Hedgehogs are quiet, gentle animals that, despite their growing popularity, are still considered unconventional, exotic pets. It’s hard to resist the cuteness of a hedgehog, but like any pet, hedgehogs are not for everyone. Before you consider adding a pet hedgehog to your family, it’s important to know whether you’ll be able to meet all of its unique needs.
If you’re thinking about adopting a hedgehog, here are a few things to consider:
Hedgehogs can be difficult to handle
Handling a nervous hedgehog can be very tricky or even painful for inexperienced pet owners. A nervous hedgehog will twitch and curl into a ball, exposing its quills. The more hedgehogs are handled, the more they will relax. Hedgehogs that are rarely handled can remain curled for long periods of time. When handling your hedgehog, you must be very gentle. It’s best to use a towel or a heavy pair of gloves until your pet feels more at ease. It is important to be extra gentle then, as the towel or gloves prevent us from feeling your pet very well.
Hedgehogs may carry salmonella bacteria
Hedgehogs have been known to harbour salmonella bacteria, which means you should wash your hands thoroughly after handling your hedgehog, its cage, or its bedding. Be careful not to touch your eyes or around your mouth until after you have washed your hands. Always supervise your hedgehog around young children and other pets.
Hedgehogs need exercise
Hedgehogs love to eat. If pet hedgehogs are housed in cages most of the time, with little opportunity to exercise, it’s very easy for them to become overweight. Hedgehogs should be given time to exercise outside of their cages and their cages should be equipped with a plastic solid wall running wheel. Wire wheels can injure them.
Hedgehogs keep late-night hours
Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal, remaining active at night. This means you may hear them running on their wheel or feeding at night. If you’re a light sleeper, a hedgehog may not be the most appropriate pet for you. An advantage to a hedgehog’s nocturnal schedule is that they tend to sleep during the hours when your family members are at work or school.
Finding veterinary care
Hedgehogs are still relatively uncommon pets, which mean not all veterinarians may be comfortable treating your hedgehog. Before adopting a hedgehog, research how far you may need to travel for veterinary care.
Where to adopt your hedgehog
Contact your local Ontario SPCA Branch to see if there are adoptable hedgehogs in your area or to receive information on the closest licensed breeder. Adopting a hedgehog from a responsible breeder will help you find one that has received the proper care, attention, and is more likely to be well socialized.
A pet hedgehog may be the perfect pet for you! Do your research and find one today.