The domestication of African Pygmy hedgehogs began in the early 80s and has been popularized ever since by their breeders. They are hybrids of the Algerian and four-toed species. They measure about 4 - 9 inches in length and have a lifespan of around 4 - 6 years.
Though they prefer their natural habitat, they can be easily tamed. They should be adopted or bought from a regular hedgehog breeder who has some experience in handling them. They take some time to get familiar to human handling; thus, it is always better to get a young hedgehog for yourself.
African Pygmy hedgehogs require very little space. They can be kept in a cage measuring around 3 - 5 square feet, with a solid floor and some wood shavings as their bedding. The cage should be big enough to accommodate a shallow litter box, a wheel for exercising, some space for food and water, and a small tunnel-like area to make them feel secure. Hedgehogs prefer a warm atmosphere around them, so make sure that the temperature within their cage is around 75°F. They are nocturnal creatures, which means they are only active during the night. The cage should be cleaned and disinfected regularly to avoid skin infections and other problems.
Hedgehogs are insectivores; they mainly feed on worms, bugs, insects, snails, frogs, etc. While such instances are rare, they are also known to feast on fruits and nuts at times. Domesticated hedgehogs can be given dry cat food which is low in fat. Commercial hedgehog food and prepared insectivore diet can also be used. They consume food that equals to 1/3 of their body weight every night. Clean water should also be made available for drinking. Pygmy hedgehogs tend to grow obese, so it's important that you stick to low-fat food for your pet. Additionally, experts opine that they should also be exposed to exercise on a daily basis.
These hedgehogs can be prone to major illnesses, like cancer and wobbly hedgehog syndrome (a neurological degenerative disease) and minor illnesses, such as allergies, digestive disorders, respiratory illnesses, tooth and gum diseases, etc. In case of any of these, a veterinary doctor should be consulted. They can also show signs of depression and stress if not provided with a comfortable atmosphere. At such times, they appear inactive and refuse to eat or drink. They should also be taken to the veterinarian for regular checkups.
If you are looking for a loyal companion in your pet, you could find one in the African Pygmy hedgehog. They make great pets just as any other domesticated animal with little care, love, and pampering.