What to Know Before Adopting a Hedgehog

by | General Pet Care |

Hedgehogs are quiet, gentle beings and, like any animal, they are not the right companion for everyone. Before you consider adding a hedgehog to your family, it’s important to know whether you’ll be able to meet all of his or her unique needs.

If you’re thinking about adopting a hedgehog, here are a few things to consider:

Hedgehogs require careful handling

Handling a nervous hedgehog can be very tricky or even painful for inexperienced caregivers. 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 new companion is more at ease. It is important to be extra gentle then, as the towel or gloves will prevent you from feeling your friend.

Wash your hands!

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 animals in the home.

Hedgehogs need exercise

Hedgehogs love to eat. If 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. In addition, 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 friend 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 companion animals, 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.

Adopting a small animal

Interested in other small animals? Learn more about rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.

To view animals available for adoption, visit ontariospca.ca/adopt