The African pygmy hedgehog is by far the most common species of domesticated hedgehog. There are two other more rare types of domesticated hedgehogs; the Egyptian long-eared hedgehog and the Indian long-eared hedgehog. However, if you are looking to have a hedgehog as a pet, African pygmy hedgehogs are your best choice!
In this section, you’ll learn about where African Pygmy’s come from, their size and lifespan, and some basics on having one as a pet.
Where do African Pygmy Hedgehogs come from?
African Pygmy Hedgehogs originate primarily from Nigeria and close areas on the African continent. They are believed to be a mix of a couple of different breeds of hedgehogs originating from those areas.
Since they’ve been brought to America and domesticated, they still prefer warm temperatures (around 73-78 degrees Fahrenheit in your home) and are nocturnal animals.
For more about where hedgehogs come from, click here.
African Pygmy Size & Lifespan
Estimates vary, but African Pygmy Hedgehogs have an expected life span between 3-8 years, with the average around the lower end of that estimate, at 3-5 years.
This may seem short, but is quite an impressive lifespan when compared with other small pets. It is also an improvement on the lifespan of wild hedgehogs, which is typically about 2 years.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs can weigh between 0.5- 1.25 pounds, and vary in size from 5 to 8 inches long. They can become obese easily, so it’s important to watch their weight and make food adjustments when needed.
Hedgehogs are covered with a protective spine of quills on their back, and have soft, fuzzy bellies. When threatened, they are able to curl up into a ball, displaying their quills to ward off predators.
These quills, however, are not particularly harmful to humans. When relaxed, your African Pygmy hedgehog’s quills should not poke you are feel sharp.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs as pets
Since hedgehogs have really only been a popular domestic pet since the early 1980’s they still have a lot of their natural behaviors from life in the wild. This is why they are such sensitive animals; they must be very protective in the wild, so they do take some adjustment time to become comfortable with human owners.
Once your hedgehog does adjust to you as their owner, however, they can make great little companions. Some hedgehogs have a very snugly personality, others are very active and extroverted, while others are a bit more content with solitude, and other still, can be quite grumpy and anti-social. It’s suggested that new hedgehog owners work with the breeder to select the hedgehog with the best personality fit for you.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs are accustomed to warm climates, and don’t naturally hibernate. However, if they are kept in temperatures much lower than 70 degrees F, they can be forced into hibernation, which can be extremely dangerous.
In the wild, these hedgehogs are insectivores, so they eat mainly insects although they will eat a large variety of different foods. In domestication, you will only need to feed African Pygmy’s a mixture of cat food and snacks.
African Pgymys are generally healthy animals, but they are prone to obesity. They are also prone to cancer and Wobbly Leg Syndrome, a condition that affects their nervous system. Click here for a list of the most common hedgehog health issues.
To learn more about owning a hedgehog as a pet, click here.
Thank you, Kristin E., for the hedgehog photo featured above!