What better way to start the week than with some precious baby hedgehogs? My mom used to have a hedgehog, so I can say firsthand they make pretty stupid pets, as you have to wear gloves whenever you pick them up or they will puff up and poke you with their spikes, but these little ones are very cute.
CORRECTION: According to some very angry hedgehog lady commenters, in fact I am the stupid one, not the hedgehogs. Please forgive the mistake. Hedgehogs make wonderful pets as long as you properly “bond” with them.
My mind is like a fog. Oh well. My life’s been really dull today. Eh. Today was a total loss. I’ve more or less been doing nothing , but I guess it doesn’t bother me.
they are so flipen cute !!!!!!!!!!!
Yes baby hedgehogs (as are so many other animals at that age) are precious beyond mortal description. At about 2 months old they weaned or ready to wean from mom, and go hit the bricks in the big wide world, they’re painfully adorable.
This is when the trouble starts for altogether too many. They’re not typical pets, by a long shot. More so than cats, they’re very individualistic and rarely conform to any stereotypical behavior. All bets are off what they’ll be like, and she or he simply may not ‘click’ with you.
First up, for the most part they’re not interactive. They don’t sit up, roll over or play fetch. Occasionally one will come to you when you call, but this is the exception rather than the rule.
Truth be told as a rule they’re quite shy and very often they’ll startle easily and you end up with a handfull of hissing, popping quills. This is an eons old defensive instinct and they can ball up and quill out faster than you can blink. A sudden noise or movement and *SNAP* you’ve got a inside out pincushion in your hands. Please don’t throw them across the room for it (yes this has happened, resulting in horrific injuries) it’s as natural to them as you jumping out of your skin when someone screeches in your ear as they poke you in the ribs from behind..
Speaking of quills, 3 or 4 times in their first year they’ll go through a ‘quilling’. This is when they shed they baby quills for toddler quills, then their toddler quills for juvenile quills, then their juvenile quills for their adult quills.
During this quilling period they can be quite grumpy, and not at all pleasant to handle unless you’re really committed to them.
Next on the list, they’re a diurnal creature. Meaning they’re predominantly nocturnal, however they will rouse during the day and go grab a bite to eat or a bit of a drink, then toddle back to dreamland (yes there’s that occasional soul amongst them who’s a daylighter, I’ve had several who could care less where the sun is).
For the most part though, when you’re ready to go to bed they’re just getting up.
Thing about hedgehogs is, they’re astonishingly athletic. A means of exercise is absolutely essential. They MUST have a wheel and they’ll be on it most of the night, exactly when you’re trying to sleep.
Inversely as you’re crawling out of bed to start your day, they’re finishing theirs and getting ready to sack it.
As you’re refreshing their water and food and cleaning their cage after a nights activities they want you to go away and let them get some sleep.
As pets go they’re ‘low maintenance’, not to be confused with ‘no maintenance’ . They have some very specific requirements.
They require an ambient temperature between about 70 and 85. Unlike their European cousins, they can’t hibernate. If they get cold they’ll try, however they have lost the physiological ability to and unless intervention is appropriate and immediate this will kill them.
Similarly if they get overheated they will try to estivate, this also is a life threatening condition.
Like every other animal in the world they have a diet which must be met and maintained. The proper balance of foods in the proper proportions. Miss the balance of nutrients and over the span of months they’ll slowly starve to death. There’ll be a host of health issues and you’ll be the vets best friend, or best customer.
Consider also, a hedgehog will mask many symptoms of an illness until they’re literally at deaths door and reaching for the knob. Treatments are not yet well enough documented to know exactly which protocol is appropriate for which symptomatic presentation.
Finding a competent and knowledgeable vet can be a trick in itself.
Where dogs, cats, horses, cows, etc have been domesticated for centuries if not millennia, hedgehogs are quite new as pets. Much is not known about them.
Even less is popularly known, which is where the problem begins for many young hedgehogs bought in a store because someone though “OMG how ADORABLE!” and just had to have this darling lil creature.
The vast majority of us have had cats and dogs, proper husbandry is virtually common knowledge, this is not so with hedgehogs.
Far too many people see this darling baby hedgehog (which is not being correctly caged if you CAN see him or her in the first place) and just have to have it.
So they pay the money (and immediately start scrimping on the cage and requisite furnishings) take it home and watch it scamper into its hidey hut for the rest of the day. The young hedgies owners first reaction? “Oh how exciting is this, she sleeps all day and won’t let me cuddle her”.
I can personally attest to one case where a theoretically responsible parent catered to a childs whimsies and purchased a baby hedgehog in a pet store, took her home with a 10 gallon fish tank for a cage and within a week the novelty wore off and the child lost interest.
Inevitably the cycle of neglect set in and the young hedgehog was relegated to the corner of a shelf and (quite literally) left to rot. I’ll spare you the graphic details, suffice it to say the theoretically responsible parents were far less than responsible.
Did I mention I’m a rescuer (or did you come to that conclusion without being told?). I’ve seen these neglect cases, and the abuse cases. I’ve taken them into my home and rebuilt their shattered lives as best I could, committed many hours a day and night working to give them some quality of life for however long they have left in this world.
And far too many times in far too few years, I’ve made that heartbreaking trip to the vet clinic and cupped them gently in my hands as they Crossed into the Rainbow Garden.
Please, research their needs and educate yourself before bringing a hedgehog home. They’re not a difficult project if you’re put the time in and meet their needs. Like any other pet, the more time and love you give them, the more you’ll get back from them.
And please, if the bond between you this creature isn’t working like you wanted, if they’re not the pet for you or if your circumstances change and you can no longer properly provide for them, surrender them to a knowledgeable caretaker or rescuer.
Finding a knowledgeable home for your pet hedgehog is easier than many seem to realize. Go to the internet and gpogle ‘ hedgehog rescue ‘, on page 1 there’s a very excellent facility in Colorado run by perhaps the most hedgehog knowledgeable man on the planet (that would be my opinion) with more hands on hedgehog experience than anyone I know, and with direct access to a vast network of Rescue Angels ideally suited to take in and provide quality lifetime care for a hedgehog based on its unique circumstances and needs.
Sooner, rather than later.
Hedgie babies are adorable! I used to have one myself, and actually, one shouldn’t wear gloves to hold them. It actually hurts the bonding process. My hedgehog rode around in my tucked in shirt, right next to my bare skin, when she wanted to be next to me and I had my hands busy doing something else. It didn’t bother me at all. The only time they are pokey is when their quills are raised in self defense, and even then, one doesn’t need gloves. They are softer then people think 🙂 Thanks for the pic!!!! Love it!
Actually hedgehogs have come a LONG ways as a pet. I raise them and have never, ever used gloves with one. Now that people raise them in their own homes they can be very friendly and fun as a pet. :o)
It sounds like your mother was given some very, very bad advice on how to handle hedgehogs. No one who knows better ever uses gloves! If someone only handled me with gloves, I would be prickly and grumpy too. I have never used gloves with any of my herd and I have never had a problem, and yes, I am a hedgehog breeder and friendly babies are the goal of any decent breeder. As for making stupid pets, I have to completely disagree! Hedgehogs, unlike dogs or cats, do not just love on anyone who approaches them or feeds them. You have to first earn a hedgehog’s trust, which is one of the things I love about them. They easily pick up on emotions and if you think they’re stupid, I’m certain they were able to pick that up from you. What animal (or person) is going to warm up to someone who thinks they are stupid? It sounds like both you and the hedgehogs are better off if you stick with a pet such as a dog or cat, they are much more forgiving and would be easier for you to take care of.
I’m sorry you’ve had a negative experience with hedgehogs in the past, but not all hedgehogs are like that. I have a hedgehog and while she does puff and get prickly for a time toward new people, I have never had to pick her up with gloves. Perhaps part of the reason your mother’s hedgehog was that way was because she didn’t properly handle her. Hedgehogs are actually wonderful, not stupid, pets.