Eight Top Facts About Pet Hedgehogs

Four-toed Hedgehogs, Atelerix albiventris, 3 weeks old, in front of white background

Things you need to know about your pet hedgehog

Here are the 8 top facts about pet hedgehogs you probably didn’t know. If you’ve got a pet hedgehog, knowing these facts will help the two of you get along swimmingly!

1. Hedgehogs have very poor eyesight, but enjoy razor sharp hearing and a powerful sense of smell.

2. They’re very territorial animals, so you shouldn’t put two together in a cage. The chances of them getting along are very small, and they’ll probably fight.

3. Hedgehog pets can’t digest bread and milk, so don’t feed them that! Hedgehogs prefer small insects, and also enjoy high quality canned cat food, scrambled eggs, and bran. They need lots of fresh water, too, so make sure you’ve always got plenty set out for yours.

4. Between December and April, wild hedgehogs will go through short periods of hibernation. If you allow your pet African Pygmy Hedgehog to hibernate it could be fatal. To stop your pet hibernating make sure that its cage is heated to between 72 and 75° F.

5. Hedgehogs have pointy spines on their backs and sides and will roll up into a ball if they sense they are in danger. Males can have up to 500 spines on their back, while females tend to have fewer spines.

6. A baby hedgehog is called a hoglet, and 4 to 5 hoglets are common per mother.

7. In the wild, hedgehogs can travel 1 – 2 miles looking for food. They prefer to live near a food source, and areas with lots of dead leaves are very appealing for them, as they can burrow into the leaf mounds for shelter.

8. Pestecides of all kinds are harmful to these creatures, so keep your hedgehog pets away from any plants that have been sprayed with these kinds of chemicals.

4 Comments on "Eight Top Facts About Pet Hedgehogs"

  1. Recenly my friends got a Hedgehog, i am over there alot and now that i know alot about them, i am wanting one. Ive done alot of research but 4 things i cant quite seem to find is 1. Male or female? I would prefur a male but my friends told me to get a female, since they are nicer. But according to everything ive read, thats not true unless they werent given enouph attention with the breeder. My other question was about hibernating. Is is bad for there health if they start to to often? If they are cold on their underbelly and shaking, and moving less does it mean they have started? or is ity just a beginning stage? As far as the cage what is best? My friend has a aquarim tank about 2 1/2 ft. by 1 ft. and is about 1 1/2 ft. high the breeder said it was perfect. I have a similar tank that is only about a ft. high. Are either big enouph? Anything better? Lastly, Her hedgehog, never runs on its wheel. is that normal?
    Sorry im asking all this but i want to be well educated before i bring one home. I am 14 and have pretty much soaked up ALOT about them all ready, i cant wait to bring one home.

    Also thanks for your awesome articles!!! they helped alot!!!

  2. Sarah,
    Hedgies sex have nothing to do with their sociability, however the fact of the matter is stuff can get caught in a males sheath, resulting in infections. As far as hibernation, try to keep the hedgehog warm! My hedgie stays near the heating vent and I made her a small little snuggly sack with polar fleece to keep her warm. (: My hedgie is in an 11 dollar plastic tub I bought at Walmart, it’s probably 2 ft long, 1 foot wide. So your tank should be fine, just be careful it doesn’t hold in too much moisture.. That’s the only issue with tanks. And some hedgehogs need some coaxing, my hedgie loves the wheel however in the beginning she wouldn’t. I just set her on the wheel and rocked it.

  3. I have just discovered this site, so I am responding to the initial post and the subsequent comments very late. My purpose is to clarify some of the myths and erroneous information about pet African (Algerian and Central African) hedgehogs. I operate a United States charitable nonprofit (IRS Code Section 501c(3)) corporation and have done so officially since 1999 and unofficially since 1996. During that time I have cared long-term for 385 hedgehogs. Our resident rescue population usually consists of between 30 and 50 hedgehogs. Concerning this initial post, here are some clarifications aobut these “eight top facts.” The sense of smell of a hedgehog is phenomenal, as favoring insects in the wild, they can detect them up to a foot underground. A hedgehog that loses her/his sight can still negotiate very well (we had a had a hedgehog here that was completely blinded by glaucoma shortly after her arrival (her name was Chaucer, IHR Registry #17020) and she arrived on Dec 27, 2006 at just 5 months of age – she lived here until she was almost 5 and a half years old and succumbed to old age illness, kidney failure). As for territoriality, the common notion is that hedgehogs do not get along. The British hedgehog expert Pat Morris has discounted this in several of his studies, and so have we. In our experience, male hedgehogs tend to be territorial and will be prone to fight. Females may get along quite well (or fight), but it is a relationship thing. Here At the rescue we have had compatible female hedgehogs throughout our entire existence, from pairs up to as many as a colony of 9. Males do tend to squabble, but over the years we have had a number of males who have gotten along with other males in groups of two or three. Hedgehog diets in captivity is safely relegated to high quality dry cat food – “high quality” meaning a successful cat food company that has not been bought out by Big Soap or Big Candy. When Royal Canin got bought out by Mars Candy, for example, the ingredients went from “chicken” to “chicken by-products,” in other words – garbage, “sweep the floor.” Please do not feed hedgehogs scrambled eggs – they love the stuff, but you will kill them via fatty liver metamorphosis (high cholesterol). The number of spines on the back of a hedgehog numbers about 5,000 to 7,000 – I do not know where the number 500 came from, and I have never seen where males have more spines than females. The names for hedgehogs and hedgehog groups are interesting, as it appear these names have bee simply grabbed from thin air. Here is another set of names, coined by a hedgehog-expert veterinarian: Group of hedgehogs (5 to 24): Whump. Smaller group (2 to 4): Whumpie. Larger group (over 24): Grootwhump (the language is Afrikaans). I have no argument with the rest of the article. Now for the posts: There is really no attitudinal difference between female and male hedgehogs, other than how they relate to others of their same gender (males tend to be more territorial). With humans a male and a female hedgehog may be equally sweet. Pet hedgehogs need a minimum of 3.5 square feet of living space, enough space for a large (11” minimum” solid surface exercise wheel), a waterer (do not use water bottles), a food bowl (do not use Chinese products – Pyrex is best), and a place to hide (log, hedgiebag, blankets, etc.). And remember, these little gals and guys need to be kept above 70 degrees Fahrenheit at all times. Best wishes, Z. G. Standing Bear at the Flash and Thelma Memorial Hedgehog Rescue in Divide, Colorado USA. Our web site is http://www.hedgieflash.com and our telephone number is (800) 735-3160, and the email address is [email protected]

  4. Connie Bane | 01/08/2015 at 6:09 pm |

    I rescued a male hedgehog a year and a half ago. He was dirty, scared and on bad food. He has done beautifully until about a month ago. His food is a high quality cat food, he has a wheel that he uses each night, very large cage, heat lamp with a blue moonlight bulb. Bedding is soft baby blankets, kept clean, cage cleaned every day with unseated baby wipes. He has vp developed purple skin on each side, was losing lots of quills but that has stopped. Eats well, drinks water from bowl. Exotic vet can find nothing wrong. I worry. Have you heard of this before? What is wrong with my Mason? I have had hedgehogs before, rescues, but have never seen this.

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