A hedgehog is a unique choice if you’re considering a pet. One of its major advantages is that they belong to pocket pets, which require less space in your home.
If you’re renting an apartment, some landlords only allow such pets in your home. This also means you don’t need to make as many changes in your living spaces as you do when you cat-proof or dog-proof your home.
However, care for a hedgehog entails major research and prior knowledge. Here are some vital things you need to know to help a pet hedgehog thrive.
1. Hedgehogs have a different diet
If you rummage your pantry, kitchen cabinets, or fridge for something to feed your hedgehog, you might come out empty-handed. Hedgehogs have sensitive digestive tracts that will react negatively when fed with meat, hard raw vegetables, nuts, or bread.
A hedgehog has a special diet that consists mostly of insects like crickets, mealworms, or earthworms. Fresh fruit also provides balance to their meals.
You might be tempted to dig in your garden for these, but it’s good news that you can just buy their foods at pet stores. While you’re in there, don’t hesitate to pick those specially formulated hedgehog kibbles to sustain your pet’s nutritional needs.
The key is not to overfeed your hedgehog, as they are prone to obesity. Clean water should be available at all times, just make sure that they can’t tip over their containers.
2. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and solitary
Are you the kind of person who longs to get uninterrupted and quality sleep at night? Then, getting a hedgehog may not fit your lifestyle.
These animals are nocturnal by nature. They love to be active at night, which may disturb you if their cage is in the same room where you sleep.
Because it’s the time of the day when they’re most active, this is also the time when they will be most comfortable socializing with you.
Speaking of socialization, take note that hedgehogs are quite solitary. Thus, if you plan on getting more than one, it’s best to cage them separately.
3. Hedgehogs need proper housing
Hedgehogs need a proper cage. Based on their characteristics, proper means somewhere they can freely roam, kept warm, and stay safe.
Though they don’t need personal trainers (like humans and some dogs), hedgehogs should be given lots of opportunities to exercise. Consider putting tubes, balls, wheels, and wide spaces in your hedgehog’s cage to keep them happy.
However, make sure that their cage doesn’t sit directly near windows. Sunlight interferes with their sleep during the daytime.
Also, you must make sure that the cage is warm enough for them to be comfortable. Check the air conditioning unit of the room they’re in; the ideal temperature they need is between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some hedgehog owners opt for a second box or hedgehog igloo inside the cage. This could serve as your pet’s safe spot if he needs to hide or keep warm.
You must also remember that hedgehogs have sensitive feet. As such, make sure that their cage is padded well and that their feet would not get into contact with any wire or sharp objects.
4. Hedgehogs don’t need much grooming
When it comes to grooming, caring for hedgehogs is comparable to cat care. You don’t have to put in much effort to clean them, as they clean themselves.
You only bathe hedgehogs when they are very dirty. Pay close attention to their feet because feces or food stuck in them can give them foot sores.
You can try putting them in shallow water that only covers their feet. Nail trimming is vital in hedgehog grooming too.
5. Hedgehogs can be nervous when handled
One of the most rewarding phases of caring for pocket pets is when they allow you to hold them. This means you have gained their trust.
For hedgehogs, this may take some time. Remember to scoop them up carefully so as not to hurt yourself with their quills and for them not to feel threatened.
You may give them treats every time you handle them so they will associate you holding them with a pleasant experience. Hedgehogs may nip or roll up in a ball during your initial contact.
Be patient and let them get accustomed to you. When they do, they will relax around you and even play with you.
6. Hedgehogs require medical attention
Some common medical issues faced by hedgehogs are dental issues, skin issues, spine loss, obesity, and intestinal parasites, among many others.
As a pet owner, you must be very observant of alarming symptoms and report them immediately to your pet’s doctor.
Hedgehog care may be a bit challenging in the beginning. Yet when you see your pet thrive, it’s something that you will feel proud of as a hedgehog owner.
Did we miss any basic care for a hedgehog on our list? Please feel free to drop us a message to let us know.
Some consider mice and rats as pocket pets along with hedgehogs, guinea pigs, or gerbils. However, if these rodents or other insects are creating havoc in your home, you might need these professionals to get rid of them.