I always get a lot of questions on my pet hedgehog, Ralph; what it’s like to have him as a pet, care information, food and all that, so today I will be going through my experience of owning a pet hedgehog.
At the moment, he is 14 weeks old, I got him when he was 6 weeks, so I’ve had him for just under 2 months. But within the short amount of time I’ve had him, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what it is like to have a hedgehog as a pet and can confidently share my views with everyone.
I originally thought that Ralph was an African Pygmy hedgehog, because that is the most common domestic hedgehog out there, but I recently learned that he is actually an Algerian black hedgehog. Based on his nose, his color and specific markings that only Algerian hedgehogs have. Which makes sense because I would google pet hedgehogs and look at different hedgehog instagram accounts and they never looked like my Ralph lol
But anyways let’s get into the information I have based on my personal experiences with Little Ralph.
I feel like everyone will have a different experience with their pet hedgehog, no ones experiences will be the same since hedgehogs come with their own personality, so these are just my accounts(:
• Choosing your hedgehog:
When choosing your hedgehog, whether it be from a breeder or an exotic pet store, you should always ask to see the hedgehogs and physically handle them. Pick up and handle different hedgehogs and pay attention to how the hedgehog reacts. You’ll be able to tell almost right away if that hedgehog is nice and friendly, or grumpy and scared. One that stays balled up is most likely scared and maybe not as nice and friendly. A friendly and social hedgehog will uncurl in your hands and turn curious and want to explore. I handled maybe 5 different hedgehogs before I chose the one I wanted. Many of them were friendly but they were female, and since I already had a name in mind, the one I chose had to be a male hedgehog. When I did come across a male hedgehog I handled him and he was friendly with me. He let me pick him up and he uncurled in my hand and didn’t stay balled up. I held him for quite awhile, and he was the one I ended up taking home(:
• Hedgehog supplies:
Essential hedgehog supplies include,
1. A good cage/home for them. Something with at least 4 square feet of space is the minimum for them. I use a 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 foot plastic storage container that sits about 15 inches high. It’s wide enough where he has good space to move around, and tall enough to where he can’t climb out. (Hedgehogs can be climbers)
2. Bedding. I personally use fleece lining for my hedgehogs home, as I see almost all hedgehog owners do. Other options include paper bedding (carefresh brand), or aspen wood shavings. I have not used any kind of wood shavings for my hedgehog but I have heard that pine and cedar shaving are very bad for them and can cause respiratory problems and be dusty, which is not good for them. I’ve heard that aspen shavings would be appropriate if you wanted to use wood shavings but again it can be dusty, but it’s safer than pine and cedar. Again, I have never used wood shavings for bedding, so I cannot personally say any effects they may have.
I have used carefresh paper bedding, and I did like it, as did Ralph, since he can burrow himself in it and dig, but it’s not very sightly in my opinion, I’ve noticed that even though it says dust free, it seemed to create dust, it can cause health problems for your hedgehog if they accidentally ingest some, and paper bedding can also harbor mites. (Which my hedgehog just got treated for, and I will talk about further down in this post.)
I prefer fleece lining for his bedding because it’s cleaner, it looks better, it’s not dusty, does not harbor mites, and is a healthier choice all around in my opinion.
3. Running wheel. A wheel is definitely needed for your hedgehog so they can get their exercise and help to stay healthy and not be obese, which hedgehogs are prone to.
4. A hideaway/snuggle pouch. These are essential since hedgehogs are very private animals and like to hide. Having a hideaway such as a plastic igloo is perfect for them, and a snuggle sack is made of fleece so it will keep them warm too while they like to hide in them.
5. Food and water. Hedgehogs should be fed a good, high protein and low fat diet. Commercial hedgehog foods are mostly junk. It’s not made from good quality ingredients or real meats. Basically just stay clear or ‘hedgehog food’ itself. Switch to a high quality dry cat food that has real meat as the first ingredient and follows the high protein low fat diet. Their food should have a protein content between 28-35% and a fat content of 10-15%. I personally use Blue Buffalo dry indoor kitten food. It’s grain free, does not contain corn and is made with real meats. It is also good to treat your hedgehog with other foods like mealworms, earthworms and even human food like scrambled eggs, chicken breast and veggies! Right now, since Ralph is still a baby, I free feed him so he can eat whenever he is hungry, but when they’re adults their food needs to be monitored so they do not become obese. 1-3 teaspoons a day is good, along with exercise. As far as water, I just use a water bottle for Ralph, that attaches to his cage.
Here is an updated photo of Ralph’s home:
• Caring for your hedgehog:
1. Bathing. It’s obviously important to care for your hedgehog, which includes baths, trimming their nails, and keeping an eye on their health in case a vet trip is needed. Hedgehogs are generally clean animals and don’t have to be bathed daily or even weekly. Once or twice a month is enough depending on your hedgehog. Hedgehogs have naturally dry skin so lots of baths will end up drying out their skin more. When I give Ralph a full bath, I put some baby shampoo in the water since it is gentle and take a toothbrush and brush through his quills. Hedgehogs will often relieve themselves while they are in water, so be prepared to have some poop floating around lol. After a bath, I will wrap him up in a towel and dry him off and keep him warm. If needed, this is when I would trim his nails since he is most likely relaxed. It’s important to trim their nails every two weeks or as needed so that they don’t get too long, which can be unhealthy for them as they will curl and can eventually cause them pain.
Hedgehogs are prone to having poopy feet, since they are pretty clumsy and will poop and often take a step in it causing poop to be stuck to their feet or nails, so foot baths just to clean them off are more needed than actual baths.
Caring for them is super easy since they are such low maintenance animals. They don’t need a lot of attention, they need a minimal interaction of 30 mins a day, but I handle my hedgehog a lot. He’s constantly being played with and picked up throughout the day, which I think is why he is so social and not scared all the time. Since they are nocturnal, hedgehogs basically sleep all day and are up and active at night. Since I work during the day, I’m not really missing out on any bonding time with him since he sleeps, but when I come home around 1am he is usually awake and I will bond with him and handle him then.
2. Bonding. Bonding with your hedgehog is very important so that they get used to you handling them and don’t stay balled up all the time. They will become more friendly and easy to handle and be more comfortable with you if you handle them all the time and bond with them so they know it’s you. My hedgehog travels with me wherever I go and people tell me all the time that they’ve had hedgehogs or someone they know has had one and they were all really angry and grumpy and that mine is really friendly and happy. So I assume I’m doing something right by handling him all the time.
3. Quilling. Quilling is natural and it’s where their baby quills will fall out and their adult ones come in. This happens quite a few times throughout their lifetime, and I can imagine it is a painful process for them since quills are sharp and they have to break through the skin again. My hedgehog was recently treated for mites at the vet. At the time, I was using paper bedding, which can harbor mites, and I noticed a couple of his quills, at the base of them, the skin was raised and really red and looked irritated. The next day, I saw there was a quill at the top of his head and it was bleeding, so I took him to the vet right away to get checked and discovered he had mites, and he got treated with Revolution right away. Mites can come from different sources. It could have been the paper bedding or it could have been from the fact that I got him from a pet store and they keep many hedgies in a cage together, which isn’t good. In 3 weeks, he goes back to the vet to make sure he is all healthy again.
4. Health. It’s very important to pay attention to your hedgehog and their individual needs. Pay attention to how much they eat, when or if they eat, how much they poop and the consistency, how active they are, and if they change any part of their normal daily routine, like if they are scratching more, or not eating. This can be essential in spotting any problems your hedgie may be having. Regular vet check ups are good just to make sure your hedgie is healthy. If for any reason you are not sure if there is something more going on with your hedgehog, it’s always best to just take them to a vet.
• My experience:
My overall experience with having a hedgehog as a pet has been awesome! I love my little Ralph so much and he’s so cute and fun to interact with. Of course he has his grumpy moments like when I wake him up to play, but he is overall a great pet for me and I love taking him everywhere with me.
He doesn’t seem to mind going with me anywhere and traveling with me all the time.
One concern I had at the time of buying my hedgehog was that I read somewhere that hedgehogs can get car sick. I wanted to make sure that he could travel with me and not get sick since I travel a lot and wasn’t going to be leaving him behind. When I asked, the guy helping me said that none of his personal hedgehogs have ever gotten sick from traveling a lot.
Every hedgehog may be different, but my Ralph travels with me everywhere and he has never gotten sick.
I love that he is super low maintenance. I don’t have to clean him or anything of his things constantly, he’s not messy, and he doesn’t make any noise. The only time I hear him is when he’s eating, I can hear him crunching. Which I think is cute lol or when he’s drinking water from his water bottle I can hear him. But he doesn’t bark or squeak or cause any problems. He’s just a really chill animal that doesn’t do much lol
I guess if anyone has more questions about my hedgehog or how to care for hedgehogs, you can leave me a comment on this post and I will do my best to answer them(:
Thanks for stopping by! And have a great day, everyone(: