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A Hedgehog as a Pet: What to Know

Hedgehogs are small, cute little creatures that are becoming increasingly popular pets in recent years. Here, our Port Jefferson vets share some facts you should know about hedgehogs before you adopt one!

Facts about Hedgehogs

What Is Special About A Hedgehog?

Hedgehogs are cute exotic animals known for the prickles along their backs. When a hedgehog feels threatened they curl into a tight ball and tuck in their heads, tails, and legs, to protect vulnerable parts of their body.

There are 15 different species of hedgehog, found across Europe, Asia, and Africa. They can live in a variety of habitats, including deserts, forests, and grasslands. The African pygmy hedgehog is the most common species of hedgehog kept as a pet. 

How Many Spikes Does A Hedgehog Have?

Hedgehogs are well known for their prickly spines. The back of a hedgehog is covered in a thick layer of spikes known as quills, and they have between 3,000 to 5,000 quills covering their backs. 

Are Hedgehogs Smart? 

The intelligence of a hedgehog is to that of a hamster, they may learn certain behaviors through positive reinforcement or conditioning but only at a very basic level.

Hedgehogs are known to be very communicative when it comes to their needs, and often make a low purring sound when they are happy or content.

Are Hedgehogs Cuddly?

In the wild, hedgehogs are solitary animals and they spend most of their time alone except during mating season. They tend to be shy and wary of people. It takes patience and a gentle hand to form a trusting bond with a pet hedgehog. Once a bond is established hedgehogs can be quite playful and occasionally cuddly.

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets?

It is essential to do your research before buying a hedgehog as a pet to be certain that its personality and needs fit with your lifestyle. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, meaning that they are awake all night and sleep all day. 

Are Pet Hedgehogs Dangerous?

Hedgehogs are not inherently dangerous or hostile creatures, but there are a number of health and safety concerns you should be aware of before adopting one:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching, feeding, or caring for a hedgehog or cleaning its enclosure.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle hedgehogs, because this can spread Salmonella germs to your face and mouth. 
  • Don’t allow hedgehogs to roam freely in areas where food is prepared or stored, such as kitchens or dining tables.
  • Clean and wash enclosures, toys, and supplies outside of your house when possible. 
  • If you get a puncture from a hedgehog quill be sure to clean your hands and the puncture area thoroughly. 

Is A Hedgehog The Right Pet For You?

Owning a pet hedgehog may not be easy, but by doing your research, visiting breeders, and speaking to an exotic mammal vet, you will be able to decide whether a hedgehog is the right pet for you. 

More questions about owning an exotic pet? Contact our Port Jefferson veterinarians today.

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Jefferson Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Port Jefferson companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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