Now that you’re considering buying a hedgehog, it’s a good idea to find out if your lifestyle is a good match for a hedgehog before making a decision. Below, we’ve put together some guidelines to help you decide whether a hedgehog will be a good fit for you and your family.
Are hedgehogs legal to own in your area?
Though pet hedgehogs are legal in most of the U.S., they are illegal to own in the states of Arizona, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, as well as New York City, Washington, DC, and Fairfax County, VA. If a hedgehog is not legal in your state, you should not buy a hedgehog, as they can be confiscated and you may be fined.
Do you have young children?
Hedgehogs can be suitable for children as young as five under careful adult supervision. It is up to parents to make the final decision whether you a comfortable with your children handling a hedgehog, but do keep in mind that hedgehogs can have a bit of a nervous temperament, and they fare best in calm environments. If they are handled roughly or your children are loud, they can become scared and can raise their quills. While they are not sharp, they can be uncomfortable for sensitive hands.
Are you or your children looking for a pet that they can play with during the day?
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so they are awake during evening and night hours. They do not typically like to be woken up during daytime hours when they are natural in their sleep cycle. For children who have fairly early bedtimes, hedgehogs may not be the best option as they will have a small window of time when they and the hedgehog will be awake at the same time to interact.
Will you be home evenings and nights?
This goes along with the last question – since hedgehogs are nocturnal, they must be cared for during evening hours. If you work night shifts and there will not be someone in your household to take care of the hedgehog, it may not be the best choice for you.
Do you have the space in your home for a pet hedgehog?
Hedgehogs themselves are small critters, but they do require an area to place their cage, sized 2 foot by 2 foot at a minimum. They also should not be placed in the direct vicinity of other pet animals like hamsters or dogs, because they are very sensitive to their smells.
Are you willing to be patient?
Hedgehogs are shy, sensitive little animals, and they will take a couple of weeks to feel comfortable in their new home after you adopt them. It’s important to be patient with your new pet as he adjusts, and note that he may hiss or seem grumpy when you first try to take him out of his cage for social time.
Do you have time to feed and play with a new pet daily?
Hedgehogs do require to be fed once per night, which simply requires you to be there to put new food in their dish. Many hedgies love exploring outside of their cage and snuggling with their owners, and even the more “loner” hedgehogs should be socialized daily. According to West Coast Hedgehogs, you should ideally allow for 30 minutes with your hedgehog per day. This time can be letting your hedgehog explore out of his cage supervised, or as simple as letting your hedgehog sleep in a blanket on your lap during TV show or while reading.
Do you keep your house temperature around 73-78 degrees F?
Hedgehogs are very sensitive to the cold, and can go into hibernation if the temperature is much below 73 degrees farenheight. You do not want your hedgie attempting to go into hibernation – this can be deadly- so it’s important to make sure you can keep the room they’re living in in that temperature range. If you don’t like to keep your home that warm, note that you can get a small, inexpensive space heater just to keep the hedgehog’s area warm.
Are you wiling to handle a hedgehog’s quills?
While hedgehog’s quills are not so sharp as to pierce the skin, they are a bit sharp and can be unpleasant for some people to touch. Make sure you don’t mind handling the pointy quills before buying a hedgehog. It may be a good idea to visit a breeder and see how you feel after having the chance to hold a hedgehog in person.
Are you looking for more than one pet?
Hedgehogs are very solitary animals, and to be safe, should typically not be paired with another hedgehog in the same cage. Males are often very territorial and aggressive around other males, and putting a male and female together can result in a potentially dangerous pregnancy. If you’re looking for multiple playmates, hedgehogs may not be the best option.
Are you able and willing to afford a hedgehog?
Purchasing a hedgehog typically costs between $150-$250, plus upwards of $150 for supplies. In addition, there is always a possibility that your hedgehog may become sick and require a veterinarian visit, which can cost a few hundred dollars.
Thank you, Justin & Elise, for the hedgehog photo featured above!