In early December, Arizona Game and Fish announced that it is now legal to have hedgehogs as pets in Arizona. The next day, people began heading out to pet stores in droves to add a hedgehog to their families. Hedgehogs can be terrific pets when cared for appropriately, but they are not for everyone.
Owning a hedgehog is often not what people expected; therefore, it is important that the following considerations be taken into account to ensure that the little critters don’t end up in rescue groups once the allure has worn off.
- Give hedgehogs plenty of time to become accustomed to their new hedgehog home which should include a hiding space within a flat bottom cage with plenty of room and ventilation without allowing them to climb.
- You will need to spot clean their habitats daily with a complete scrubbing done weekly.
- They must be kept at a temperature of 75 – 80 degrees without being in direct sunlight; therefore, supplemental heating may be required without allowing them to get too hot.
- It is important they have toys including a wheel in order to prevent weight gain as hedgehogs are naturally plump.
- Hedgehogs have prickly quills which can make handling difficult. Some people use gloves or small towels while learning to handle them.
- You must handle and socialize hedgehogs daily in order to make them less fearful of people.
- Hedgehogs are nocturnal so they may be more receptive to being handled in the evenings although a well-socialized hedgehog may be open to other times as well.
- Hedgehogs curl up when threatened. Other signs of stress may include huffing and puffing noises, frantic attempts to get away, twitching and green stool.
- Choose a single hedgehog as they cannot cohabitate and will begin to fight as they get older.
- They have specialized dietary needs and require high-quality hedgehog food which should also be supplemented three – four times a week with insects and treats.
- Hedgehogs have a life span of four – six years, yet not all veterinarians may be familiar with their care so it is important to have a vet lined up prior to getting one.
For more information on choosing the right hedgehog and their care, please visit The International Hedgehog Association.