Owning a Hedgehog as a Pet
- December 25, 2019
- Posted by: Dr. Diaz
- Category: Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are tiny, spiny, and insect-eating mammals. A lot of domesticated hedgehogs are kept as pets and are often referred to as porcupines. However, unlike porcupines, hedgehogs have smooth spines that are like the bristles of a toothbrush. This allows hedgehogs to be an adorable pet instead of a dangerous predator. Owning a hedgehog is a great responsibility, and it’s important to understand the proper care of your new spikey pet. Fortunately, the Exotic Animal Hospital of Orlando is here to inform you on how to make sure your hedgehog live a long and happy life.
Understanding Your Hedgehog’s Behavior and Temperament
Pet hedgehogs are typically quiet, active, and low maintenance. Furthermore, they are nocturnal, which makes them a good pet for someone who works a regular nine to five job. These animals prefer to be alone and may fight another hedgehog if it’s brought into their environment. Hedgehogs sometimes don’t crave human affection. Nonetheless, frequent and gentle handling can help relax your hedgehog and get them accustomed to your touch. We strongly recommend that you interact with your pet hedgehog daily.
Housing for Your Hedgehog
Active hedgehogs need room to explore. Therefore, you will need a minimum of two to three square feet of space. You can use a cage, but if you do, remember to avoid the ones with wire floors that way, your hedgehog won’t be able to squeeze out or hurt their feet.
What Do I Put in the Enclosure?
The best substrate you can use is fleece towels. Have plenty of them so you can change them daily as they get dirty. Also, use a hypoallergenic detergent with no fragrances to wash them. Aspen shavings or recycled paper can have a lot of powder/dust that can irritate the skin and the respiratory tract of your pet. Avoid using cedar shavings, as the scent can be toxic to some small mammals.
Similar to cats, hedgehogs should have a small place inside of their enclosure to act as a toilet. Any shallow pan that has dust-free, non-clumping cat litter will work. Then, you should also have another small space where your hedgehog can hide and sleep in privacy.
Hedgehogs are known to be very active mammals. Therefore, putting a running wheel can be a great playscape. Make sure to purchase an open-sided, solid surface wheel that is large enough to allow your hedgehog to run comfortably.
Food and Water
High-end insectivore diet (Mazuri or Exotic Nutrition) mixed with live mealworms and crickets is a popular meal choice for hedgehogs. Remember, hedgehogs are insectivores, not carnivores. Nowadays, hedgehog owners can buy food that provides the exact amount of nutrients your hedgehog needs.
Hedgehogs are known to love mealworms. So, if you’re going to use them as a snack, make sure your hedgehog is still getting a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables. Hedgehogs also enjoy chasing and eating crickets (which should be gut-loaded). Allowing your hedgehog to chase crickets reflects their natural foraging efforts in the wild and provides them with mental stimulation.
Hedgehogs are great pets to own. However, like any pets, they will need medical attention from time to time. At the Exotic Animal Hospital of Orlando, we are always willing to help guide people through their journey of being a hedgehog owner. Therefore, if you have any questions or your hedgehog needs attention, don’t hesitate to contact us at 407-286-3484.