(508) 653-9221
  • Mon - Sat 9am - 9pm
  • Sun 10am - 6pm

What About a Pet Hedgehog?

What About a Pet Hedgehog?

We get many different responses when our customers discover that we sell hedgehogs. Some think they are adorable, others that they are scary.

We get many different responses when our customers discover that we sell hedgehogs. Some think they are adorable, others that they are scary. Because they are an exotic pet not available everywhere, they usually elicit some type of curiosity. (Pet World holds a special license in order to be able to sell hedgehogs.)

So, is a pet hedgehog for you or your family? As with all animals, it depends. Here are some things you should know about hedgehogs before you bring one home:

1. Hedgehogs require patient, loving handling in order to be comfortable with people. They do have quills similar to a porcupine, though they cannot project them like a porcupine can. When they are frightened, hedgehogs ball their bodies up and hide their faces which causes their spines to stick out and become uncomfortable interference for predators (or curious children). Sometimes they need practice being gently held in a towel and given patience to open up, and provided tasty treats to get used to handling. They also need to be handled regularly in order to remain comfortable. For this reason, we typically do not recommend that hedgehogs be pets for children. Patient, responsible teenagers may be able to enjoy them with parental oversight of their care, but younger children are often frightened of their quills and have difficulty being patient and gentle enough to interact with them to mutual enjoyment. We do have many adult customers who share adoring bonds with their hedgehogs! It also should be noted that it’s important to wash your hands after handling a hedgehog. Like all small animals they can walk through their feces and spread bacteria like salmonella to you if you don’t practice good hygiene.

2. They are insectivores. While a hedgehog’s diet does not and should not consist exclusively of insects, they do need to eat them. We recommend purchasing a balanced pelleted food specifically formulated for hedgehog health in order to be certain that your pet’s nutrition is balanced. However, they LOVE getting a chance to eat meal worms and crickets and we believe this is important for enriching their environment and allowing them to practice natural behaviors. If this is not something you’d be comfortable feeding your pet, a hedgehog may not be for you. It’s also good to provide small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables to your hedgehog, and they can even have a little bit of meat like tuna as a treat! Always focus on making sure they eat their balanced food first though.

3. They need a spacious and warm cage and opportunities to exercise. Hedgehogs need to be able to move around in their environments and need fairly large, flat bottomed cages equipped with exercise wheels and toys to do so. These wheels need to be cleaned daily as the hedgehog will often soil them while exercising. Hedgehogs should be kept in an environment between 75-83 degrees. If you keep your home very cool this may mean they need an additional heat source. They should also be provided a shelter within their cage where they can hide to sleep and feel safe. It’s also good to allow them to explore areas outside of their cages with careful supervision to allow them physical as well as mental exercise. Hedgehogs can be prone to obesity so, in addition to proper diet, exercise is important for their health.

4. Hedgehogs live an average of 4-6 years and may require vet care. As with all of our pets, we want our customers to know what commitment they are making in bringing home these cute little pets and be committed to having them and providing for them for their entire lives. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with who your local exotic pet veterinarians are in case your hedgehog ever becomes ill and requires treatment.

5. Hedgehogs are nocturnal. As is true with many small animals, hedgehogs are more active at night than during the day. This may mean that they will make some noise at night. For example, they sometimes grunt when they are excited, and they will likely spend time running in their wheels and rooting around in their bedding.

6. They have a unique behavior called “anointing.” Hedgehogs are very interested in novel smells. They practice a behavior called “anointing” where they gather a scent, work up a froth of spit with the scent in it and then spread that spit all over their quills. We think its pretty cute actually, but its not for everyone.

If you’d like to learn more about what’s involved in keeping a pet hedgehog, we encourage you to come in to the store and visit us! We’d be happy to tell you more.

Kitty City Cat Cam

Live streaming is only available between 11am and 9pm.

View More
Kitty City Cat Cam at Petworld Natick