If you’ve considered getting a hedgehog for a pet, you’ve probably been through the worst already. Almost everyone has probably discouraged you already. They’ll tell you hedgehogs are no pets; that they’re wild animals through and through and should be left alone.
But the simple truth is that hedgehogs make normal pets like any other animal. They might need a bit more work, but they work alright as pets. If you’re planning on getting a hedgehog soon, you need to know the following.
They can be very dangerous
Photos don’t lie. Hedgehogs come with a set of prickly extensions that cover up their body exterior. Those prickly hairs are always prone to standing up straight, especially when the hog is terrified.
In that case, holding it would mean hundreds of painful body piercings at the same time. If you intend to get a hedgehog, prepare to be a very patient handler.
They can be very sensitive
Sensitivity isn’t a virtue all animals have. But hedgehogs have it, and they show it whenever they can. Hedgehog owners warn that they get easily terrified, and when they do, their hairy extensions prick up straight, ready to pierce.
You should also know that the hairs remain flat when it’s calm, but start standing up when it gets frightened or threatened.
They are nocturnal
Another important bit you must know about hedgehogs is that they’re nocturnal animals. You can’t force them to stay awake with you during the day because that’s their nighttime.
Most hedgehog owners only spend a few hours each day with their pets as a result. You’ll only have a few hours each day to play together – unless you’re a night owl yourself.
You’ll need lots of DIY tricks
Because hedgehogs aren’t as mainstream in the way cats and dogs are, they don’t have as many products specifically made for them. So you’ll have to be innovative and learn as you go along.
Some hedgehog owners report using toothbrushes as bathing tools (for the hairy spikes). Others say they feed them with unique meal combinations made up of low-fat cat food, mealworms, crickets and veggies. Not the easiest diet to handle, that’s for sure.
They live for about 4 years
Pet hedgehogs don’t live forever. But unlike other long-living pets, they only live for a short while. The average pet hedgehog lives for an average of four years. That doesn’t necessarily mean that yours will die on its fourth birthday though.
To take advantage of this unfortunate fact, many hedgehog parents adopt freshly weaned baby hedgehogs rather than mature ones.
Get some lessons first
It’s no secret that most hedgehog parents are learning as they go. It’s a wonderful experience, no doubt, but it can prove costly when you harm your pet irreversibly. As such, experts recommend you get a few lessons first.
You should consider visiting a few hedgehog parents to learn how they do it. The Internal Hedgehog Association has a website where you can easily sign up and be a volunteer hedgehog parent for a while. Learn all the basics on feeding, accommodation, health and more; take notes if you can.