Hedgehogs are adorable. Their pretty face and round body make them one of the cutest pets there is. It is no wonder that they are such a popular pet. Beneath the prickly quills is a soft, lovely animal.
However, there are a few things you should know before you start keeping hedgehogs as a pet. Of course, at the start of your journey, there is much to research about their care. But before you decide on keeping them, first read these 10 things that you definitely should know from the start. You will be better prepared for keeping these amazing pets!
- #1 Hedgehogs are nocturnal
- #2 Hedgehogs can carry diseases
- #3 Keeping hedgehogs may not be allowed where you live
- #4 Hedgehogs need their own optimal climate
- #5 Not all hedgehogs like to be handled from the start
- #6 Hedgehogs like to live alone
- #7 Hedgehogs are solely dependent of your care
- #8 You need a sitter when you going to travel
- #9 Hedgehog are soft from the inside, but prickly on the outside
#1 Hedgehogs are nocturnal
Hedgehogs are pets that are mostly active during nighttime and are snoozing during the day. Most hedgehogs will wake up and become active around 8 pm. The best time to cuddle with your hedgehog will be in the evening.
You should also feed them in the evening because when you feed them in the morning, they will soon start sleeping (if they are not doing that already). Cleaning would also be better if you do that in the evening because you won’t disturb your new friends’ sleep.
You’ll also want to place the home of your hedgehog somewhere that won’t disturb their sleep with your daytime activities. The living room is not always the best suitable location. But it is the same the other way around. Don’t place your hedgehog in or near your bedroom. They can make quite some noise during their nighttime activities and may keep you from your sleep — especially when you are a light sleeper.
If your daily routine doesn’t fit with their activity pattern, maybe owning a hedgehog might not be suitable for you.
#2 Hedgehogs can carry diseases
Hedgehogs may carry diseases that can also transfer to you! Kissing or snuggling with your fuzzy hedgehog increases the risk of the transfer of Salmonella. There are multiple cases where hedgehog keepers gotten sick or even been hospitalized with a Salmonella infection after getting a little too close with their pet.
No reason to panic immediately. If you keep the distance and wash your hands before and after handling your pet hedgehog, you don’t have to worry about getting infected. The most important advice is to keep your face away from your prickly friend.
This advice is not only for hedgehog keepers. Many mammalian pets can carry diseases that you may pick up when coming to close with your face. Although some people adore being licked by cats and dogs, it would be best to avoid doing that.
#3 Keeping hedgehogs may not be allowed where you live
Hedgehogs are widely available in the pet industry. However, not in all states or countries, it is allowed to keep hedgehogs as pets, unfortunately.
Although it is perfectly fine to keep hedgehogs in many countries, in some states and countries owning a hedgehog is illegal, or you require a permit before owning one.
You might wonder why such an innocent animal is forbidden? This is mostly due to the fact that hedgehogs are known to carry foot and mouth disease. Don’t worry; this won’t be a risk for you.
Another notice must be made that owning a hedgehog is legal in most countries, travelling with them to another country can be a problem. Do your own research on the national laws and restrictions before purchasing a hedgehog pet. When you keep your pet illegally, you may risk that your hedgehog will be confiscated and you receive a heavy fine.
#4 Hedgehogs need their own optimal climate
When you never had an exotic pet before, you have to learn that temperature is a very important factor for some animals. It is the same for hedgehogs. The temperature of your house or room is often not enough to keep your hedgehog happy. This is, even more, the case when you have its home in a room that you do not daily use. Normally the temperature will even be lower in such a room compared to your living room.
Hedgehogs will not immediately die when living in colder temperatures, but they may start to hibernate as a coping mechanism to live when it gets colder. When unprepared and not aware of this fact hibernation can cause serious health concerns.
So, it is important to keep your hedgehog warm and comfortable at all times. Not only during the daytime but also during nighttime. Heating lamps and heating pads can do the trick of keeping your hedgehog warm.
#5 Not all hedgehogs like to be handled from the start
You see many photos on social media of hedgehogs laying in the palm of someone’s hand or snoozing between a blanket. These pictures draw the image that hedgehogs like to be handled and petted.
Although hedgehogs are pets that you normally can handle just fine when they are in a new home they probably won’t like it from the start. They have to habituate to the new situation and new surroundings.
It is important to know that they have to get used to all new impression, and in the first few weeks, you have to invest time in bonding with your animal.
#6 Hedgehogs like to live alone
Hedgehogs are most happy when they live alone. Yes, they do like a cuddle and attention once in a while, but they are perfectly content being on their own.
They don’t need or even want a cage buddy. It is best to house them separately. They are better off having their home to themselves. Especially males can’t be house together. Males together will always give troubles.
If you like to keep more than one hedgehog, you can try to keep two females together. Most of the time, this will be not a problem. At least, if your housing is large enough and there are enough distraction and sleeping sites. But even two females can go wrong at some point, so keep that in mind.
#7 Hedgehogs are solely dependent of your care
Taking a pet is a longterm commitment. It is no different with a hedgehog. These lovely pet friends are solely dependent on your care. Your quality of care is their quality of life.
This comes with a large responsibility. You have to provide the best housing, the best food, the best environment. You need to clean the cage once in a while and provide toys and other activities to prevent your hedgehog from being bored.
You as keeper are responsible for the well-being and happiness of your hedgehog throughout their entire life.
#8 You need a sitter when you going to travel
Do you like to travel? Or you away from home many times a year? Then it would help if you found a sitter for your hedgehog. It would be best to find someone who likes to care for your pet animal when you are away and understand your animal’s needs.
Not everyone likes to care for a pet. So you have to think about who can take over the care when you away.
However, when you away from home a lot, you have to ask yourself if this pet is best suitable. There are some other pets that may be more suitable when you away from home more often. Pets like bugs or reptiles don’t need attention every day and will cost much less time to care for.
Do you rent an apartment? Not all landlords or roommates like that you keep (exotic) pets. Some are even forbid you to keep such animals. You need to respect their wishes, or make some written agreement before you start keeping a hedgehog pet.
#9 Hedgehog are soft from the inside, but prickly on the outside
Hedgehogs have a soft temperament and can be sweet and fun pets, but be aware that they still have prickly spines on their back. There are quite sharp and can pin you when you are not careful.
When a hedgehog is feeling threatened, they will roll up in a ball of spines. All the spines are folded outside, and it makes it difficult to pick up. Before you know you pin yourself on one of their spines.
When they are too enthusiastic or when they scared, they are able to bite (although they rarely do). Always be careful when picking up and handling them, and don’t disturb them when asleep. You always need to respect their nocturnal sleeping behaviour.