About hedgehogs as pets

You will need certain supplies to successfully raise and care for a hedgehog. The essentials consist of an enclosure, a food and water bowl, a wheel, a sleeping hut with something warm inside, bedding, nail clippers, a toothbrush, and hedgehog friendly body wash.

Enclosure

The enclosure will keep the hedgehog from roaming around and getting lost in your house. It also serves as a barrier to protect the hedgehog from any other pets you may have. You can use a guinea pig enclosure or a terrarium to house your hedgehog. Hedgehogs have small, fragile feet and toes that can easily get caught in small spaces. To prevent any breaks or injuries, make sure the enclosure has a solid surface on the bottom and partially up the sides of the enclosure. Hedgehogs are not necessarily small pets and they enjoy moving around. To accommodate this, at least two square feet of space is required.

Food and Water Bowls

When selecting bowls for food and water, make sure the bowls are fairly heavy. Hedgehogs sometimes like to step up on the edge of a bowl when they eat or drink and having a heavy bowl prevents it from flipping over and hurting the hedgehog

Wheel

Wheels are critical to keeping a hedgehog mentally and physically healthy. Hedgehogs run as their main source of exercise and can run up to 20 km in a night. Having a wheel keeps them active as well as keeps their minds occupied.

Bedding

The bedding can either be a fleece liner or shredded paper bedding commonly found in pet stores. NEVER use pine aspen chips for bedding because it can cause respiratory problems in hedgehogs. Avoid all wood chip bedding as little pieces can get caught and stuck in sensitive areas.b

Sleeping Hut

Small huts with pieces of fleece or old fleece hats allow the hedgehog to stay warm and feel secure while it sleeps. Avoid using any fabrics with small loops in them because, as hedgehogs can easily get their toes stuck and the string can cut off the circulation to their feet and toes.

Grooming Supplies

Nail clippers, toothbrushes, and body wash are all items used to groom a hedgehog. For more specifics instructions see the “Groom your hedgehog” section.

Additional Items

Optional items would include a heater, paper tubes, and outdoor roaming cage, a litter box, and litter.

Hedgehogs must be kept at around 70 °F to prevent hibernation. Hibernation is especially dangerous for African pygmy hedgehogs because they do not contain enough fat reserves to survive for a long period time. To lull a hedgehog out of hibernation, place them on a warm spot to warm up, like under your shirt on your stomach. Once the hedgehog is active again, you may continue holding them or you may place them back into their enclosure as long as the temperature has been fixed. Because of this, if your house or the room with the hedgehog is not warm enough by itself, it is suggested to I would suggest purchasing a heater for the colder months.

Hedgehogs now and then enjoy playing, and are notorious for making sport out of toilet paper tubes. They also enjoy running around outside.if you want to be cautious, you can purchase a fold-able cage to put outside for them to roam.

Some hedgehogs can be litter box trained and will go to the bathroom in a litter box instead of on the wheel while they run. For this, purchase a small litter box and litter often meant for ferrets.

Hedgehogs

Although a bit on the prickly side, hedgehogs can make great pets. Hedgehogs are not only cute but when cared for properly, their interesting personalities shine. To bring out the best in your new hedgie, please consider the following guidelines.

Before making the decision to purchase or adopt, handle and play with your prospective pet to get an idea of its personality. Hedgehogs have quills, and the quills will “prickle up” when the hedgehogs feel threatened. If your hedgie was not well socialized and handled as a juvenile, it will take some time for you to gain your new friend’s trust.

Most hedgehogs live for four to seven years, and proper diet, housing, social interaction and medical care are extremely important to maximize their overall quality of life. Please note that they are nocturnal and will sleep most during the day.

Staple Diet of Fruits, Veggies and Insects

Being both omnivores and insectivores, hedgehogs eat plant material, animal material and insects. In the past, hedgehogs were fed a staple diet of dry, reduced-calorie cat food, but recently a diet made specifically for hedgehogs is now available and recommended. Vegetables and fruit should be included in their diet. Specifically, dark leafy greens are preferable chopped into small pieces, but other vegetables can be used. Insects such as frozen crickets and meal worms are recommended as a supplement three to four times a week, especially if you are breeding them. Some hedgehog fanciers even supplement with one to two tablespoons of mixed baby food of different types. Since your hedgie will be sleeping most of the day, food should be provided once a day in the evening. Food may be hidden throughout the environment to promote foraging-type behavior, which aids in normal activity and maintaining proper body weight.

Housing your Hedgehog

Hedgehogs can be housed in either wire or plastic enclosures. The floor should be a solid one—wire is not recommended. Proper bedding must be provided. Shredded newspaper, Oxbow Pure Comfort Bedding or CareFresh brand bedding may be used but with caution as a hedgie may ingest it, possibly causing an intestinal blockage. Some hedgehog enthusiasts prefer fabric cage liners that are washable. Do not use cedar or aromatic shavings. The cage should be cleaned regularly (weekly at a minimum). Boxes, tunnels or hiding places should be provided to allow your pet to feel safe and give him or her something to do.

Hedgehogs may spend supervised time out of the cage, but monitor them closely as they may try to dig in the rug or potted plants. They may inadvertently eat pieces of carpet or other objects, which can cause intestinal blockage. When the hedgehog is outside the cage, remember to separate your hedgehog from other four-legged housemates who might attack or play too rough. Similarly, supervise children to avoid accidental injury.

Veterinary Visits for Hedgies

Like cats and dogs, hedgehogs also need regular veterinary visits. Hedgehogs do not need vaccinations, but spaying and neutering should be considered, especially if more than one is kept together as pets. Hedgehogs should have annual wellness and fecal exams to monitor their overall health. Annual bloodwork is recommended as they age (greater than three to four years old). Some of the more common disease processes that affect hedgehogs include the following: vitamin deficiencies, obesity, mites, pneumonia, cancer, gastrointestinal blockage, dental disease, fatty liver disease and internal parasites. Diligent and well-informed care can prevent many health problems in your hedgehog. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your local exotics veterinarian to set up a consultation.

Feel free to contact Dr. Ariana Finkelstein, DVM. She can be contacted via email at [email protected] She is also available through Facebook at Facebook Healthy Choice Pet Products. You may call her at Mission Pet Emergency at 210/691-0900 or at All Species Veterinary Services at 210/382-5725.

Hedgehogs: Adorable, But Do They Make Good Pets?

The most common species of hedgehog in the pet trade is the African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). The CDC has been leading efforts to increase awareness of the host of health risks people are exposed to when dealing with exotic pets such as hedgehogs. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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Not all animals are cute into adulthood, but hedgehogs are. These nocturnal little foragers are native to Europe, Asia, Africa and the internet, where you can find memes of them bundled into teacups and taking bubble baths. It’s no wonder people want to keep hedgehogs as pets because they’re arguably as cute as miniature horses, but here’s the real question: Is welcoming a pet hedgehog into your life advisable?

Actually, back up. The first question should be: Is welcoming a pet hedgehog into your life legal?

Different countries have different laws about keeping hedgehogs, but in the United States you can legally own a pet hedgehog in all states except Georgia, Hawaii, California, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., and five New York City boroughs. Even in these places, it might be legal to have them in your home with special wildlife permits.

Of the 17 species of hedgehog living on four continents, the most common species in the pet trade is the African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). If you’re living in a state or country where they are legal to keep, you can obtain one from a breeder or sometimes even find one at a flea market. But just because they’re adorable and also legal doesn’t mean they’re the kind of pet you want, even if the hedgehog aesthetic really meshes with your personal Instagram brand. Here are five questions you need answers to in order to decide whether to hedgehog or not to hedgehog:

1. Are Hedgehogs Cuddly?

Hedgehogs are solitary creatures and generally only interact with each other in the wild during breeding season. That said, if you obtain your pet hedgehog when it’s very young and handle it regularly, there’s a chance it will become one of this world’s rare affectionate hedgehogs.

“Like every pet, each one has a different personality,” says Sydney Brehm, a veterinarian at Sweetwater Creek Animal Hospital in Lithia Springs, Georgia. “Many are not the biggest fans of being cuddled and prefer to explore their surroundings on their own.”

No matter what its temperament, keep in mind, your pet hedgehog will have lots of stiff spines. Even though the spines are not tricked out with barbs or poisons, and they don’t release once they’ve buried into your skin like a porcupine’s quills, they’re still sharp and there are lots of them. Hedgehogs are particularly pointy when they’re rolled into a tight ball, which they often do when they’re apprehensive or sleeping. So, if you’re hoping to make your hedgehog into one of the snuggly ones, you’ve probably got a long, prickly row to hoe.

2. Will They Get Along With Other Pets?

Although hedgehogs are solitary, it’s not a good idea to stick your pet hedgehog in a cage and ignore it. They are extremely active in the wild — they can climb, swim and often run several miles each night (regular hedgehog business hours). Since hedgehogs need to have time to dash around, contact with your other pets might be unavoidable, but it should be kept to a minimum.

“Hedgehogs do best caged alone,” says Brehm. “When you have them out and about, they may touch noses with your cat or dog, or may stay rolled into a ball until the other loses interest or gets pricked on the nose a few times and gives up.”

According to Brehm, a hedgehog can coexist with cats and dogs, but won’t typically make friends with them, and it’s a good idea to monitor any interaction between your pet hedgehog and another animal. It’s also best to keep your hedgehog away from other small exotic pets, for the safety of both animals.

3. Do Hedgehogs Carry Diseases?

An average, healthy pet hedgehog will live between five and eight years, but they are prone to certain diseases, just like dogs and cats are prone to rabies and distemper. Hedgehogs have the potential to carry and transmit foot and mouth disease, salmonella, ringworm, and may carry various other microorganisms and viral infections, which is the reason they are outlawed in some places.

Just to be on the safe side, refrain from kissing your pet hedgehog, and defintely wash your hands after handling it.

4. What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

In the wild, hedgehogs root around in the undergrowth for all manner of small animals like insects, worms, centipedes and frogs (male hedgehogs have also been known to dine on baby hedgehogs if they find a nest of them). You can buy commercial hedgehog food, which, if you must own a hedgehog, is what you should feed it at home.

“It is OK to offer the periodic treat — non-starchy vegetables, fruit, even a bite of lean meat here and there,” says Brehm. “Hedgehogs are prone to weight gain and obesity, which inherently leads to health problems, so always keep treats limited and always provide a flat bottom wheel for exercise.”

5. Will Your Hedgehog Keep the Same Schedule as You?

Unless you’re a real night owl, probably not. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and very active while most humans are asleep, so be ready for your pet hedgehog to be making lots of nighttime noises, and plan accordingly.

Hedgehogs have a few other very particular requirements to keep in mind, as well. “Because they are an exotic pet, their cage will require weekly maintenance, and the hedgehog itself will require frequent bathing and nail trims,” says Brehm. “And last but not least, the temperature of your hedgehog’s environment is very important. If the temperature drops too low, the hedgehog will attempt to hibernate and may not recover from the attempt . Their ideal temperature is around 75 degrees F (24 degrees C). Having a plan to maintain the temperature of your hedgehog’s enclosure will be very important to have in place before introducing one to your household.”

So, the basic story on hedgehogs is that, yes, they are adorable, but, no, they do not make the best pets. The happiness of the animal should be the prime consideration in your decision to adopt one and, in this case, it’s fairly safe to assume that the hedgehog will be happier in its own world than it will be in yours.

The Pros and Cons of Owning a Hedgehog As a Pet

Could it be that a hedgehog, that odd animal that curls into a ball of spikes would make a wonderful pet? Perhaps the best way to answer this question is through education about this particular animal. One may want to ask himself prior to actually owning one what he wants from a pet and if he has the time to be a pet parent.

Indeed, the hedgehog is quite an unusual, delightful animal to adopt, but one must hunt for a place that sells them, as it is not an easy task to find one since they are not commonly sold in pet stores. Also, the African Pygmy Hedgehog is the hog usually sold as a pet.

What is more, one must be a responsible pet parent by allowing the porky out of his cage every day so he can explore a room set up for him. Remember that these critters urinate and defecate while running, so make sure there’s no carpeting on his floor or all this will be absorbed into the floor covering.

Additionally, hoglets come into the world during June and July, and mama hedgehog delivers four or five babies, but only two or three get weaned right away. Mama has been known to eat her babies or she has abandoned them totally whenever she has been bothered in any way.

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The Pros of Owning a Hedgehog

  • They are really easy to care for.
  • They never make noise except a small purring sound sometimes.
  • They are inexpensive to keep as a pet.
  • Hedgehogs can entertain anyone for hours on end if they will watch.
  • They are adorable little creatures that are cute, entertaining and unique.
  • They love to get handled and they tend to snuggle up to their owners.

Facts About Hedgehogs

  • They can live off fruits, vegetables and cat food.
  • Hogs live about 3 and 1/2 years but up to 10 years old.
  • Hedgehogs end up stretching from about 6 to 9 inches.
  • Poor vision plagues hogs but they can feel and notice apparent motion.
  • They are not smelly like some other creatures are, as long as they are kept spot cleaned.
  • Hedgehogs run up to five miles every night on a sturdy wheel made for just that. Clean the feces off the wheel by using hot, soapy, disinfectant water. This is to sterilize and disinfect it, so nobody gets sick.
  • Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets.
  • They are nocturnal so they will want their room time at night, ideally.
  • Hedgehogs seem to have a particular kind of Ringworm that only this animal usually has.
  • Simply fabulous, porkies can have up to 8,000 spines, and the hedgehog can roll himself up in a neat round ball when he feels afraid. This will make his spikes hurt the predator if he tries to open the ball, and no animal will want to mess with that.
  • All hedgehogs need plenty of room to move around and display their natural behavior. They simply cannot be confined to any cage.
  • A pair of hogs will endlessly mate, and it will result in many litters.
  • Hedgehog males will kill each other fighting, but females do not usually kill.
  • They are at risk for several zoonotic diseases, and major microbial infections related to bacteria, mycobacteria and other fungal and viral diseases.
  • Soap dries out their body, so only water is used to clean them about once a week.
  • They need to stay in 73-80 degree temperature.
  • They can swim well, but most of the time they stay right on the ground or they climb trees.
  • Freeze dried worms are a delightful treat for hogs, so when handling give him some treats, and he will learn to identify with his owner.
  • They lose all their baby quills at 8 to 12 weeks, and the adult ones come in, and it is a major ordeal.
  • Hedgehogs come in all different sizes, colors and shapes, and none of the hogs are the same, even if they were part of a litter.

The Cons of Owning a Hedgehog

  • Must pay $200 or more to get one.
  • Possibly drive far away to pick up the animal.
  • They like to be alone, so plan on up to an hour a day with them and leave them alone the rest of the day.
  • Hedgehogs must be kept separated as a result of the way they carry out fighting if not alone. Do not ever put other hogs in with this pet!
  • They are nocturnal so they will want their room time at night, ideally.
  • One must be a responsible pet parent by allowing the porky out of his cage every day so he can explore a room set up for him. Remember that these critters urinate and defecate while running, so make sure there’s no carpeting on his floor or all this will be absorbed into the flooring.
  • Do not kiss them and do not eat or drink around them, as they can get an infection called salmonella and pass it on. Contact urticaria has been reported in some handlers.
  • They are at risk for several zoonotic diseases, and major microbial infections related to bacteria, mycobacteria and other fungal and viral diseases.
  • Hedgehog males will kill each other fighting, but females do not usually kill.
  • There are no kennels for this animal, so going away can present a problem unless a family member or other trusted person can check on hoggie every day. He will be fine though.

Sometimes the new pet will bite to learn about the world around him and to adjust to his new owner and his new cage. Just like babies exploring the world to find out about many things, the cute little hoglet will do the same.

Finally, be safe when picking him up due to the quills he has that are quite sharp. Just remember to be surefooted when handling him until it has been done a few times. The pros and cons here can be followed up on YouTube.

Hoping for a Hedgehog? 10 Things to Know Before Bringing One Home

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Wild hedgehogs have been living in Africa forever but only in recent years have they been kept as pets. Most North American pet hedgehogs,typically called African pygmy hedgehogs,were bredfrom African species and are considered domesticated. These little animals can make terrific companions when housed and fed appropriately, and their popularity appears to be increasing. But hedgehogs are not meant for everyone. Before you consider bringing a hedgehog into your home, there are several things to be aware of.

1. Hedgehogs Are Prickly

Like porcupines, the skin over hedgehogs’ backs is covered with sharp spines that protect them from predators. Thankfully, unlike our native porcupines, hedgehogs cannot shoot their quills out in defense. When caught in the mouth of a predator, however, hedgehogs will twitch and jump so that their quills poke into the skin and lips of the aggressor, making things generally unpleasant until they are released. Handling a nervous hedgehog can be tricky for an owner, and you may need to hold your friend in a small towel until he relaxes.

2. They Like to Play‘I’m Out of Here’

As a defense mechanism, hedgehogs roll their bodies into tight little balls when threatened, causing their spines to point outward so that predators are unable to see their faces or limbs. They have very strong muscles over their backs, and it is nearly impossible to unfurl a hedgehog once he’s curled up. Pet hedgehogs must be handled gently and often to get them to relax and uncurl. Otherwise, you will spend a lot of time staring at a cute but prickly little ball in your lap.

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What You Need to Know About Pet Hedgehogs

3.‘Spit Balls’Are OK

When a hedgehog encounters an object with a new scent, he will lick and bite the object and then form a frothy “spit ball” in his mouth containing the new scent. He will throw his head back and spit this frothy saliva over his spines with his tongue, possibly to camouflage himself with the new scent and make himself less obvious to predators. If you see your pet hedgehog engaging in this “self-anointing” behavior, don’t worry: It’s gross but completely normal.

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Hedgehogs are quiet, gentle animals that, despite their growing popularity, are still considered unconventional, exotic pets. It’s hard to resist the cuteness of a hedgehog, but like any pet, hedgehogs are not for everyone. Before you consider adding a pet hedgehog to your family, it’s important to know whether you’ll be able to meet all of its unique needs.

Photo Credit: hedgehogsaspets.com

If you’re thinking about adopting a hedgehog, here are a few things to consider:

Hedgehogs can be difficult to handle

Handling a nervous hedgehog can be very tricky or even painful for inexperienced pet owners. A nervous hedgehog will twitch and curl into a ball, exposing its quills. The more hedgehogs are handled, the more they will relax. Hedgehogs that are rarely handled can remain curled for long periods of time. When handling your hedgehog, you must be very gentle. It’s best to use a towel or a heavy pair of gloves until your pet feels more at ease. It is important to be extra gentle then, as the towel or gloves prevent us from feeling your pet very well.

Hedgehogs may carry salmonella bacteria

Hedgehogs have been known to harbour salmonella bacteria, which means you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling your hedgehog, its cage, or its bedding. Be careful not to touch your eyes or around your mouth until after you have washed your hands. Always supervise your hedgehog around young children and other pets.

Hedgehogs need exercise

Hedgehogs love to eat. If pet hedgehogs are housed in cages most of the time, with little opportunity to exercise, it’s very easy for them to become overweight. Hedgehogs should be given time to exercise outside of their cages and their cages should be equipped with a plastic solid wall running wheel. Wire wheels can injure them.

Hedgehogs keep late-night hours

Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal, remaining active at night. This means you may hear them running on their wheel or feeding at night. If you’re a light sleeper, a hedgehog may not be the most appropriate pet for you. An advantage to a hedgehog’s nocturnal schedule is that they tend to sleep during the hours when your family members are at work or school.

Finding veterinary care

Hedgehogs are still relatively uncommon pets, which mean not all veterinarians may be comfortable treating your hedgehog. Before adopting a hedgehog, research how far you may need to travel for veterinary care.

Where to adopt your hedgehog

Contact your local Ontario SPCA Animal Centre to see if there are adoptable hedgehogs in your area.

A pet hedgehog may be the perfect pet for you! Do your research and find one today.

Hedgehogs are mammals that have been around for millions of years. These animals naturally live through most of Africa and in southern Europe.

They are primarily insectivores, but will eat a variety of different animal and plant matter when available. They are nocturnal and spend most of the day sleeping and become active at dusk.

A hedgehog’s most distinctive trait are his quills. Quills are sharp hollow hairs that are used as a defense. When threatened, a hedgehog is able to curl up into a ball with its quills extended.

The quills usually have white tips with brown bands and act as camouflage. Other color variations can be brown, black, cream, gray, and even albino.

Hedgehogs as Pets
The African pygmy hedgehog is the most common type sold as pets. It can grow to be around six to nine inches long. Four to six years is a normal life span, but a pet hedgehog can live up to ten years. It is a solitary animal and should live alone.

A hedgehog is a very active animal. He will require a large cage even though he is small. Fortunately, there are many cages of adequate size available for reasonable prices. He will also need time outside of his cage to explore and run around.

Since hedgehogs are nocturnal, they are best for people who are home in the evenings and at night. A hedgehog may not be a suitable pet for small children. Sometimes kids can be overzealous with their affection causing a hedgehog to become afraid and extend his quills. This could lead to injury of a child or pet.

A hedgehog is fun to watch, quiet, not aggressive, and is fairly easy to care for. It is a clean animal and has very little smell. His food is easily attainable and inexpensive. A hedgehog can be a wonderful addition for someone who wants a unique and entertaining pet.

Guide

Care Sheet
All the items your need to care for a pet hedgehog.

Food & Diet
All the foods required for a healthy and nutritious diet.

Cage & Habitat
Everything your pet needs to have a fun and safe home.

Health & Illness
Some of the more common health issues that could affect your pet.

Handling & Grooming
How to handle your hedgehog, bath him, and trim his nails.

Diet

  • Diet is a key variable that can increase or decrease the life of your pet. All living things need the proper balance of nutrients to maintain and a healthy life.
  • Animals with poor or bad nutrition will not grow and develop as well as animals fed a nutritionally sound diet, are at risk for diet related illnesses, and are less resistant to other diseases or opportunistic pathogens.
  • Our Nutrition Overview describes some hedgehog foods and treats that can be dangerous or harmful to your pet.
  • Our Diet Recommendations will help guide you to choosing a nutritionally sound diet plan for your pet.
  • Unfortunately, the best hedgehog diet is still unknown. Some hedgehogs have been known to live a relatively long time on what most would consider a poor diet.
  • Other hedgehogs can develop diet related illnesses on what many would consider a nutritionally sound diet plan.
  • The best diet plan is one that has been proven effective on a large number of animals over many years.

Exercise

  • Hedgehogs in the wild are known to travel great distances in search of food. Many captive bred animals will log many miles on their wheel each night.
  • The benefits of exercise in humans and other mammals has been tested and documented through countless research studies around the world.
  • Simple things hedgehog owners can do to promote exercise are to providing ample cage space, a wheel, and play time out of the cage.
  • Hedgehogs that receive plenty of exercise are likely to be healthier and happier pets.

Bedding

  • Hedgehogs are relatively close to the ground and are in constant contact with their bedding.
  • Keep in mind a hedgehog’s nose is only a mere inch or so off its bedding at any given time. The air a hedgehog breathes can be quickly contaminated by its bedding.
  • Soft wood beddings such as pine and cedar contain aromatic hydrocarbons that known to cause respiratory and other illnesses.
  • Dusty or other aromatic beddings can also lead to respiratory problems.
  • Many types or brands of beddings are labeled as “safe if ingested” but this is true in only in small amounts. Hedgehogs have been known to eat unusually large amounts of bedding especially when switching brands or types of bedding. Ingested bedding can lead to impactions or other complications.
  • Some bedding choices can cause skin irritations or allergies which can result in secondary infections.
  • Dirty or unkempt cages are dangerous because of the buildup of ammonia and the increased risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Improperly stored or handled bedding may contain mites, mold, bacteria or other pathogens.
  • Our Bedding guide is a thorough review of the various types of bedding commonly used in the hedgehog community.
  • Unfortunately the perfect bedding has yet to be found but your pet will certainly benefit from a wise bedding choice.

Genetics

  • Hedgehog breeders undertake a responsibility to produce healthy animals through proper breeding practices.
  • Methods and styles of breeding can be debated at length and are a hot topic in the production of any animal.
  • Cross-breeding, line-breeding, and even some in-breeding practices have the merits and downfalls.
  • Careful selection of breeding stock is not only beneficial to the breeder but to their customers as well.
  • Years of breeding and showing countless rabbits gave me first hand experience in this particular area. I quickly learned that to produce quality rabbits it is important to start with quality rabbits, but two winning show rabbits won’t always produce winning offspring.
  • Unfortunately, reproduction is a gamble with living things. Congenital birth defects can happen at any time without warning and genetic trends in bloodlines may take years to show or develop.
  • Buying from a breeder who is knowledgeable in this area and concerned about the animals they produce is important but certainly not a guarantee to long longevity.

Breeding

  • Breeding a female greatly increases the risk of health complications and even death.
  • Complications can occur at any point from breeding through the nursing process.
  • Breeding is a stress on the hedgehog’s body and when the hedgehog’s immune system is down opportunistic infections can occur.
  • Certainly having babies is a natural process and necessary for perpetuation of the species but one must be prepared and aware of the risks when undertaking this challenge.

Stress Level

  • Stress can be caused from anything that is unpleasant to your hedgehog.
  • Certainly some level of stress is unavoidable but constant stress is certainly not good for animals or humans alike.
  • Signs and symptoms of stress can include “nervousness”, “grouchiness”, or change in stools.
  • Hedgehogs have extremely good hearing so sounds that we don’t notice may be extremely noxious to your pet.
  • Ways hedgehogs are handled can also be stressful. Not all hedgehogs make good classroom pets or educational animals.
  • Unfortunately some owners abuse their pets without realizing their cruelness. I doubt any hedgehog enjoys being rolled like a ball but sadly this has happened to countless hedgies because their defense mechanism allows it.

Quality of Life

  • Studies show in both humans and other animal that happiness is one key to a long and fulfilling life.
  • Attention and environmental enrichment will both contribute to increased happiness and better health.
  • Animals that are left alone with little care or attention and in a small space are less active and tend to have more health complications.

Accident or Injury

  • Accidents or an injury can happen even with the best of care or safest of conditions.
  • Sometimes the damage as a result from a fall, accident or injury may not have immediate results but can cause internal damage undetected by the naked eye.
  • Other times hedgehogs cause themselves harm by eating things that can be toxic to them, falling off of something, getting lost or trapped outside their cage, or injuring themselves within their cage.
  • Choosing cages and accessories wisely as well as supervising all play will certainly help decrease the chances of problems but sometimes fluky accidents happen.

Disease or Illness

  • Animals and people alike are exposed to bacteria, parasites, and other potential pathogens throughout our daily lives.
  • Strong immune systems, washing hands, eating healthy, and practicing good hygiene all help ward off disease and illness but at some point in our lives and our pets lives illness is likely to occur.
  • Each animal and person has their own normal flora of bacteria on and in their body. When new bacteria are introduced or normal bacteria exceeds its normal limits illness is likely to occur.
  • Many of the same diseases or illnesses that are common to humans are also common to hedgehogs as well. Respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, cancer, and digestive disorders are all possibilities.

Level of Veterinary Care

  • The general rule of thumb with any medical care is that it is much easier to treat a small problem than to treat a large problem.
  • Obviously, hedgehogs can’t communicate the way we can and may even hide early signs and symptoms of illness. Sick or injured animals are easy prey for other animals so most animals have adapted to hiding problems.
  • Changes in behavior are usually the first sign that something may be wrong.
  • We strongly recommend well-pet visits 2-4 weeks after obtaining your new pet. Your pet should be comfortable with you and easily handled so that it can be examined more thoroughly.
  • Building a rapport with your vet and having a plan for emergencies will greatly increase your chances your chances of successful treatment.
  • Waiting until you have an emergency or until your hedgehog is very ill is not the time to start your search for a veterinarian. A quick check in the beginning may save your pets life.
  • Annual well-pet visits are also recommended because a trained veterinary professional may be able to spot a problem that may be unnoticed by the average pet owner.

Example

  • When people start to feel sick they can begin taking action to start healing. For instance, some of the first signs of a urinary tract infection are frequent urination and pain while urinating. When a person begins to notice these signs some people are able to ward off the infection by drinking lots of cranberry juice and others visit their doctor and receive a prescription for an antibiotic. Early detection and treatment can prevent much more serious and even more painful problems.
  • The first sign of a urinary tract infection in hedgehogs may be a change in elimination habits. This subtle clue may be missed by all but the most attentive hedgehog owners, and not all changes necessarily indicate a problem. A urinary tract infection in hedgehogs is also relatively simple to treat but as the infection spreads through the hedgehog’s system it becomes much more dangerous and difficult to treat.
  • An infection that is relatively common and easily treated can become dangerous and even life-threatening if not detected at an early stage.

Summary

    • As with human longevity, many factors help determine why some pets live longer than others.
    • Choosing a good diet and housing as well as providing love and attention to your pet will certainly help to extend the life of your pet.
    • Our Aging Hedgehog guide is designed to help you recognize and deal with many of the process and problems that can occur with aging.
    • Losing a pet is never easy but is inevitable in the circle of life. We encourage you to document your hedgehog’s life with pictures and writings of the fun and enjoyment you had with your pet throughout its life.
    • We hope that you will take the time to complete our new Longevity Survey. By doing so you will help increase our knowledge of hedgehogs as pets.

Hedgehog Lifespan: How Long Do They Live?

Hedgehog lifespan information is researched and asked about frequently among prospective owners. And this makes complete sense.

After all, it would be helpful to know how long a hedgehog lives if you’re going to get one right?

In this post you’ll learn everything there is to know about a normal hedgehog lifespan. How long they live, factors that can influence this, and more.

How long do hedgehogs live?

The average hedgehog lifespan is between 3-7 years for pets. There have been cases where pet hedgehogs have reached the 8-10 year range, but that’s rather uncommon.

In the wild, hedgehogs live to be around 2-3 years old. The reason for this massive difference in potential lifespan is because wild hedgehogs have to face predators (this is what ends the life of most of them) and a higher risk of disease and injury.

Next, we’ll explore the factors that influence a pet African pygmy hedgehog’s lifespan. These are all things that you can impact on some level, so understanding them can help you have more precious time with your hedgie.

What factors impact a hedgehog’s lifespan?

There are a large number of factors that can impact the lifespan of a hedgehog. Some of these are natural or genetic, and others are environmental.

Take some time to learn these so you can provide better care, and add valuable years to your hedgehog’s life. You would be surprised how beneficial it can be to look at everything through this lens.

Genetics

We hear from a lot of potential owners who want to know what they can do to make sure their pet hedgehog has the best life expectancy as possible. But a lot of them assume that the genetic and natural component is out of their control.

It’s not.

Your choice of breeder plays a huge part in getting a hedgehog with a good genetic makeup. Good genetics serve as the foundation for your hedgehog’s ability to live a long healthy life.

A responsible breeder will use smart and ethical breeding practices to make sure their hedgehogs aren’t prone to health problems. Find a breeder that’s recommended by the community and knows their stuff.

If you neglect to do this there are a number of problems it will cause. You’ll own a hedgehog who has a lower life expectancy and more likely to become ill. They might still be cute and lovable, but this isn’t fair to them. Keeping bad breeders in business just causes more hedgehogs to suffer in the future.

It’s worth noting that this isn’t a perfect system. Getting a hedgehog from a reputable breeder doesn’t mean that they’re guaranteed to have a long lifespan.

Congenital birth defects are always a possibility and you simply cannot account for the randomness of life.

Their diet

Just like with humans (and any other animal), the quality of your hedgehog’s diet will dramatically impact its lifespan.

If your hedgehog isn’t getting the necessary vitamins and nutrients from their food there are a number of problems this can cause. Here are the most common ones:

  • Developmental issues
  • A weaker immune system
  • Higher chance of getting diet-related illnesses

While we have a good idea what the best food for your hedgehog is, it’s not an exact science as of yet. Breeders and owners are still tweaking and experimenting with what they feed their hedgies to try and find the optimal nutritional intake.

The best thing you can do is follow the recommendations that the hedgehog community has tested over time, and use common sense when feeding your pet. That will help ensure that your hedgehog has the best chance to live as long as possible.

Amount of exercise

Hedgehogs are naturally very active creatures that need a good amount of exercise to thrive. Hedgehog lifespans can be greatly influenced (positively or negatively) by the amount of activity they get on a daily basis.

This not only helps them thrive physically but mentally as well. We go into the specific effect of stress on hedgehog life expectancy a bit further down, but it’s worth noting the importance of exercise on their stress levels.

In order to help facilitate this, you’ll want to make sure their environment is well-suited for activities. Give them a wheel to run on (hedgehogs are known to run multiple miles on their wheel each day) and some space to play. Toys will also give them something to fuss with and encourage movement as well.

You can also take them out of their cage to let them explore. The change of scenery and different smells will almost certainly get your hedgehog moving.

Bedding quality

Your choice of bedding can impact your hedgehog’s health and in turn, how long they live. This is a commonly overlooked factor but we highly encourage you to take it seriously.

The reason why their bedding can be so important is the fact that for most of their lives they’ll be breathing right next to it for the majority of their lives. Unsafe or suboptimal bedding can quickly become a problem due to the constant and prolonged exposure.

You’ll want to avoid softwood bedding which has been linked to respiratory problems in hedgehogs over time. If your hedgehog has to deal with this for too long it can have a negative impact on their lifespan.

Level of stress

This is another major factor that hedgehogs share with humans. Stress can impact hedgehog lifespans in a major way if unchecked.

If your hedgehog is regularly upset, grumpy, or nervous, that will undoubtedly cause issues in the future. You should always keep an eye on the mood of your hedgehog to make sure they’re happy. If you notice anything out of place it’s on you as the owner to figure out what it is and get it fixed.

Stress can be caused by anything from a noise in your home that’s constantly disturbing their sleep, or the time of day you’re handling them. Fortunately for you, your hedgehog will give you some signs if they’re stressed.

Pay attention to these signs and respect them!

Quality of life

This is semi-related to the point above, but it’s worth exploring as a broad factor. The link between an above-average hedgehog lifespan and their quality of life is clear, and the same can be said for any other animal.

If you’re going to get a hedgehog do it the right way. Make sure they have enrichment, activity, and plenty of variety in their day. A nice spacious cage goes a long way too!

Attention is another piece of the puzzle when it comes to their quality of life. While you don’t want to go overboard, giving your hedgehog attention and snuggle time can mean a lot to them over the course of their life.

Just how you get enjoyment from building trust and a relationship with your pet, they will get the same from learning to trust you!

Natural breeding risks

If you plan on breeding your hedgehog, be aware that it might have an impact on her lifespan. A female hedgehog’s body will go through a lot of stress which will make her more susceptible to illnesses.

There’s also the chance that complications will arise during the process of pregnancy which can lead to serious health concerns. This is a risk that you need to be aware of because the possibility is very real.

While we’re not discouraging you from doing this by any means, it’s absolutely worth bringing up due to the impact it can have. If your main goal is maximizing your hedgehog’s lifespan as much as possible, this is probably something you should avoid.

Medical diligence

Making sure that you’re monitoring the health of your hedgehog and giving them the proper care is another way to aid their life expectancy. Instead of only taking them to the vet when something goes really wrong, bring them in when you notice the small stuff.

This will help you prevent a little issue from turning into something serious, which can possibly impact your hedgehog’s lifespan. If you see your hedgehog acting a little strange or notice anything that concerns you it might be worth bringing them in.

We also recommend that you stick to a yearly vet trip no matter if your hedgehog seems healthy or not. These are great opportunities for your vet to make sure your pet is doing well, or notice something you might have missed.

Disease and sickness

This is one of the areas that you sometimes can’t do anything about. Yes, you can improve the chance that your hedgehog will live a long time by taking care of everything we listed above.

However, sometimes bad luck just happens.

Like any animal, hedgehogs can get sick or develop a disease and there’s not much you can do about that. Out of all the hedgehog lifespan factors, this is the one that adds a bit of randomness to the equation.

Do your best to keep them healthy and take them to the vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary. After that, it’s out of your hands.

Remember these going forward

As you can see there are a number of ways you can positively (or negatively) impact your hedgehog’s lifespan.

If you want them to live a long and happy life, keep these in mind going forward. Understanding these factors can help you provide better care and be more attentive to the needs of your hedgie.

Food supply: proper nutrition to avoid disease

Hedgehogs are predators, and a significant part of their diet is animal protein. Therefore, meat, offal, fish, etc should be in a hedgehog diet.

Vegetables and fruits are an essential component of nutrition for hedgehogs. Carrots, apples, cabbage, zucchini, as well as juices from these products are excellent sources of fiber and vitamins.

In the wild, hedgehogs like to eat insects such as beetles, flies, grasshoppers, grasshoppers. If you are reluctant to move around with a grass net, you should go to a good pet store and ask what they have to offer for the pet.

Cereals: buckwheat and rice. It is better to mix them with meat (minced meat).

Eggs: quail or chicken, raw and cooked

Industrial feed: You can give them dry feed, but it must be food that is not lower than the super-premium class.

Lifestyle and sleep: for better life expectancy

Hedgehogs are nocturnal residents. Do not take down the regimen of the day. This can affect their health. And stress is a big reason for their death.

The hedgehog should have his own house – a nest, where it will be comfortable and safe.

This aspect, like winter sleep, is significant for the health of the pet hedgehog. In the wild, the hedgehog must accumulate some nutrients in the winter to survive safely in hibernation. The owner must remember this fact and provide the pet with proper nutrition.

The hedgehogs are not capable of sleeping in a warm room, so for winter hibernation, you should look for a place where the air temperature will not be above +5 degrees.

Protect your pet from accidents: falling from a height, contact with wires and chemicals.