Hoping for a Hedgehog? 10 Things to Know Before Bringing One Home

4. Hedgehogs Are Not Mini Porcupines

Interestingly, though quilled porcupines are rodents, quilled hedgehogs are not. They are classified as insectivores (insect eaters) instead. They are not strict insectivores, however, as they consume a variety of foods in the wild, including snails, amphibians, lizards, snakes, birds’ eggs, fish, carrion, mushrooms, grass roots, berries and melons. Domesticated pet hedgehogs typically eat a limited number of insects (mealworms, crickets, earthworms, wax worms) in favor of commercially available pelleted formulas manufactured just for them. They can also eat a small amount of vegetables, fruit and cooked meat. Given their desire to catch live prey, pet hedgehogs should not be offered large amounts of insects or they will likely eat them to the exclusion of other foods needed for a balanced diet.

5. They Like the Night Life

In the wild, hedgehogs are active at night, since that is when their food is available. Domesticated pet hedgehogs have maintained this nocturnal lifestyle, sleeping a good portion of the day and running in wheels at night. If you’re a light sleeper, go to bed early or are out a lot at night, a hedgehog may not be the best pet for you.

6. Hedgehogs Are ‘Hogs’

Hedgehogs love to eat, and if they are housed in cages with little opportunity to socialize and exercise, they tend to put on weight. Obesity is a common problem among pet hedgehogs. Fat hedgehogs typically have very pudgy limbs and large amounts of subcutaneous fat protruding from underneath their mantel (the spine-covered top part of their bodies). Obese hedgehogs may not be able to roll up like other hedgehogs, and those who eat excessive numbers of insects may suffer from calcium deficiency and brittle bones. Overweight hedgehogs should be put on restricted amounts of food and encouraged to run around outside their cages or inside them on wheels.

7. They Squeal, Snort and Snuff

Many people think hedgehogs are silent, but they vocalize through a variety of grunts, squeals, snorting and snuffling sounds. They commonly vocalize when exploring their environments. They may also puff, click or hiss when nervous or upset or whistle or purr when happy. They typically make screaming sounds when they are in pain.


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