What is a Pygmy Hedgehog?
It's a cuddly little animal, burdened with swords! The South African Pygmy Hedgehog, also known as the four-toed hedgehog, is a creature that has been on our Earth since the time of the dinosaurs! They range in size from 6 to ten inches in length and have quills on their backs, but soft fur on their faces and stomachs. They have a long pointed snout, making for a very cute face.
Pygmy Hedgehogs are solitary, nocturnal creatures that are capable of climbing and swimming. They are highly energetic in the night and can cover miles of ground at night searching for food in the wild. (In captivity they run for miles on a wheel.) In the wild they consume insects, plant matter, and even some very small vertebrates.
When threatened or scared, they tend to roll up into a small ball hiding the face and soft belly and exposing the quills. They are capable of making sounds. They most common are snorts, hisses, and small twittering sounds.When attacked or threatened, they are capable of making a loud screaming noise.
A female Pygmy Hedgehog typically only gives birth once a year to a littler consisting of 2 to ten baby hedgehogs called pups, though 4 to 5 is most typical. Their lifespan is typically 4 to 6 years.
Is a Hedgehog the right pet for me?
Well there are a few big factors that will help answer this question.
*What city/state you you live in? In some cities/states it is illegal to own a hedgehog. In some cities/states you may own a hedgehog but must have one or more permits for them. Some cities/states don't require a permit but may have anti-breeding laws are laws against how many you are allowed to own. In most cases, failure to obey these laws can result in large fines, and the confiscation and possible euthanasia of your pet. (For any younger readers, this means they can take your hedgehog away and put him/her to sleep.) Make sure hedgehogs are legal in your city/state before considering one as a pet. If they are legal, but one or more permits are required, I suggest picking those up first. Lawa are always changing, so keep up with them!
*Do you live in a rent house or an apartment where you have a landlord? If so, check with them first to make sure small animals are allowed in your home. There may be a security deposit and/or additional rent required. Make sure your budget will allow for this.
*Do you have time in your schedule to properly care for this little bundle of joy? Do you have room in your budget for all of it's expenses?
*Do you have a safe area in your home for a roomy cage?
*Do you have any other pets or small children that may harm or scare the hedgehog?
The African Pygmy Hedgehog is the most widely kept pet of all they hedgehog species. I's small size and calm temper make them great pets, but there are some things you must have!
Cage/Habitat: Hedgehogs are highly active and need plenty of space to run around. Because of this, a large cage is necessary, one preferably 2 to 3 feet long. A twenty gallon tank is ideal. Hedgehogs can be housed in either tanks with screen lids, or large wire/plastic cages.
Food: Food is essential to life for everything! Hedgehog food is available in some pet stores, but may be hard to find. If this is the case, you can also feed hedgies high-quality cat food that is high in protein and low in fat. Treats can also be fed up to four times a week. These treats include high-quality canned cat food with meat, cooked chicken, cooked turkey, cooked lamb, meal worms, beetles, Caterpillars, fruits and vegetables. Offer these supplements for up to 15 minutes and then remove whatever is left uneaten as they will spoil. Make sure all cooked foods are cooled before feeding.
Food Bowl and Water Bowl/Bottle: Hedehogs like to tip over bowls, so a heavy glass one with low edges is ideal. You can also use one that bolts to the side of the cage. Make sure food and water is provided fresh daily. If your hedgie tips over the water bowl or you refer a bottle, then that is acceptable too. Whatever makes your hedgie more comfortable.
Bedding: Many people use small fleece blankets to cover the bottom of their hedgehog's cage, and while there is nothing wrong with this, I also recommend using some bedding materials as well to promote burrowing and give nesting materials. Aspen is the only wood based bedding that should be used so any small animal or a paper based bedding such a Carefresh will work just fine too. There are also mixed beddings available, or you can mix your own.
Running Wheel: Hedgehogs are very active little creatures that need a wheel to run on. The wheel should be large enough so they can run on it without arching their back. Both free standing wheels and wheels that attach to the wall of a cage are available in all sizes and colors. A solid surface is better than one with spokes as they may get caught in the openings.
House: When tired, stressed, or scared, hedgies will want a place to feel secure or just someplace dark to go to sleep! Be sure to supply them with adequate housing. A cardboard box, flower pot, or store bought home will work nicely.
Now your all set to bring home your Pygmy Hedgehog! Good luck and have fun! I hope all my readers and my friend found this helpful.