People are looking for exotic animals to buy as pets and hedgehogs fit the bill. They’re prickly, they’re poky but they’re definitely a far cry from the run of the mill pets like fishes, dogs and cats. If you’re looking to have a slice of the thorny life here’s a few helpful tips that could get you started.
- First, before you decide it’s a great idea and start your hunt for your prickly pet, make sure that it is legal to have a pet hedgehog in your region. Many jurisdictions will have certain restrictions or not even allow ownership of a hedgehog. So before you really set your heart out on a hedgehog, check out if it’s legal.
- Read up about it. They are different for dogs and cats and will have different behaviors and will need different care methods. Reading up about hedgehogs will help you identify which types you are looking for as well inform you on the type of question you need to be asking. Not only that, this process will help you in deciding whether a hedgehog is actually the pet for you.
- Don’t try to get a bargain deal from a place like Craig’s List. Even more, be wary about heading to your local pet store. As you can imagine, a hedgehog is very different from the cat, dogs and other animals that are usually available at pet stores and the people in charge may not be knowledgeable enough. Find a reputable breeder who is known for the quality and the expertise he/ she may have on hedgehogs. Avoid purchasing from backyard breeders as this will most likely be for profit and not have the overall hedgehog’s health in mind. When you purchase a hedgehog from a reputable breeder, you will get a hedgie from a young age which will help it bond better with you. There are certain questions you must ask before purchasing a hedgie.
- Ensure of the pedigreed parentage. This will ensure that you have an animal that is clear of WHS (Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome).
- Does the breeder use good breeding ethics?
- Is your breeder licensed to breed and sell hedgehogs?
- Is your breeder part of a hedgehog breeding community?
- Ask about their care and cleaning processes to judge if the hedgehog has received good care.
- Ask about return policies if things don’t work out.
- Are there any lifetime guarantees or in the least a 6 month genetic guarantee on your hedgehog by the breeder?
- If you’re a first time hedgehog owner or you are thinking of purchasing one, you could even purchase an older hedgehog from a private owner. This however, is not recommended as older hedgehogs take longer to get used to you and could come with possible behavioral problems due to poor socialization. The owner should know:
- The age of the hedgehog
- What they have been feeding it
- What cage/ bedding and toys it uses
- The pedigree
- Last vet visit
- Healthy hedgehogs have clear, bright eyes. Hedgehogs with droopy, half closed eyes will be unhealthy. Also, ensure that it has a clean nose and be wary of raspy breathing which could be an indication of a respiratory infection. Check the ears, underbelly and watch its gait. Check for its responsiveness and if the quills are healthy – those are a very good indication of the hedgehog’s health.
Just with any animal, hedgehogs need care and attention. If you cannot commit to owning one for at least 5 years of your life (which is normally the life span, give or take a few years) then you should not purchase one. A tame hedgehog cannot survive in the wild and re-homing one could lead to several behavioral problems.