The hedgehog as a pet
The hedgehog is a small, thorn-covered mammal that grows in Europe, Asia and Africa. There are 16 different species of hedgehogs but in captivity the most frequent is the eared hedgehog or the African pygmy hedgehog . They are nocturnal animals and feed mainly on insects. They are not difficult to maintain and take care of but we must inform ourselves because they need some special care for the physical characteristics they present.
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It is not an animal that we find in ordinary stores, it is considered an exotic animal, but recently many people decide to have a hedgehog as a pet . If you want to know more about this animal, then keep reading this article by YourCatCareguide.
The hedgehog in freedom
Hedgehogs stand out by their spines and holes filled with keratin. These are not venomous or sharp (they still cause pain) and can go away in youth or in times of stress. If they feel threatened, they are able to curl up on themselves forming a ball of thorns, that will depend on their survival.
They measure between 10 and 15 cm and can weigh 400 grams. Most of the day they sleepbetween the grass or in their lair, where they are protected. During certain seasons suffer from lethargy, depending on the climate and the resources available in your area: hibernate or were. They have five fingers with sharp nails that allow them to dig to get food on the ground, mainly eat insects . They smell without stopping.
They communicate with a wide variety of sounds: from grunts to screams. They are sensitive to jerky movements and sounds, which makes them vulnerable and resorting to their thorns to protect themselves by taking a quick breath until they feel that the dangerous has disappeared.
They perform a ritual or custom known as anointed . When they perceive a new smell, they go there to bite and smell, leave the object covered with saliva with the tongue, it is unknown why this behavior.
Hedgehog Basic Care
To know the sex of the hedgehog we can observe the lower belly, there you will find two small testicles if it is a male or nothing if it is a female. It is not advisable for your health to grow in a home.
The hedgehog can coexist properly with other pets as is the case with dogs and cats, although it is a solitary animal . It will require room to move around since it costs you to adapt to enclosed places. For this, it is important that you socialize your pet since you are a baby. Despite being a shy animal has a good character.
They need a temperature of between 25ºC and 27ºC so in winter it is essential to have individual heating for it, otherwise they may overwinter, something totally inadvisable. They prefer dim environments.
Your hedgehog will need a cage where you can hide , at least 1.5 meters, that contains some material that absorbs their waste (for greater hygiene). It must provide you with a refuge of at least 14 x 26 cm. It is not advisable to have any type of fabric since it would be very easy to curl up with the yarn. Instead you can put kitchen paper that will rip and use properly. It is also good that you provide him with some soil so that he can dig as in nature.
During the night you should leave it indoors or in a room in a supervised manner and you should also make sure that it has a large wheel (at least 30 cm in diameter) like the hamsters, to exercise as need.
You do not need to bathe but it is important to disinfect your environment to avoid disease.
Another of the basic care of a hedgehog is food . It is preferable to give him food in the afternoon. It can give you food for insectivorous mammals (low in fat) or specific for hedgehogs (you can already find it in some pet stores). You should monitor your dose well as you tend to gain weight. It is very important that you offer insects , fruits and vegetables.
To get it, you should use a kitchen glove and let the scent first so you can recognize it bit by bit. They can live up to 8 years.
Common Hedgehog Diseases
Among the most common diseases that affect hedgehogs we can find the following:
- Dry skin : They may even lose the spines, and in this case you should moisturize it with liquid Vaseline.
- Mites, ticks and fleas : You should pass an insecticide on the back where you can not lick. In addition, the whole area of the hedgehog should be sanitized.
- Fungi : The vet will make you a shave and will advise you of the appropriate treatment to follow.
- Cracked Ears : This can occur due to a mite or fungus problem, once solved the main problem, can moisturize the ears with cocoa butter.
- Diarrhea : Usually greenish in color. It can be a consequence of a feeding. You should give him water to avoid dehydration. If the problem persists you should go to the vet.
- Vomiting : Not common, it can happen due to some displacement in the car. It should give you water to avoid dehydration. If the problem continues, you should go to the vet because it may be a gastrointestinal problem.
- Obesity : It is a serious problem, needs a good prevention with a balanced and adequate diet. You should always consult your veterinarian.
- Cold : It is a common problem, it should raise the temperature of your heating about two degrees and in extreme cases go with it to the vet.
All these problems should be solved in a veterinarian since it is an exotic and very sensitive animal. In addition to these diseases, the hedgehog may suffer from others, we usually talk about unusual or very rare problems such as urticarial conjunctivitis and even cancer.
Where can I adopt a hedgehog?
- Private individuals : We do not recommend that you purchase a hedgehog through a private individual. In this case he is unaware of the treatment that the animal received with his previous owner, if he has treated him improperly can find a heinous and even aggressive hedgehog. There will be no sanitary guarantees to ensure that the animal is healthy and in perfect condition and can suffer great stress if it is an adult. This can lead to the most common diseases.
- Pet Stores : The vast majority of pet stores are not used to it and do not always have the right knowledge to offer you. For this reason, you can not always be sure to adopt a healthy and well-kept copy. In addition, it may be encouraging animal trafficking.
- Professional breeders of hedgehogs : They are the experts and, in this type of sites, as a general rule, know the animal perfectly since they are specialized in their creation and care. It is the best place to receive advice about your care and also has the advantage that you can choose the one you like most depending on their color, age or even behavior. Nevertheless, it will be encouraging the breeding of animals that often have a sad result.
- Animal care centers : It is the best option of all. Many people adopt hedgehogs without knowing what their behavior is and soon abandon them. Shelters and exotic animal shelters are undoubtedly the best place to adopt a hedgehog and take care of it as no one else has done before.
As we explained before, the hedgehog is a solitary and crepuscular animal . You should not expect him to go all over the house like a dog or look for affection as steadily as a rodent could, remember that it is a hedgehog.
You should play and relate to him in the late afternoon and first thing in the morning, which is when he is most active. You can try to earn their trust by offering them small worms or small portions of fruit, which is something they like a lot. The first few weeks, even months, should stir your hedgehog with gloves since their thorns are quite painful and usually make a ball in the face of mistrust.
It is normal for you to move in an agitated way, to give small sneezing and to wiggle your nose without stopping, however, you should make sure that you are always at a suitable temperature.
Not all hedgehogs will be sociable pets, there will be some who will always be afraid of the humans with whom they live. You should have this very clear point before you adopt one. The abandonment of animals usually happens because people do not have this point clear.
If you want to see more items the rest of the article will be open to you as a pet . We recommend you to enter our section of What you need to know .