Someone waiting to hold an African pygmy pet hedgehog.

New Haven Pet Hospital is all about exotic pets. Dogs and cats are great, but there are so many other great options out there. Bringing an exotic into your household, though, definitely requires some research. If you are considering options and looking into hedgehogs as pets, read on to learn our advice to you.

Hedgehogs: The Basics

Hedgehogs have been gaining popularity as pets in recent years for one obvious reason–they are incredibly cute.

They are not native to the United States. There are wild hedgehogs in Europe, however the ones you find in pet stores are typically African pygmy hedgehogs.These hedgehogs are considered to be domesticated and are native to West and Central Africa. 

All African pygmy hedgehogs in the United States are captive bred, as it became illegal to import them from Africa in 1991 due to foot and mouth disease. 

These cute little critters live, on average, 4-7 years. They tend to be quite timid, but can certainly thrive in a household environment under the right circumstances. 

Considerations for Hedgehogs as Pets 

Just like any animal, keeping a hedgehog as a pet is not the right choice for everyone. Before committing to one of these spiky balls of love, you will need to be sure that they will fit well into your home and that you can provide proper care. 

Consider the following:

  • Is owning a hedgehog legal in your state? (hint: hedgehogs are legal in Indiana)
  • Hedgehogs are nocturnal and will be most active at night
  • Hedgehogs have quills, which makes them difficult to hold
  • Daily exercise is necessary to prevent obesity (a common hedgie problem)
  • Hedgehogs eat mostly insects
  • They are prone to skin problems like ringworm
  • They need good dental care
  • They may carry Salmonella and should be handled with good hygiene
  • Your hedgehog habitat should be larger, minimum 2’ x 3’ with tall sides and without wire to get their delicate toes stuck in
  • They need ambient temperatures around 75-85 degrees to thrive
  • Hedgehogs are solitary animals and best housed alone

While you can certainly purchase a pet hedgehog, they are a species that tends to end up in animal shelters. People have a tendency to get them without realizing the care that they need or understanding their habits. Adopting a shelter hedgehog can be a great choice!

In general, hedgehogs are not typically the best choice for families with small children, a pet parent who wants to snuggle their critter a lot, or someone who will be bothered by nighttime activity. Some effort is also involved in creating an ideal hedgehog habitat and schedule. In the right home, though, hedgehogs are good pets.

Our staff are hedgie lovers, and if you think that bringing one into your family sounds right up your alley, we are here to help. Contact us with questions you might have. We are happy to do what we can to help you welcome the right pet into your home.