Pet hedgehogs are very popular right now, even though you only had to go back a decade or two to find a time when they were not even considered pets. A lot has changed since then and cute Youtube videos of pygmy hedgehogs have helped the revolution. In this guide we will look at pet hedgehog diet, care and more, everything you need to properly care for these beautiful little creatures.
There are many breeds of hedgehog, but the most common type of pet hedgehog is the African pygmy. This is a very solitary animal and should be kept alone. Unlike rats, cats and most rabbits, they don’t really benefit from being housed with other pet hedgehogs, but they will form a bond with a human owner over time.
It is only very recently that hedgehogs have become popular as pets. They have been predominately seen as pests, known for carrying disease and ending up under car tires. However, they are pretty docile animals when raised properly and they can make great pets if they are cared for.
The African pygmy hedgehog is also a domesticated hedgehog, which is to say that it is not the same as the hedgehogs found in the wild, much like the super-cute lop-eared bunny is not the same as the grey and graceful rabbits you can find in the wild.
Pet hedgehogs are not for everyone though. They are tame, but they are not the most cuddly of pets. They are also slow and timid and may therefore not be be great pets for children. Check our Dogs for Kids article instead if you’re looking for a good pet for your active little one.
Pet Hedgehog Care
Your pet hedgehog needs space to move around and get the exercise they need. You should look to get a large cage for them, while also taking them out for they can roam around every now and then. Just make sure you monitor them when they are free as they can get lost before you know it.
You should look for a wheel to put in their cage. A large, open wheel is needed, because anything that has bars may lead to injuries. They are not hamsters and just don’t have that mobility.
You should only use recycled paper or, better yet, hemp, for their bedding. Many owners use wood chips such as pine and cedar, but these can hurt pet hedgehogs and they also contain strong smelling oils that will definitely not help the hedgehog sleep soundly.
Pet Hedgehog Lifespan
A pet hedgehog can live for as long as ten years, providing it has received the correct care and has been fed on a proper diet throughout its life. The average hedgehog lifespan, however, is around half that, with many not living beyond the age of six.
There are a number of issues that can shorten the lifespan of a pygmy hedgehog. But if you give it optimum care throughout its life then you are giving it every chance to be healthy and it may even surpass that 10 year upper limit. There are reports of some hedgehogs living to more than 15 years, which is longer than many dog breeds and cat breeds and is practically unheard of for small animals like this.
Pet Hedgehog Cost
The price of a pet hedgehog can range from around $50 up to $300. The average is somewhere around $100, but it all depends on the age of the hedgehog as well as the temperament. You need more than just the hedgehog though. The wild ones might be happy to run free in your garden, but pet hedgehogs need a little more care and attention.
We have already discussed the pet hedgehog diet, but there are also cages, shavings and even toys. You can buy kits from specialist pet shops that range from $50 to $100 and give you all you need to care for your new prickly friend. You should also make sure that you grab yourself a guidebook to prepare completely, because hedgehogs are not really like any pet you have had before.
Unless you’ve had a hedgehog before, of course.
African Pygmy Hedgehog Facts
The African pygmy hedgehog is about a third to a quarter of the size of a wild hedgehog. They do not carry fleas like their wild cousins do and they are also comfortable being handled, which is why they make such great pets. However, these pet hedgehogs are still shy, so you need to make sure that you handle them on a regular basis and give them the attention they need, otherwise they may return to being shy and timid.
Best Hedgehog Diet
Hedgehogs are carnivorous and wild hedgehogs mostly subsist on a diet of insects. Basically, the cute little hedgehog eats the creepy crawling little nasties—it’s a food chain that we can all appreciate.
They eat a diet rich in protein and low in fat, not too dissimilar to cats. You can usually get away with feeding them scraps of meat, from cooked beef to lean pork, turkey and chicken.
Some owners of pet hedgehogs will mix cat food in with scraps of chicken, turkey or lean pork, and this is one of the best things that you can feed these little guys. As for hedgehog treats, you can feed them meal worms, as well as treat mixes specifically designed for hedgehogs.
Foods that are Toxic to Hedgehogs
We have covered many types of food that you should and should not give hedgehogs here on Can Pets Eat. It’s what we do. You can find these guides throughout the site just by punching in the name of the food and seeing what comes up.
However, to give you a brief rundown of what they should avoid, whether because it can cause mild discomfort or can be poisonous, here is a list:
- Any Kind of Processed Food
- Most Kind of Nuts
- Grapes and Raisins
- Fish and Raw Meat
- Egg Yolks
How Long Can a Hedgehog Survive Without Water or Food?
This question always worries us a little, but it is asked a lot so we feel like we should answer it. In a controlled environment, it has been noted that they can go for weeks without food and water, but there are many factors that could change this and you should look to provide food and fresh water regularly to your pet hedgehog.