5 Reasons Why Adopting A Hedgehog Is A Good Idea
PSA: Prepare for adorable photos of Anastasiya's hedgehog - Ricco Valentine!
Hedgehogs are adorable little creatures which many assume can only be found in your backyard. However, in recent years the popularity of hedgehogs as pets had risen across Europe and the United States, with many labelling the animal as a “low maintenance” sort of pet.
The African Pygmy hedgehog (the four toed hedgehog) is the most common domesticated hedgehog found in pet stores and various breeders. Their spikes are soft like bristles and their belly is covered with white fur which distinguishes them from wild hedgehogs and porcupines. Most African Pygmies come in beautiful colour shades like: salt & pepper, snowflake and cinnamon.
Want to know more about why hedgehogs make fabulous pets? Read on and we’ll tell you more!
1. Low maintenance pets
African pygmies are perfect for those who work or study most of the day and only come home in the evenings. They don’t require much other than a place to sleep and food. Their diet is pretty simple: cat food and mealworms. You can buy dry mealworms for €1.50 in Dealz and any cat food and cat treats will do. They sleep up to 18 hours which means they won’t miss you much if you aren’t around all day!
2. Entertaining pets
These little creatures are very interesting to observe! They might seem chunky and big, but they are quite fast when they want to be. They don’t really desire human interaction but when they do, they’re the best cuddle buddy. When hedgehogs are relaxed, their spikes go down which makes them feel like bristles (not to mention the fluffy tummy becomes exposed when your hedgie is asleep!).
3. No noise complaints
That’s right, hedgehogs are not noisy creatures. If anything, you might sometimes forget they’re there! Hedgehogs make the occasional popping or huffing noises but other than that they are silent and peaceful which makes them great secret pets.
4. No odor, no allergies
Hedgehogs do not cause allergies. Their fur that is more like hair and their spikes don’t carry anything that could spark up an infection or allergy in humans. So, if you have a problem with animals, why not get a hedgehog who will spare you the trouble of sneezing and eye-watering. Hedgehogs also don’t have an odor and their waste has a very subtle smell, which is only really troublesome if you feed your hedgie fish.
It is very important to bond with your hedgehog to allow them to get used to you as well as for you to get used to them.
Hedgehogs are not social creatures and do not seek human companionship as such, but that can change if you bond with your hedgehog right. Best way to bond with your hog is to handle them, it will be difficult at first, but this will help you get used to the sharpness of their spikes and allow them to unroll in front of you. If you don’t want to hold your hedgehog because you are not used to the spikes yet, put them on your lap and let them explore and get used to your scent.
You could also leave your old t-shirt which you haven’t washed in their cage to let them memorise your scent better without you handling them. If you wish to secure a close bond with your hog, you must handle them for a minimum of five minutes per day for at least one month.
You will know that your bonding was successful if your hog unrolls when you pick them up or place them in your palms.
One thing to note!
6. Exotic Animal
Before you consider adopting a hedgehog, it’s important to note that they are exotic pets and you will run into trouble finding a vet who will be able to answer your concerns in relation to your hog. The reason this is important is because hedgehogs are prone to many diseases and illnesses which, if left untreated will become deadly.
Some of these illnesses are external and internal parasites, ringworm, cancer, gastrointestinal diseases and pneumonia as well as wobbly hedgehog syndrome. Many of these diseases can be treated and noticed early on such as: loss of appetite, bald patches where quills used to be, they don’t defecate as often as they used to, and excessive scratching. Upon first signs, please contact your nearest vet or Google exotic vets close to you.
Fun Fact! Hedgehogs do not have eye sockets. Their eyes could easily fall out If they fall or are squeezed too tightly. But don’t worry! They don’t really mind it since they are practically blind anyway.
Words by STELLAR intern Anastasiya Sytnyk
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