How to Take Care of a Hedgehog

For most homeowners seeking a domestic pet, dogs or cats are usually the first choices. However, one animal that is often overlooked yet serves as a wonderful domestic animal is a hedgehog. These animals are easy to care for and provide a bundle of joy for their owners. Whether you are looking to buy a new pet for yourself or someone dear to you, consider the benefits of a hedgehog. Below are some easy tips and facts about buying and caring for a pet that is certain to make your family smile.

About Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are tiny insectivorous mammals that eat bugs. They can be seen in almost any part of the world, though they originate from Europe, Africa, and Asia. The hedgehogs are usually observed in the pet fields of North America. They usually germinate through a cross of central African and Algerian hedgehogs.

Some assume domestic hedgehogs to be porcupines, which is completely a unique animal in fact, yet has no relation to the hedgehog. An obvious difference is that porcupines have pointed, barbed and unsafe spikes, while hedgehogs wear rather smooth quills. Holding a hedgehog in your hand can be like carrying a hairbrush that is rough but not sharp.

Fully developed hedgehogs usually weigh anywhere from 350 to 450 grams, while the larger ones can weigh put to 1,000 grams. Unlike other small animals of this classification, hedgehogs small amounts of odor and don’t bite without any reason. Their belly part is soft and furry, while their back is covered with coarse quills. They start rolling upwards to safeguard themselves against any prospective danger. Their quills may sting, should they feel at risk.


Each of these creatures is clever and may possess their own unique characteristics. In forest areas, they tend to remain isolated but can acclimate themselves to human surroundings expediently as well. They usually enjoy playing with flat, solid surfaced running wheels as well as bathroom paper rolls. They may also find kitten toys equally entertaining. Most of these animals may even make use of your litter box for waste purposes. 
Unlike rodents, hedgehogs don’t like biting on your possessions. They may live up to six years and can be found in a wide range of hues.

Hedgehog sitting

Buying One

The answer to this question varies depending on many factors, but there are some basic guidelines. Generally, it is better to purchase your new pet from a breeder rather than a pet store, but unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. No matter where you end up looking, though, make sure that the breeder or store has at least some information on the age and background of their animals.

Another issue is that in some states and local communities, hedgehogs are banned from being sold and kept as pets. In regards to the states that do allow pet hedgehogs, there are often laws on the type of breeds that are allowed. The African Pygmy hedgehog is usually the breed that is allowed. Find out if your state allows hedgehogs.

Watch This Before Buying

How to Choose

You should try to buy only one hedgehog first as sharing a living place is not in the nature of these animals. To avoid unwanted reproduction, refrain from placing the opposite sex one in the same cage. Male hedgehogs become potent in approximately eight weeks, while feminine ones can begin to reproduce in as little as five months of age. Elect to purchase your pet from a pet seller or alternatively from a breeder. You may decide to either go to a pet store or check ads and buy from a breeder. In either case, you are looking for a good healthy animal.

two adorable small hedgehogs outdoors

Personality matters with a hedgehog. Keep this in mind when you purchase one, as they may be a bit prickly at first when adapting to a domestic environment. Your new hedgehog should unwind after a few moments while clicking, jumping, or hissing. Hissing is common if it is not familiar to you. It may even click to frighten you away.

Over time, though, your new pet should feel more comfortable in your space. Eventually, it will enjoy playing around with you and cuddle. Some hedgehogs, though, do remain more tempestuous, so consider your personality and lifestyle as well when selecting one for your domestic living space. In addition, you should not bring a hedgehog home until it’s six weeks old or more. You can opt to buy an older one as well, but a younger one likely would adjust with you more easily.

With new hedgehogs, it best to place them in their cage and leave them alone for a day or two. Monitor it closely and ruffle its back once or twice for a short time to help it acclimate to the new environment. But note that it may take the pet more than a week to begin to feel at home. Newly borne hedgehogs sleep a lot in their first month, so don’t fret if you witness this initially.

Further Reading
Hedgehog IllnessGetting A PetMore Pet Care GuidesAre Hedgehogs Related to Porcupines?

How to House Them

These species feel comfortable in a plain-surfaced large cage. Try to buy a considerably large one, if you really want to make it feel comfortable. An ideal size is four-square feet.  You can use the same one as they use for rabbits and guinea pigs as they come with safe wire coated tops, solid surface, and provide a large enough space and good ventilation. Some owners also elect for large tubs, ferret cages, or other homemade solutions for them. What you need to make sure is to avoid anything which might hurt them in the cage. It should not be easy for them to jump and run away from the cage. Furthermore, keep the cage a safe distance away from direct sunlight to protect your animal.

The cage should be placed in a convenient, cozy, illuminated area away from drafts and sunlight. Normal internal home temperatures will suffice for maintaining the health of your pet. Ultimately, most human living conditions are compatible with those for minting the health of your pet.

Within your cage, some owners choose to employ fabric cage liners for these animals. Usually fleece, flannel or corduroy clothes are among the preferred choices. Cage liners, if used, need to be replaced every day to keep the cage clean. Refrain from products that tear easily and lose their warmth when wet. Avoid other products that may cause harm to your pet when they burrow.

Hedgehog walking

A Day With a Hedgehog


For food, you should use a heavy bowl so that the animal doesn’t turn it upside down and spill the contents. Crockery made for rodents can work well with hedgehogs, too. These applications feature a width of six inches and three inches in height. Provide clean water in either a bowl or container.

Hedgehogs should be given a nutritious diet containing low fat and about 15 percent fiber. They are accustomed to eating beetles in the forests and extract fiber from chitin. You can buy their food from shops, or alternatively, low fat cat food is a good choice. If giving it market food, you should also try to add other substances such as veggies, mealworms, crickets, cooked meats, and fruits. Avoid giving dry food to fatty hedgehogs.


By their very nature, hedgehogs, want to hide somewhere for sleep. You can buy hiding logs, igloos, or snuggle sacks online or in stores. By nature, these animals enjoy burrowing, providing this type of conducive environment facilitates their ability to feel at ease. Many of these creatures may like to sleep under the snuggle sack instead of inside it. Squares of fleece will prove to be a good sleeping setting. Hedgehogs enjoy cuddling inside blankets as well.
For increased warmth, you may elect to place heating pads anywhere in the cage to let it use when needed. In case your pet starts hibernating, you can place it close to your chest and warm it with your natural body warmth. If placed perfectly within two layers of clothing, it will return to normal function quickly. You will need to apply more care to keep your pet warm if it’s older or too sick to maintain its body warmth. Note that hibernation is perilous for your hedgehog, and their living space should be comfortably warm, even if through supplemental heating.

african pygmy hedgehog

Maintenance & Recreation

Your animal can make perfect use of a litter box as well. Simply equip it with paper pieces, paper towel, or other products as litter. You should not use kitty litter for hedgehogs as it can hurt their eyes and bodily waste areas. Another good way to make your hedgehog feel comfortable is to give it a few toys for entertainment. For example, a large wheel works well, especially if it possesses a flat and solid surface. Toys and other entertainment applications for these animals are available online and in traditional shops.

Hedgehog playinh

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