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Keeping Hedgehogs as pets 


   Kingdom: Animalia

      Phylum: Chordata

        Class: Mammalia

           Order: Eulipotyphla

              Family: Erinaceidae

                 Genus: Atelerix

                     Species: A. albiventris

                                  Binomial Name: Atelerix albiventris

Common Name: Domestic Hedgehog

Understanding some of the basic requirement is important to know before deciding to purchase and care for  a Hedgehog.

This unusual looking animal has spines and somewhat of a hog-like snout. In nature these critters would often be found foraging in hedgerows, rooting like a hog,  constantly in search of a meal. Hence, the English folk living in 1450s would often refer to this animal as a Hedgehog. Everyone adopted the name “Hedgehog” worldwide and used it to describe all animals that fit this description.

Hedgehogs in Nature



   Kingdom: Animalia

      Phylum: Chordata

        Class: Mammalia

           Order: Eulipotyphla

              Family: Erinaceidae

                 Genus: Atelerix

                     Species: A. albiventris

                         Binomial Name: Atelerix albiventris


Common Name: Domestic Hedgehog


There are eleven known species of hedgehogs around the globe. Several species are native to Africa, Asia, Europe, and now they have become established in parts of New Zealand. Since the late 1970s early 1980s there has been a keen interest by pet fanciers to keep hedgehogs as pets.


When the interest of keeping these fascinating little animals as pets gained popularity, several species of wild caught animals were indiscriminately collected and temporarily housed together. Naturally, these animals bred together, even crossbreeding together, often producing fertile offspring. Today there are bans prohibiting hedgehogs from being captured and collected from the wild, but the offspring of the original animals, whether pure or crossbred, contributed to the foundation animals used to create the modern day domestic hedgehog. 


Other Common Names:

Four-toed Hedgehog, African Pygmy Hedgehog, White bellied Hedgehog, Algerian Hedgehog and the , (Algerian is a subspecies of African hedgehogs but now hobbyists often use the name Algerian interchangeably to describe a colour pattern for domestic Hedgehogs with darker cheek patches.)

  • An adult male Hedgehog is a ‘Boar. ’

  • An adult female Hedgehog is a ‘Sow.’

  • A breeding colony of Hedgehogs is a ‘Herd.’

  • A group of babies is a nest’ or a prickle.’

  • A single baby Hedgehog is a piglet,’ hoglet’ or pup.’


Natural distribution in the wild

They are a native of Africa and smaller populations have also become established in parts of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In the wild the Hedgehog’s home range varies from the steppes located at the edge of the savannah to the Mediterranean coastal areas.


Conservation status in the wild

In certain areas, some local populations are threated,  but overall the current population of hedgehogs worldwide, is established and widespread and hedgehogs (other than the European Hedgehog) are listed as species of least concern, as per the I.U.C.N.


Natural habitat

Being that African Hedgehogs thrive in a hot, semi arid climate, they prefer a constantly warm and dry environment but still they need to shelter and protection from the elements. Even in the desert the nighttime temperatures can fall into the single digits, so a warm dry home is necessary. Hedgehogs prefer arid conditions as they do not like to be wet. They try to avoid any running water such as rivers and streams and open water like large pools and ponds. However, if they must, they can swim for short distances and even though they may not enjoy it, when they need to escape from something they will sometimes swim to cross a small stream or pond. Overall, Hedgehogs prefer to stay dry!


Hedgehogs prefer to forage for food near rocks and under sedges. If food is plentiful, they will build a couple of nests that they will frequent during the day to sleep in and use when raising a family. Not only can their nests are found in rock crevices, hollow logs and in disturbed areas, but they will also nest under homes and wood piles. They prefer to stick close to their home if the foraging for food is bountiful.


Hedgehogs are near the bottom of the food chain and they on the menu for large birds of prey, jackals, hyenas, and other predators. They prefer to forage near rocky outcrops and under shrubs and sedges which help them to escape and becoming prey.


Natural diet

They are insectivores (insect eaters). Being opportunistic feeders, they will also eat snakes, small reptiles and amphibians and carrion, small rodents, bird’s eggs and a small amount of fruit and vegetable matter. Those living near ponds and streams will also eat small crustaceans, invertebrates and small fish stranded on the shoreline.


If they can catch them, Scorpions, spiders, centipedes, slugs, and venomous and non-venomous snakes are readily eaten. Some zoologists believe that Hedgehogs have a protein in their body that help neutralize the effects of some poisons and many types of venom.


Personality / Social structure

Hedgehogs are introverted creatures, really do prefer living alone and on their own terms. Unless they are in search of a mate or a female that is nursing, they prefer to live life autonomously.


Although females seldom venture more than a couple of hundred meters away from their nest-site, sometimes their territories may overlap with another female’s territory. When multiple females meet, both usually display aggression. Combat is unlikely at first. Usually, they will huff and puff to threaten intruders away. If the intruder does not retreat, fighting can occur, and they can be merciless. Pregnant and nursing mothers are less tolerant of intruders and will defend their nest with brute force.


Male Hedgehogs have a larger home range and live life more like hobos. They tend to be always wandering in search of food or a female to mate with. Males are extremely territorial with other males, and they will fight aggressively to defend their territory.


Sleeping habits

Hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal, meaning that they are more active during the darkness of night. They wake up shortly after the sun goes down and begin a quiet night of foraging and romping around in search of a mate. Before the sun comes up, as the birds start to sing, they return to their nesting den to sleep for the day. Like us, Hedgehogs need a balance of light and darkness but where we might prefer quiet darkness to sleep, they prefer relax to daytime sounds and sleeping during the light of day. (In captivity even though they are truly a nocturnal animal, a few pet Hedgehogs are starting to become a bit more diurnal or crepuscular)


Activity level

Hedgehogs may seem calm and lazy so it might come as a surprise to people that the cute little Hedgehog is deceptively quite active. They may not look like they can move quickly but looks can be deceiving; they move very quickly, and they can run for long distances.


Hedgehogs can climb but they are not exceptionally good at it. They can easily climb up small shrubs and over logs and rock ledges with ease, but they lack the coordination to climb back down. They do not usually panic about getting stuck while they are trying to climb back down, instead they simply let go while rolling into a ball and they just drop. Their spikes (quills), in conjunction with body fat, act a bit like a shock absorber and being that they do not usually climb too high, they seldom get injured. However, if a Hedgehog were to fall from high places, injury would occur, and it could be fatal. 


Physical description

The African Hedgehog has an oval shaped body supported by short legs. Their backs are covered with tiny non-barbed spines, which are brown or gray with cream tips. Unlike similar animals that have quills, Hedgehogs’ spines are spines as they are not barbed like quills. When a Hedgehog is in a relaxed state, their quills lie flat against their body. If they are nervous, they roll in a ball and raise their spines. The face, tail, legs, and underside lack spines. Their eyes are small and round. Their ears and nose are smooth and lack any covering, but their face, legs, feet, and underbelly are all covered with a soft, white, or cream coloured fur. Some domestic Hedgehogs have darker facial markings. Their tails are visible but are noticeably short. Their nose is a pointed snout.


When threatened, the Hedgehog can constrict its body muscles, enabling it to roll itself into a compact, tight ball shape, forcing its spines outward in all directions. This ability is a self-defence mechanism that all Hedgehogs are born with. One common myth that needs to debunking “ no mammals in existence today can throw its quills or spines”. They do however have the ability to butt a predator and whereas barbed quills can become lodged into the predator and although spines can prick, hedgehogs can not throw their spines. When rolled into defensive ball, African Hedgehogs are approximately the size of a large grapefruit. 


Hedgehogs have good eyesight but to some degree, they do not have very good colour vision. They rely on their advanced senses of smell and hearing and use these senses to detect prey a couple of inches below the ground.


As previously mentioned, when Hedgehogs first started to gain popularity as pets, a couple of distinct species were collected and housed together. Hybridizing /crossbreeding occurred which resulted in distinct colour patterns randomly occurring. Now with selective breeding practices, domestic Hedgehogs are available in a wide variety of colours and colour patterns.


The Hedgehog is Sexually Dimorphic

Distinguishing the sex of a hedgehog is easy. The male’s penis is located closer to where a belly button might be whereas a females genital opening is closer to the tail, almost connecting to the anus.


Adult Weight

Domestic Hedgehogs are small, usually only weighing between 1 to 2 lbs. Females are often slightly larger than a male. Males usually weigh between 450 to 700 grams (1 to 1.5 pounds) Females usually weigh 450 grams to 900 grams (1.5 to 2lbs) Hedgehogs live out a meager existence in the wild and have evolved with the ability to be able to consume a large quantity of food whenever the opportunity presents itself. Therefore, if food is always available, they can become obese easily. It is important to watch their weight in captivity and to adjust the quantity of food, when needed.


Adult Size/Length

Both male and female, measure 18 to 23 cm (7 to 9 inches)


Average Life Expectancy in the wild

In nature Hedgehogs mature quickly, reproduce early, and die at a relatively young age. Typically, they live around a year to a year and a half, but seldom more than 2 years. Their short life expectancy is partially due to disease and parasites, their access to good quality food and clean water, environmental conditions and because they are heavily preyed upon by other animals. However, with good husbandry, they can live longer in captivity! Although living to be two years  old might be common in the wild, often when kept under ideal conditions, fed cooked meat products, kept in a clean,  open air cage that is safe and equipped with lots of stimulating things to do,  it is fairly common for one to live to be three or four years  old  and some, although rarer, have even lived in excess of five or more years. 



Hedgehogs lick and taste objects that sometimes have unfamiliar odors or possess bothersome substances then they swish it around in their mouth, producing quantities of foamy saliva that they spread over their spines. This is known as “self-anointing,” but it is still unknown as to why they do this, but some people believe it is a way for them to deter predators and sometimes, parasites.


Life in Captivity

"Exotic mammals seldom behave like domesticated cats and dogs."​

People thinking of keeping Hedgehogs as pets, need to realize that whereas a dog loves constant attention, a Hedgehog is far more likely to appreciate its own space. most simply don't like change and are often anti social, sometimes to the point that they prefer only to interact with one or two, human companions who they are familiar with. They are not usually the type of animal that you can teach to be obedient. They don't really care if you, their owner, is pleased or displeased with them and do not care how much you love it or how much it would mean to you, if he / she would love you back. It cares only cares about its own survival!​

It usually takes a bit of time for them to become accustomed to new people, but they are known to be able to form a bond with their caregivers. Constant attention, patience, and a lot of socialization,  are the key to building a trusting relationship between you and a Hedgehog. Once a Hedgehog recognizes your voice, smells, and realizes that you are not a threat, it may look to you as a provider of food and as a safe place to be.

Because some hedgehogs are known to be capable of bonding with their caregiver and because they are not as demanding as a dog or a cat, leads many people feeling that there is no better pet than a Hedgehog. Just because they are not as domesticated, as dogs and cats does not mean they will not make a nice pet. People living in small spaces and who prefer a pet that is undemanding, then this just may be the perfect type of pet for them!



Pet Hedgehogs are nocturnal.


During the daytime light hours, hedgehogs spend their day sleeping. They depend on daylight to have a restful sleep, which is opposite of what we  humans who require darkness to achieve a proper rest.  In captivity, Hedgehogs need to have their habitats kept in a place that receives indirect bright natural light but out of direct sunlight. Ideally, they should be able to experience the changes in morning, afternoon, and evening of natural light. They are naturally nocturnal creatures who become active at night. Hoping not to become dinner for birds of prey and other predators, hedgehogs prefer to do most of their scurrying around their territory after twilight, where they remain in the shadows of moonlight. They are often seen searching for a meal or looking for a mate during the darkness of night. 

In captivity, they remain most active after sundown, but it appears that after many generations living in captivity hedgehogs seem to be adapting. Those that becoming a bit more relaxed during the day. Seem to be evolving their sleeping habits and some lines are slowly becoming a little more diurnal.


Being that hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal they are most active at night; it is best for caregivers to try and plan their time to interact with it by synchronizing your schedule adapt to the pet’s nocturnal schedule. For most people, scheduling, well timed visits to the evening ours and early mornings are the best time for most pet hedgehogs who might eventually begin to adapt to your personal schedule and look forward to and enjoy your visits.


If you continually wake an animal up when it is tired, it will not want to be bothered with you. It just wants to sleep and if you disturb him, he may become grumpy towards you.


Life Expectancy in Captivity

In the wild hedgehogs seldom live to be two years of age. Although their normal life expectancy is short, sometimes Hedgehogs in captivity may live to be 4-5 years of age. I have heard of some, living a few years longer, however that is a rarity.

In captivity, Hedgehogs are considered by some people as relatively long-lived pocket pet. This is just one example of how the domestication process can benefit some species of animals.

Keeping One versus Two Hedgehogs


Wild, Hedgehogs are not social beings! They are naturally shy, nervous little creatures who prefer to live solitary lives. In fact, they prefer and choose to live alone, away from other members of their own species, and will chase other Hedgehogs away from their territory. Sometimes siblings can tolerate  cohabitating with nest mates for a short time, but even then, they have been known to be territorial and attack their siblings.  They want their own space and eventually they will need somewhere more secluded, where they can make their own little den, and live out their lives the way hedgehogs have evolved to live.


They are solitary animals who prefer not to live in the company of another Hedgehog and typically only come together to breed. Two or more males will almost always fight. On occasion females, may sometimes co-exist together in what appears to us as companionship, but they are just two animals who have been put together by well-intended humans and forced to tolerate living with each other. Unfortunately, even though it was well intentioned, this union seldom works out as hoped.

Sometimes, even after living together for extended periods of time, two females may, without provocation, turn on each other.


Although Hedgehogs are not usually nasty towards other species, they can become extremely aggressive towards members of their own species. Fights can get vicious, causing serious physical injury to one another and sometimes resulting in death.

We strongly suggest housing all Hedgehogs in separate cages only letting them explore together while being supervised. . 


Pros and cons of

Choosing a male versus a female

One of the most frequent questions we get asked, is whether a male or a female makes a better pet.

Although when cared for properly, both genders can make excellent pets. However, there are a couple of minor differences that probably should be taken into consideration before deciding on a specific gender.

'It is very important that everyone who is considering purchasing a Hedgehog to be aware that it is not uncommon for a Hedgehog to breed while they are still in the nest. In the wild, hedgehogs have a short life expectancy. They mature quick, breed young and live life quickly. We have personally known of females giving birth as young as 10 weeks of age. Of course, this is too young and very hard on the female. Most often when a female gives birth at such a young age the babies are a result of a sibling breeding. Females that become pregnant at such a young age often do not make good mothers. They run a much higher risk of complications and even  death.

Usually at this age the mother has not mentally or physically developed fully and often the babies do not survive. Sometimes the new mother cannibalizes her babies, and this can quickly end her maternal instincts and her reliability in a long term breeding program.

We all need to keep in mind that nature and evolution allowed hedgehogs to breed at a young age and there is not much a breeder can do to change that. Both males and females in a litter to stay with and nurse from mom until they are at an age that they can be fully weaned which sometimes is too late to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Therefore, to avoid unexpected surprises choosing a male would obviously be a better choice for those who absolutely do not want to raise an unexpected litter.'


At some point in a female Hedgehog’s life, she will experience wanting to raise a family. This is a natural cycle and when hormonal changes signal that it is time to nest then sometimes, they can become a bit moody and become nest (cage) protective. Usually this is only temporary and when her hormones change back to nonbreeding mode, providing she still receives daily interaction, her personality usually returns to "normal".

Like many other species, the male Hedgehog tends to be a little more of a risk taker than a female. In the wild he is either looking for food or looking for a mate. His wanderlust in search for a mate, constantly exposes him to different situations and different surroundings, therefore he needs to be adaptable and more flexible. Sometimes a female can be more rigid in her routine. She sticks closer to home and is thinking of raising a family, building the nest / home and protecting her small territory.

I think that if I were to pick a Hedgehog to keep as a single pet, then based on gender, I would choose a male. But, without considering all the other factors (some of which I have listed in the next section) that contribute to the development of their personalities, choosing a pet based on gender alone is not the ideal way to pick out a Hedgehog.

Firstly, you need to decide if you want a single pet. If so, then there is not too many differences.  Do you plan to raise multiple pet hedgehogs. If so, same sex groups, housed separately are the safest way to go. Do you want to breed them? If so, we suggest that you consider making the male the primary pet. Females should not be disturbed during the final weeks of pregnancy and the first few weeks after giving birth. During this time, she may become a bit grumpy and after giving birth she may feel threatened and cannibalize her babies. It is very common for hedgehogs to consume their offspring being that all hedgehogs require daily interaction if she does raise her babies she may never be the same after she has weaned them.

Keeping in mind that besides gender, other factors play a huge role in developing the personality of a hedgehog. Every Hedgehog has its own unique personality and while to some degree, gender does play a bit of a role in the development of their personality there are also many other things that influence their unique personalities.

Health - A Hedgehog that feels ill will likely not want to be disturbed and may react fearfully.

Heredity - Genetics is certainly an important factor in predetermining the personality of pet Hedgehogs. Traits are passed on from their parents but learned behaviors can also influence personality especially when learned at an early age. Being that Hedgehogs have naturally evolved to be self-reliant and loners, many of these traits are passed on to the next generation. It is important that when breeders are planning a new litter, to carefully select and assess the calmest, healthiest parents before pairing them together for mating. This selective breeding practice will increase the chances that these desirable traits will be passed on or taught to their offspring. We now know that many personality traits are written ‘in part’ in an animal’s DNA but we do not exactly know which traits they are or how babies learn from reacting to various situations or from copying their parents.

Habitat -  Next to genetics, inadequate housing  may be the leading cause of moodiness in Hedgehogs. ‘Most of the adults that are turned over to us to be fostered, tend to be a lot more anti-social if they have previously been kept in an enclosed space (usually bins). They have been deprived of normal smells, light, external movements and sounds that only an open-air cage provides and after a short while living under those conditions they have become a bit disturbed.If housed improperly, especially when an animal is born in an enclosed habitat, such as a bin, box, crate aquarium or a similar confined space that he or she can not hear or see out of or smell it environment and it does not have the opportunity to experience much outside world, it can become cage crazy! It often develops a skittish and nervous personality and often when it is taken out of its' enclosure to be played with,  the whole experience is overwhelming and shocking, and the little hedgehog will be scared, and it will react defensively’‘ When housed properly; in an open-air cage that is located in a place within the home that has constant temperature, away from drafts and sunlight, whereby it can experience different movements, new sounds, smells and other changes on a regular basis, Hedgehogs housed this way tend to become a bit more social

Socialization – For first time Hedgehog owners, it is often best to start interacting with a Hedgehog at a young age so you can familiarize your pet with other humans. Even before they are fully weaned from their mother, we start off at a slow but steady pace, getting them familiar with and accustomed to human companionship. While it usually takes less time when they are young but however even a more mature hedgehog can be socialized, it just takes longer and with a bit of more patience. If a Hedgehog has not been handled at young age you can still work at befriending it by visiting and spending time interacting with it slowly; increasing the amount of interaction time, you spend with it each day. You may need to force your love on it for a while, but be patient, it will take some time for your new pet to start trusting you. Repetition is the key use it as a tool for training and establishing a new report with your pet. This can be done by doing the same things around the same time every day for a few days or until your pet gets used to whatever it is you are doing. Offerings of food as a bribe often works as a distraction because food is an excellent motivator for Hedgehogs. When they are comfortable with your presence (voice and smell) they will become, friendlier and start looking forward to your daily visits. "Socialization takes patience". 

Lack of sleep - Being that these animals are naturally nocturnal, if you wake any animal up, if it is tired it won’t be in the best mood. If this is done repeatedly and the animal is not getting the rest it needs, it will become constantly irritable. Sometimes when you wake up a Hedgehog it may have fearful reaction and get huffy. This is often mistaken for an anti-social personality, but it is not. It is just a reaction  with a bit of time and patience, many Hedgehogs become less nervous, less scared, less shy and a lot less "grumpy".

Seasonal Changes - Temperature and light changes can have a huge effect on the personality of Hedgehogs and other animals. Hedgehogs are survivalists! During the time of plenty, which is usually rainy season (spring and summer) you may notice that your pet is a little more active then he or she would be during the fall and winter (when food is harder to come by). This is because many animals have an internal clock hardwired as part of their genetic makeup and they are preprogrammed to conserve energy by being less active at certain times of the year. This is especially noticeable in Hedgehogs. When the weather is starting to get cooler and the days are darker these changes send a message to them that food will not be as readily available and that they need to conserve energy by resting and being less active. (Hedgehogs in captivity are still preprogramed and they function the same way a wild Hedgehog does, it does not realize that food will still be as readily available year-round in captivity). When they start to prepare themselves for winter they slow down, sleep more and they do not want to be disturbed.

Breeding too young - It is especially important that everyone who is considering purchasing a Hedgehog to be aware that it is common for a Hedgehog to breed while they are still in the nest. To avoid unexpected surprises a male would obviously be a better choice for those who absolutely do not want to raise an unexpected litter.'

Hormonal changes in females - At some point in a female hedgehog life, she will experience wanting to raise a family. This is a natural cycle and when hormonal changes signal that it is time to nest then sometimes, they can become a bit moody and become nest (cage) protective. Usually this is only temporary and when her hormones change back to nonbreeding mode providing, she still receives daily interaction, her personality usually returns to "normal". Like many other species,

Torpor - Some animals will instinctively hibernate while others such as Hedgehogs can go into a state of torpor. which is a time when they don't want to bother doig anything.  (Torpor is discussed in more detail further down on this site) 



(A peculiar and fascinating part of Hedgehog’s behaviour)



At times when a Hedgehog encounters an unfamiliar smell or taste, such as fruit juices, soaps etc., it may lick, bite or chew at the object, attempting to accumulate some of unusual substance in its mouth. Then the Hedgehog, using its tongue, produces a mass of frothy saliva, and spreads the saliva over its quills.

While this is a natural behaviour it is more often observed in baby Hedgehogs’ who often find everything new and exciting. As pet Hedgehogs mature and become accustomed to numerous smells and tastes they tend to self-anoint less often. Some of our teenage and adult Hedgehogs never bother to self-anoint. 

We have noticed that when Hedgehogs that are not socialized or accustomed to being handled, no matter what their age, they will likely self-anoint more often when they are first introduced to new items and may continue to do so throughout their lives.

When hedgehog do self-anoint, the saliva dries quickly and is not noticeable. We do not find self-anointing bothersome. However, whenever one of our Hedgehogs does self-anoint, we will sometimes give him or her a quick rinse with slightly warm water, just to make sure they are clean and not sticky.

No one knows for certain why Hedgehogs do this. Some people speculate that:

  • The Hedgehog is trying to disguise their own scent with the environment, thus helping to hide from predators?

  • The Hedgehog feels if these tastes bad to himself then maybe it will taste bad to other predators, and they will leave me alone?

  • The foam of the saliva acts as an irritant to the Hedgehog's enemies. When do the quills meet the delicate skin on the nose or paws of a bothersome creature it will cause a minor irritation making the creature leave in search of another source of entertainment?

  • Hedgehogs may be using some of the substances in the frothy saliva to control parasites.

While the reasons why Hedgehogs self-anoint may never be fully understood, it truly is a little bizarre and yet a fascinating part of their behavior. Some people find this behavior a bit unnerving, distasteful, and even a little alarming, but it is important to realize that there is nothing to be alarmed about, it is all quite normal.



Hedgehogs are usually very quiet animals. It is believed that up to 40 % of the sounds they make are inaudible to the human ear. However, they can make some sounds that we can hear if we listen closely.

  • Snorting, grunting, huffing, and hissing sounds are made when they are displaying disapproval.

  • Screaming is a sure indicator that a Hedgehog is in severe distress and in need of immediate attention.

  • Twittering, clucking, and whistling can be heard when courtship is occurring and

  • Snuffing can be heard when a Hedgehog is searching for food.


Enclosure / Habitat Requirements

  • Enclosed Bins and Aquariums are not suitable !


Minimum size cage for a Hedgehog is approximately 25"long x 17" wide x 15" Tall or Larger 


All mammals in captivity, including Hedgehogs need open-air well ventilated, clean, roomy cages to thrive in. They need to be able to experience natural light, they need to experience smells and they need to become familiar with non muffled sounds to develop properly.

Although bins are often promoted by some breeders and a few caregivers, as a cheap substitute for a proper enclosure, these enclosed plastic or glass bins are unsuitable to keep a hedgehog in for any length of time. They deprive all animals of their natural ability to maximize the use of their senses, seeing, hearing, smelling, etc. 

While boxes may help contain some of the shavings/bedding, without proper airflow the bedding and the plastic will hold humidity. Humidity promotes mold and bacteria growth which can be fatal to a pet. So, why anyone would want to keep any pet in a bin denies logical explanation.

Like all animals, Hedgehogs need to be able to use and rely on their senses to experience the constant ongoing, changes in their environment, however minor these may seem. Minor changes in lighting, sound, temperature, etc., helps keep them stimulated and their brains working. All animals need to be exposed to light, air movement and some things that they can identify i.e., Different sounds, noises and smells that are in their surrounding environment. Depriving them the use of any of these key senses will undoubtedly have long term psychological effects that may result in behavioral issues and mental injury. 


Occasionally, breeders & pet caregivers will recommend a cheap bin to use to contain a pet in temporarily, but some will also recommend using them instead of an open-air habitat for the pet to live in forever…THIS SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN! The only time an appropriately sized tote should be used for an animal is when you need something to tote an animal around in and it should only be used for a short time. Pet carriers may be a better option. Carriers are a little more expensive, but they are designed for ease of use; equipped with a secure door and a handle for carrying and most can be disassembled for easy storage when they are not in use.


My opinion, as a pet owner and as breeder who actually truly cares about my pets, I find the whole idea of keeping a pet in an enclosed plastic or glass box completely ridiculous, risky and inhumane. I am not sure why any responsible caregiver would want to use one. I cannot even begin to guess why an ethical breeder would deliberately suggest using them. Perhaps their opinion is based more on emotion (irrational fear) rather than logic, there is a very good possibility that some of these people that are selling these pets,  are opportunists who are using the cheap price of a tote as a bit of a sales gimmick, hoping to make the animal's price more appealing to unsuspecting customers (sales ploy... Save money on the supplies and spend more on the pet)


Of course we all want our pets to be safe and occasionally, even when we put a lot of thought when choosing a proper cage for our pet, it is always possible for an accident to happen but still we all need to keep in mind that keeping an animal in an enclosed humid space where bacteria, molds and fungus can grow, is surely nothing short of, an accident (injury) waiting to happen.

Before getting any new pet, try to make the right choice by using common sense and not be misled by breeders or anyone telling you that it is okay to keep an animal in a tote or storage bin!

If you are truly concerned that keeping your pet hedgehog in a cage is not for you then why not consider a screened habitat. They are available at pet supply stores . I have posted a picture of a Zoo Med Repti-Breeze Open Air Screen Cage, Extra Large . It offers a safe open air enclosure which is far superior to any bin.

What ever habitat that you decide to choose for your pet ...common sense needs to prevail!


Environmental Enrichment Activities

(Stimulation = Exercise/Toys)

Provide solid levels/platforms and large size tubes and tunnels for your Hedgehogs to play and explore in while they are in their cage and change the set up often. Solid platforms and huts or safe untreated cardboard tubes stuffed with treats will help keep your Hedgehog entertained. Hedgehogs will also enjoy using any additional exercise wheels that are a bit different to the one they are used to. Offer a variety of pet safe toys but avoid giving things that your pet can get stuck in or anything that you feel is unsafe. Safe toys should be provided for your Hedgehog to root in. They enjoy pushing toys and objects around in its cage. To keep your pet interested in playing with things, be sure to change these toys regularly.

Hedgehogs do not seem to enjoy chewing and seldom invest any time into it.

Hedgehogs can be very active and enjoy exploring. Your Hedgehog should be given time outside of the cage daily, to run around and explore. Always make sure the area is safe for your pet. Ensure there are no places that a Hedgehog can access and get stuck in that you can not get to or where the animal can fall and injure itself.


Socialization & Handling

Hedgehogs are creatures of habit and do not adapt well to drastic changes in their environment or without first being exposed to new things, repetitively. Although they give us the impression that they are shy, they are quite timid. That is why they will ball up. They are grumpy, they feel threatened or scared and are in a protective mode. When they roll up and huff it is not to be aggressive or grumpy it is just their way, they use to warn us that they are aware of our presence and that his spines are sharp.

Although they are naturally territorial creatures who prefer living alone and seldom form bonds and cannot be trusted to live with another Hedgehogs, they can form tight bonds with their caregiver. 

Whenever purchasing your first Hedgehog try to obtain one that is 7 to 12 weeks of age. This is the ideal age because they are just used to living life without their mother and siblings and they are at an impressionable age, able to start learning and forming new habits.

Older Hedgehogs can usually be worked with to gain their trust, but it will take more time and are more suited for people who have some experience caring for exotics.

Before you start training your pet you must first understand and respect some of the things they have naturally evolved to be. Then, begin to work within the realm of these traits and do so by paying close attention to its schedule. Be patient! Give it time to learn that it can trust you. Hedgehogs instinctively rely on their sense of smell and hearing to identify you and accept you as a friend.

When collecting your new pet so that you can spend time with it out of its’ cage, first try enticing it with treats hoping to get it to trust you. When it starts to trust, you can start picking it up but never grab it quickly. Doing so will stress the animal and it could start to fear you.


Whenever possible, never pick your Hedgehog from above because predators come from above and Hedgehogs are pre-programmed to respond accordingly. Always gently scoop your Hedgehog from below. Try to avoid using gloves when holding your Hedgehog. If you wear gloves to pick up your Hedgehog you are in fact teaching your pet to get used to the glove, not your hand or your smell.

Talk to it when entering the room that it is in. It will get accustomed to your voice and start to look forward to your visit. Sometimes no matter what you do many Hedgehogs may be grumpy / timid, at times. It is all apart of their natural instincts. If they do not like you in the beginning, you will need to force a little of your love on it. Do that in small steps repeating it several times a day, until it gets to trust you more and knows that you are not going to harm it.

Be patient, bonding with a Hedgehog is not likely going to happen overnight. It takes time. Repetition is usually the key to success. These animals are creatures of habit. 


Grooming a Hedgehog Bathing


Hedgehogs do not like water, and they seldom enjoy having a bath.

Do not be surprised if your pet Hedgehog panics a bit when you first introduce him or her to a bath. Hedgehogs do not like being in water. They prefer not to be bathed and although some people will tell you that their pets enjoy a bath, I highly doubt that they like being bathed but have instead, learned to tolerate it.

Rinse your Hedgehog every 7-14 days or bathe it as needed, if it gets dirty. Most animal bedding is dusty. They are formulated to neutralize odor and to absorb moisture from your pets’ environment. Although the bedding is doing what it is meant to do, it will also be absorbing moisture from your pet’s skin. Over time, if left unwashed, a fine layer of dust and dirt particles builds up, not allowing the animal’s skin to ‘breathe’ properly. If left untreated you may start to notice dry flaky skin or other more serious health problems.

Choosing the right shampoo and conditioner -Whenever possible, use a natural vegetable based, chemical/alcohol/fragrance free shampoo and conditioner that does not contain tea tree oil. (TEA TREE OIL may be fatal to Hedgehogs!). Many of these natural and premium shampoos can be purchased at your local pet store, pharmacy, or health food stores.


Tips on how to bath a Hedgehog.

  1. Fill a small sink or your pet’s bathtub with an inch or two of slightly warmed water. The water should not feel hot or cold when you touch it with the back of your hand.

  2. Remove any pieces of bedding or particles of food from your pet.

  3. Gently place your pet in the bath and gently apply water over his entire body.

  4. Apply a small (dime size) amount of shampoo to the palm of your hands and lather the shampoo in your hands. When used properly a small nailbrush is perfect to gently remove quill stains.

  5. Gently apply the shampoo to the Hedgehog. Be sure to massage and rub the shampoo all over the Hedgehog including the quills, feet and underside but avoiding the mouth and eyes.

  6. Rinse your Hedgehog with fresh warm water.

Repeat steps #3, through #5 only this time apply a small amount of conditioner.

Dry your Hedgehog with a soft towel.

Do not allow your pet to become chilled! – Use a chamois to help absorb water when drying your Hedgehog. Wait until your pet is thoroughly dry before placing him or her back into their cage.

Many Hedgehogs are capable of swimming for short distances but if given the option, most prefer to stay away from deep water. Never leave any animal unattended in or near open water.


Nail Trimming

On some Hedgehogs, their toenails grow very quickly and need to be trimmed every 10 to 14 days. Most of their toenails are opaque which makes it easy to recognize where the quick stops; therefore, easier to avoid cutting too much off at one time. The hard part is getting your Hedgehog to remain still long enough to let you get the job done quickly and safely. It is likely, that when you attempt to trim your Hedgehog’s nails for the first few times that he or she will attempt to roll in a ball. Sometimes, after they become accustomed to having their nails trimmed, they start to relax, which makes the chore a little less challenging.

Things you will need to trim their toenails are:

Antibacterial or Alcohol wipes… To clean the feet and help control harmful bacteria. These can be purchased from Pharmacies and are inexpensive.

Toenail trimmers … There are several pet nail trimmers on the market, but we have found that most of them are a little large and bulky to use on such small feet. We use human fingernail trimmers, which seem more precise and easier to maneuver.

Nick stops or antiseptic powder is something you should always keep available. It can be very handy to stop small bleeds and can be used if you accidentally trim too close and make a small nick to the quick causing it to bleed. You can purchase several brand names from your local pet store. For serious cuts, you should seek the advice of your veterinarian.

OPTIONAL…A friend! Two people will make the chore much easier.

Option # 1 ...

Person #one…Hold the Hedgehog gently but firmly, allowing one leg to drop over the edge of your hand.

Person #2 …Hold your Hedgehogs’ leg firmly with one hand while wiping the foot with an alcohol or antibacterial wipe with the other hand.

Person #2 …While continuing to hold the leg with one hand, trim the toenails with the other hand.

Repeat with each foot until every nail that needs to be trimmed has been completed.

Option #2 (This is how we do it!)...

Place the Hedgehog on the top of an inverted cage top. Being that cages-tops are made of wire they will be awkward for your pet to balance on. The Hedgehog, trying to keep steady will drop one of its’ legs through the wire which you can then grab and hold gently enough so that the Hedgehog can not roll into a ball and tuck its’ leg in.

Gently hold your Hedgehogs’ leg firmly with one hand while wiping the foot with an alcohol or antibacterial wipe with the other hand.

While continuing to hold the leg with one hand, trim the toenails with the other hand.

Repeat with each foot until every nail that needs to be trimmed has been completed. Whenever possible get a friend to help.

No matter which method you choose, when clipping the nails on any pet, always be very careful not to trim too closely. Cutting the nail too short may result in cutting into the quick and it will start to bleed. The quick is the soft, blood-filled tissue that is inside the claw. If you have ever cut the quick of your own fingernail you have a pretty good idea of what cutting your pets’ quick will feel like to your pet. OUCH!

On occasion, accidents do happen. When you cut to close if the quick does start to bleed you need to stop the bleeding asap. To stop the bleeding gently disinfect the nail and dry it quickly then apply antiseptic powder directly to the toenail. Press it firmly on the wound and hold it there until you are certain that the bleeding has stopped. If the bleeding does not stop, contact your veterinarian. If the bleeding stops easily be sure to keep an eye on the nail for several days to make sure that there is no infection. Keep the wound clean by using Antibacterial or Alcohol wipes several times a day. If you notice any signs of infection, contact your veterinarian immediately.


Litter Box Training

We suggest to people who purchase one of our Hedgehogs to try to litter train their pet and ‘just maybe’… you will be lucky and get yours trained. It certainly is worth trying to litter train your pet as it makes caring for the cage so much easier and a little less time consuming.

Some breeders and pet store employees promote Hedgehogs as the type of pet that is easy to litter train, but we can tell you that litter training a Hedgehog is not easy. Hedgehogs are "creatures of habit", and while some Hedgehogs will learn to use a litter box you can consider yourself lucky to have one that is litter trained, consider it as a "bonus".

Some of our Hedgehogs are very clean and take to litter training easily. Others just do not care and are either hard to train or they will never use a litter box. This trait does not seem to be a genetic/family trait but more of an individual animal’s preference.

Litter training a Hedgehog takes perseverance and a lot of luck but if you succeed, the benefits are certainly worth a try.

To train a Hedgehog you will need to place a small litter pan with low sides, with a bit of litter in it, in the corner of the cage. We suggest using a different litter than what it is used to having, as it is normal bedding. Often, the feeling of a different litter, sometimes entices the Hedgehog into using this spot as it is litter box. For the first while during the training period, clean the litter box regularly but, if possible, try to avoid changing the litter entirely. When possible, scoop or spot clean and top up with the fresh litter. The smell (although we may not be able to notice it) might be just enough to attract your Hedgehog to that area. Never let a litter box sit too long between totally disinfecting it, just long enough to see if the Hedgehog is attracted to it. As soon as you notice that your pet is using it regularly, totally wash and disinfect the litter box.~ Good luck!


Nutritional requirements

Water: Not all types of animals consume a large quantity of water everyday, but none-the-less, they need to have access to clean drinking water whenever they need it. Therefore, all animals must have access to fresh clean water ALWAYS! Many Hedgehogs deliberately overturn their water and food dishes during their never-ending search for more food, so it is best that water is supplied in drinking bottles.

Feeding: Being that they are insectivorous their diet must primarily consist of good quality, highly digestible animal protein. In captivity, this can be achieved by providing them with a premium quality, commercial cat food, supplemented by boiled chicken, egg, shrimp, beef heart or other cooked meats. Many breeders choose to feed live insects, but this is not necessary if you are feeding a good high quality meat based diet. There are several brands of commercially prepared Hedgehog foods on the market, but Hedgehogs can be fussy and many of them refuse to eat many commercially prepared “special” Hedgehog diets.

Small quantities of fruits and veggies should be included regularly as these items help vary and compliment their diet, as do small amounts of low fat cheese, yogurt and skim milk powder.

All Hedgehog owners already know, Hedgehogs can be very fussy. Many, adamantly refuse to eat certain prepared foods, certain fruits, veggies and even treats. You may need to be patient when offering new food items to your pet. For very fussy Hedgehogs, I find the best way to coax them into trying new food items is to keep offering it at regular scheduled times.

After 25 years of trying various foods and constantly analyzing/studying them …to date, WE ARE NOT CONVINCED that commercial brands of hedgehog foods are completely balanced and therefore we DO NOT USE ANY COMMERCIALLY PREPARED BRANDS OF HEDGEHOG FOOD!

For so many reasons we feel that prepared premium quality cat foods are a better choice when considering what to feed Hedgehogs. Hedgehogs thrive on a diet like that of a carnivore, which consists mostly of protein that they get from consuming other animal matter. Typically, insectivores and carnivores do not eat grain. However, some Hedgehogs occasionally do eat a bit more fruit and vegetable matter than some of the other types of other insectivores & carnivores.

We recommend a premium high quality, fish protein based, grain free and low fat cat food that is age appropriate.

We suggest offering:

  • KITTEN FORMULA cat foods to Hedgehogs under 16 weeks of age or to pregnant and nursing mothers.

  • ADULT CAT FORMULA if over 16 weeks of age. (Except to pregnant and nursing mothers).

  • ADULT LIGHT CAT FORMULA or SENIOR CAT FORMULA may be a better choice for Hedgehogs that have obesity issues. Obesity is very common in Hedgehogs, although it can be controlled, it is usually a direct result of quality, quantity and a lack of exercise.

The decision on what to feed your Hedgehog is up to you. If you choose to feed Hedgehog food or any food to your pet, always be sure it is fresh by being sure to check the expiry date. (If it has one!)


Treats: Treats are not a meal replacement and because Hedgehogs have such tiny stomachs treats need to be strictly rationed. We prefer using organic whenever possible when we offer freeze dried liver treats, kiln dried chicken, shrimp, salmon etc.

Be careful not to over feed your Hedgehogs, they tend to become obese very quickly… they certainly do love to eat! Hedgehogs will eat more in the autumn hoping to prepare for the possible food shortages that winter can bring. Although in captivity food shortages are seldom a problem, they still do what their wild ancestors did to survive.


Vitamins Supplements : A varied diet is always best! If you are always offering a premium brand of quality pet food additional supplements are not usually required unless a veterinarian finds that your pet needs them and recommends using them


FYI ... Mealworms Do they need them?

You may want to reconsider whether you want to offer them.

Mealworms had previously been on the list of recommended foods. While more research is needed, it is believed that the high phosphate levels in the worms deplete the hedgehogs of calcium, thus weakening their bones and leaving them struggling to walk.

Hedgehog Preservation Society has asked people to stop feeding mealworms as treats for hedgehogs. It appears that numerous Hedgehogs are suffering crippling bone disease which may be caused because of this common treat.

Although this study currently applies to European hedgehogs, feeding mealworms is a frequent practice done out of kindness by many pet hedgehog caregivers. It is time to re-think this! We may need to reconsider the types of treats we offer our pets, and we may need to adjust the quantity of treats that we offer them.

As mentioned, we do not feed our hedgehogs any insects (mealworms) but if we did, until more conclusive research has been completed, we would certainly limit them to one mealworm every week or two (or none)

FYI…Peanuts, sunflower hearts, raisins, dried fruit, milk, and processed foods are not a wise choice for hedgehogs and may even be toxic.


Some of the things you may need for your pet hedgehog are posted on the hedgehog shopping list  page.



(F.A.Q. Are Hedgehogs Hypoallergenic?)

If you have heard that Hedgehogs are hypoallergenic… it is a MYTH 

Hedgehogs may be a better choice for people who are allergic to dogs and cats, but Hedgehogs are not hypoallergenic. Just like anything else, a person can be allergic to Hedgehogs. Like other animals, a Hedgehog’s saliva contains proteins, some of which many people do react to. Although allergic reactions to Hedgehogs are not considered a common allergy, a person also needs to consider that Hedgehogs are not really that common of a pet. Before choosing a pet Hedgehog, be sure to spend a bit of time with the animal before you bring it home. If you do react to it negatively you may be allergic to it. If you are determined and still want to keep a Hedgehog as a pet, there are a few ways to help you build up a tolerance and you might react less to them. Try bathing the animal regularly with an organic shampoo (that does not contain TEA TREE oil), which may help by removing the excess dander. Tea tree oil is believed to be toxic to Hedgehogs.


Health Care

"An annual veterinary exam is suggested for every animal."


Every live animal can get sick, diseased or suffer from injury. Illness can happen at any time and at any age. People often ask us if you can catch anything from your pet. Yes! While it is not that common, you can catch things from your pets and sometimes we can unknowingly transfer illness to our own pets! I can not stress enough that personal hygiene is the most important habit to get into. Before handling, after handling and while caring for any pet be sure to wash your hands and keep your pets’ environment clean!


Sometimes specific species are prone to certain diseases and afflictions more than other species. Cancer, bacteria, viruses, molds, and funguses can negatively affect every living thing and sometimes these are things that we have no control over. Even under ideal conditions, there is not much that we can do to prevent these things from happening but whenever an animal shows signs of illness or injury it is important to take it to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Preventative care usually makes a dramatic difference in the long-term health of your pet. Good nutrition, cleanliness, exercise, and a regular Veterinary check up are just a few things that we can do to help keep our pet healthy.

Parasites are quite common. They can unintentionally be introduced to you pet via the human caregiver through food, bedding or by living in a dirty environment. But sometimes even the best cared for animal can contract parasites through other pets, soil, or food. There are several types of drugs that can be used in the control of internal and external parasites. We recommend in companion animals play a crucial role in Animal and Public Health. If you think that you pet has parasites bring a stool sample to your vet who can prescribe treatment. Never self medicate your pet.

External parasites such as fleas, lice and mites can live on any animal but there are several easy ways to prevent or treat it. Hedgehogs because of the spacing of their quills and the protection that the quills provide make Hedgehogs the perfect host for mites. It is not always easy to prevent because mites live everywhere in our environment, and they are easily transferred to your Hedgehog. Prescribed mite prevention is available with a prescription, through your veterinarian and it makes it very easy to prevent and control mite infestations. We feel that that prevention is the best solution therefore, we treat all of animals on the first day of every month year-round.

Skin diseases, funguses, pneumonia can be caused by excess moisture, humidity, and dampness. While this may not be a direct result of your pets’ environment always keep your pets cage clean and dry.

Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (W.H.S.)

Sometimes specific species are prone to certain diseases and afflictions more than other species. Cancer, bacteria, viruses, molds, and funguses can negatively affect every living thing and sometimes these are things that we have no control over. Even under ideal conditions, there is not much that we can do to prevent these things from happening but whenever an animal shows signs of illness or injury it is important to take it to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Preventative care usually makes a huge difference in the long-term health of your pet. Good nutrition, cleanliness, exercise, and a regular Veterinary check up are just a few things that we can do to help keep our pet healthy.

Parasites are very common. They can unintentionally be introduced to you pet via the human caregiver through food, bedding or by living in a dirty environment. But sometimes even the best cared for animal can contract parasites through other pets, soil, or food. There are several types of drugs that can be used in the control of internal and external parasites. We recommend in companion animals play a crucial role in Animal and Public Health. If you think that you pet has parasites bring a stool sample to your vet who can prescribe treatment. Never self medicate your pet.

External parasites such as fleas, lice and mites can live on any animal but there are several easy ways to prevent or treat it. Hedgehogs because of the spacing of their quills and the protection that the quills provide make Hedgehogs the perfect host for mites. It is not always easy to prevent because mites live everywhere in our environment, and they are easily transferred to your Hedgehog. Prescribed mite prevention is available with a prescription, through your veterinarian and it makes typically, we choose not to get into the specific aspects of Veterinary care. In the case of Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome, we feel that we need to share some basic information with the people who are considering getting a Hedgehog; some of the facts and myths surrounding the disease.

W.H.S. often presents the same symptoms as a Hedgehog who is coming out of torpor, they shake, wobble, and look sickly. However, torpor is not a syndrome and usually goes away after the animal fully wakes out of it whereas, Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome is permanent. It is a progressive disease, which over time attacks the gray matter of the brain and usually causes the muscle tissue to deteriorate. Visual symptoms include muscle atrophy and shaking, often accompanied by loss of appetite and general lethargy. Typically, the atrophy becomes apparent in the hindquarters before graduating to other parts of the body. The disease exists in wild and captive populations and is most often associated with African and European Hedgehogs.

At this time, there is not a guaranteed way to prevent W.H.S. and there are no known tests that can be done on living Hedgehogs and to-date there are still no cures for it. The only way to confirm W.H.S. is after the animal dies. A necropsy is the only way you can find out for sure if a Hedgehog has succumbed to W.H.S.

It is simply an awful disease that we know very little about. Thankfully, it is not as common as one might think! Far too often W.H.S. is suspected and self diagnosed by people who are not qualified to make the diagnosis. When this happens, it can cause panic and may mislead people into believing that W.H.S. is prevalent in all Hedgehogs. This is just not the case!

There is a lot of speculation regarding W.H.S... Some people believe it has a viral component, others believe it is an inherited disease like diseases such as heart disease, some cancers, diabetes etc. Some speculate that both parents need to carry the gene or just one of them needs to carry it, for it to be passed on. Some people feel that it could be related to diet, pollution, etc., but the reality is that no one really knows for sure.

In some cases, W.H.S. may show up in a litter by affecting one sibling but not other littermates, even though it has never been suspected or diagnosed in previous generations.

It is not likely that you can tell from a pedigree that W.H.S. or other genetic pre-depositions exist in a line. Whenever anyone is considering taking on the responsibility of a new pet, we must rely on the level of trust we have towards the breeder. If the breeder tells you that they have concerns about a certain line, I suggest that you investigate their motivation for telling you that and then you will need to decide if you are a person willing to take the risk. Personally, I strongly suggest that you choose another animal from a different line and even from an altogether different breeder. A professional breeder who spreads gossip is not really a professional breeder.

No Hedgehog breeder can guarantee that a Hedgehog does not have W.H.S. However, if they choose to, they can simply guarantee that if your Hedgehog dies and a necropsy is performed (usually at your expense) they will replace the Hedgehog for you. Breeders know that necropsies are not cheap, and they are often inconclusive. So, you will need to decide for yourself if it is worth investing in

When a pet lover loses a pet, very few choose to pay to have a necropsy performed. They are grieving their lost pet and are not even in the right state of mind to think about getting a replacement pet.

If you suspect that your Hedgehog has W.H.S. you really need to seek out the advice from your veterinarian. But do not expect a cure or a confirmed diagnosis! A diagnosis for WHS is done postmortem. In some cases, there are a few things you can do to help your pet to be more comfortable and your veterinarian may be able to suggest an action plan that can help your pet live as comfortably as possible. Diet supplements, muscle massage, temperature and humidity control can help with comfort but will not cure the disease.

All disease progress at different rates. Although your level of commitment may make the difference to your pet’s quality of life, we humans need to realize that there are so many diseases that we know so very little about. Sometimes we need to realize that diseases are very much a part of all life. Many of which are beyond our control.

With any form of disease, if after all attempts have been made to keep an animal comfortable and pain free, you and your veterinarian may need to discuss Euthanasia (such a nasty word) as it may end up being the most humane option.

Our Advice regarding WHS to other breeders: Never breed any animal if you suspect it to be unhealthy. Never breed any animal that knowingly can or will pass on any health risks or genetic flaws to its offspring.

Never sell any animal to anyone without full disclosure. The more informed the buyers are the better they are prepared for anything that can happen.

Purchasers be aware WHS Facts: Some breeders do guarantee against this disease, but we suggest that you do not allow yourself to be misled or fooled into believing that any Hedgehog is free from this awful disease.

Most, breeders who guarantee against this disease, insist that if your Hedgehog dies you will need to have a necropsy performed by a veterinarian at your own expense. Then if it is found to have died from this disease, they will replace the Hedgehog. Be very careful; necropsies are quite expensive. Often, they are more expensive than the original cost of the pet and usually breeders will not pay for a necropsy.

Since 1986 we have never had a confirmed case of W.H.S. BUT... If we ever even suspected W.H.S in one of our breeding lines, we would not continue breeding that line. Because of the nature of disease, we know it is a disease that we could never fully (100%) guarantee as there is always a possibility that one day even one of our own Hedgehogs will be diagnosed with W.H.S.

We give a written Health Guarantee with all the animals we sell. Our Health Guarantee is not limited to any specific disease but covers all hereditary defects and illness. Although our Health Guarantee does expire within a specific period, if anyone who purchases / purchased a Hedgehog from us that has succumbed to W.H.S. and a licensed veterinarian has confirmed a diagnosis via a necropsy, we would certainly appreciate being notified. That way we can make the necessary decisions when selecting our future breeding stock. (I am sure most ethical breeders would appreciate knowing too).t very easy to prevent and control mite infestations. We feel that that prevention is the best solution therefore, we treat all of animals on the first day of every month year-round.

Skin diseases, funguses, pneumonia can be caused by excess moisture, humidity, and dampness. While this may not be a direct result of your pets’ environment always keep your pets cage clean and dry.


Torpor, Hibernation & Estivation


(These are common concerns especially in the north and especially during fall and spring

When temperature and lighting can change drastically, minute by minute )

When food or environmental conditions change & become unfavorable, it may signal to your pet that it is time to prepare itself by saving its energy and to reserve its body fat just in case of an emergency. Nature has provided many species of animals with the ability to enter a state of torpor which means that it can adjust its metabolism by entering a short-term, extremely deep sleep period. They can also wake out of torpor spontaneously and while this deep sleep period can sometimes last only a few hours most often it lasts for several days or even weeks. During this period, it may be near impossible to wake the pet. Torpor may be induced by changes in the environment, but it is controlled by the pet. It involves an animal deciding to use its ability to lower its heart rate and by restricting its blood flow to the main organs which also reduced the internal body temperature, then they enter a period of deep sleep. When they decide to do this, they are hoping to conserve energy and save on stored resources. If torpor is going to happen, it usually happens very quickly. Although there are a few signs to be aware of, they are not going to be noticeable until the animal is already in a state of torpor. Some of things that might signal that your pet may be about or ready to go into torpor are ongoing slight changes in the pet’s routine, there might be noticeable behavioral changes, a lack of interest in food, a reduction of body temperature and lots of sleeping. Torpid animals cannot perform normal coordinated movements and they seldom respond to stimuli.

When a pet goes into a state of torpor you can often awaken it slowly by changing its’ environmental conditions. Leave the pet still and slowly raise the ambient room temperature by 2 or 3 degrees and increase the amount of indirect, bright light it receives daily. While coming out of torpor many animals display violent shivering, shaking and have random muscle contractions. The pet appears very uncoordinated, awkward, and sickly. This can be very frightening to the pet owner. Arousal takes under an hour, and you will be sure that if your animal urinates or defecates it is either completely out or almost out of its’ torpid state.

In ways, torpor is quite like hibernation, but torpor tends not to last as long as what hibernation does. Torpor and hibernation often occur at a time when an animal feels that its’ food supply is compromised, when the weather changes quickly or when the temperature drops by a few degrees. Sometimes during the cooler damp rainy season,  the decrease in the amount of natural light can also cause an animal to choose going into torpor.

Animals can choose to go in to or out of torpor or hibernation whenever the need arises. But in a vibrant home environment there is usually a lot more going on and changes are ongoing which can trigger torpor. If animals enter torpor too often it can cause health problems because changing their metabolism, heart rate and blood flow combined with periods long term inactivity and lack of control over many of their body functions is incredibly stressful to the body and overall health.

Some animals are certainly more sensitive to change, and these are typically the animals that are far more likely to go into torpor. Once you figure out what triggered the torpor you can make changes hoping to lessen the likelihood of your pet experiencing the need to go into torpor.


For many pet owners, it can be difficult to identify between Torpor and Hibernation. The major differences are that Hibernation is an extended form of torpor but in addition to the conditions that bring about torpor, hibernation usually involves hormonal changes which are usually difficult to detect in a home environment. Most species of animals that are kept as pets seldom experience going into a state of true hibernation while in captivity however there are a few species that need to do so, annually.

Hibernation is much harder on the pet! It is a huge strain of them! Therefore, when it happens to a pet that belongs to a species that typically does not hibernate, it is important to examine the environmental conditions and it is probable that some changes need to be made immediately to resolve the issues. These changes whether they be to the lighting, air flow, humidity, or the temperature, will need to become permanent as you’ll likely want to avoid your pet from ever thinking about hibernating again.

Bringing your pet out of hibernation can be done the same way you want to get it out of torpor. But it may take a lot longer for your pet to come out of hibernation. You ’ll likely notice the same stressful shaking and lack of coordination until it is fully back to its’ normal state.


Estivation is when animals intentionally slow their activity especially during hot dry periods. Wild animals can seek out cool places to spend their time, but captive animals lack the facilities to do so at will.

Estivation is common for animals that have evolved to live in cooler climates, but it is less common for animals that have naturally evolved to live in hot arid environments, but it can still happen. Depending on the species and the conditions that it has been accustomed to living in usually influence the rate at which many animals experience estivation. It is important to stress that in most circumstances estivation is far more dangerous than Torpor or hibernation.

Signs of estivation is often when an animal is lethargic and is looking for a cool place to lay down. When they lay down, they sometimes try to expose their belly to a cool surface with their legs pointing outwards. This position helps heat escape from its’ body. If the animal does not cool down, it will begin to pant.

Panting is a sure sign that your pets need immediate attention! If not, it may experience a heat stroke! It needs to cool down.

Perhaps supplying a cool granite tile for it to lay on or adding ice to his drinking water will help. I suggest trying to cool the environment down a few degrees at a time, DO NOT cool the room too much. Do not drop the temperature more than a few degrees at once or cool the animal too quickly. Avoid the use fans if possible as a fan can cause a draft.

Rapid environmental changes of more than 2 or 3 degrees lower done too quickly can sometimes induce some species of pets to choose to go into a state of torpor.


Cost you may want to consider.

(When considering getting a pet Hedgehog)

Hedgehogs are not an expensive animal to keep as a pet but if a breeder does not cut corners, they are a bit costly to raise and breed. To purchase a pet Hedgehog from a good breeder you can expect to pay around $175.00 and up for a normal coloured Hedgehog. Often males are a little more available and less costly than females. Some of the newer more unusual colour morphs tend to be rarer and therefore costlier than a normal grey or brown Hedgehog. Hedgehogs are still considered a priced pet to purchase and care for but to purchase a nicely marked pinto or other rarer fancy colours you can expect to pay from $250.00 and up, depending on the lineage of the animal.

Initially, you can also expect to pay around $150.00 and up for a suitable habitat and supplies.


Breeding and Reproduction


Sexual Maturity: Hedgehogs can breed with their siblings or mother while they still in the nest box. This needs to be considered when purchasing any female animal. Breeders cannot always stop this from occurring but weaning at 6 weeks of age should be a standard breeding practice. Weaning earlier than 6 weeks should only be done under extreme circumstances.

*Baby males and females can breed as early as 5 weeks of age. Sons are known to breed with their mothers and occasionally littermates will breed together. This can be very dangerous, especially for the baby females. It is best to start to keep the genders separated unless supervised.

Suggested Breeding Age in Captivity: While sexual maturity occurs when they are around 5-8 weeks of age it is better to wait until they are 5 to 8 months of age and fully mature before they should be allowed to raise a litter. Before breeding any animal, it is important that the animal is in shape, in good breeding condition and excellent health, prior to introducing them for breeding.

Estrus Cycle: Pet Hedgehogs that are in good health, are polyestrous meaning, they have several heat cycles throughout a breeding year. A female in heat, may display a variety of behavioral changes which signals that she is ready to mate. Males who can breed at any time can recognize a female is in heat by smell.

Estrous cycles continue for the life of an animal if it is in good health and prime condition. Heat cycles usually lasts about 4 or 5 days. Ovulation is induced upon penetration. If they do not breed and become pregnant a female will go into heat again approximately 4 or 5 days later.

Gestation Period: Pregnancy lasts an average of 35 days.

Average Litter Size: Although the litter size can vary between 1 and 6 babies, 3 or 4 is more common.

Weaning age: Baby Hedgehogs are called hoglets. Their eyes open when they are around 14 days old, and their teeth start to erupt when they are around 18 days old. They start sampling food at 21 days old but do not start eating properly for several more weeks during which time they continue to nurse. They can usually be totally weaned from their mothers when they are 6 weeks old.

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