Hedgehogs, affectionately referred to as "hedgies," are certainly adorable, but many people don't know what they're really like since relatively few people keep them as pets. As with any pet, hedgies have their pros and cons, but they can make good pets for almost anyone who takes the time to learn what to expect from these creatures.
Pros of Keeping Hedgehogs as Pets
According to Huffard Animal Hospital, hedgehogs have a lot of good points that can make them a wonderful pet for some households.
- Hedgies are relatively quiet, but they occasionally make a cute purring noise. If you live in an apartment, you'll won't have to worry about your pet making too much noise.
- These animals enjoy some daily gentle interaction with their human companions, but they typically prefer to be on their own. Plan to spend about an hour a day with your pet to keep him tame.
- Hedgehogs don't need to go for a walk like dogs do. Providing your pet with an exercise wheel goes a long way toward meeting his exercise requirements.
- These creatures are awake on and off through the day and night, so it doesn't matter which shift you work. You'll be able to interact with your pet.
- Their quills don't hurt if you handle your pet gently and carefully. However, baby quills are typically sharper than adult quills. When hedgie shed their old quills and get new ones, it's known as "quilling."
- Hedgies don't need a huge cage, but they do need enough room to move around in comfortably. This is another point that makes them good candidates for apartment living.
- These creatures don't carry as much body odor as other small pets such as ferrets. If you keep your pet's cage clean, smell shouldn't be an issue. If you hedgie does develop an odor, it may be wise to consult your vet because this might be a sign of illness.
Cons of Keeping Hedgehogs as Pets
According to Hedgehog Rescue.org, these creatures can make good pets, but they aren't the best choice for a first-time exotic pet owner.
- Hedgehogs must be kept separately because they tend to fight when housed together, especially the males, who will fight to the death. This means separate cages if you want to keep more than one, which increases the space you'll need, as well as extra time spent cleaning your pets' environments.
- These creatures need out-of-cage time for foraging, one of their natural activities. This means you'll have to set up a separate, safe area for your pet. You'll also have to plan on cleaning up the numerous droppings he leaves behind as he scurries around.
- Hedgies tend to relieve themselves whenever they need to and wherever they are. In fact, they often relieve themselves while they are on the run. According to Millermeade Farm's Hedgehog Headquarters, some hedgies can be trained to use a litter box, while others never catch on.
- Hedgies are not the best pets for small children since these creatures can be stressed by a lot of noise.
- These animals must be handled carefully and securely, or they can easily be injured, especially if a young child accidentally drops his or her pet.
- The quills can give a poke if the pet is handled roughly or is petted against the way the quills naturally grow.
- You'll most likely need to consult a veterinarian that specializes in exotic pets for your hedgehog's health care. Unfortunately, there typically aren't as many exotics vets available as standard veterinarians, so you may have to travel a bit to reach one.
Only You Can Decide
Educating yourself about hedgehogs is one of the best ways to help you decide if this is the right pet for you. You should also ask yourself what you want from a pet. If you want a constant companion who enjoys running around with you, you might be better off with a dog. On the other hand, if you're looking for a relatively low-maintenance pet who is happy to be on his own when you can't be with him, a hedgehog might be just the right fit. Visit a breeder and spend some time interacting with these animals before you make your final decision.