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The first pet that I ever really owned on my own, was a pet pygmy hedgehog. I got him when I was about 19! We named him Henry, I got him when he was just about 8 weeks old. While it’s been a while since I’ve had a hedgehog in my house, I remain fond of the little critters. They’re just so cute! I occasionally have people ask me about hedgehog care, because they are interested in getting a pet hedgehog, or at least they think they might be – but what to know what it involves. How do you get a hedgehog? Are hedgehogs good pets for kids? How much work is a pet hedgehog? What do pet hedgehogs eat? There are lots of common questions that people ask before getting a pet hedgehog. I thought I would give answers to some of the questions.

What You Should Know Before Getting A Hedgehog

Can I have a hedgehog as a pet? It depends on where you live. Here in Michigan they are legal to have as pets without a permit or anything. In some states like California they are not approved as pets.

Where do you get a pet hedgehog? Some pet stores carry them. You may not find them at big chain pet stores, but bigger ones that carry more exotic animals are likely to have hedgehogs. In my area (mid-michigan) there is a really cool pet store called Preuss Pets that sells hedgehogs. We got my hedgehog from a breeder on Craigslist, though I would recommend that you learn as much as possible about the breeder if you go through a route like that. You want to try to verify that they are knowledgeable, treating their animals well, and use safe practices. For more info I have a full post on where to get a hedgehog.

What is the hedgehog lifespan?

3-5 years is the average life span. This is quite short compared to most other pets, so I think it is an important factor to consider. The heartache comes a lot sooner than it does with cats or dogs.

How much do pet hedgehogs cost? To purchase, I have seen $100-$400 at different times for baby hedgehogs. I have seen people rehoming adult hedgehogs for as low as $50. See my post on must-have products for hedgehog to see what gear they need. Their food cost is pretty affordable usually, but vet costs can be expensive and unpredictable.

How to get a hedgehog to like you? Hedgehogs are solitary creatures, so if you want a really social, loving pet, hedgehogs are not for you. A lot of people get a grumpy hedgehog that likes to stay curled up and hiss, and just don’t find it’s worth the time investment to try to socialize them. Hedgehogs don’t need human attention, so it’s not neglectful to the hedgehog emotionally to do this. However, hedgehogs do require their cages to be cleaned regularly and bathed themselves. So it will be more difficult to handle them for cage cleaning purposes or bathing purposes if they hate being held. I do have a post on how to socialize your pet hedgehog.

Are hedgehog good pets for kids? I am not a parent, but I don’t think hedgehogs are a good pet for kids unless they are older and very responsible for their age. I’d really want to be certain that the child knows how disinterested in “socializing” hedgehogs are before getting one for even a teenager. The internet makes hedgehogs seem more ‘fun’, playful and social than they really are. I elaborate on this in my post Are hedgehogs a good pet for kids?

What can pet hedgehogs eat? Most hedgehog owners feed their hedgehogs cat food, but you can’t just buy any cat food. It needs to have certain levels of proteins, fats and other things. Most hedgehog-approved cat foods are higher-end brands, not cheap cat food. However, they are small so a small bag of higher end cat food lasts them a long time. They are pretty affordable to feed. Learn more in my post can hedgehogs eat cat food?

How much work is a pet hedgehog? They are about as much work as other small pets. It’s important to get a really detailed understanding of what the daily/weekly care involved with a hedgehog is before getting one, though. To see all the details check out my post How much work is a pet hedgehog?

Should I get a pet hedgehog? Do you understand you won’t “feel the love” from your hedgehog? Are you prepared for a relationship with a pet that feels pretty one sided? Do you have the time and interest to provide care for one? Do you have the finances available if they need to see an exotic vet? Are you prepared for a pet that is not very social and that is nocturnal? Have you done thorough research to ensure you have everything you need? These types of questions can help you to determine if a hedgehog is right for you.

If you decide to get a pet hedgehog, check out my post pet hedgehog name ideas. There are some really good ones!

Hedgehog Care Info:

They are nocturnal. They need a large running wheel, and they will run for hours. Meaning, if you have their cage set up in a bedroom, the noise them running on their wheel makes may keep you up at night! Regulating the temperature of their cage is important. They are solitary creatures, you don’t want to put two in the same cage. They are rather indifferent towards people even when very tame. They can’t use cedar bedding like hamsters use. Google ‘wobbly hedgehog syndrome’. Hedgehogs are not able to be seen at most vet offices. You’ll need to find a vet who sees exotic pets. Hedgehogs have poor vision and rely heavily on scent. When handling hedgehogs it’s best to avoid perfumed products, strong-smelling soaps, etc. Because their vision is poor, they can react strongly to lights and shadows – doing something like stepping in front of a lamp and casting a shadow over their cage can scare them a lot. So it’s a good idea to be mindful of how lighting is set up in the room(s) your hedgehog is in. Hedgehogs poop a LOT for how small they are. Many hedgehogs poop while running on their wheel, which means the poop gets on their wheel and then they run through their poop. This means they need their cage, wheel, and body (at least their feet) washed very regularly.

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This post currently has 7 responses.

  • Peggy Nunn

    I have not thought of a hedgehog as a pet. I am glad you told me so much. I would pass on this info for anyone thinking of adopting one.

  • monique s

    thanks for the insight. They are adorable so can see why one might get one without researching it

  • Dana Rodriguez

    I owned a hedgehog a few years ago. I got him as a baby and he was a cool pet.

    • I enjoyed having mine too :). Sadly we only got 3.5 years with him and then he got a tumor in his mouth so we had to put him down as he couldn’t eat very well anymore. I enjoyed him a lot, but from images and videos online, I think people expect them to be a lot more social, playful, just lively, than they really are. When I hear of children saying they want one it makes me a bit nervous. I think most kids would be bored to tears by them and wouldn’t want to invest the time needed to socialize them, either.

  • gloria patterson

    Totally shocked! I had no ideal that hedgehogs could be a pet. And then I read how much they cost and my mouth fell open! This is not a pet to get for a get that might lose interest.

  • Peggy Nunn

    I have never known anyone that has a hedgehog as a pet. Please write some posts about it and let us know how it is going.

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