Unlike other exotic pets, hedgehogs have certain food requests. Plus, they are covered with tiny little spikes that come to life when they feel attacked. Those quills are basically their only weapon against predators so you need to handle them carefully if you plan on taking a hedgehog as your house pet.
One first aspect you need to learn about is related to their diet. Even though hedgehogs are primarily insectivores, they do eat things that crawl or creep. They like to eat all sorts of worms and crickets. However, you should stick as much as possible to formulated hedgehog kibble. The main reason why this type of food is more preferred is that it contains mashed up insects and plenty of vitamins and minerals that are mandatory for a balanced diet.
Although some hedgie owners tend to use cat food or dog food, try to avoid them because it needs a certain level of protein in its diet. Kibbles made for dogs or kittens have a higher level of proteins which is not recommended for hedgehogs. You’ll find plenty of good and affordable options online or in pet stores.
As far as their housing goes, you must understand that the best hedgehog houses provide enough room for them to sleep, move and play according to their desire. You can use cages made for rabbits or even guinea pigs just try to avoid cages with wire grate bottoms because hedgehogs have small feet and they can suffer injuries if they fall through the grates.
Furthermore, place a soft bedding made of towels or recycled paper so you can change them on a regular basis. Plus, these fabrics are suitable for their sensitive feet.
In addition to the cage and bed, hedgehogs are active livings that need a running wheel where they can play. Don’t forget to put in their house a hide box, as well as a water and a food bowl. Daily or every second day, check their cage and make sure the running wheel is cleaned. Fecal matter can cause foot infections on hedgehogs so they need a clean space in order to be healthy.
These running wheels are extremely important because hedgehogs can run miles daily and since you intend to keep them in an enclosed area, they must stick to their natural habits.
If you don’t comply with their needs for physical activity, they can become depressed, overweight and even suffer from foot sores. Just like you need a good workout that keeps you in good shape, hedgehogs don’t differ much from humans.
The most common type of hedgehogs used for pets is the African pygmy. This one has a lot of quills but they are funny animals that can be a tad tame.
Typically, hedgehogs don’t like to be handled, especially when doing their dental checkups. They can roll into and put their spines at the front when scared. However, younger hedgehogs are more easy to deal with so it’s best to get one when it’s six to eight weeks of age.