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ARE HEDGEHOGS INTELLIGENT?

THE ANSWER USUALLY GIVEN TO THIS QUESTION IS, “NOT VERY”

The hedgehog is a primitive animal and has remained largely unchanged since the first hedgehogs rolled off the assembly line some 15 million years ago. This is due largely in part to a hedgehog’s way of life – for example, having an abundant and readily available food supply – does not demand the sophisticated mental and physical skills that are required by, for example, a tiger.

• Hedgehogs may learn certain  behaviors through positive reinforcement or conditioning but only at a very basic level.

• We strongly believe that hedgehog personality is shaped and molded through owner interaction.

• Proper handling and consideration of the hedgehog’s needs is critical to the successful socialization and bonding as well as enjoyable pet ownership for both you and your new pet.

• It is common for people to notice a personality “change” in their hedgehog once it reaches its new home. This is generally due to stress from changing environments and is nothing to be worried abut. You will need to be patient, and keep working with your new pet by providing at least one hour of handling time each day.

POSITIVE ASPECTS OF HEDGEHOG OWNERSHIP

PROS INCLUDE:

• Hedgies are relatively quiet, but they occasionally make a cute purring noise. If you live in an apartment, you’ll won’t have to worry about your pet making too much noise.

• Hedgehogs enjoy some daily gentle interaction with their human companions, but they typically prefer to be on their own. Plan to spend about an hour a day with your pet to keep him/her tame.

• Hedgehogs don’t need to go for a walk like dogs do. Providing your pet with an exercise wheel goes a long way toward meeting his/her exercise requirements.

• Hedgehogs are awake on and off through the day and night, so it doesn’t matter which shift you work. You’ll be able to interact with your pet.

• Their quills don’t hurt if you handle your pet gently and carefully. However, baby quills are typically sharper than adult quills. When hedgehogs shed their old quills and get new ones, it’s known as “quilling.”

• Hedgehogs don’t need a huge cage, but they do need enough room to move around in comfortably. This is another point that makes them good candidates for apartment living.

• These creatures don’t carry as much body odor as other small pets such as ferrets and other small animals. If you keep your pet’s cage clean, smell shouldn’t be an issue. If you hedgehog does develop an odor, it may be wise to consult your vet because this might be a sign of illness.

NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF HEDGEHOG OWNERSHIP

CONS INCLUDE:

• Generally speaking, hedgehogs must be kept separately because they tend to fight when housed together, especially the males, who will fight to the death. This means separate cages if you want to keep more than one, which increases the space you’ll need, as well as extra time spent cleaning your pets’ environments.

• Hedgehogs need out-of-cage time for foraging, one of their natural activities. This means you’ll have to set up a separate, safe area for your pet. You’ll also have to plan on cleaning up the droppings he/she leaves behind as they scurry around.

• Extra care must be taken when being handled by small children as hedgehogs can be hurt easily if dropped from unsafe heights

• The quills can give a poke if the pet is handled roughly or is petted against the way the quills naturally grow.

MAINTENANCE REQUIREMENTS

HEDGEHOGS THEMSELVES ARE NATURALLY VERY LOW MAINTENANCE

• Hedgehogs require very little from caregivers. Fresh food and water and regular cage cleaning are the basic requirements.

• Most hedgehogs are neat about their elimination habits and most will use a littler pan if provided.

• While being relatively easy to take care of, it’s important that you do not neglect the care of your hedgehog as it can become problematic if not addressed in a timely manner.

• Most hedgehogs clean themselves through a process of licking, scratching, and shaking and if provided, most will take a “dust bath” just like their wild counterparts.

• Some hedgehogs do require additional bathing if they accumulate feces on their feet and quills as this can cause illness.

BASIC DIET

HEDGEHOGS DO BEST ON A GRAIN FREE, HIGH PROTEIN DIET

• In the wild African Pygmy Hedgehogs are insectivores, but they are also opportunistic and have been known to feed on dead animals, birds eggs, and any lizards, snakes or other small animals they should happen to catch.

• In the past, cat foods were the only food available for captive hedgehogs. Advances have been made in the knowledge and understanding of hedgehog nutrition. Please refer to our Nutrition Staples section for further guidance.

• Many commercial hedgehog foods have become available, but they are not all equal in nutritional value or ingredient quality and generally should be avoided. Unfortunately some foods marketed as hedgehog foods are quite inappropriate as a staple diet and are more often than not a refined Guinea Pig food.

CHARACTERISTICS OF GREAT HEDGEHOG OWNERS

KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HEDGEHOGS

Knowledgeable about hedgehogs – the more you know about hedgehogs the better prepared you will be to take care of them and understand their needs

Patient – hedgehogs are shy by nature and will depend on your patience as they learn to trust you.

Observant – your hedgehog is going to depend on you for all of their needs.

Financially responsible – hedgehogs aren’t cheap and they are most likely going to require veterinary care at some point in their life as well as quality food and supplies.

Thick Skinned – hedgehog quills are sharp and they can poke you! This is something that every hedgehog owner deals with on a daily basis and is certainly not for everyone.

Gentle – you must be gently with hedgehogs if you want them to trust you.

Accepting – you must be willing to accept what your hedgehog has to offer. It will most likely never follow commands or do tricks but its unique habits and the affection it may share can make them quite charming.

YOUTH AS HEDGEHOG OWNERS

KIDS CAN MAKE GREAT HEDGEHOG OWNERS

• Almost every parent who has ever contacted us about a hedgehog as a pet for their child has said that they have the sweetest most patient child. While this may be true, a hedgehog may still not be the right pet for every family.

• We’ve found that hedgehogs do well in families where the hedgehog is a family pet and adults are closely involved in daily hedgehog care.

• You must monitor your hedgehogs eating, activity levels, temperature, and health every day.

• Many children’s interest in hedgehogs can fade over time as their attention is focused on after school activities and other interests. It is best to have another family member who is willing to care for the hedgehog, should the primary owner no longer be able to give their pet the attention he/she needs.

• While most hedgehogs remain relatively healthy and require very little veterinary care throughout their lifetime, veterinary costs can become quite expensive just as they could with any pet. You shouldn’t expect your child to be wholly responsible for future financial needs.

HEDGEHOGS AS CLASSROOM PETS

HEDGEHOGS CAN MAKE GREAT CLASSROOM PETS UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS

• The most important point is that the primary care giver meets and understands all the requirements and guidelines for having a hedgehog as a pet.

• Not all hedgehogs are good candidates for classroom living and the primary caregiver should be willing and excited to have the hedgehog as a pet if it doesn’t work out in the classroom.

HEDGEHOGS & OTHER PETS

IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOU PROVIDE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR EACH PET

• The compatibility between pets will depend on each pet’s personality.

• All pet interactions should be closely monitored to ensure the safety of each animal.

• Cats and dogs that are “hunters” as well as “guard dogs” may not do well with your hedgehog. Your hedgehog should not be a toy for your other pets. You should not allow your pets to scare or intimidate your hedgehog as it can damage their trust in you and cause undue stress to both animals.

• The average cat or dog will quickly gain respect for your hedgehog when their curious noses get poked.

• Your hedgehogs’ ability to huff and puff may be enough to keep the other pets at a safe distance.

• Some hedgehogs may develop bonds with other pets and even sleep and play together.

ZOONOTIC DISEASES

ZOONOTIC DISEASE IS A DISEASE THAT CAN BE PASSED BETWEEN ANIMALS AND HUMANS

• These diseases are very common and any animal has the potential to transmit illness to humans, just like humans can spread contagious diseases to other humans.

• Hedgehogs are not known to carry any diseases dangerous to humans.

• However, hedgehogs do have different normal flora than humans carry, so young children, the elderly, and others with compromised immune systems are at greater risk for potential problems.

• Proper hand washing and sanitation is key to preventing illness.

• Hedgehogs are cute and cuddly, but it’s important to always weigh the risks.

LEGALITY

AS OF APRIL 2016, HEDGEHOGS ARE RESTRICTED OR ILLEGAL IN THE FOLLOWING STATE AND JURISDICTIONS

California – Hedgehogs are illegal in the entire state of California. California has a law that deems all animals not specifically listed as legal under State law as being illegal by default. Until such time as California’s Department of Fish and Game is willing to consider hedgehogs for legal status, they will continue to be considered contraband pets and may be confiscated and either moved out of state or destroyed.

Georgia – For some time the State of Georgia was unclear on their attitude toward hedgehogs.  Unfortunately, recent clarification has deemed them illegal. It seems they are concerned that escaped pet animals may set up a resident wild population. Oddly enough, licensed breeders are allowed, but any hedgehogs sold as pets must be shipped out of state.

Hawaii – Due to the risk of hedgehogs being capable of surviving in the wilds of these Pacific islands, hedgehogs are illegal throughout the state and are confiscated whenever they are found.

Pennsylvania – A very unfortunate political battle has developed within the State of Pennsylvania making hedgehogs illegal to the point where threats have been made against even the transport of hedgehogs through the state on the way to another state.   All of this is the result of an initial (and unusual) law established in the 1990’s. Under that law, hedgehogs within the state were legal, but it was illegal to import fresh bloodlines into the state. A few breeders violated that law resulting in the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) declaring all out war on all hedgehogs within the state. Breeder’s homes have been raided and their hedgehogs confiscated with all of the zeal of a major drug bust. Suffice it to say, owning a hedgehog in Pennsylvania under the draconian rule of PGC is extremely dangerous for both owner and hedgehog.

The Five Burroughs of New York City – Hedgehog ownership is illegal in the five boroughs on New York City. Those caught with animals could face legal action and repossession of their animals.

MAKING YOUR PURCHASE

WE STRONGLY BELIEVE THAT BUYING YOUR HEDGEHOG FROM A REPUTABLE SOURCE AND GETTING THE RIGHT HANDLING INSTRUCTIONS ARE CRITICAL TO THE HAPPINESS AND SUCCESS OF YOU AND YOUR NEW PET

The Purchasing a Hedgehog guide includes the following topics:

• Where to Purchase

• What to Look for When You Buy

• Why are Hedgehogs Difficult To Find

• Why are Hedgehogs Expensive

• Selection of Your New Hedgehog

• Rescuing and Animal in Poor Conditions

Our Wiki includes the following topics:

• What Granite State Hedgehogs Has To Offer

• About Our Hedgehogs

• What To Expect When You Come To Our Facility

• Making An Appointment

• What To Expect When You Meet Us At A Show

• Preparing For Your New Hedgehogs Purchase From Granite State Hedgehogs