!Header Logo

Nacogdoches Animal Hospital

!Call To Action

Give us a call! 936-569-8726

!Give us a call button

Call Now! 936-569-8726

Top Hedgehog Care FAQs

November 1 2023

Did you know that there may be as many as twelve million pet hedgehogs in the US? These prickly little guys are super cute, so it’s no surprise that so many people are smitten with them. We’re happy to shine a light on these cute pets! A Nacogdoches County veterinarian shares some important information about caring for them in this article.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Owning A Hedgehog As A Pet?

There are more pros than cons here: these little quilled critters are adorable, charming, quiet, and playful, and they have a pretty big following. Because Hedgie is so small, he can fit into almost any home. He’s also a good choice for apartment dwellers, as he will easily meet the size requirements landlords typically follow. Hedgehogs are also pretty easy to care for, though they may require some research to understand their needs.

That said, it’s important to choose a pet that is right for your household. Hedgehogs aren’t always a great choice for those who have dogs or cats, unless you can be diligent about keeping them separated.

What Do Pet Hedgehogs Eat?

Hedgehogs are technically insectivores. Hedgie mainly survives on insects in the wild. Wild hedgehogs do also eat some produce: they probably won’t turn their prickly little backs on a strawberry or apple they come across. However, their digestive systems are better suited to creepy crawlies.

While hedgehog kibble is a reliable option, many experts also suggest cat or dog food. The important factor is to ensure that Hedgie’s menu includes high levels of protein and minimal amounts of fat. In addition to your pet’s regular food, you can offer things like cooked salmon, chicken, or turkey. Certain fruits and vegetables such as bananas, peas, apples, beans, corn, carrots, watermelon (excluding skins and seeds), pears, papaya, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are also suitable options. Remove skins, seeds, and pits before serving them to your pet. Finally, insects like earthworms, wax worms or silk worms can add variety to your pet’s menu, and also make great treats. Just stick with ones purchased from stores, as wild ones may carry parasites or diseases.

You should also know what foods aren’t safe for your prickly pal. Here is a list of unsafe foods:

  • Milk
  • Peanuts
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Anything with pips or seeds
  • Nuts
  • Hard/Raw Vegetables
  • Raisins  
  • Grapes
  • Avocado
  • Raw Meats
  • Dried Fruits And Vegetables
  • Garlic 
  • Onion
  • Bread
  • Tomatoes
  • Honey
  • Junk Food
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

Do some research, and never give your pet anything without making sure it’s safe. Ask your Nacogdoches County veterinarian for specific feeding advice.

What Cage Do I Get My Hedgehog?

Hedge may be small, but he’s quite active and likes to explore. A cage that measures at least 4 x 2 is recommended. Some people use kiddie pools. Be sure to choose something with a solid bottom: mesh and wire floors don’t hold bedding, and can even cause injuries to those tiny legs.

Here are some tips: 

  • For bedding, you can offer a soft blanket, paper substrates, or kiln-dried shavings. Avoid pine and cedar products, as they can cause respiratory problems.
  • Hedgie can be litterbox-trained, but we’ll save that for another blog. However, if you want to add a litterbox, use paper towels or soft pellets. Avoid clay and clumping litters.
  • Hedgehogs need to stay fit, just like us! Give your little buddy a sturdy exercise wheel to run and play on.
  • Your pet will also need a place to retreat to if he wants to hide or rest. Many hides for Guinea pigs or bunnies are fine. You can also look at habitats that were made for reptiles.
  • Don’t forget the toys! Many toys that are made for cats or small dogs will work just fine. Go for brightly colored options: hedgehogs can’t see well.

Ask your Nacogdoches County veterinarian for specific care tips and advice.

What Is The Best Place To Put My Pet Hedgehog’s Cage?

In this case, temperature is the most important factor. Hedgie should always be kept at room temperature, or between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. He shouldn’t be in direct sunlight or in drafty areas. It’s also important to keep him away from loud places.

How Do I Bond With A Hedgehog?

Your little buddy will be quite tiny and timid, so it may take him some time to warm up to you.

It’s important to keep in mind that hedgehogs are easily frightened. They have a natural tendency to run or hide from perceived danger rather than confront it head-on. This is why they tend to curl into a ball as a defense mechanism. Always be very gentle. Never raise your voice or handle your pet roughly. (This of course applies to all pets, but it’s still worth mentioning here.)

Hedgehogs rely more on their sense of smell than their vision, and can be scared of some unexpected things, such as shadows. Be mindful of this when choosing where you place your pet’s cage, and also in how you approach them. Avoid surprising your hedgehog, and don’t try picking him up from behind or while they’re sleeping.

If Hedgie feels scared, which he may at first, he’ll probably curl into a ball. Let him be until he feels safe enough to unfurl. Friendly hedgehogs don’t take long to uncurl, and may start waving their little hands at you. (We probably don’t have to say how adorable this is.)

You want your little buddy to form positive associations with you. You can help speed this process up a bit by putting a worn tee shirt in his cage. Try not to change soap, lotion, detergent, or scents during this stage.

How Do I Know If My Hedgehog Is Feeling Sick?

Hedgehogs are susceptible to certain diseases, such as cancer, reproductive problems, and dental problems in hedgehogs. Keep an eye out for warning signs. The most common symptoms include lack of appetite, weight loss, respiratory problems, dull eyes, lethargy, diarrhea, and lumps or bumps. You may also notice some uncharacteristic crankiness, such as grumbling or hissing. If this occurs, call your veterinarian immediately.

Hedgehogs: Where Do They Come From?

Hedgehogs are found in Asia, Africa, and Europe. In the wild, they prefer woodlands, parks, and hedgerows, which are their natural habitats. 

While there are several types of hedgehogs, the African pygmy is the most popular to keep as a pet, and the one we’ve been focusing on here.

Can Hedgehogs Throw Their Quills?

The hedgehog has some particularly distinctive (and, in our humble opinion, charming) qualities, one of the most unique being those little quills. These are composed of keratin, the same material that makes up our hair and nails. (Interesting tidbit: snake scales are also made of keratin.)

Those prickly spines serve as a defense mechanism for the animal. When feeling frightened, a hedgehog will curl into a ball. However, they don’t shoot their quills.

Conclusion: Hedgehogs are very cute, but they do have some specific care needs. Be sure to do plenty of research before adopting one!  

 Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns about hedgehog care. As your local Nacogdoches County pet hospital, we are here to help!

!Single Blog You Might Also Like

You might also like

National Animal Advocacy Day

There’s an upcoming event that holds great significance for us: National Animal Advocacy Day falls

Checklist For Dog Boarding

Are you getting ready to go on a trip? Whether you’re going on the trip

FAQS About Keeping Fluffy Happy Indoors

Did you know that one of the most beneficial things you can do for your
1 2 3 6