The cute prickly hedgehog are anything but normal when it comes to pets, yet more and more people today are looking into these wonderful little animals to introduce into their homes.
Like all pets there is a certain level of care that must be applied to the raising of hedgehogs, while it may not be litter boxes or leases there is still a regime that must be followed to keep your pet happy and healthy.
There are many questions that are asked when someone is looking at buying and caring for hedgehogs. We will explore some of the most asked questions about these great little pets.
Hedgehog Care FAQ
What are the laws about keeping them as pets?
Like all exotic animals, there may be laws governing their keeping in your area. It would be best to find out from your local authorities prior to purchase. This will keep you out of trouble should you not be allowed to own one.
When is it best to breed hedgehogs?
African hedgehogs generally are ready to reproduce between 3-4 months, it would be best however to allow them to become at least 6 months of age before considering it. The average gestational period is 34-37 days, and the litter will usually be somewhere in the 1-7 pup range. More often than not however, you will see a litter of 4 pups.
Should a new hedgehog mother be left alone after she gives birth?
A mother should definitely be left alone after she has given birth to her pups. Hedgehogs are naturally shy and skittish animals to begin with, should you attempt to handle your pet shortly after she has given birth more than likely she will become stressed and she may eat her young. It is always best to leave her be until the pups are weaned from her and they can be moved into a separate environment.
What kind of housing is appropriate?
One thing that must be remembered about hedgehogs is that they are great climbers and swimmers. You will need a home that is smooth and high walled should you want to keep your hedgehog within its confines. Generally people will use a 20-gallon aquarium with a mesh lid. Placing an old plant pot or small cardboard box in the tank will give them the privacy that they need, as they are very shy.
What type of bedding should be used in a hedgehog home?
You will want to avoid any cedar or pine shavings for the bedding of a hedgehog, as the oils in the wood will introduce repertory tract infections as well as trouble with their feet and skin. It is always best to use shredded newspaper or paper pellets in the hedgehog home.
What temperature should the hedgehogs be kept in?
The most ideal temperature would be between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Should you go lower than 75 there is a chance that the hedgehog will go into hibernation. If you go above the 85-degree mark you will risk the hedgehog and could put them in heat stress. They could also become very sluggish and will not have very much energy.
What types of food should they eat?
It is possible for your hedgehog to eat small amounts of chopped fruits and vegetables, yet they will also eat bugs. They should not be given bugs that you find around your home; they should ideally be bugs like mealworms from your local pet store.
Hedgehog Handling Tips
You need to make accommodation for this animal and its natural traits such as climbing and its nocturnal nature. The best way to keep a hedgehog would be to place it in a minimum of a 20-gallon glass or plastic tank. It should be rather tall as hedgehogs like to climb, and you do not want this little critter escaping and you loose them. By placing the animal in a 20 gallon tank you will be able to watch him and he will feel more comfortable in his surroundings without them becoming stressed out or scared.
Considering the fact that hedgehogs are more often than not very shy, it would not hurt to place some sort of house within the 20-gallon tank. Old flowerpots or cardboard boxes make great hedgehog homes, and will keep your pet happy for the span of its life. Hedgehogs are very active in the evening, and love to run and play. For this reason it is not a bad idea to place a small running wheel in the tank to keep them busy at night. The running wheel is not like the standard hamster wheel as there are no grooves or rungs for the hedgehog to get their feet caught in. Hedgehogs are also avid swimmers, should you elect to have you animal take a dip ever now and then, it would not be out of the question for you to put a small area that is filled with fresh water in the tank. This will make them very pleased and they will be happy little critters if you do.
When considering a hedgehog as a pet, it is always best to keep one hog per dwelling. They are very shy animals and realistically are not all that social towards other animals including other hedgehogs. The practice for placing more than one in a dwelling is more for mating purposes only. Once the mating is complete the male and female will be separated again. This is not to say that it is impossible for you to house more than one in a tank, should you wish to try it would be best to place a pair that are of the same sex in the tank, as the transition will be less stressful to all involved. It is never recommended that you place a male and a female in the tank on a permanent basis, chances are one or both will die through conflict. When mating and pregnancy is concerned, the male has nothing to do with the pups, and the pups would only be in danger of being eaten should you keep the male in the same tank. Unfortunately same goes for the female. She will, if stressed, eat her young. Therefore, it is advisable for you to move the pups to a new location once they are weaned off of the mother.
This popular choice of pet in North America is a very shy creature by nature; it may take some time for the little hog to warm up to its owner. This will include being held, where this is clearly a patience issue that both parties will have to exhibit in order for theyo?=re to be trusted. A little time and some gentle handling will have your pet happy and spirited within a relatively short period of time. If you rush the issue of handling you could easily set yourself back several months, or the hedgehog could not trust you at all. Take your time and do it right, this way you will see much in the way of appreciation from your new little friend and they will make it a point to show you appreciation through playfulness and active living.