Keeping Pet Hedgehogs as Pets

Hedgehogs are spiny mammals that belong to Erinaceinae subfamily. Sixteen species of hedgehogs were originally identified in some parts of Asia, Africa, Europe, and New Zealand. Over the years, Hedgehogs have well adapted to a nocturnal and insectivorous way of living.

Features of Hedgehog Pets
Hedgehogs are physically characterized by rows of quills or short prickly spines covering their entire back and their sides. The hedgehogs are so correctly identified as “spiky” as they are covered with 7000 quills. Their bellies, on the other hand, are covered with soft fur.
These sharp quills are controlled by series of muscles, thus the quills are raised once the hedgehogs are threatened. Another distinct defense mechanism of these mammals is rolling itself into a firm ball to protect their undersides. This position makes them appear like a ball of quills, or spiky ball. In this instance, the owner needs to be particularly careful when touching the pet, as fingers may be trapped in between the sharp spikes.
Hedgehogs are now available in a wide selection of colors, made possible by discreet breeding. Their life expectancy is most typically 3-8 years. They commonly reach 5-8 inches in length.


Hedgehogs are Hypo-allergenic
Hedgehogs are popularly known to be hypo-allergenic. Unlike dogs and cats, Hedgehogs do not spread danders, which are generally associated with allergies. Reported allergies linked to hedgehogs are primarily coming from other related factors like hedgehog food.


Handling Hedgehog Pets
Unlike cats and dogs, Hedgehogs are not likely interested in playing with their human companions or owners. Hedgehogs surely love eating and running, but may least enjoy cuddling up with humans.
hedgieHandling these pets may require some amount discretion and analysis. One has to consider first whether the pet is in a relaxed mood or in a defensive mood.
You can tell when it is in a relaxed mood or calm by its quills. When the quills are laid down along the sides and back, and pointed toward the back, only so can you hold it safely. In this relax mood, their spines are almost flat. Despite this calm position, one may still risk hurting himself in handling this pet when you hold them the wrong way. Avoid pushing against the sharp tips of quills.


When the pet is in a defensive mood, the quills will also tell. The quills are raised and point in all directions. They roll into a tight ball of spines, and the quills are all poking out. Avoid petting them when they are in this defensive posture, because chances are, they are angry or scared, and may likely to inflict pain on you.
Personalities of Hedgehogs
Yes, generally, these pets can be held and cuddled, but be cautious of their personalities. It takes some patience to accustom them into this petting. Their tolerance to being touched and petted is also in varying degrees.


Hedgehogs may have huge differences in personalities. Some may tolerate being cuddled and touched. Some may love to hang around close to their human companions. Others may prefer exploring their environment by themselves. Some may be shy and would like to be in a secluded corner to retreat. So get to know your hedgehog pets.
Side Note: You should find a name for your hedgie that suites him or her. A lot of new pet owners try to name their pet within the first day of owning the pet but give it a couple days or even a week to see how their personality plays out to give them a good name that relates to them.


Providing Shelter

Proper and safe housing is vital to caring for Hedgehogs. They need rooms to explore and hide. Ensure the safety within their house to promote the welfare of your pet and to avoid injury.
Commercial cages, aquariums and improvised fences are tried and tested housing choices. Aquariums must be at least 3 feet by 2 on bottom. Cages must be easy to clean up and spacious. Setting up fences in an area in the house is suggested. They will feel free to go around, while ensuring their security.


The ventilation should be given attention, making sure that the pets will receive adequate fresh air. The flooring is another aspect to consider. Narrow spacing is ideal; avoid wide wire spacing on sides and floors. Allocate a minimum of 2-3 square feet of floor space.


A wheel is a basic need, as hedgehogs require plenty of exercise and activities. However, using hamster wires and mouse wheel are extremely discouraged.
** Breeders Note: “I have found that different types of cage liners work better than loose bedding. I use either vinyl cloth or velux cloth to line the cage floors. If they are litter trained, most hedgehogs do very well with this setup.If you prefer loose bedding, I recommend recycled paper or Aspen pellet’s. One kind I have had good luck with and is available in most areas is Carefresh.DO NOT ever use Cedar as it causes sores on their skin and burns their lungs.DO NOT ever use Pine, it carries high levels of mites that can irritate your hedgehog’s skin.Some people use Aspen Chips but you can experience mites with this also.”
*Finding hedgies from breeders for sale is sometimes the best route. This is because specialized breeders

Feeding Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are naturally insectivores. An owner must consider providing diets that are high in protein and low in fat.

pet hedgehog

Some companies and suppliers have formulated an insectivorous diet, or food specifically designed for hedgehog nourishment. Commercially produced hedgehog foods are at present widely available in the market. Some owners would resort to cat food as hedgehog alternative sustenance. Cat food is usually low in fat and high in protein, a formula which resembles an insectivorous diet perfect for hedgehogs.


Meats are also popular food options for hedgehog. Turkey and salmon are among the preferred meats.


It is advised to feed hedgehogs with a variety of food to enhance health and avoid the occurrence of diet boredom. Some owners also recommend feeding them with hard boiled eggs for a treat.


An assortment of fruits and vegetables are efficient supplement to hedgehog diets. Grapes or raisins are noted to be unsuitable for hedgehogs, while melon is recommended. Exercise should be given after feeding fruits to burn the sugar derived from these sources.


Hedgehogs naturally love meal worms and would better be given once in a while. Keep in mind that meal worms are high in fat and may yield undesirable effects to hedgehogs. It is likewise important to consider the sources of live insects commercially available in stores. Usually these insects may acquire pesticides that are fatal to the pets. While it is true that hedgehogs have lactose intolerance, they would love to be treated with bits of cheese and a few drops of milk. Be very careful though to determine its moderation. An excess will result to stomach pains and Diarrhea.
Hedgehogs require a significant amount of fresh water daily. Filtered water is most advised as this will less likely contain strange odors that will turn off the pets. Receptacles are a factor. Find out which drinking dish your pet is comfortable to use and establish that drinking habit.
Litter Box

Should be about 2 inches high and large enough that the hedgehog’s wheel fits in it and the Hedgehog still has room to use other areas to do it’s business.

For litter, I have found Aspen Supreme Pellet litter to be the best. Cat litters tend to be too dusty (even the dust free) and clumping cat litter can stick to the hedgehog’s rear end.

What do you need for hedgehog supplies?

1) Large cage with solid plastic bottom

2) Water bottle and food dish

3)Bedding – aspen or pine shavings, carefresh, yesterdays news

NO crushed walnuts, cat litter or small granular bedding

4) 12in solid plasic running wheel

5) high protein/low fat dry cat kibble

6) Heating pad

7) Igloo or similar hiding place

Some Basic Facts on Hedgehogs

1) Hedgehogs usually live 3-5 yrs

2) Hedgehogs require a high protein/low fat diet

3) Hedgehogs must be maintained at a minimum of 70 degrees

4) Hedgehogs are nocturnal

5) Hedgehogs are insectivoires by nature

6) Hedgehogs can swim

7) Hedgehogs need daily socialization

8) Males can not be housed together, females can be housed together.

9) Vet bills for hedgehogs can be astronomical

10) Hedgehogs are WONDERFUL

11) The cost and prices of hedgies might surprise you

Exercise, Maintenance, & Bathing

ALL of my hedgehogs have an exercise wheel. In the wild, hedgehogs roam several miles daily.

There are a few options for wheels. I recommend the Ferret Wheel with a plastic canvas liner that can be easily removed and cleaned. Some hedgehog owners use a solid wheel. With some hedgehogs, using these wheels will require daily foot baths.

I also use an exercise ball to let them run around the house and outside in the yard. I have found the Rat size ball works best. The actual hedgehog size is almost to big for some hedgehogs to move easily.

Mites: Always a Popular Topic

Probably the most controversial topic in hedgehogs. There are mites in the environment just like fleas and ticks. A lot of hedgehogs have trouble with contracting mites through certain types of bedding. Even the most maticulously cleaned hedgehogs can contract mites.

In my opinion, prevention is the best cure. Once every three months I use Adams Flea and Tick Powder for Cats and Kittens.

If your hedgehog would get mites, you will see it scratching a lot and it’s skin will look flaky. Bad cases will have sores on their skin and bald spots where the quills fell out.

If your hedgehog is showing signs if mites, consult your Veterinarian.

Nail Clipping: A Necessity

Hedgehogs require regular nail clipping. To clip their nails, I usually have someone hold the hedgehog in the palm of their hand. I then reach under and fold the leg back gently and clip with a small human nail clipper.

Most nails are clear so you can see the pink vein, which provides blood supply to the nail. Clip just above this. If a nail is clipped too short and bleeds, you can pack flour or corn starch on the tip to stop the bleeding.

Yes, you can bathe your hedgehog! For most hedgehogs you will only need to use a few inches of warm water in the sink and a toothbrush to brush the quills. If you must use a shampoo, use a kitten shampoo with an oatmeal base and dilute it. Be absolutely sure to rinse thoroughly!

Have a towel warmed up in the dryer to wrap around the hedgehog. I usually put the wrapped hedgehog in a laundry basket in a warm spot for an hour or so.

Be sure the hedgehog is completely dry before putting it back in it’s cage.

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Have Anything to Add? Questions?


Posted by Michelle: Soooo, Charleigh has some pretty gross poop and I’m not sure if I should be concerned or not. I just got her Sunday, so she’s been under some stress with a new environment and all. Her poop is REALLY loose and a light brown color, and it almost looks like there are bits of white sand in it. It has almost no smell, and there is no mucous. Last night she pooped some semi-formed poop, but this morning I got a handful of this other stuff again. She’s eating fine, a combo of what she was weaned on and some new BB. She wheels, and she’s not lost any weight. Can I give her some pumpkin and see if that firms things up, or should I just give it time? Oh, I forgot to mention she’s 6 weeks old and quilling.

@Reply: Weird poops are normal during a transition period, especially when it goes along with a food transition. You can use some powdered probiotic (benebac or acidophilus) to help a little, but otherwise just focus on making sure the diet you use is good quality, and the stool quality will improve on its own.

@Reply: how long could it take to get better? And where can I get Benebac?

@Reply: You can find benebac on Amazon, OTC from a vet, or sometimes in pet stores. You can get acidophilus from a normal drug store.

Posted by Jessica R: Was supposed to get a hedgie baby sent to me this week but was then told shipping is $200 which is more than the hedgie itself anyone know Any breeders or red used in sc or anyone that ships and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg? Do you think in your personal opinion that hedgies are good pets to own around children?

@Reply: I am not sure of breeders in that area, but honestly that is the price of shipping so your best bet is to find one there!! The shipping can’t get much cheaper!

@Reply: Shipping itself costs $200, before the price of the carrier and gas. So, that’s kind of a steal.

@Reply: Why is it so expensive for shipping I get turtles shipped and it’s 80$ max and that was for two torts that weighed 10lbs total?

@Reply: Reptiles can be shipped via postal shipping. Hedgehogs need to be shipped via airline.

@Reply: Oh thanks is it bc of the risk of cold and hibernation during transport?

@Reply: The nice thing about going with someone local is that you can meet your hedgehog in person and have chance to talk with the breeder with any questions you have at that moment.

@Reply: Yeah, you have to ship hedgehogs over airplane. I honestly don’t know how the breeders do it. I had to ship Pip when I moved out here and it was a nightmare. Having to explain what hedgehogs were, getting told the wrong price, having them try to cancel on us when they realized the DAY BEFORE, having to be on two separate flights (he was routed to Texas, while I went through Atlanta), missing my flight because of shitty scheduling and then crying in the airport because my hedgehog was in Texas, finally arriving and realizing that his flight had been delayed another 5 hours, sobbing in the car at 2 in the morning because I don’t know where you go pick him up because the GPS was telling me the old location…just a nightmare. Would not recommend.

Posted by Kevin M: At what age is it safe to begin feeding mealworms? Three months is okay, right? Also, at what age does a hedgehog stop growing?

@Reply: You’re fine to feed them now. Six months is when they are considered adults and fully grown, though some do continue to grow a bit after that, mostly in width.

@Reply: How many should I feed each day?

@Reply: Depends on if they’re freeze dried or fresh.
Freeze dried I would do 1-3, fresh 3-5 (a little more is fine if your hog is active, though they’re fattening).

@Reply: I would do fresh. It’s fun seeing them “hunt.”

@Reply: I’m giving Charleigh meal worms already, and she’s just 6 weeks old. I only give her 3 at a time. She LOVES them!

Posted by Haley U: Ok. So my girl has a tumor below her jaw. I didn’t think it was causing an issue with her ability to eat. But she sounds like she is chewing on a piece of hard food much longer now. What are some good soft foods for cheap? I have worms and eggs. Any thing else?

@Reply: Baby foods and wet cat foods are good options, though I suggest just wetting the kibble you already have and feeding it that way. That’s probably the cheapest and most efficient way, while still guaranteeing she’s getting the nutrition she needs.

On a side note: Has anyone ever owned a fennec fox before?

@Reply: All sorts of baby foods. Scrambled eggs. Banana

@Reply: add water to her kibble to soften it.

Posted by Nicky R: Hey everyone. I need thoughts. I noticed tonight that me sweet piglet seems to have a cold in her eye. Or I think it is. she has a white face so all her hair around her eye is wet and look pink like her skin. She’s scratching a tiny bit but, she is eating, drinking, running and being social as normal. Should I just watch her eye, clean it with something, or do you all feel a vet is needed?

Posted by Megan V: I have a question and I need some help please?? I am nervous that my hedgie isn’t getting enough water from her water bottle. Is it a bad idea to use water bottles all together?

@Reply: water bottles are fine so long as they are the ball/gravity kind and not the spring loaded kind. The spring loaded bottles have been known to cause tongue injuries. Now, some hogs will chew on the metal and it’s been said they could break their little vampy fangs, but those are very easy to break, and older hedgies often break them on a great many things.