can be caused by loud noises made by various things in a house which can spook hedgehogs. Ensure that they exercise on a regular basis so if they are running around the room let them run. Hedgehogs mainly feed on fruits, dry cat food and mealworms, so if you give your hedgehog cat food make sure it is low fat and low sugar to prevent hedgehogs from suffering from diseases like obesity or Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome. Several food items are toxic for a hedgehog's health. Grapes, avocados, almonds, chocolate, seeds, dairy products, any type of junk food, and citrus fruits are examples of such foods. Baby hedgehogs are nocturnal and they go to the washroom a lot of time but it doesn't mean that they are not well. Handle your hedgehog on a daily basis to make it familiar with human touch and interactions. This will also help you notice if any change happens to their regular habits like food eating, resting, sleeping or exercising. The bedding should be changed at least every two weeks, and be sure to regularly groom your hedgehog by cutting its nails and giving it a bath. Be aware of wild hedgehogs or hedgehogs characteristics. Food should include mashed-up insects along with vitamins and minerals for a properly balanced diet for an African pygmy hedgehog

You can also check out other interesting factual content such as how to take care of baby ducks and how to take care of baby chicks.

How to take care of a hedgehog as a pet

There are various tips to take care of pet hedgehogs as African pygmies are unique animals and therefore also require unique ways to be taken care of. They are 5-8 in (12.7-20.32 cm) long pocket pets who have tiny little spikes and roll into balls when scared. Hedgehogs need a different type of food to survive and one of them is dry cat food. They live for at least five years and are native to central and eastern Africa. They are a hybrid of two hedgehogs: four-toed and Algerian hedgehogs. They survive on small insects, grubs, snails, spiders, and small vertebrates and when in new surroundings they have a completely different and healthy diet. They are kept in cages similar to those of guinea pigs and rabbits but hedgehog owners should avoid wire grate cage bottoms as your hedgehog's feet may get harmed by these grates.

The hedgehog should be taken to the veterinarian as soon as possible if its feet get injured because a hedgehog is very active. The hedgehog cage setup should be done accordingly by keeping in mind its active characteristics. If you want to properly treat your hedgehog feet provide them some recycled paper material or towels which are very good materials for their feet. Hedgehogs remain very active at night and sleep during the day. Ensure a water bowl and a hide box or a hiding spot is kept in the room. The hedgehog has prickly spines over the skin and body but still, it is fun to hold on to. Hold your hedgehog on a regular basis so it can feel your touch on its skin and start recognizing your smell. Try to keep it healthy and happy by providing the best care for a hedgehog.

Facts about the hedgehog

The first fact that you should know about the species of pet hedgehog is that its eyesight is very poor and it relies on smell and hearing. Hedgehogs run around several miles at night time instead of during the day and you will find this species mostly active at night. This animal is named a hedgehog because mostly they make their homes under hedges and in shrubbery. People consider them a cute species of animals who have 15 different species. These animals native to the UK are of the European variety. They appear somewhat like porcupines but are not deadly, unlike porcupines. Hedgehogs smell better than they can see. Before getting a hedgehog it is better you understand what a hedgehog may need and require for better living. Hedgehogs shed their spines once a year and then grow them again which is one of the signs of skin defense. Hedgehogs should be taken to veterinarians when ill as it is quite difficult to cure their disease at home.

Hedgehogs can be a great helper for gardeners as they eat caterpillars and slugs but this can also lead to damage to your greenery. It is not sometimes safe to keep a hedgehog as a pet or obtain one from a breeder as it is illegal in some states of the USA like California and Hawaii to keep a hedgehog as a pet. They have weak eyesight. It is best to keep these pets in cages. Hedgehogs often rub saliva all over their body when they need to smell strong scents and this is called as self anointing. They are large enough to be kept in cages and are found in groups known as arrays. Earlier they used to be called urchins and young hedgehogs are called hoglets. A very shallow litter box filled with a pellet-type paper litter is provided by some pet hedgehog owners for hedgehogs to live in. Do not use clumping cat litter. A hedgehog's special food items are available in pet stores for you to buy. Hedgehogs can be provided with wood shavings or recycled newspaper bedding but do not use wood chip products or dusty materials which may harm their health. In some cases, hedgehogs chew toys to fulfill food requirements.

Human hands holding little african hedgehog pet.

Hedgehog health problems

Hedgehogs suffer from several diseases which can be cured if proper care is taken. Proper exercise should be done every day. Don't leave your hedgehog alone at home for longer than a day. Although hedgehogs prefer isolation, they must be fed and monitored on a regular basis. The very first and dangerous disease they suffer from mostly at the age of three is cancer which is common in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract in hedgehogs which results in weight loss, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Obesity is another health problem that can be prevented when you feed them with a proper diet from a pet store. A sign of obesity is when the hedgehog is balled up and is completely enclosed by its spines. Hedgehogs suffer from fatty liver disease and this animal is very prone to eye problems. It can be hard to diagnose these animals effectively as hedgehogs hide their faces by forming into the shape of a ball.

Dental disease is also one of the common diseases hedgehogs suffer from, which can be determined by some common signs like anorexia (which means not to eat food), halitosis, visible blood around the mouth, and pawing at the mouth. In these kinds of situations an oral examination, x-rays, and dental cleaning is very important. As with any disease, take your pet to the nearest veterinary clinic. To amuse hedgehogs, toys are one of the best ways.

How to setup a hedgehog cage

Hedgehogs should be kept in cages if kept as a pet as they are of wild nature. In some places it is even illegal to pet hedgehogs. Some people keep them in a litter box but hedgehogs should be kept in places with more space as they are very active at night and enclosure hedgehogs can run several miles.

Hedgehogs need a food box, a water bottle, proper bedding in their cage and also some toys to keep themselves busy and entertained. The size of the cage should be at least 1 sq ft (0.09 sq m), as hedgehogs make much use of their time while roaming in the cage and exercising with a wheel given to them. Hedgehogs should exercise to avoid health issues and should also eat a proper diet. The cage should be solidly structured on all sides. In some cages, there are enclosures for ventilation for the pet which also increases the risk for them to escape, being small-sized animals. Ultimately, choose a playpen for your pet because that is pet-friendly.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how to take care of a hedgehog, then why not take a look at how to take care of a fish or hedgehog facts?

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Written by Martha Martins

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha Martins picture

Martha MartinsBachelor of Arts specializing in Linguistics

Martha is a full-time creative writer, content strategist, and aspiring screenwriter who communicates complex thoughts and ideas effectively. She has completed her Bachelor's in Linguistics from Nasarawa State University. As an enthusiast of public relations and communication, Martha is well-prepared to substantially impact your organization as your next content writer and strategist. Her dedication to her craft and commitment to delivering high-quality work enables her to create compelling content that resonates with audiences.

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