When you look beyond the prickly exterior, you will love to adopt the adorable hedgehog as a pet. Their quills are not as prickly as the porcupine's. They have fury face and underbelly. Hedgehogs can be kept singly or in groups. One should remember to keep only one male hedgehog in a group or else fights may occur.
When you bring home a hedgehog, place him in a clean and dry enclosure. It is advisable to give him absolute privacy for at least a day or two. It will probably be a week before he feels at home. Baby hedgehogs tend to sleep a lot. Thus, do not be alarmed, if your hoglet sleeps most of the time.
Hedgehogs can be kept inside aquariums which are about 20 gallons or more in size. They are good swimmers and climbers; they can even climb over walls of their cages. Their skills of escaping are as good as the Great Houdini's. So provide no route of escape in the house to these little Houdini's. Secure the cage tops with a lid and make sure that it has ample ventilation. The aquarium should be 12" high and should have a floor space of at least 16" x 24". It should be well-lit, but do not place the enclosure in direct sunlight. It should contain food and water bowls, exercisers, toys, treats and litter box. Keep the enclosure away from other pets and young children.
The bedding should be made from shredded newspaper as it is a good absorbent. It can also be easily disposed off. Aspen shavings and non-dusty clay litter can be used for bedding. Do not use cedar shavings or aromatic softwood shavings. Because they contain volatile oil which can cause irritation to the hedgehog's respiratory tract, skin and feet. Hedgehogs enjoy burrowing, so make sure to use a soft bedding spread at least two inches over the floor of the enclosure.
The place where a hedgehog is housed should be kept in a warm and well-lit area. It should be kept away from draft and direct sunlight. The ideal temperature of the room should be around 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is lower, it may send the animal into hibernation. High temperature causes stress to the animal and it can sometimes be fatal. When a hedgehog is housed inside an aquarium, check the temperature inside the glass tub, as it can be different from the room temperature.
Hedgehogs need a place to hide, especially, when they sleep during the day. A PVC pipe that is 4 inches long, a shoe box that is cut from one side or a flower-pot kept on its side can be used as hiding place for hedgehogs. Make sure to replace it every 2-3 weeks.
Hedgehogs can be trained to use litter box. The litter box should have low sides, 2" deep and should be 6" x 9" in size. Non-clumping cat litter clay can be used to fill up the litter box. While training a hedgehog, place the feces in the litter box when he answers the nature's call. This will teach him to use it the next time.
Hedgehogs love to exercise. Place a plastic wheel inside the enclosure for them to play with. Do not use the metal wheels as their feet may get tangled in the metal spokes. Your hedgehog will also love to play with plastic balls. To give him the blast of his life, build a small sand box and add mealworms to it. He will love digging the sand and eating the worms. Hedgehogs are great swimmers, so go ahead and bring a small swimming tub for him. Provide him with ample exercise to keep him alert and healthy.
It is illegal to keep hedgehog as a pet in many states of the US, including the state of California. It is advisable to check with the Department of Fish and Game, or the Department of Wildlife, the legalities before bringing home a hedgehog.
Hedgehogs will be buzzing with activity all day. They will never seek your companionship like dogs do. Do not give up on them as pets, if they don't turn out the way you expected. It is necessary to build a rapport and understanding with your pet. It is the owner's responsibility to provide these cute ball of bristles with proper care, suitable living conditions and ample love. With this in mind, you'll definitely develop a long-lasting and fulfilling relationship with your pet.