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Can You Keep a Pet Hedgehog or Is It Illegal? (Care Guide)

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Pet hedgehogs are popular small pets. They are legal to own in most countries and are easy to care for. All you need is housing, food, supplies for specific needs, and toys to keep them engaged and healthy.

Are you thinking of adding a pet hedgehog to your family? 

If so, there are some things you need to know first.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about these small creatures, from what they eat and where they live, to how best to care for them. 

If you’re curious about owning a hedgehog as a pet, keep reading.

Can You Own a Hedgehog as a Pet?

Yes, you can have a pet hedgehog in most countries. In the US, you can legally own a pet hedgehog in all states except Georgia, California, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., Hawaii, and five New York City boroughs

Hedgehogs make fun and unique pets, as they are low maintenance and easy to care for.

The hedgehog is a small, spiny mammal found in Europe, Asia, and Africa. In the wild, they typically live 2-3 years, but captive hedgehogs can live up to 10 years with proper care.[1]

If you’re thinking about getting a hedgehog as a pet, do your research first to make sure they are right for you. 

Hedgehogs need specific care and diet. Before making the commitment, read up on hedgehogs. Prepare to provide everything they need.

Can You Own a Hedgehog as a Pet

5 Tips for Keeping a Hedgehog as a Pet

If you’re thinking about getting a hedgehog, there are a few things you should keep in mind. They are unique creatures with specific needs. It’s important to do your research before making the commitment. 

Here are a few tips to remember when owning a hedgehog:

  • Hedgehogs need a diet high in fat and protein.
  • Hedgehogs need a place to hide and feel safe.
  • Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, so they sleep during the day and are active at night.
  • Hedgehogs have sharp spines, so handling them carefully is important.
  • Hedgehogs are prone to a number of health problems, so regular vet check-ups are a must.

By following these tips, you can be sure your hedgehog will have a happy and healthy life.

What Do Pet Hedgehogs Need?

Pet hedgehogs need four things basic necessities:

  1. A balanced diet
  2. Housing
  3. Exercise
  4. Veterinary care

1. Pet Hedgehogs Need a Balanced Diet

Pet Hedgehogs Need a Balanced Diet

Hedgehogs need balanced meals and a balanced diet. Hedgehogs are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals[2]. A good hedgehog diet includes high-quality cat food, vegetables, and insects. 

Hedgehogs also need access to water at all times.

2. Pet Hedgehogs Need Housing

Second, hedgehogs need housing. You can either buy this or build a cage yourself. It should also have a solid bottom and be escape-proof. The cage also needs a hiding place, sleeping quarters, and plenty of toys.

3. Pet Hedgehogs Need Exercise

Pet Hedgehogs Need Exercise

Third, hedgehogs need regular exercise. Hedgehogs are very active creatures and need time to run and play. A good way to provide exercise for a hedgehog is to let it out of its cage for a few hours each day to explore. You can also get toys for it to engage with when you’re not home.

4. Veterinary Care for Pet Hedgehogs

Fourth, hedgehogs need regular veterinary care. Hedgehogs should see a veterinarian at least once a year for a check-up. They should also be seen by a vet if they show any signs of illness or injury.

3 Pet Hedgehog Breeds

There are many breeds of hedgehogs you can keep as a pet. Three common pet hedgehog breeds include the African pygmy hedgehog, Algerian hedgehog, and European hedgehog. 

Each breed has its own unique appearance and personality traits:

  • African pygmy hedgehogs are the most popular type of pet hedgehog. They are small, friendly, and easy to care for.
  • Algerian hedgehogs are larger than African pygmy hedgehogs. But, they are just as friendly.
  • European hedgehogs are the least common type of pet hedgehog. They are shy and not as easily tame as the other two breeds.

It is important to research before picking a breed. When you know the breeds, you can bind the best one for your lifestyle and personality. 

Hedgehogs are low-maintenance pets, but they need some care and attention. Visit a reputable breeder or pet store to ask them about the different breeds. They can help you choose.

Challenges When Keeping a Pet Hedgehog

Hedgehogs are often overlooked as pets. These small animals can make great companions, but they do come with their set of challenges. 

Here are some of the most common challenges when keeping a pet hedgehog:

1. Hedgehogs Are Nocturnal Creatures

Hedgehogs Are Nocturnal Creatures

Hedgehogs like to roam around at night. As they are nocturnal, they are active at night and sleep during the day. This can be disruptive to your sleep schedule if you’re not prepared for it.

2. Hedgehogs Are Curious by Nature

Hedgehogs like to explore their surroundings. They will sniff and touch everything in their environment. This can lead to them getting into places they’re not supposed to be, such as electrical sockets or under furniture.

3. Hedgehogs Have a Lot of Sharp Spikes

Hedgehogs Have a Lot of Sharp Spikes

Hedgehogs have sharp spikes, also known as quills. This means you have to handle it with care. As a hedgehog owner, you can’t avoid getting poked from time to time.

4. Hedgehogs Can Fit Into Small Places

Hedgehogs are escape artists. When they go exploring, they can squeeze through very small spaces. This means you need to hedge-proof your home to keep them safe.

5. Hedgehogs Suffer From Health Issues

Hedgehogs are prone to many health problems, including obesity, mites, and respiratory infections. This means that they need regular vet check-ups and care.

Despite these challenges, hedgehogs make wonderful pets. 

If you’re prepared to deal with the above issues, you should have no issue keeping a hedgehog as a pet.

What Do Pet Hedgehogs Eat?

In the wild, hedgehogs eat a diet of insects, earthworms, slugs, snails, and other invertebrates. As pets, their diet needs to be planned to ensure they get all the nutrients they need.

The best diet for a pet hedgehog is based on high-quality, commercially prepared hedgehog food. These foods are specifically formulated to provide hedgehogs with the nutrients they need.

Besides commercial hedgehog food, you can also feed your pet hedgehog a small amount of:

  • Cooked chicken or turkey
  • Gard-boiled eggs
  • Cooked fish
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables

It is important to avoid fruits high in sugar or acidity as these can cause digestive problems to hedgehogs. Stick to safe fruits, such as berries, melons, and bananas.

It is also important to make sure that your hedgehog has access to fresh water at all times. A small bowl or water bottle designed for small animals is ideal. 

If you have any concerns about your hedgehog’s diet, consult with a veterinarian who is familiar with hedgehogs.

What Do Pet Hedgehogs Eat

How Do You Handle A Pet Hedgehog?

If you’re considering getting a pet hedgehog, you need to know how to handle them. Hedgehogs are delicate creatures and should be handled with care. 

Here are some tips on how to handle a pet hedgehog:

  1. Wash your hands before handling your hedgehog. This will help to keep them clean and free of any potential diseases.
  2. Use both hands to support their body. One hand should be under their chest and the other under their hind end.
  3. Be gentle when handling your hedgehog. They are delicate creatures and can easily be injured if not handled properly.
  4. Never pick up a hedgehog by its quills. This can cause them pain and potentially injure them.
  5. Hedgehogs are naturally shy animals. When handling them, be sure to do so in a quiet and calm environment.
  6. Put your hedgehog back in its cage when you’re finished handling it. This will help them feel safe and secure.

Following these tips will help you handle your new pet hedgehog properly.

How To Interact With Your Pet Hedgehog

Many people believe that hedgehogs are solitary creatures that do not like to be held or interacted with. This is not the case. Pet hedgehogs are social animals that love to be around people. 

Because they are raised in captivity, pet hedgehogs learn to be around humans. This increases their tolerance to handling, socialization, and interaction.

If you want to interact with your pet hedgehog, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

  1. Approach them slowly.
  2. Be gentle.
  3. Change your sleeping habits.

First, it is important to approach your hedgehog slowly and calmly. They scare easily, and by moving too quickly or making sudden movements, they become defensive. Instead, take your time and let your hedgehog come to you.

Once your hedgehog is comfortable being around you, you can start to pet it gently. Hedgehogs have very delicate skin, so be sure to use a light touch. If your hedgehog seems to enjoy being petted, try giving it a small treat.

Finally, change your sleeping habits. As hedgehogs are most active at night, you have to adapt to your pet’s needs. It is equally important not to disturb your hedgehog too much during the night. This can stress it out.

How To Interact With Your Pet Hedgehog

Pet Hedgehogs and Hygiene

It is important to practice smart hygiene with your pet hedgehog. Hedgehogs are susceptible to various diseases and infections. It is crucial to take precautions to keep them healthy.

Clean Their Cage

One of the best ways to practice smart hygiene with your pet hedgehog is to regularly clean their cage. This helps prevent the build-up of bacteria and other potential hazards. 

It is also important to change the bedding regularly and to disinfect the cage on a regular basis.

Handle With Clean Hands

Always handle your pet hedgehog with clean hands. Wash your hands before and after handling your hedgehog. If you have any cuts or scrapes on your hands, it is best to wear gloves when handling them.

This will prevent you from transferring bacteria to your pet, and vice versa.

Trim Their Nails

It is important to keep your hedgehog’s nails trimmed. Overgrown nails can become sharp and cause injury to your hedgehog. Additionally, long nails can also harbor bacteria and other potential hazards.

5 Essential Pet Hedgehog Supplies

Pet hedgehogs need housing, hiding places, bedding, food and water bowls, and toys. These supplies ensure they stay healthy, and are able to express their natural instincts, such as hiding during the day.

1. Cage/Housing

Pet Hedgehog Cage and Housing

Hedgehogs need a cage that is at least 18x18x24 inches. The cage should have smooth walls and a solid bottom. It should also have a lid that can be secured so the hedgehog cannot escape.

The cage is where your hedgehog will stay most of the time. This is also where you have to place other supplies.

2. Hiding Places

Hedgehogs need hiding places. This can be in the form of a cardboard box or a small animal hut. Hedgehogs like to have a place to hide away when they want some peace and quiet.

You can buy these from most pet stores. If they don’t have any made for hedgehogs, look for large hamster houses or similar products.

3. Bedding

Hedgehogs need bedding. It should be soft and absorbent, such as recycled newspaper pellets or Carefresh bedding. 

The bedding should be deep enough for the hedgehog to burrow in, but not so deep that the hedgehog could get lost.

4. Food and Water Bowl

Pet Hedgehog Food and Water Bowl

Gedgehogs need a water bottle and a food bowl. The water bottle should be attached to the side of the cage so it cannot be tipped over. The food bowl should be shallow and heavy so it cannot be easily knocked over. 

Hedgehogs typically eat a diet of dry cat food, but you can also give them occasional treats of fresh fruits and vegetables.

5. Toys

Hedgehogs need toys. This can be a small ball or a piece of cardboard to chew on. 

Hedgehogs like to explore their environment, so it is important to provide them with some toys to keep them entertained.

How Do You Care For A Pet Hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are relatively easy to care for. Make sure you provide it with the necessary supplies, such as bedding, housing, food, and water. Their housing should be cool, between 70-80°F. Keep them healthy with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

The most important part of keeping a hedgehog as a pet is to fulfill its need. They need a proper diet, housing, temperature control, and more.

When you’ve finished your hedgehog cage setup, your new pet is ready to move in.

Most hedgehog health issues derive come from poor nutrition and care. If you take good care of your pet, it should stay healthy.

How Do You Care For A Pet Hedgehog

What Potential Health Problems Do Pet Hedgehogs Have?

Hedgehogs are generally healthy pets, but like all animals, they can be subject to certain health problems. 

Here are some of the potential health problems pet hedgehogs experience:

  • Mites
  • Abscesses
  • Respiratory infections
  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Hibernation

If you suspect that your hedgehog is ill, it is important to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment of health problems help resolve problems quickly without complications.

Mites

Mites are tiny parasitic creatures that infest the skin and fur of hedgehogs. Hedgehogs with mites scratch excessively. They develop red, irritated skin, and have red bumps from mite bites.

Abscesses

Abscesses are pus-filled pockets that form under the skin, often as a result of an infection. They can be painful for hedgehogs and can require treatment by a veterinarian.

Respiratory infections

Respiratory infections, such as colds or pneumonia, are relatively common in hedgehogs. These infections cause difficulty breathing and can require treatment with antibiotics.

Gastrointestinal problems

Hedgehogs occasionally suffer from gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea or vomiting. These problems are caused by a dietary indiscretion or an underlying health condition.

Hibernation

Hedgehogs hibernate during the winter months in the wild. But, pet hedgehogs should not be allowed to hibernate, as it can be dangerous for them. Hedgehogs that hibernate can stop breathing. Their heart rate can also slow to dangerously low levels.

Conclusion

You can keep a hedgehog as a pet in most countries. They are legal to own in most states in the US but are banned in some. They are easy to care for, as long as you fulfill their basic needs.

If you’re looking for a new pet and want one that is low-maintenance, friendly, and doesn’t require a lot of exercise, hedgehogs may be the perfect choice for you.

Do your research before bringing home a hedgehog. They are a long-term commitment, as they can live up to 10 years and need proper care.

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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