Is a hedgehog the right pet for you?
Are your expectations realistic? - Hedgehogs are completely different than domesticated pets. Hedgehog quills are sharp, no matter what you've read to the contrary (hedgehog quills are NOT like toothbrush bristles), thus they are not "cuddly" animals. They can be moody about being handled, making it difficult to handle them at times. No matter how sweet the hedgehog is, it will have times that it would rather be left alone...all animals do.
If you're expecting a relationship similar to a cat or a dog, DO NOT get a hedgehog...get a cat or a dog.
If you cannot provide proper temperatures, do NOT get a hedgehog. Hedgehogs require temperatures of 75°-80ºF to remain healthy. If you cannot provide this, do not buy a hedgehog.
If you are not comfortable with handling live insects...do NOT get a hedgehog. Hedgehogs require LIVE insects. In the wild, hedgehogs eat live insects, some vegetation, some small mammals and reptiles. To meet their nutritional needs in captivity, a dry kibble is offered daily but this must be supplemented with live insects. Do not offer freeze-dried insects as these may impact their intestines, resulting in death. See our Hedgehog Care page for more info. on diet.
Do hedgehogs make good pets for children? - In our opinion, hedgehogs are not ideal pets for children under 6-7 years of age. The quills ARE sharp and hedgehogs can bite. Young children may panic if stuck or bitten and drop the hedgehog, which could injure or kill the hedgehog. Only you know the maturity level of your child and this should be given serious consideration when purchasing any pet. If your child is too young to assist with feeding, watering and cleaning, they are most likely too young for a hedgehog.
Are hedgehog quills sharp? - Yes, quills are sharp ... no matter what you may have read to the contrary. Owning a hedgehog means you will get stuck at some point. Hedgehog quills are not poisonous or barbed. Getting stuck may be somewhat painful to those with sensitive hands, but it is not dangerous.
Do hedgehogs bite? - Like any animal with teeth, yes, hedgehogs can bite. Hedgehogs are not aggressive by nature and most do not bite. However, if they smell something that they think is edible or if they feel threatened, they may bite. They typically bite down and you'll feel a hard pinch, but rarely do they break the skin. Overreacting to biting will almost guarantee a repeat of the behavior. Always downplay biting. If they realize that biting didn't accomplish much, they are less likely to attempt it again.
MOST of the time, hedgehogs will begin licking before they bite. Licking may seem very cute, but when it comes to hedgehogs, licking is a sign that you are very likely to get bitten. Put the hedgehog down and wash up.
Males vs. Females - There are no discernible differences between a male and female hedgehog. There is no difference in odor, temperament or size. Females do not have a heat cycle and males do not scent mark. In our opinion, both genders make great pets and each hedgehog has its own personality.
Adults vs. Babies - Babies require a lot of time and effort to achieve proper bonding and socialization, but the reward is great. An older, social and friendly hedgehog can sometimes be a better choice if the buyer is inexperienced, a little scared of being stuck, or doesn't have heaps of time to devote to socializing a baby. A less friendly adult can also make a great pet for someone who can appreciate the hedgehog's need for space and patience. Many adult hedgehogs who were poorly socialized early in life, have been paired with a patient owner and are now calm and tolerant of humans.
Can a grumpy hedgehog make a good pet? - Yes. If you have reasonable expectations about handling, a less social hedgehog can still make a wonderful pet. Some are comfortable with you watching them and only handling them for cleaning. Some will tolerate short periods of handling. Allowing the hedgehog to be near you frequently without too much interaction (talking into their face, petting, etc.) you can teach the hedgehog that you are not going to harm them and they will likely trust you and perhaps become comfortable with handling. Grumpy hedgehogs are rarely aggressive or "mean", they are fearful. They are very apprehensive until they understand that you aren't going to harm them. If you understand the reason for the behavior, it's helpful!
How do I properly socialize a hedgehog? - You must handle the hedgehog every day. Even if the hedgehog seems grumpy, pick them up and handle them anyway. If you refrain from handling because they huff, they will continue to huff. You must not let them intimidate you. With a still hand, hold them until they open and then take things slow. The hedgehog needs to feel like he/she is in charge. Taking things at their pace will help them learn to trust you.
Do hedgehogs smell or musk like ferrets? - No. Hedgehogs do not have any scent glands. Their waste (stool and urine) has a smell, but the hedgehogs themselves do not smell.
Can hedgehogs be litter trained? - Yes. Many hedgehogs will learn to use a litter pan. Only a few will refuse to use it. Hedgehogs can sometimes be unpredictable about using a litter pan ... stress/changes in environment can throw them off temporarily.
Do hedgehogs play? - This is a tough question. Every hedgehog is different. Some are very social and outgoing and some are more withdrawn and need their space. Some will play with a toy that makes noise or lights up and others will not.
How much do hedgehogs sleep? - A lot! It is very typical (and normal) for a hedgehog to sleep 16-18 hours in a day. They are primarily nocturnal so most of their activity is after sundown. Daytime is all about sleep.
Do hedgehogs have to have live insects? - Yes. Insects are an essential part of a hedgehog's diet. Hedgehogs who are never offered insects will have a shorter life span, will not be as healthy and active and may even have behavioral issues. The insects that are best to offer would be mealworms, wax worms, young crickets...these can be purchased from reptile shops. Always LIVE.
Do hedgehogs need a play mate? - NO. Hedgehogs are very solitary animals and do not play well with others. We feel strongly that 1 hedgehog is a great pet for an entire family. Buying multiple hedgehogs because you have more than 1 child is not necessary nor recommended. By having only 1 hedgehog, the hedgehog gets more attention and you get to share responsibilities such as cleaning.
Do hedgehogs chew things up? - Not typically. They may grab fabric with their mouth and give it a tug, but they usually do not chew in a destructive manner. They are not rodents and do not need to wear their teeth down.
Is there a trick to bonding? - Yes. There is an easy and excellent way to gain your hedgehog's trust. Take a small piece of fabric such as a washcloth (NOT a T shirt or large item) and keep it on your person for several hours to get your scent on it. Place the fabric in the hedgehog's hide. This will help them to associate your scent with their safe place. This really does work.
Another tip is... allow your hedgehog to spend time on your lap while you're watching TV or reading. Lay out a towel to protect your clothing and furniture. Allow him/her to wander about on your lap. Do not restrain him/her, just guide them back if they wander too far. By allowing them to spend time with you, without being restrained, they will learn that you will not harm them.
Choosing a hedgehog
Are you purchasing from a good breeder? - Is the breeder licensed? Is the breeder knowledgeable? Is the breeder willing to show you their licenses? If the breeder is not licensed and does not seem to be very knowledgeable about the animals they are selling, then you may want to reconsider.
How do I know if I'm choosing a healthy hedgehog? - Assuming that the hedgehog is open and social, the following are things to look for.
The hedgehog should be alert, not lethargic.
The eyes should be round and open, never droopy.
The eyes and nose should be free of mucus, crust, bubbles and debris.
The ears should be smooth, not pitted, crusty or tattered.
The body should feel toned, never limp, never rigid.
The feet should be smooth, uninjured and free of scabs.
Handling and Behaviors
How do I pick up a hedgehog? - It is instinctive for hedgehogs to ball up when grabbed from behind. You'll want to slip your fingers under their belly and lift straight up. If they ball up, pick them up anyway. They will learn in time that you are not going to harm them.
Do hedgehogs throw or shed their quills? -Hedgehogs do not throw their quills. They do shed their quills, just as we lose a few hairs daily. Routine shedding will never result in a bald spot. You may notice these on your clothes or the floor. PICK THEM UP and throw them away. These are very painful if stepped on.
What is anointing? - Hedgehogs will anoint themselves when they smell new scents. This is when they lick themselves (usually on the back) creating a foamy area that is clearly visible. It is a normal and natural behavior. As a result of anointing, the saliva will dry and flake off. This is sometimes mistaken for a skin problem. If your hedgehog has recently anointed and has flakes, give him/her a quick rinse in lukewarm water, no shampoo. There should be no signs of flakes after the rinse, unless they anoint again.
Can hedgehogs be litter trained? - In most cases, hedgehogs can be litter trained. Sometimes this can be achieved in as little as a week, sometimes a little longer. In our experience, the best results have come from using corner litter pans and training litter. We have found it best to use dust free, fragrance free clay litter in the bottom and sprinkle the training litter on top. If the hedgehog doesn't use the litter pan, use a paper towel to pick up the stool and place it in the litter pan. In most cases, this will incite them to use it. If the hedgehog tries sleeping in the litter pan, move it to another area. Most hedgehogs will eventually figure it out, but there are some that just won't.
Do hedgehogs bite? - Hedgehogs have teeth and can bite. They are not typically aggressive animals and biting is not common, but they have the ability to bite. You'll usually get a warning...they often lick before biting. They don't usually puncture the skin but they tend to hold on for a moment and you'll have to wait for them to let go.
Do hedgehogs chew on things? - Typically, No. Hedgehogs are not rodents and do not require things to chew on. Their teeth do not continue to grow and do not need to be worn down.
Care and Health
How important are temperatures? - VERY. Temperatures are one of the most important things when owning a hedgehog.
Ideal range is 75F - 85F. If the temperature drops to 70F or below for more than an hour or two, your hedgehog WILL become ill and likely die. This is a certainty. Temperatures above 85F can also be dangerous. High temperatures can cause heat exhaustion which can lead to death. If you cannot provide adequate temperatures, do not get a hedgehog.
Do you have to feed hedgehogs live insects? - Yes. Insects are an essential part of a hedgehog's diet. Hedgehogs who are never offered insects will have a shorter life span, will not be as healthy and active and may even have behavioral issues. The insects that are best to offer would be mealworms, wax worms, young crickets...these can be purchased from reptile shops. Always LIVE. If you are not willing to handle insects, do not get a hedgehog.
Can hedgehogs carry Salmonella? - Yes. ALL animals can carry Salmonella. Every so often, the media will announce cases of Salmonella that were contracted by handling animals. This is real. The truth is, you could contract Salmonella, Ecoli, Staph and several other illnesses from handling any type of animal. It is important to wash your hands with soap before and after handling your hedgehog. The same is true for any other pet you may have. Antibacterial hand gels are adequate as well, though we feel that good old fashioned soap and water are best.
What is the life span of a hedgehog? - On average, hedgehogs live 4-6 years. We have personally known of one that lived more than 10 years, though this is not common. If kept at proper temperatures, fed a proper diet and offered a wheel, hedgehogs can easily live 6-7 years. However, if all requirements are not met, hedgehogs will sadly only live to be 3-4 years old.
Can I take my hedgehog outdoors? - If you take your hedgehog outdoors, monitor him/her closely to ensure that they do not eat anything (including insects) while outside. Many people have pest control service and insects in the yard could possibly contain toxins or poisons. Consuming grass or other vegetation outdoors could also be harmful because of pest control products or fertilizers.
At what age do hedgehogs wean? - Hedgehog babies typically wean between 6 - 8 weeks of age. Once our babies are removed from the mother, we keep them here for at least 1 week to ensure that they are doing well on hard food and the water bottle. The majority of our babies are ready to go to their new homes between 6 - 7 weeks of age.
Can I allow other animals around my hedgehog? -In nearly all cases, we discourage allowing your hedgehog to have physical contact with the other pets in your home. We feel especially strong about this if your other pets are allowed to go outside. They can bring in fleas, ticks, mites, disease, etc. This can also be emotionally stressful for your hedgehog and could cause behavioral issues. If you choose to allow your hedgehog to have contact with your other pets, please be sure to supervise them at all times. Never leave your hedgehog unattended with any other animal.
Do hedgehogs require vaccinations or immunizations? - No. Hedgehogs do not require any kind of shots.
What kind of cage should I use? - We only recommend enclosures with solid bottoms and sides, such as Sterilite or Rubbermaid bins. These should allow for no less than 2 sq. ft. of floor space. We find that the 106 quart Sterilite works perfectly. These bins will require modification to allow for proper ventilation, to prevent escape and to control the temperature. We DO NOT recommend wire cages. Hedgehogs are good climbers and can be injured in wire cages. They also pose a problem with temperature control.
What kind of bedding should I use? - We use kiln dried pine. You can also use fleece or flannel cage liners. Paper bedding is also a choice for some hedgehogs but monitor closely for dry skin, as some hedgehogs have an allergic reaction to paper bedding.
What kind of litter should I use? - We strongly recommend unscented, dust-free, non-clumping clay litter.
What kind of food should I use?- We use a mix of dry cat foods. These foods contain no artificial preservatives. We advise against specialty hedgehog foods as they typically do not meet a hedgehog's nutritional requirements.
Can you bathe hedgehogs? - Yes, but only as needed. Bathing removes the oils from their skin and can cause dry skin issues. If they are smelly or if you can see that they are obviously dirty, then it's bath time.
Can hedgehogs get fleas and ticks? - Yes. If you have other animals that go in and out, they could bring fleas, ticks, mites or other parasites in the house and your hedgehog could become infested. If this should happen, you will need to take the hedgehog to the vet to receive treatment. It is not advised to attempt treatment yourself as you could use a chemical that is not recommended or possibly overdose the hedgehog with chemicals.
How do I trim my hedgehog's nails? - We find it best to use nail clippers for humans. They are most receptive to nail trimming right after a bath. If you are unable to trim unusually long nails, your vet can do it for you.
Payment & Policies
Is the cage included in the price? - No. We offer supplies and set-ups for sale but they are not included in the price of the hedgehog. The hedgehog's price includes the hedgehog, a trial supply of food and all required paperwork.
Can I have a hedgehog shipped? - Yes. We ship to states where hedgehogs are legal. We prefer not to ship within the state of Florida and we offer DELIVERY to locations within the state for a fee that is typically less than the shipping fee.
What payment methods are accepted? - We accept PayPal (fees may apply), Cash and Money Orders. We do not accept checks.
What is the deposit amount? - The deposit to reserve a hedgehog is $50.00 and can be paid online using PayPal (5% fee applies), in person (cash only) or via US mail with a money order. Deposits are non-refundable.
Can I reserve a hedgehog? - Yes. You may place a deposit on a hedgehog to reserve him/her. For hedgehogs that are ready to go, you will need to pay in full and pick-up the hedgehog within 7 days or a $1 per day/per hedgehog fee will apply. For babies that are not yet weaned, you will have 7 days from the weaning date to pay in full and pick-up the hedgehog or a $1 per day/per hedgehog fee will apply.
Do I have to take my hedgehog to the vet? - Yes, an initial examination is important. We expect every buyer to have their new hedgehog examined by a licensed vet who has experience with hedgehogs. After the initial examination, vet visits will be on an "as needed" basis.
Can I buy a male and a female? - No. If you are not a USDA licensed breeder, we will not sell you hedgehogs of different genders, nor will we sell you a hedgehog of a different gender than one you currently have. We feel that 1 hedgehog is a great pet for the whole family, but if you have your heart set on more than 1, we will sell you multiples of the same gender.