When most people think of hedgehogs, they have one of two images. They either picture a popular video game, featuring a hedgehog character, or they picture a small, yet rather scary looking, wild animal. Few people realize that hedgehogs actually do make good pets. First, you must realize that when we discuss hedgehogs as pets, we are not actually talking about the larger hedgehogs, such as the West European Hedgehog. The most common species of hedgehogs that people have as pets are the North African Hedgehog, the Long-Eared Hedgehog, the Indian Long-Eared Hedgehog, and the Four- Toed Hedgehog, with the North African Hedgehog being the most common. Too often, people take hedgehogs as pets on the spur of the moment, without properly thinking things through. This is true for many other pets as well. As with any other pet, when you purchase a hedgehog, you are making a commitment to another living, breathing creature that will depend on you for his or her survival. So, before you fall in love with the idea of owning a hedgehog, let’s take a look at the reality of it. Below are some questions that you need to consider before you get a hedgehog.

  • Hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning that they sleep during the day, and are active at night. It has been said that the sleeping pattern of a hedgehog can be changed, but it isn’t necessarily easy. Are you an early to bed, early to rise person? If so, you might want to consider a different type of pet.
  • While hedgehogs as pets are low maintenance animals, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need care. They do require a certain level of maintenance, which includes cleaning their cage and bedding, and of course grooming the hedgehog as well. Are you prepared to do this weekly?
  • Hedgehogs have a life span between four and six years. Will you be able to care for the hedgehog for this length of time?
  • There are expenses associated with hedgehogs. They need special food, toys, housing, bedding, and veterinarian care. If they become ill, they require medications prescribed by a veterinarian. Do you have the financial resources to care for a hedgehog?
  • Do you have time to spend with your hedgehog? Without time and attention from you, your hedgehog will become skittish, and he won’t be very happy. He needs at least thirty minutes to an hour of your total attention each and every day.
  • Hedgehogs as pets are fun to watch, but they also get into things and make mistakes. They are not easily trained, and you really can’t teach a hedgehog ‘not’ to do something. Instead, you have to work to make it impossible for him to do something. He won’t understand discipline.
  • Do you have small children? If so, you might want to reconsider getting a hedgehog. Because hedgehogs are so small, they can be easily injured, and children are not known for their gentle handling of pets. Furthermore, the hedgehog does have spikes, and although those spikes are soft, they can cause pain and injury is the animal is not handled properly, which is always a possibility with children.
  • Ask yourself why you want a pet, regardless of what type of pet it is. Often, people want pets because the animals are cute, or because the person is lonely. If you want a pet because pets tend to love you unconditionally, you might be better off with a dog, even though dogs are higher maintenance. Hedgehogs are not known for being lap hogs.
  • What is your living situation? Are pets allowed where you live? Will you be in a living situation, for the duration of the hedgehog’s life, where pets are allowed? Is there a chance that you may not live in a place where pets are allowed, or where you cannot pay a pet deposit?
  • Your hedgehog will need veterinarian care, as mentioned above. However, because the hedgehog is considered an exotic animal, most vets will charge a higher price for services than they would for a more common pet. Are you prepared to pay that higher price for services for the well-being of your beloved hedgehog?

With all of that said, there are a number of good reasons to get a hedgehog, if you are indeed ready for this type of pet. Here are some of the best reasons:

  • Hedgehogs really are cute. When you see their tiny little bodies and their adorable little faces, you can’t help but want one.
  • Hedgehogs do not take up a great deal of room. No matter how small your house or apartment is, there is most likely room for a hedgehog.
  • Unlike many other pets of this type, you won’t need to get a companion for your hedgehog. He doesn’t need other animals to keep him company or to make him happy. He is happy by himself.
  • Hedgehogs don’t have to be walked, they are quiet animals, and they do not have scent glands like other animals of this type. Furthermore, they do not have pet dander, which makes them an excellent alternative for someone who is allergic to cats or dogs.
  • Your hedgehog doesn’t need your help for exercise. If he has a wheel in his cage, he will get all of the exercise that he needs for weight control.

Overall, hedgehogs are amazing creatures that will bring you and your family hours, months, and years of enjoyment. If you are ready for a pet, it could very well be that the hedgehog will be the perfect pet for you.