If you are thinking about getting a pet hedgehog or if you are simply curious about these unique animals, then this article is the perfect read for you. The main point of it is to teach readers about whether hedgehogs are friendly, specifically toward humans, but it will also provide you with some additional information about these spiky mammals.
After detailing the temperament of hedgehogs, the article will end with some information regarding how to best care for them as pets.
Are Hedgehogs Friendly?
What the temperament of your hedgehog really comes down to is how you approach your new pet. Also, the younger you get a pet hedgehog, the easier it will be to get it accustomed to you.
There are a few tips when it comes to those first times you get to know your new pet hedgehog. Take a look at these below.
Smell Is Everything
Similar to any animal (and many humans), hedgehogs are friendly toward people after they have gotten used to them, and a big part of that is taking in their scent. These mammals rely heavily on their sense of smell, so giving your pet hedgehog time to get used to your natural scent can help ease it into trusting you.
This is why it is important to avoid wearing scented lotions and fragrances when you are trying to get your hedgehog accustomed to you. If you wear gloves to initially handle your pet hedgehog, it is vital that you take them off once your pet has relaxed so it can smell your hands.
Time of Day
For the best results, you should only attempt to handle your pet hedgehog during the nighttime hours. Since these mammals are nocturnal, they sleep during the day and hunt at night.
This is precisely why you should try to get to know your pet in the evening. Hedgehogs can be a bit temperamental if you wake them from their slumber, which does not make for ideal meeting conditions.
If you are having a lot of trouble getting your hedgehog to warm up to you, it can help tremendously to offer it snacks. This makes your pet start to associate you with food, which only leads to it having good feelings.
You can give your hedgehog an earthworm or mealworm to snack on every time you go to handle it. However, you should use the specific treat for only that purpose.
Soon, your hedgehog will be excited to see you every day.
Avoid the Head
When you reach out to pick up your new pet, make sure that you do not bring your hands toward it from above, as this can startle your hedgehog and cause it to roll up in a ball.
Hedgehogs also do not typically like their faces being petted, so you can avoid doing that altogether, at least until your hedgehog is familiar with you.
Let it Acclimate
It is smart to let your pet hedgehog get accustomed to its new surroundings and enclosure prior to attempting to handle it. If you wait a few days after bringing it home, the chances of a smoother meeting will be much higher.
Back it Into a Corner
If you are having trouble getting your pet to walk into your hands, you can slowly and gently move your cupped hands toward it until it is trapped in a corner of its enclosure. You should then be able to scoop it up into your hands.
Once again, make sure that you do this very slowly or you might scare your hedgehog into a ball. Also, when you pick up your pet, keep your fingers clear of its stomach so they do not get clamped into a tightly rolled-up hedgehog.
Keep in mind that it is perfectly okay to pick up your pet still if it is in a ball, though you might experience its spikes if you are bare-handed.
Protect Your Hands
You can use a towel or a little bedding from the cage to help you pick up your pet hedgehog, though it is not all that painful if you do feel the spikes with your bare skin, as hedgehogs do not have barbs on the end of their spines as porcupines do on their quills, nor do they shoot their spikes.
If your hedgehog is rolled up while you are holding it, it should eventually unfurl as long as you stay quiet and gentle, at which point you can let it sniff you.
If your pet starts to get very anxious while you are holding it in ball form, it is probably best to put it back in its enclosure until another time when it is calmer. When your pet lays its spines down, this indicates that it is relaxed.
Caring for a Hedgehog
It is very important for you to give your pet hedgehog the highest-quality life that you can provide it with. This is why you should learn about the best way to care for it.
This section will take a look at tips for taking care of your new pet.
Although hedgehogs are considered insectivores, meaning that they eat insects, the diet of wild hedgehogs consists of many different things, including various vegetables and fruits.
However, you should make sure that most of your pet’s diet is in the form of pellets that are designed specifically for pet hedgehogs. This way, you can ensure that it is getting the right nutrients to stay healthy and happy.
Aside from mainly pellets, you can feed your hedgehog some snacks of fruits, vegetables, mealworms, earthworms, and cooked meat. Your pet will certainly be happy if you do.
As far as water goes, you can either place a bowl of water in the enclosure or hang a water bottle on the side of the cage. If you do opt for a bowl, keep it fresh and clear of bedding, and if you hang a bottle, regularly check that it is clear of any obstructions.
Hedgehogs originate in Africa, Europe, New Zealand, and Europe, so they are quite versatile creatures. The variety that is used as a pet is the African pygmy hedgehog.
For this type of hedgehog, the ideal temperature for its environment is between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Thus, it is best to keep your pet’s enclosure warm by using something such as a heat bulb inside its cage. Make sure that you also utilize a thermometer to maintain ideal conditions for your hedgehog.
It is extremely important for you to provide your pet hedgehog with a way to exercise, as they can easily become overweight or obese.
You should make sure that their enclosure is large enough that they can run around in it, and you should buy a wheel for it to run on. You can also let your hedgehog out of its cage from time to time to let it release some energy outside or in your home.
Hedgehogs are not particularly social animals unless it is mating season. For this reason, you should never keep more than one hedgehog in a single enclosure.
Not only can keeping more than one in a cage lead to a nasty fight, but it could result in one that ends in fatality. Thus, if you decide to get another pet hedgehog, keep it in a separate cage that it can make its own territory.
Aside from your pet hedgehog’s enclosure being an ideal temperature, you should make sure that the enclosure does not have wire sides or a wire bottom, or your hedgehog could injure its legs.
The same goes for the exercise wheel you buy; it should not have a wire bottom so that you can avoid injuries.
Along with providing your pet with food, water, an exercise wheel, and bedding in its cage, you should place a small enclosed area of some sort into its cage where it can get some rest and privacy.
If you want to keep your hedgehog healthy and help it live a longer life, you should take it to a vet regularly.
A vet can check your pet for mites and make sure nothing life-threatening is going on. Many people with female pet hedgehogs choose to get them spayed due to the high risk of uterine tumors they experience.
It should be noted that you need to wash your hands thoroughly after handling your pet hedgehog or cleaning its enclosure.
This is necessary because their spines can grow fungal spores on them that can lead to ringworm in humans. Also, hedgehog feces contain the Salmonella bacteria.
Another thing to consider with a pet hedgehog is that it might get a bit loud at night while you are fast asleep. If your pet is not in an area sufficiently distanced from your bedroom, the hedgehog could awaken you, which can be an issue if your house is not big enough to keep the enclosure somewhere far enough away for silence.
These are all things you should think about prior to getting a pet hedgehog.
I have a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems and over 10 years of experience working in IT. I have a wife and two children and love taking them to the zoo to see all the animals. I grew up with dogs and fish and now have two dogs and two cats. I’ve also played guitar for almost 20 years and love writing music, although it’s hard to find the time these days.