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 have a hedgehog and want to get a second pet, what type of pet would you get? I needed to ask myself this question not too long ago when I wanted to get a new pet but still had to keep my spiked companion in mind. A friend suggested I get a pet rabbit; now, I wondered whether hedgehogs could live with rabbits?
Having hedgehogs and rabbits in the same family is a great idea. They can certainly play together but having them in the same cage is not a good idea. Both have different cage requirements. For example, Rabbit hutches are outside; if you have an African Pygmy Hedgehog, it won’t survive the cold.
Keeping rabbits and other animals together has always been popular because rabbits are fair-tempered. Keeping hedgehogs and rabbits as pets have become more and more popular. I thought I would find out if this was a good idea.
After some research, I decided to share what I found about hedgehogs and rabbits living together.
Can Hedgehogs Live With Rabbits?
While the idea of a rabbit and a hedgehog living together might seem cute, there are some considerations to keep in mind before diving in and buying a companion for either your rabbit or hedgehog.
Can Hedgehogs and Rabbits Live in the Same Hutch?
Rabbits usually live in hutches outside the house. For a hedgehog, this alone is a deadly problem. Most domestic hedgehogs are African Pygmy Hedgehogs; they are not like their European cousins who can hibernate for six months each year.
African Pygmy hedgehogs can’t hibernate; it’s deadly to them. The reason for this is that their bodies have adapted to warmer climates over time, which is great until they have one night that is too cold, and it triggers hibernation.
This is bad because their bodies aren’t adept at hibernating, they can’t regulate their bodies’ temperature, and they don’t have the right amount of fat storage to survive a cold winter. They will die in their sleep if kept outside.
That being said, rabbits also grow to be bigger than hedgehogs, so you run the risk of a rabbit accidentally stomping or jumping on your hedgehog, which would be deadly to the hedgehog and cause serious injuries to your rabbit.
Can Hedgehogs and Rabbits Share the Same Cage?
Hedgehogs are solitary animals that don’t like to mingle. Think of them as the grumpy person who just wants to be left alone. It’s is true in most cases.
Hedgehogs are also nocturnal(meaning they sleep during the day and are active at night), and usually, rabbits aren’t as active at night. Housing pets together that are active different at times is never a good idea.
If properly socialized as a hoglet, hedgehogs can get along fine with most animals, that is to say, in a play setting. Hedgehogs don’t like being disturbed and prefer to live alone. Rabbits also like to keep their territory to themselves.
Rabbits can be nervous around other animals, and it would be best if both hedgehog and rabbit had their own space.
Do Hedgehogs and Rabbits Get Along?
Whether you get a rabbit as a second pet or a hedgehog, how well they get along will depend on their respective personalities.
We all know hedgehogs take a while to warm up to any new family member, and they value their privacy, so you need to be patient when introducing the two animals.
There are certain steps you should take when introducing them to see how they react with each other. It is best for the rabbit and hedgehog to have a play area where they can get used to each other better over time.
It requires patience and persistence, but they can live in the same home together.
How to Introduce Hedgehogs to Rabbits
When you introduce a hedgehog to a rabbit, you need to make sure both animals stay safe at all times. Here is how to introduce your hedgehog to your rabbit:
- When introducing your hedgehog to your rabbit for the first time, hold your hedgehog in your hands; this way, if your rabbit or the hedgehog gets stressed or upset, you can take the hedgehog away immediately.
- Let your rabbit’s curiosity take over, and let it sniff and get used to its spiky new housemate.
- Take your hedgehog away if it seems stressed (urinating or defecating on itself); stressing out either your hedgehog or your other pets should be avoided.
- Limit the first few interactions, so they don’t feel too stressed and threatened. Remember to keep an eye on them at all times.
- If your rabbit gets curious and starts to sniff your ouch mouse, it will likely get a tiny poke with a vibrating quill. It is a natural defense mechanism that hedgehogs have.
- Make sure you recognize the signs of a hedgehog or rabbit in distress. If this happens, you need to take them back to their enclosures as it is their safe space.
When to Separate Your Hedgehog and Rabbit
When you have introduced your hedgehog and rabbit, but there is a sudden move, hop, or noise, your hedgehog might go into defense mode. Remember that hedgehogs won’t start a fight or be aggressive.
Signs That Your Hedgehog Wants to Go Back to Its Cage
They will roll into a ball and hiss, spreading their quills out if your rabbit comes too close, now this in itself doesn’t mean you should take them away, but if they don’t uncurl, then it would be best to try again another day.
Hedgehogs have poor eyesight but have a fantastic sense of hearing and quick reaction time, so they will do this to protect themselves until they are entirely comfortable with your rabbit.
If they are really scared, a hedgehog will become a vibrating ball of quills; there might also be a little pee or defecation, this is a clear sign of fear, and you need to take your hedgehog away immediately.
Signs That Your Rabbit Wants to Go Back to Its Hutch
Rabbits are usually docile creatures, so you need to know when the situation is stressing your rabbit out as well. Rabbits might see your hedgehog as a predator at first, and the stress might turn to fear.
There are some signs that your rabbit is in distress and needs to be removed from the situation as soon as possible:
If your rabbit is panting heavily, this is one of the first indicators of fear. If your rabbit stomps its feet, it is a clear sign of an unhappy rabbit. Be careful when they stomp out of unhappiness, as they could end up stomping on your hedgehog.
Nervously chewing with their ears laid back might be a sign of fear or dental problems. If it is a dental issue, they will continue the nervous chewing well after being taken back to their hutch.
If your rabbit makes a somewhat stressed sound, they are definitely scared out of their minds and need to be removed immediately.
Are Hedgehogs and Rabbits Living Together Hazardous?
If you are trying to decide whether it would be a good idea to keep a hedgehog and a rabbit in one home, you might be wondering if they could get a parasite or disease that could jump species and either contaminate the other or yourself.
Diseases and Parasites Hedgehogs Are Prone to Getting
If you wondered about what diseases and parasites hedgehogs can get and if they can pass it on, here are some answers:
Hedgehog Fleas, Ticks, and Mites
Hedgehogs are prone to a specific type of flea (Archaeopsylla Erinacei) that is host-specific. These fleas can only mate, reproduce and finish their life cycle on a hedgehog and can’t survive on any other animal like a rabbit. They can, however, jump between two hedgehogs.
Fleas might not jump on you and stay, but they sure will bite you and your rabbit. So maybe getting your hedgehog treated for fleas is better than being a snack to one of its fleas.
On the other hand, Ticks are parasites that can spread to hedgehogs and rabbits regardless of their interaction. Common ticks will spread between all animal species and will even nibble on humans if it gets a chance.
Hedgehogs are prone to skin conditions, and mites are part of that issue. Hedgehog mites can spread to your rabbits, so you should keep your rabbit away from the play area where they interact until you get your hedgehog treated.
Hedgehogs, like most animals, are prone to worms. There are several species of worms that a hedgehog might get, and it needs to be treated by a vet immediately to prevent it from getting worse and severely affecting your hedgehog’s health.
Hedgehog ringworm is more a fungus than a worm, and if it is left untreated, it can spread to other animals and humans.
Other Hedgehog Diseases
Out of all the diseases hedgehogs can get, only a few can transmit to humans or other animals. One such disease is Salmonella. It usually gets this very infectious disease through infected feces.
That is why keeping your hedgehog and other animal enclosures clean will help prevent hedgehogs and your rabbits from getting sick. If you catch any sign of the symptoms mentioned in your hedgehog, you need to get them to a vet immediately.
You also need to separate your rabbit from your hedgehog and thoroughly clean any room or area where they have interacted with each other.
Some symptoms of Salmonella you can look out for in a hedgehog are:
- Diarrhea, blood in the feces, green feces, or slimy feces
- Loss of appetite
- Breathing difficulties
If your rabbit has come in contact with your hedgehog and it has Salmonella, you need to closely monitor your rabbit to ensure the bacteria has not infected your rabbit.
Rabbits don’t often get Salmonella because they are very hygienic animals, but the bacteria can spread in a domestic setting. If you catch any signs of these symptoms in your rabbit, you need to take them to a vet immediately.
Some symptoms of Salmonella you can look out for in rabbits are:
- Diarrhea and blood in the feces
Diseases and Parasites Rabbits Are Prone to Getting
As with hedgehogs, there are diseases and parasites that rabbits are prone to getting. Rabbits are very hygienic animals, but there are instances where rabbits that live in hutches can get sick.
Rabbit Fleas, Ticks and Mites
Rabbits are prone to the same types of flea infestation that dogs and cats get. They don’t get species-specific fleas as hedgehogs do.
That’s good news for your hedgehog because it won’t be able to spread to your hedgehog. The fleas may bite and irritate you and the hedgehog but won’t move to your hedgehog.
As is the case with hedgehogs, rabbits can get the same type of ticks that dogs, cats, and most other animals can get, and these ticks might not jump like fleas do but will transfer to your rabbit or your hedgehog if the opportunity arises.
Rabbit ear mites are very tiny spider-like parasites that are highly infectious and can spread to most other animals such as your hedgehog; if you see your rabbit fiercely shaking its head and scratching at its ear, then it’s time for a vet visit.
Rabbits can get tapeworms if exposed to infected feces, and these can, in turn, be passed to a hedgehog, but the chances of this happening are very low.
Rabbits can also get ringworm. It can pass on to you or a hedgehog if there is direct contact with infected skin.
You can get medications at the vet to help clear up this fungal problem. So rather keep your rabbit away from other animals until the fungus has cleared up.
Other Rabbit Diseases
Rabbits carry a bacteria called Pasteurella. This bacterial infection can lead to a common rabbit respiratory disease that is also very contagious to hedgehogs. If you see any of these symptoms of infection in either your rabbit or your hedgehog, you need to get veterinary treatment right away.
Symptoms of Pasteurella in rabbits:
- Constant sneezing
- Runny nose
- Matted hair due to wiping paws from the runny nose all over its fur
- Discharge from its tear ducts
Symptoms of Pasteurella in hedgehogs:
- Runny nose
- Discharge from its eyes or tear ducts
- Difficulty breathing
Having both a rabbit and a hedgehog is a great idea, as long as they are kept in separate enclosures and given their own space and privacy. With time they should warm up to each other.
Keep in mind that if one gets sick, it is better to separate it from the other just as a precaution. As long as they are kept happy and healthy, they make great companions.