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African Pygmy Hedgehog: Appearance, Behavior, and Pet Care

African Pygmy hedgehogs are small pet hedgehogs. They are shy and need low-to-moderate care. They don’t make good pets for all owners, as they are nocturnal and do make noise at night.

African pygmy hedgehogs can make good pets. And they can be a lot of fun. 

But before you bring one home, there are a few things you need to know about caring for them.

They have specific dietary needs, and can’t be kept in areas that are too hot or too cold.

In this post, we’ll give you a general guide to pygmy hedgehog care and provide some tips on making your new pet feel comfortable and loved.

What Is an African Pygmy Hedgehog?

The African pygmy hedgehog is a small domesticated species of hedgehog. Their wild counterpart is known as the four-toed hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). It’s a rodent with spines on its back that they use for defense against predators. African pygmy hedgehogs are small animals, about 6-9 inches long. 

The African Pygmy hedgehog is a variation of the hedgehog species. They are the domesticated version of the four-toed hedgehog.

Despite their wild background, they are kept as pets in the United States and Europe.[1]

While hedgehogs often make good pets, this species can be difficult to keep. These animals require specific care and housing, so it is important to make sure you are prepared before bringing one home.

What Is an African Pygmy Hedgehog

Scientific Classification

Scientific NameAtelerix albiventris

African Pygmy Hedgehog Facts

Common NameAfrican Pygmy hedgehog
Other NamesFour-toed hedgehog
Name of YoungHoglets
Number of Species2 (wild and domesticated)
Social BehaviorSolitary
Group NameArray
Favorite FoodInsects and small invertebrates
Activity PatternNocturnal
Biggest ThreatPredators
PredatorsSmall and medium-sized carnivores
DistributionEastern, Western, and Central Africa
Est. Population SizeSteppes, savanna, and grassy areas
Conservation StatusLeast concern
Lifespan1-4 years in the wild and 5-10 years in captivity

Physical Characteristics

Height/Length6-9 inches
Weight8-21 ounces
ColorBrown and white coloration
Skin typeFur and spines
Spine lengthOne inch

Can You Keep an African Pygmy Hedgehog as a Pet?

Yes, African Pygmy hedgehogs can be kept as pets, but they aren’t suited for all owners. They are nocturnal and have specific needs. They require moderate care and are generally solitary animals.

African Pygmy hedgehogs are domesticated but still have wild tendencies. Like most wild animals, they can be tricky to keep as pets.

But, that doesn’t stop people from trying.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about getting an African Pygmy hedgehog as a pet:

  1. Hedgehogs are active at night.
  2. Hedgehogs need space to run and explore. A small cage will not be suitable for a hedgehog. They need at least 4 square feet of space.
  3. They are escape artists, so their enclosure must be secure. Choose a cage with a tight-fitting lid to prevent your hedgehog from getting out.
  4. Hedgehogs are prone to heat stroke. It’s important to keep their enclosure in a cool, dry place. A temperature of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
  5. Hedgehogs are generally low-maintenance pets, but African pygmy variations have complex needs. Hedgehogs are generally easy to keep, but many pygmy species are not. 
Can You Keep an African Pygmy Hedgehog as a Pet

Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs Make Good Pets?

African Pygmy Hedgehogs can make good pets. They are small, shy creatures that make great pets for people who are looking for a unique, medium-maintenance pet.

African pygmy hedgehogs can make good pets. But, they can also be difficult to keep.

Reasons why African Pygmy Hedgehogs make good pets:

  • They are relatively low maintenance compared to dogs and cats.
  • They are typically quiet.
  • They are easy to feed.
  • They don’t take up much space.

Reasons why African Pygmy Hedgehogs make bad pets:

  • They are nocturnal and can make noise at night.
  • They are prickly and have to be handled with care.
  • Not all individuals like being handled.

One of the things that make African Pygmy Hedgehogs such great pets is that they are relatively low-maintenance.

They are not like traditional pets such as dogs and cats, which require a lot of care and attention. African Pygmy Hedgehogs only need to be fed once a day and can be left alone for long periods of time without any problems.

Another thing that makes African Pygmy Hedgehogs great pets is that they are very quiet. They do not make any noise and are not disruptive, making them ideal for people who live in apartments or small homes.

They also don’t need a lot of space. Their cages are small.

African Pygmy hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning they are up at night, rummaging around in their cage. If you don’t want to listen to your pet at night, this is not an ideal choice.

Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs Make Good Pets

What Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs Need?

African Pygmy hedgehogs need relatively low care, but they do have needs. They need a cage set at the right temperature, a specific diet, and they need to be able to move around. They also need food bowls, a litterbox, and other accessories.

Hedgehogs don’t have many needs compared to dogs. But, owners still have to provide proper care.

If you’re planning on buying a hedgehog, here are the supplies you need:

  • A cage
  • Hiding places in the cage
  • Proper hedgehog food
  • Bedding
  • Water and food bowls
  • Temperature control (in extreme cases)

Pygmy Hedgehog Cage

African Pygmy hedgehogs need a safe place to live. They need a cage. Because this rodent is small, the cage doesn’t take up much room, but it still has to be big enough so the hedgehog can roam around.

Here are the cage requirements for African pygmy hedgehogs:

  • Choose a cage that’s big enough. Hedgehogs need space to explore. A good rule of thumb is to choose a cage that’s at least 24 inches by 36 inches.
  • The cage should have a solid floor. Hedgehogs are prone to injuries if they fall from a height, so it’s important to choose a cage with a solid floor.
  • Choose a cage that’s easy to clean. Hedgehogs are messy eaters and their cages can get dirty quickly.
  • Include hiding places in the cage. They are shy creatures that need a place to retreat.

Related: Pet Hedgehog Cage Setup

Pygmy Hedgehog Cages
Image Source

African Pygmy Hedgehog Temperature Requirements

African pygmy hedgehogs need a warm environment. They are used to living in hot climates and can’t tolerate cold temperatures very well[2]. But it can’t be too hot eighter. Hedgehogs are sensitive to high temperatures. Keep their cage around 70-80°F (21-26.5°C).

You should keep your hedgehog away from direct sunlight, drafts, or too cold areas.

If you live in a cold climate, you’ll need to provide your hedgehog with a heated enclosure.

African Hedgehog Diet

A well-balanced African hedgehog diet consists of:

  1. A good quality dry food mix
  2. Fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Insects
  4. Water

Hedgehogs are omnivores. They eat both animal protein, vegetables, and fruit. Pet hedgehogs are best served with a hedgehog mix for regular meals, supplemented with greens and insects.

Look for a mix that includes insectivore foods like mealworms, as these provide an important source of protein and fat. Avoid mixes that contain a lot of fillers like corn or wheat.

Hedgehogs eat almost all fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens, berries, melons, and squash[3]. Some are toxic to them, such as grapes, chocolate, and avocado.

You can supplement the food mix with insects. Live or frozen insects like crickets, earthworms, and mealworms are a great way to give your hedgehog some extra protein and fat. These can also be used as treats.

Related: What Do Hedgehogs Eat?

Be sure to provide fresh, clean water for your hedgehog to drink at all times.

African Hedgehog Diet
Image Source

Pygmy Hedgehog Cage Accessories

When you’ve selected the right cage, you need to choose the right cage accessories. This is important as it will make a big difference in your hedgehog’s quality of life. 

Here are the accessories you have to buy:

  • A litterbox.
  • Bedding.
  • Food and water bowls.
  • Structures for hiding places.
  • A heating lamp or pad.
  • Cage thermometer to measure temperature.

Choose accessories that are comfortable. This includes soft bedding and places to hide. Due to their shy nature, they don’t always like to be out in the open.

Make sure the accessories are easy to clean. Hedgehogs are messy creatures, so you want to make sure the cage and accessories are easy to clean. Look for products that can be easily wiped down or washed in the dishwasher.

Consider your hedgehog’s personality. Some hedgehogs are more active than others and will need different kinds of accessories.

Lastly, if you live in a cold place, you need to buy some sort of heating lamp. If not, you should still buy a heating pad. Hedgehogs need a warm spot in their cage, where they can go to warm up.

Challenges When Keeping an African Pygmy Hedgehog as a Pet

While African pygmy hedgehogs are becoming increasingly prevalent, there are still some challenges associated with their care. 

Here are a few things to consider before adding an African pygmy hedgehog to your family:

  • They have spines and have to be handled with care.
  • They need a special diet.
  • They are nocturnal and rummage around at night.
  • They are not suitable for small kids.

Overall, African pygmy hedgehogs can make great pets, but there are some challenges that come along with their care. 

Before adding one to your family, do your research and speak with a veterinarian about their needs and challenges.

Challenges When Keeping an African Pygmy Hedgehog as a Pet

They Can Be Prickly

One of the most common complaints about African pygmy hedgehogs is that they can be quite prickly. This is due to the fact that their quills are actually modified hair follicles that are filled with keratin. 

African pygmy hedgehogs only use their quills for self-defense, but if they feel threatened, they may try to poke or scratch you with them.

This also means you have to handle your pet with care. Pick it up with both hands, and do it at a slow pace to avoid scaring it.

They Need a Special Diet

African pygmy hedgehogs require a diet that is high in fat and protein, but low in fiber. This can be difficult to achieve with commercial hedgehog food. Many owners choose to supplement their pet’s diet with live insects or pinkie mice. 

It is important to speak with a veterinarian before making any changes to your hedgehog’s diet.

They Are Nocturnal

African pygmy hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal animals. They are up and about while you are trying to sleep. 

This can be disruptive to your daily routine, and it may take some time for your hedgehog to adjust to a more human schedule.

They May Not Be Suitable for Children

African pygmy hedgehogs are skittish animals, and they may not do well in homes with small children. 

If you have young children, it is important to consider whether or not a hedgehog would be a good fit for your family.

How Much Does an African Pygmy Hedgehog Cost?

On average, an African pygmy hedgehog will cost between $100 and $300. The exact price depends on a number of factors, including the hedgehog’s age, markings, and health.

Besides the purchase price of the hedgehog, there are also expenses such as the cage, food, and accessories.

Related: How Much Is a Hedgehog? (Price Guide)

Food (monthly)$20
Food and water bowls$20-30
Heating lamp/pad$30-100
Cleaning wipes$10
Hiding places$20-50
Veterinary costs (annually)$100-150


If you’re considering adding a hedgehog to your family, an African pygmy hedgehog may be the perfect pet for you. They are small and relatively easy to care for, making them a good choice.

They do have specific requirements that you have to consider before purchasing your pet, such as the right cage size, their nocturnal nature, and food requirements.

They are cheap to buy, only costing between $100-300.

About Misfit Animals Staff

The Misfit Animals staff consists of animal lovers, pet enthusiasts, veterinarians, zoologists, and other animal experts. Our goal is to provide people with information on proper animal care.

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