How to Care for Pet Hedgehogs – The Basics

How to look after your hedgehog

Pet hedgehogs are a playful and adorable addition to your family. When you are looking for an exotic pet, a hedgehog is an excellent choice. They’re notoriously easy to care for, easy going, and don’t take up much space or make a mess. They’re perfect for a busy family, especially if you only have time to spend with your pet in the evenings, since hedgehogs are nocturnal.

You can never mistake a hedgehog for something else. Their unique, spikey nature gives them a stand-out appearance you can’t forget. Pet hedgehogs are becoming more popular because of their gentle nature and insanely cute faces. They’re also unique creatures, and must be handled with the utmost care.

In the United States, the most common type of pet hedgehog is the African Pygmy variety. They’re the most quiet and calm of the different breeds of hedgehog; however, you still need to be sure to not startle them, or they’ll deploy their quills. Hedgehogs have over 7,000 quills each, and those spikey things are very sharp if you get poked with one directly. Each quill on a hedgehog points in a different direction and forms a protective barrier around the animal when it rolls into a ball. This is how a hedgehog protects itself in the wild.

One of the most challenging aspects of keeping a pet hedgehog is feeding it. These animals are omnivores in the wild, eating both plants and other animals. Dry cat and dog food can satisfy a hedgehog, and provides it with the essential nutrients it needs to live. Giving it some meal worms and other small insects will also help it thrive. For treats, hedgehogs love fruit; this isn’t an everyday food for your pet, but giving him a little bit of his favorite fruit a few times a week will certainly make him happy! Experiment with different kinds until you find the type he likes best (every hedgehog is unique and has his own personal favorite foods).

Please make sure you always keep a sufficient amount of water available to your pet, since hedgehogs need to drink liberally while they’re awake.

As far as your pet’s living space goes, he’ll need a large cage, as hedgehogs like to move around. Like any animal (including humans!), he also needs exercise to stay healthy, so be sure to put wheels and tubes in the cage so he can have some recreation. In fact, without recreation, your pet will get bored and make a mess of his cage!

If you follow these simple guidelines, you’ll find that having pet hedgehogs is a real joy! Properly cared for, your hedgehog will give you many years of enjoyment, and the two of you will likely become the best of friends.

67 Comments on "How to Care for Pet Hedgehogs – The Basics"

  1. If you have homes for the babies planned, can a male and female hedgelog live together peacefully in the same cage, or will they fight. I read that they should only be put together for breeding, and they separated. We have a pair, not siblings, age 14 weeks old, together at this time. They are happy together and we would like to keep them together, if possible.

  2. Hello, I am interested in getting a hedgehog as a pet. So i looked for a site to help me do so, and i came across yours. Thank you so much for the article, it helped me get a basic idea on keeping one as a pet. Thank you!

  3. Hi Mary I’m glad you found the information useful. I hope you enjoy your Hedgie if you decide to get one πŸ™‚

  4. Hi Spike
    Hope you can give me some advice. I rescued a wild adult hedgehog from a busy road yesterday. He is now free in my garden with some cat food. Would it be cruel to keep him there and should I take him to a nearby field where I know there are wild hedgehogs?
    Many thanks :o)

  5. We have had a hedgehog roaming our apt for over a year and a half. He has been fine with cats dogs and a turtle. Just yesterday we noticed he was having difficulty breathing and mucus is coming from his noes. I removed some hair stuck to him from muy shedding dogs and cleane dhis nose and put in small dog eyedrops but he still seems to be gasping for breath. Some air bubbles are coming from his nose. It started last night. We live in Abu Dhabi but he has been in the AC all this time. Normally he runs free and has little box huts around for his use. Now I have him in a large doig cage to keep an eye on him. He did not eat last night and does not seem to want to drink water. I am worried. What to do? Thank you so much.

  6. JMaggie | 31/10/2009 at 3:44 pm |

    this was intristing. I definently found it helpful!

  7. hi im looking for help in seeing what i can do for dry skin with my hedge hog

  8. Animal luver | 22/11/2009 at 2:18 am |

    I am thinking about getting a hedgehog and i was wondering if they are playful and know who the owner or “master” is?

  9. Hi Spike,
    I am seriously considering getting a hedgehog and was wondering how well it could adjust to a house with a cat and a small dog. They have lived with rats for about 4 years and will learn not to mess with a hedgehog the first time they get quilled, but I am not sure if they will hurt it.

  10. I am a hedgehog owner and have been for a long time. Jan, if I were you, I wold release the hedgehog, because he will probably not make a very good pet. Wild hedehogs bite, scratch, and are generally not the sweetest animals.

  11. Janet, to help your hedgehog’s skin, give him a tiny bit of vegetable or olive oil on his food. watch how much you put, thought. Too much oil could cause him to gain lots of weight.

  12. Robert, I have a dog, and he leaves my hedgehog alone, but the cat would be something to worry about. Cats will sit right next to the cage for long periods of time, and this might traumatize your hedgehog. If your heart is set on a hedgehog, you might consider placing it’s cage in a room that your cat cannot go into. Cindy, I would separate your hedgehogs, they are very solitary animals and come together only for mating, so if a male and a female are in the same cage, they will soon mate, and you will have baby hedgehogs. Although this sounds cut, not only will you run the risk of your female hedgehog dying during pregnancy or birth, baby hedgehogs cost a lot to feed and care for. Animal Luver, most hedgies are very playful, but, like humans, each one has a different personality. And yes, most of the time, they know who the “master” is. Leigh, get your pet to the vet ASAP-this could be a life-thretining disease. I hope he is ok!

  13. So me and my boyfriend are planning on getting a hedgehog soon and we often sleep with the window open i was wondering if i used one of those lizard heating rocks in his cage or if it would be to hot for him, or would that be okay? Just so if he was cold he could snuggle up next to it or on it.

  14. elizabeth | 30/01/2010 at 2:40 pm |

    I have a hedgehog and he so cutie but he gets scard alot my cousin gave me him he as a big cage and space and everything he needs to play with when my couin had him you need gloves to pick him up i have to do that all the time and he can only get use to me on the weekends cause i live with my mom must of the time so i need help to make my headghog more frieldly.

  15. Tristian | 03/02/2010 at 11:20 pm |

    Hi soon i’m geting one hedghog and i don’t have enhof money for a hedghog cage. So let me tell you the story we yst to have hamstrs and they died after acuple muths and I was wudering if we culd keep the hedghogs in a cage?

  16. Tristian | 03/02/2010 at 11:22 pm |

    Can you pless anser soon?

  17. Tristian | 03/02/2010 at 11:27 pm |

    And here is a? ok we have 3 cats and 2 dogs what wuld hapen if my hedghog goes to one of the cats and the harts him? And don’t werey about the dogs becase they mostly stay outside.

  18. Tristian | 04/02/2010 at 10:43 pm |

    hi aggin

  19. Tristian I think a hamster cage would be a bit small for your hedgehog. If you can’t afford the hedgehog AND everything he needs to be happy right now, just save up and don’t buy the hedgehog yet. Your cats would probably kill it if it got out, so it needs to be secure.

  20. the pictures on here are so cute one of them is my screensaver. where do they get them from?

  21. thanks for the great help i think my parents might go get me a hegdehog sooon

  22. I used to have rabbits and while I know the cage is not suitable for a hedgehog would it be safe to keep one in the rabbit’s old playpen? It’s basically the equivalent of a metal puppy fence with small gaps in the bars. It can be extended for a very large area for them to run around and I can definately provide toys for him. We have two dogs but they’re only downstairs and the playpen would be in my room upstairs.

  23. I was wondering if a hedgie can tell one person in a family from the others in other words will it know its me not someone else?

  24. I was wondering, where is it legal 2 get a hedgie cuz i REALLY want one. Plus also, what types of things startle hedgies?

  25. Allerigh | 19/04/2010 at 11:27 pm |

    I was just wondering, how do you convince your parents to let you have a pet hedgehog? I really want to have one because there soo cute!!! plus there not hard to care for.

  26. I loved your site. I am getting my new hedgehog on may 1st and the information that you have provided has been most helpful. My question is we have ac ( we live in Florida) would a heating lamp be okay to keep it warm? If not do you have any suggestions? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  27. Mouseygirl | 23/04/2010 at 6:32 pm |

    My dad wants to get a pet hedgehog and so do I. Are they legal in Everett Washington? Also, how well do hedgehogs get along with other household pets. We have two female mice, two female rats and a male chinchilla. Would a hedgehog do okay in the same room as those pets, if they were all in cages?

  28. Kaitlyn | 25/05/2010 at 1:30 am |

    Hiya, I live in Oregon, and I was wondering where I could get one. I’ve been researching them like a loon and I’m fairly certain that I’ve fallen in love! But I’ve no idea where to even get one! Please help!

  29. i am gettin a 7 month old male hedgehog tom and am also waiting on a baby hedgehog from a diff lady…. will i have to keep them seperate? and does it matter if the baby is a boy or girl?

  30. what size cage do they need????

  31. I was wondering if a 20″ inch by 32″ cage would work for a hedgehog cage

  32. GermanicMille | 21/08/2010 at 1:40 am |

    I am considering to get one pet hedgehog. However my flat is very small. Is it possible not to keep it in a cage but a small box as it’s bedroom? When it wake up, it can walk/run/play around in my flat instead of in a cage? However, will it litter up the floor? Bite the furniture or cable?

  33. I am interested in getting a hedgehog. I was wondering if it was safe for them to run around my apartment, and If they would still be
    litter box trained. Please let me know if anyone has done this, and also where their hedgehog slept, and how they introduced it to running around after being in a cage. Thanks.

  34. sue tode | 15/09/2010 at 10:56 pm |

    they r so cute

  35. tina turner | 15/09/2010 at 10:58 pm |

    Nick Jonas is so hot

  36. Lilly Tucker | 15/09/2010 at 11:00 pm |

    i have 2 cats if i get a hedgehog will my cat hurt it?

  37. Lilly Tucker | 15/09/2010 at 11:05 pm |

    Dear Irene,
    I think, i dont know if u wanted me to answer of if it matters,well anyway i dont think that is a good idea. you should get a cage u might have one anyway. Chow

  38. is a heat mat a good idea or a snuggle safe

  39. I’ve had two hedgehogs in my life one when I was younger that was free range and another a few years ago that lived in this crate box thing that she came with when we got her from my brother in law when he went to college. Now that I’m 19 I’m thinking of getting one again since I’ve always enjoyed them and I plan to adopt the box idea since it would be alot easier than getting another tank.

  40. i want to get a hedgehog but my mom and dad dont want one because we already have a cat, fish two frogs and 15 tadpoles so i looked for stuff on this website but they still dont wont one so what should i do to change there mind please right back anyone pretty, pretty please
    from nine year old cassie

  41. ronald mikhail talag | 25/02/2011 at 5:48 am |

    tell them cat is a different to a hedgehog πŸ™‚ cats eat a lot hedgehog doesnt πŸ™‚ and cat cant kill a hedgehog , for surely hedgehog will gain respect from the cat because of the spikesss that they will encounter if they tried to hit hedgiess.. just try to convince them.. it is worth to have a pair and better if they breed… if ur parents stil doesnt want too then u have to respect ur parents ^_^

  42. We got a wheel for my hedgie to run in but after a few days she just started to sleep and cuddle (?) behind and under the wheel instead of running in it..
    I find that when I don’t pick her up to play she prefers not to move; but once she’s awake she runs and runs and runs on my hands and all around me. When she’s in the cage she doesn’t seem to do anything nowadays except sleep and walk around occasionally, run for a short period of time and go back to sleep. Is there something wrong?

  43. mikayla | 03/05/2011 at 1:04 am |

    iz rely want a hedgehog but i cantz so iz is saving up my money so wat on avrage is the price.

  44. Kay-Kay | 30/11/2011 at 6:08 pm |

    I’m seriously considering getting a pet hedgehot, but I have some questions. I’ve had a hamster before, and I still have his old cage, and I was wondering if that would be sufficient to keep a hedgehog in? About how big do they grow to be when they’re older? And how much smell is involved with one? When I had my hamster I cleaned his cage fairly regularly but my room still took months to get rid of the hamster-smell after he passed away. (He died of old age. He was a few years old.) And how long is their life-expectancy? Thank you to anyone who takes the time to answer these questions.

  45. luisfernadez | 17/01/2012 at 9:12 am |

    i come across your mail i wanted to know from you if you are still interested in taking getting
    hedgehog , i have both male and female to give out for adoption .
    if you are guys are still interested contact me through this email address : [email protected].
    i await to read from you back thanks .

  46. Tristin no you probably cant because it is most likley to be to small hedgehogs need a lot of space to run around in so no.


  48. bradley | 20/05/2012 at 3:46 pm |

    hiya i was just wondering can they be kept outside or do the have to stay inside ?

  49. You might want to check the infections hedgehogs transmit.

  50. Hedgehogs like to be alone and don’t like to be pet. They need a lot of room too. Lots of good info on YouTube nowadays. We rescued one after someone dumped him. Not really social, but not high maintenance n

  51. They are nocturnal, so don’t do anything during the day n are active at night. I learned not to put them in grass cause they could get mites.

  52. The temperature is supposed to be around 70F. N they live for about 10 years.

  53. cindy taylor | 14/05/2013 at 4:07 am |

    When its summer does the heatlamp need to be on?

  54. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 3:55 am |

    I have been put on the waiting list for a hedgie, and know ALOT about them. For example, I am like most people who want to get the best of deals for things. And i have a great thing to tell you! Hedgehog cages can be too expensive, BUT NOT ANYMORE!!!! You can use a sterilite bin for a hedgie cage and they aren’t that expensive!!! But be sure to get at least a 105 quart sterilite bin. And if ur going to leave the lid on be sure to put TONS of holes in the lid and HUGE holes on the side top so ur pet can’t escape but gets the air circulation it needs.

  55. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 3:56 am |

    Also temperatures need to be 70-82 farienheit. 75 being the safest temperature.

  56. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:02 am |

    I personally love to use fleece lining for after a while saves u money. I had two that fit my cage and whenever i need to wash it (which it is not often cause hedgies poop in their wheel) I would wash that one and then put the other one it for replacement. πŸ˜€

  57. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:04 am |

    Also hedgies need sunlight but not direct sunlight because for some reason if they dont they will go into hibernation which is deadly for hedgies cuz they can’t pack on the pounds needed for hibernation.

  58. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:05 am |

    Crazy how I know these off the top of my head??? πŸ˜›

  59. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:07 am |

    Also Cindy yes the heat lamp should be on just in case, but u should really just keep it on at night or if u have AC u should keep it on. I suggest getting a thermometer so u know the temperature of ur cage so i u can decide if it should be on or off.

  60. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:09 am |

    Also before u get a hedgehog u need to see if a vet near you accepts hedgehogs just in case of emergencies like mites.

  61. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:34 am |

    I also have found if u are going to put a toilet paper tube for him/her to play with in its cage be sure to cut a line through it or ur hedgie will get stuck which isnt a good thing. πŸ™

  62. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:44 am |

    Lets say u have a grumpy hedgie and u want the hedgehog to be more open with u. I have the perfect solution. Hedgehogs depend on their senses the smell, and hearing. So if u wear a t-shirt to bed for about…..uh lets say 4 nights to bed. Your scent will uhhhhhh Most definitely be on the shirt. Then place it in ur hedgie’s cage to snuggle in and smell ur……”scent”. Then it will know ur scent and u will NOT be a stranger to ur hedgehog. Then u will just have to handle ur hedgehog alot from that point on. Your voice could also be used by talking to ur pet while holding him/her. It will hear u and smell u and put the pieces together. Then it will figure out u will not harm him/her. It will like u more after that.

  63. Krystal | 02/07/2013 at 4:51 am |

    Another thing before I go. Quilling. This is a phase when ur prickly friend is losing its baby quills and getting adult quills. They will go through this phase 6-8 weeks of age then one more time around 4 months of age. Just remember even though ur hedgie might be pissed handle every day anyways. It might bite u but it will not draw blood. If u do NOT handle and leave ur friend alone it will begin to not like people anymore and not like to be handled. I can NOT stress enough on how important handling a hedgie EVERY DAY FOR AT LEAST 30 MINUTES IS!!!! It will be a more likable pet if u do!!!

  64. Lucille | 24/03/2015 at 7:13 pm |

    I have a dog small one I wondering if getting a hedgehog is a wise choice.

  65. Are hedgehogs okay to be alone?

  66. sindy lue | 21/09/2015 at 3:53 am |

    GermanicMille, I have recently gotten a baby hedgehog and we put it in a box, however it escaped 3 times before we could get it a cage and she was very hard to find. I wouldn’t recommend using a box because it can escape from the box and be very difficult to find. They are nocturnal so when you are asleep, it will be awake. Good luck, they are the best rodents in the world! !!!!!!;);{)

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