Is A Hedgehog For Me?
One of the most frequently cited reasons for people who give up a pet is, “It wasn’t what I expected.” This happens all too often with dogs and cats, and more unusual pets such as hedgehogs are no exception. If people don’t know how to care for them properly or don’t have a realistic idea of their personalities, they can’t make an informed decision about whether or not a hedgehog is an appropriate pet for them. So, the following list is to help people know what they can expect from a hedgehog:
You can expect:
- To have to provide a regular source of appropriate, high quality food and clean water.
- To clean the cage once per week, sometimes a little more or less, and that it may or may not litter train.
- That it will need to stay warm (above about 70F), or else it may get sick and die.
- You will get poked. Even the best hedgehogs have off days.
- That there is a strong chance you will need to trim its toenails, even if it gets grumpy and doesn’t want you to.
- That it will self-anoint (i.e., spread spit or other things on itself).
- That it will do better if handled daily, even for just a few minutes.
- That it will be happier if it has a wheel and a place to hide.
- That a hedgehog who is not friendly to begin with may never become friendly, although they do often show slow improvement over the years.
- That it may bite, though this is unlikely. Anything with teeth may bite.
- That two males probably will not enjoy one another’s company, although two females may.
- That its life expectancy is 3 to 6 years, with cancer being an extremely common cause of death in older hedgehogs.
- That it will enjoy toys that it can climb in or on, and items it can manipulate.
- That it may poop on you, especially if it is a baby. Babies don’t seem to have much in the way of manners or bowel control.
- That most babies will go through a period of “quilling” and will be very grumpy for a while. You will need to hold it anyway, if you want to keep it from learning that this is a good way to get people to leave it alone.
- That it will probably need at least one trip to the vet for mites in its lifetime. The little pests are not species-specific, and can come from such innocuous sources as the bedding or other animals.
- That your hedgehog may never actively seek you out for companionship. Some hedgehogs do, but most just think humans are cool terrain to climb on.
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Most recently updated 3/23/01.