Having a Hedgehog as a Pet
Pets hedgehogs are totally different from other animals we take care of. They have their own ration and basic needs, prefer other activities. And one more thing – a dog or a cat will never turn into a tiny prickly ball after you scare it. Though hedgehogs are prickly outside, they have a kind heart inside. We love them for a funny way they walk, tiny touching eyes and soft tum.
Meet a Hedgehog
Its full name is African pygmy hedgehog. Sometimes it is also called four-toed hedgehog or Atelerix albiventris in Latin. It’s not very big and may grow to 5-8 inches long. Most hedgehogs live for 5 years.
Wild African pygmy hedgehogs are from regions of continent which are located in the center and on east. They are spread out in Somali, Gambia and some other African countries. Wild animals eat insects, spiders and snails. That sounds crazy for those who are sure hedgehogs eat fruits only! These animals are predators, first of all, so be ready to treat them with usual ‘creepy’ food.
Choose Food Correctly
As mentioned above, hedgehogs are kind of predators. They prefer eating all that creepy food other pets would never touch. There are two ‘dishes’ you can offer to hedgehog: mealworms and crickets or special kibble which is sold in pet-shops. Kibble combines both vitamins and insects, that is why it’s the best meal for keeping hedgehog’s ration balanced and healthy.
There’s an opinion that food for cats is suitable for hedgehogs too. In fact, it cannot be an ideal meal because of the chitin absence.
Build a Sweet Home
If you are looking for hedgehog’s home, you may ‘borrow’ cages other pets usually live in. Rabbit cage is the most suitable one. The only thing you should avoid is wire mesh cage bottom as it may be dangerous for animal’s small legs.
In order to make your pet’s home more comfortable and safe, lay recycled paper or towels on the cage bottom. Don’t forget to change them regularly.
Make sure hedgehog has all it needs:
- Running wheel to let you pet be sporty;
- Box for rest where the animal will hide and sleep;
- Bowl for food and a separate one for water.
All things in the pet’s room must be cleaned from time to time to avoid illnesses which can be caused by stale excrement.
Wheel for running is not a toy – it is used to make hedgehog healthy and happy. If the animal is not able to exercise and play enough, it becomes sad, gains weight and suffers from problems with legs.
Moreover, don’t forbid your pet to be active at night and buy a cage with enough space inside.
Make Friends with Your Pet
Hedgehogs are prickly but don’t think you are not able to pet them. Their tummy is quite soft and what a pleasure to hold such a little bundle of joy in your hands!
Most tamed hedgehogs like when you hold, treat or palm them. Usually, pets are tamed better when they are young, and hedgehogs are no exception. That is why it’s better to buy the animal at the age of 7 weeks.
Hedgehogs can’t stand when their heads are touched, that is why they roll into balls after you do that. Just don’t annoy your pet. Moreover, this African animal is not a fan of water. There is no need to wash all its body. Just buy a shallow container for legs bath only or let your pet walk on towel which was immersed in water.
Take Care of Health
Hedgehogs are unusual pets but their list of illnesses is quite usual – animals suffer from a toothache, internal and external parasites, problems with stomach and skin.
There are several rules you should follow to keep your pet healthy:
- Castration or sterilization will help to avoid reproductive organs tumors.
- Teeth must be inspected and cleaned in the veterinarian clinic regularly. You may do that at home with help of small brush and toothpaste for kittens, but it’s better to leave that to the specialist.
- If hedgehog loses spines in abnormal amounts, visit vet to find out the reason and get rid of it.
Unfortunately, it’s hard enough to find a good veterinarian who knows how to treat hedgehogs. The best way to do that is to ask a breeder of African pygmy hedgehogs in your city about clinics and specialists he knows.