Hedgehogs are adorable animals that have become more popular in recent years. The internet loves them. Take a look at Mr. Pokee’s Instagram page – the little critter has over 400,000 followers!
Years back, I bought into the cuteness…and bought some cuteness. Emma was the first hedgehog I owned. After her passing, I briefly housed a male hedgie named Oliver, and I now have another female hedgehog named Lorelai. (Any Gilmore Girls fans?)
Don’t let the title confuse you – I love hedgehogs. They aren’t always what people imagine them as though. Here are some reasons a hedgehog may not be the pet of your dreams:
1. You want a cheap pet. Hedgehogs aren’t as cheap as other small animals, like hamsters. To adopt a hedgehog normally costs around a couple hundred dollars (though rescue hedgies can be cheaper). You also must buy a house for it, a liner/bedding, food dish, water dish/bottle, a wheel, toys, something to hide in, food, veterinary care, etc. Any pet comes with the responsibility to take care of it as best you can.
2. You aren’t sure if owning a hedgehog is legal where you live. Even among the U.S.A., different states have different laws in regards to exotic pets. Some states allow hedgehogs as pets and other states do not. Since laws can change, I would recommend looking into the laws where you live to see if owning a prickly baby could be in the cards for you.
3. You’re looking for a good pet for your kids. Now, I’m not going to say that hedgehogs are a bad pet for children, but a lot depends on the child. Hedgehogs do have quills for protection, which they will get incredibly sharp when scared or angry. You should think about how patient/gentle your child would be with the animal – both for the safety of the kid and the safety of the hedgehog.
Hedgehogs are also naturally nocturnal animals, so if you/your kid wants a fun animal to watch play all day… it may not be the best choice. They can be taken out later in the evening, but constantly waking up an animal in the middle of it’s sleep isn’t healthy and will result in a grumpy hog.
4. You don’t have much time to spend with the animal. Hedgehogs need to be socialized. As stated earlier, they have a defense mechanism. Hedgies will curl into a tight ball with their sharp quills sticking out around them. This makes it impossible to hold them without getting little stabs from the quills (unless you try really think gloves or oven mitts, as I have in the past).
To get them better used to people, breeders suggest that you socialize your hedgehog for around an hour a day. Socialization requires interacting with the animal – holding him/her, letting them explore under close supervision, talking to them, petting them, etc. You need to gain their trust and let them know that you are safe.
This is a base starting point to address some things that people often don’t realize about hedgehogs. If you’re still considering getting a pet hedgie, or if you just want to learn more, there’s many helpful resources out there such as the video below. Good luck!