Hedgehog Care

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What is a hedgehog?

A hedgehog is a small, insectivorous (insect-eating) mammal. There are 17 species found throughout the world. The species most commonly kept as pets is the four-toed, or African pygmy hedgehog. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and can be quite shy. They come in several colors and patterns. Hedgehogs are generally considered solitary and may be kept by themselves.

What should I know before adopting a hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are exotic pets that require specialized care. You should be familiar with which veterinarians see exotic pets for both routine care as well as emergencies. Hedgehogs are active, nocturnal animals that are prone to physical and behavioral problems if their needs are not met. Hedgehogs need high-quality, high-protein food, including live prey such as meal worms and crickets. They are covered in spines and have the potential to bite, and as such, may not be an appropriate pet for young children without adult supervision.

How do I house and care for my hedgehog?

HOUSING

 

ENRICHMENT

GROOMING

 

What do I feed my hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are insectivores and in the wild would eat a variety of small insects. As pets, hedgehogs are most commonly fed a high-quality commercial cat food that is high in protein and low in fat as the main staple of their diet. This diet is supplemented with live or canned crickets and meal worms, though these feeder insects can be high in fat so they should be provided in limited amounts. Some owners also provide cooked, unseasoned chicken, turkey or salmon and small amounts of fruits and vegetables.

How do I socialize my hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are shy by nature and may take some time to get used to handling. The best way to get a hedgehog used to handling is to spend time with it regularly. Frequent, short periods of handling are better than long periods of interaction on an infrequent basis. To handle them, you can start by gently holding the hedgehog and allowing it to uncurl. Leather gloves or a towel can be used at first to protect your hands from the spines. As the hedgehog becomes more comfortable with your scent, it will begin to explore. With time and trust, you may be able to stroke the spines and handle your pet with ease.

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