- Created in Choosing Your Pet, Small Mammals, Pocket Pets, Hedgehogs
Shy animals that roll into a ball when scared, hedgehogs are covered with spiky quills. They're small, clean, and fun to watch so they're quite popular as pets. Even so, these little guys need lots of activity to stay healthy.
Hedgehogs can have health problems, including dental diseases, skin infections, intestinal parasites, and tumors. They may need a dental cleaning once a year to keep them from losing teeth. We can recommend a course of action during your hedgehog's annual checkup.
Just as humans lose hair, hedgehogs will lose some of their quills. But you should consult our care team if your hedgehog is losing an excessive amount or developing bald patches.
Hedgehogs are quite smart and can be trained to use a litter box. With treats and patience, you might also have success getting your hedgehog to come when called or to climb up your arm. You will have more success training a young hedgehog than an older one. Younger hedgehogs are also much easier to tame and may be more willing to be handled.
Hedgehogs need ample space where they can be active. A crate should be no smaller than 4x2 feet. Your pet will need bedding, a place to hide, and toys for exercise and stimulation. It's important for hedgehogs to get adequate exercise or they may become depressed or overweight. A running wheel is a good option. Be sure to clean it regularly to avoid foot infections. In the wild, hedgehogs are nocturnal, so you may hear your pet running on his wheel at night.
While hedgehogs aren't usually aggressive, they will extend their quills when they feel threatened. Supervise children to ensure they aren't playing too rough with your hedgehog. They don't like being wet and generally don't like their heads petted.
Hedgehogs eat primarily insects in the wild, so many owners feed them mealworms or crickets. Commercial hedgehog kibble is available and contains the nutrients your pet needs to be healthy. Don't feed your hedgehog cat food as it does not include blood meal or chitin.
Hedgehogs will need a constant supply of freshwater. Some prefer a water bottle attached to the side of his cage while others like a bowl.