FAQ - Right Pet for Me?

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Always into something...
Jan 28, 2009
Bowling Green, KY
Written by jandshyne:

Is a Hedgehog the Right Pet for Me?

There are several points to consider when deciding if a hedgehog is the right pet for you.

You will get poked. If you are wondering whether or not you will get poked if you pick a hedgehog to join your family, rest assured at some point you will get poked. Even hedgehogs with the best temperament will eventually poke their owners. We can’t expect them to be in a good mood and be agreeable all of the time. Should your hedgehog poke you and discover you are afraid of him he will use that to his advantage and when he doesn’t want to be handled he will simply ball up or ram you so you must not let them see that you are afraid of them.

They MUST see a vet regularly. I can not stress this enough. You will see in the common illnesses page that Hedgehogs can succumb quickly and without warning to a number of things ranging from a cold to Cancer to WHS. It is so very important to detect a problem early, it could mean the difference between life and death. So you need to make sure there is a vet in your area who is experienced in Hedgehogs or willing to learn to care for them, and that YOU take them at least once a year. I take mine every 6 months at the minimum. A yearly well hedgie check up may include a fecal testing, skin scraping, dental examination, X-Rays, and a close examination and palpitation of all areas of your hedgehog’s body. Generally these are performed under sedation since even the sweetest hedgies usually hate to have their teeth checked.

While hedgehogs are a very clean animal and require a minimum amount of routine grooming. They may require regular nail trimmings to prevent the nails overgrowing in to the foot pad, bathing to remove feces from their feet or quills, treatment for dry skin or mites, and regular cage cleanings and sanitizing.

Hedgehogs require a specific diet and often the food best fitted to their dietary requirements is costly. They also require a large amount of stimulation and out of cage exercise/play time to remain healthy and happy. If you are not able to dedicate several hours a day to playing with your hedgehog and making certain they are stimulated and happy then they are not the right pet for you.

Hedgehogs have very specific temperature requirements. They can attempt to hibernate at temperatures less than 70 degrees and sustained low temperatures are a sudden death sentence.

Hedgehogs are illegal in AZ, CA, ME, PA, GA, HI, and VT. They are also illegal in some cities, counties, or townships and some legal areas require special permits. Before choosing a hedgehog please call your local game and fish department or animal control to ensure their legality in your area. Owning a hedgehog in an illegal area puts you at risk of incurring fines and can put your hedgehog’s life in danger so please take this seriously.

Should you plan to be out of town you will need to have someone check on your hedgehog at least once daily. Hedgehogs can spill or damage water bottles, climb out of cages, or dump their food while you’re away so you should never leave them alone for more than an overnight.

Hedgehogs have a fairly short life span of 2-4 years. We are seeing some rise in this number in recent years but it is still relatively short. As they age they can be susceptible to tumors, dental problems, reproductive problems, and a variety of other illnesses. These can be expensive to treat and will require prompt veterinary attention if they are to survive them.

Hedgehogs are a friendly animal if they are purchased from a respected breeder but some just don’t care to be held, snuggled, cuddled, and hauled around. Each hedgehog has their own unique personality and you will have to learn to work around your hedgie’s personality and not expect them to conform to you.

If these things listed above didn’t scare you off, you are well on your way to becoming a hedgehog caretaker!!
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