The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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If you own a hedgehog, are looking at acquiring a hedgie, or are just curious about wild hedgehogs, it’s worth knowing if hedgehogs are speedy runners (you need to see if you’re going to be able to catch your pet if it happens to get out of its cage!).
We’ve taken the time to conduct all of the necessary research and compiled quite a bit of exciting data to provide you with a few captivating comparisons and, ultimately, give you a concrete picture of how quick hedgies truly are.
Keep reading to learn about all things speed, some interesting pet comparisons, and other facts about hedgehogs. Plus, we’ve included a few helpful hints for adequately caring for hedgehogs.
How Fast Can a Hedgehog Run?
Hedgies have an average maximum speed of approximately four miles per hour (4 mph). That sounds pretty quick, but hedgehogs are a bit sluggish when compared to animals of similar size.
Of course, hedgehogs can be slower or faster than the average maximum speed, depending on their age, weight, size, gender, and genetics.
It’s not likely that you’ll witness a hedgehog burst into supersonic mode. Most hedgies prefer to move slowly as they explore or forage for food.
Why Do Hedgies Run?
Wild hedgehogs can become prey to some pretty fast predators, such as foxes and badgers, that can move at top speeds of thirty miles per hour. So, it’s not very likely that a hedgie is breaking out the running shoes to evade predation.
Hedgehogs likely only run to pursue dinner. The diet of a wild hedgie consists of insects such as worms, beetles, and caterpillars. A mere four miles per hour is quite fast enough to overcome any of these tiny little bugs.
Though four miles per hour isn’t fast enough to outrun a bird of prey or a badger, it is quick enough to help a hedgehog move undetected from one form of shelter to the next.
How Important Is Running for a Hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are actually naturally athletic little animals. Running and other activities are essential to all hedgies, both wild and domesticated.
For wild hedgehogs, running is essential for numerous reasons. The most obvious motivation to run is the need to evade predation. Another reason running is vital to a wild hedgie is to procure food.
Running is just as important, if not more, for your pet hedgie as it is for those in the wild. Your domesticated pet hedgehog isn’t able to get the same level of activity as a hedgie in the wild.
Lack of activity can lead to depression and obesity in your pet hedgie. Running not only gives your pet hedgehog a platform to stay healthy and fit but boosts its mental stimulation as well.
Do Hedgehogs Enjoy Running?
When they aren’t sleeping (which is pretty much three-quarters of the day!), hedgies are busy little pincushions. They do enjoy being active, which is why you should be sure to provide a wheel for your hedgehog within its cage.
When choosing a wheel for your hedgie’s cage, make sure to choose one that is an appropriate size and designed for a hedgehog. Your hedgie’s running wheel should meet the following requirements:
- Have a sturdy bottom or cage attachment
- No rough edges
- No holes or mesh
- Ensure the center bar of the wheel will not interfere with the back of your hedgie (it’s ideal to have no bar in the center of the wheel)
- Be large enough for your hedgie to move comfortably
Whatever wheel you choose for your hedgehog, you want to ensure that your pet hedgie can enjoy a safe, happy, running adventure each night.
Do Hedgies Really Poop When They Run?
Unfortunately, pooping while running is an issue for hedgehogs. They just cannot help themselves.
When a hedgie runs, the activity can put a strain on its urinary tract and bowels. It’s an automated response that your pet hedgehog cannot control.
Movement and running will put your pet hedgie’s metabolism into overdrive, resulting in an urgency that no hedgehog can resist. It’s pretty comparable to the feeling you have right after that first morning cup of steaming hot coffee.
Of course, in the wild, a hedgie is just going to keep on moving forward, leaving a trail of poop in their wake. A domesticated hedgehog doesn’t have the luxury of leaving a pellet trail six miles behind them.
Your pet hedgie has to continuously travel through their own feces, but they do not really have another option. It’s up to you to ensure that the poop issue is taken care of.
You will need to clean your pet hedgie’s exercise wheel daily and occasionally clean the hedgehog’s feet.
Which Pocket Pet Is the Fastest?
As previously mentioned, the top speed of the hedgehog may sound quick. Still, when compared to other small companion pets, it’s pretty darn slow.
Take a look at this comparison chart of pocket pets and their maximum speeds.
You can clearly see where the hedgehog ranks in speed when compared to other pets of similar size.
What Distances Do Hedgehogs Travel?
Though your hedgehog might not win any foot races against your neighbor’s chinchilla, your pet hedgie could possibly beat the rest of the pocket pets if the race is for distance.
In the wild, hedgies can travel upwards of eight miles per day searching for food! That’s a pretty impressive feat considering that hedgehogs can sleep up to eighteen hours a day.
Can My Hedgie Jump?
Hedgies, just as with any other living thing with legs, CAN jump. The height that your hedgie can reach depends on several factors, including age and size.
It isn’t likely that you’ll see your pet hedgehog catching air, as the depth perception of your hedgehog is pretty poor and it generally won’t enjoy jumping. Would you enjoy jumping if you couldn’t see how far you were from the ground?
Do Hedgies Climb?
Hedgehogs are adventurous climbers, even with their rounded bodies and tiny little legs. Wild hedgies have been known to scale hedges, fences, and even high walls.
Pet hedgies have been caught climbing out of their cages and can become injured if their feet become entangled in wire or mesh cage panels. Their penchant for climbing is one of the many reasons why choosing the appropriate cage for your pet hedgehog is so important.
How to Choose a Healthy Hedgie
There are several hedgie varieties that make fantastic pets, the most common of which is the African pygmy hedgehog.
It is our recommendation that you acquire your new pet via a reputable, trustworthy hedgehog breeder, but if you have to use your local pet store, here are a few things to look for when choosing a hedgie.
Choose a hedgehog with bright, curious eyes. Tired-looking or lethargic hedgehogs will likely not make great pets and may possibly be ill.
Clean, dry eyes are a good indicator of health. If the eyes of a hedgehog are red or have any type of discharge, it could mean that the hedgie is not healthy.
How to Properly Care for Your Pet Hedgehog
Pet hedgies are relatively easy to raise and care for. They, the same as all pets, require proper care to stay happy and healthy.
Housing for your hedgie
Hedgies are active little guys and need space to roam and investigate. Most breeders will recommend a cage with no less than six square feet of space. Enclosures designed for rabbits or guinea pigs make great homes for hedgehogs, but it is best to avoid ones with wire or mesh bottoms.
It is recommended to line the bottom of your hedgie’s house with a small fleece or towel for bedding, covered with recycled paper for litter. You will also need to provide your pet with a place to hide comfortably, as well as an exercise wheel for much-needed physical activity and mental stimulation.
Feeding your hedgehog
Hedgies love mealworms and crickets. It is best to provide your hedgehog a food specifically formulated for it.
A feed that is high in protein and low in fat is the optimum choice. Of course, you can always give the occasional piece of fruit as a treat to your pet.
Avoid overfeeding, however, as obesity is a common health issue among domestic hedgies.
Watering your hedgie
Always make sure that your hedgehog has fresh water available at all times. Your hedgie can drink from a small water bowl, but you’ll constantly be changing out the water because of dirt and debris.
Most breeders recommend using a hanging water bottle with an attached straw to keep your hedgehog hydrated.
Keep your hedgie’s home clean
You wouldn’t want to sit in a pile of your own feces, would you? Neither does your pet hedgehog. Schedule weekly cage cleanings to remove your pet’s waste and old food.
You should daily spot clean any large piles of excrement pellets, discarded food, or any other debris in addition to your weekly cleaning.
Monitor your hedgehog’s health
Skin issues, mites, fleas, dental disease, tumors, and intestinal parasites are common issues for pet hedgies. Make sure to watch for any signs of lethargy, excessive spine loss, decreased appetite, rapid weight loss, diarrhea, nose or ear discharge, loud squealing when urinating, or blood in your pet’s feces. Any of these signs can indicate that your little friend needs to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Though hedgies are pretty hardy little pets, it is recommended that you maintain yearly checkups with your veterinarian to ensure health and happiness for your pet.
How to Keep Your Hedgie Happy
Hedgies love to be loved. Once your pet hedgehog has created a connection with you (which takes a little bit of time), they will enjoy your cuddles.
Though your hedgehog is a domesticated exotic pet, it may still long to escape its cage. If possible to be done safely, allow your hedgie out of its cage to investigate its surroundings.
Even though obesity is a health issue faced by many hedgies, giving your pet an occasional treat of cooked chicken, salmon, egg, or turkey will make its day. Just make sure not to overdo the treats.
Keep your hedgie active to ensure happiness. Hedgehogs enjoy exploring tunnels and mazes. You can purchase labyrinths for your hedgehog or create your own from tubing and shoeboxes. Be sure that you choose a tube that your hedgie can easily fit through.
Hedgehogs enjoy toys! By nature, these little guys are incredibly active. Beyond providing an exercise wheel, one way to encourage activity is to give your pet hedgehog a few toys. They enjoy small balls that can be rolled, plush animals, or anything brightly colored. Just make sure that the toys are safe and do not have any detachable parts that could be harmful if swallowed.
Signs of a Happy Hedgehog
A healthy hedgie is a happy hedgie. You can gauge your pet hedgehog’s happiness by a number of things.
An awake content hedgie will explore, snuffling and scuttling all over while making audible chirps and chuffs. Your hedgie may even display “zoomies” (quick run bursts) around its cage.
Content hedgehogs are easily handled and enjoy human-to-hedgehog contact. A happy hedgie is relaxed and comfortable in your presence.
You can also measure your hedgehog’s level of happiness by the way that they sleep. If your pet hedgie seems extremely relaxed and snoring while sleeping, it is an indicator of their level of contentment.
Hedgies are pretty good little runners and fast for their size. While their speeds are slower than other comparable pocket pets, their ability to cover long distances is simply outstanding.
If you choose to have a hedgie as a pet, it is up to you to ensure that it gets ample exercise every night (it’s going to be sleeping during the day). Running is your pet hedgie’s preferred form of exercise and mental stimulation.