In the pet world, the Pygmy Hedgehog is considered a prickly little exotic animal with a huge personality. This may be why more and more folks are embarking on the journey of being pet parents to these unique critters.
As with any animal, before you bring one into your life, you should get all the facts.
Let’s explore how to care for a pet Pygmy Hedgehog to see if this may be the perfect pet for you or your family.
Choosing a Pygmy Hedgehog
Before you rush off to your nearest pet retailer to pick out a Pygmy Hedgehog here are a some tips to keep in mind:
- Baby Hedgies should be at least 8 weeks old before they leave their nest and siblings.
- Watch the Hedgehogs move around. Limping or extreme lethargy is a case for moving on, but remember these creatures are nocturnal, so it may take them a few minutes to wake up when disturbed from a sound sleep.
- Eyes and nose should be clear and bright and free of discharge.
- Pick the Pygmy Hedgehog up. It should not attempt to bite or overly struggle. Hedgehogs that are used to being handled will do so willingly.
- Check the underbelly and anal region for cleanliness.
- The overall appearance of the Pygmy Hedgehog should be clean and sleek with a rounded body. Hedgehogs with sunken in areas can be an indication of poor health.
- To lessen the chances of purchasing an unhealthy Pygmy Hedgehog be sure to visit a reputable breeder or rescue organization.
This YouTube Video shows what a healthy Pygmy Hedgehog looks like and how it responds to being handled.
Housing Your Pygmy Hedgehog
To keep your Pygmy Hedgehog healthy and happy, a cage measuring at least 3 feet long with a solid bottom (not wire or mesh as this can hurt the Hedgies paws) should be provided.
Avoid enclosures with horizontal bars or multi-level ones. Pygmy Hedgehogs are poor climbers these types of cages could lead to injury.
Provide your pet with a soft covering or substrate on the floor of the enclosure like recycled paper or hemp. Do NOT use pine or cedar shavings as these products contain strong oils that can lead to respiratory illness in your pet Pygmy Hedgehog.
This critter also needs its cage to be kept at a constant temperature of 73.4-75.9 degrees, so you may need to use a heat pad under the enclosure to provide your pet with the warmth it needs to thrive.
In addition, you will want to put a large running wheel inside the cage for your Pygmy Hedgehog to exercise on. Again, this should be made of solid plastic and not wire or mesh.
Pygmy Hedgehogs also like to play with toys, so get inventive like plastic cat balls. Add a water bottle to the side of the enclosure or a solid ceramic dish for water and a heavy dish for food.
Lastly Pygmy Hedgehogs love to hide and sleep in small dens which can be purchased at your local pet retailer or online.
Feeding Your Pygmy Hedgehog
Any pet you choose to care for has a specific diet it requires to keep it healthy and thriving, the Pygmy Hedgehog is no different. However, the daily diet of this critter is not to be taken lightly or for granted.
According to Hedgehog Care 101, it is perfectly fine to feed this animal a high quality, high protein, low fat dry cat food. DO NOT feed your Pygmy Hedgehog kitten food as this is too high in fat or fish-based kibble.
The ratio you should look for is 30 percent protein with 15 percent fat (this information can be found on the side or back of the bag) at only 1 to 2 tablespoons per day depending on the size of your Hedgie.
Pygmy Hedgehogs also like variety in their diet so the following foods are a good occasional addition (once or twice a week as treats):
- hard boiled or cooked scrambled egg
- fresh fruit
- cooked chicken or lamb
- insects; mealworms, silkworms, crickets, and wax worms
- fresh veggies
Food to Avoid
There are some foods that are simply not recommended for the Pygmy Hedgehog. They include:
- grapes and raisins
- raw meat
- too much fruit (high in sugar and can promote obesity)
- nuts (Hedgehogs will have difficulty chewing and digesting them)
- processed meats
- canned food
- most dairy products (cottage cheese or yogurt in very small amounts no more than once-a-week are fine).
Veterinary Care for the Pygmy Hedgehog
Since the Pygmy Hedgehog is considered an exotic pet, you may have difficulty finding a veterinarian that can care for your pet. Check your local vets to see which (if any) have dealt with this type of critter in the past so you will be prepared in case of an emergency.
Although, there are some diseases the Pygmy Hedgehog can get like tumors, some dental issues and mites, for the most part, Hedgies are healthy animals.
Spaying and neutering are not required as the Pygmy Hedgehog should be housed alone and there are no required vaccinations for this type of pet.
Pygmy Hedgehogs are Delightful!
Now that you know all about this amazing little pet you may be ready to embark on the journey and joy of pet parenting one of these critters. It can be a fun experience, but like any other animal, be sure you are ready to give it the love, attention and care it deserves.
The Pygmy Hedgehog can live up to 5 years in captivity, so be sure you are in it for the duration of its life.
Rescue organizations have a number of these abandoned exotics waiting for their forever homes, so don’t let a whim lead you to growing tired or bored of a pet that needs your care for its entire life.