The hedgehogs you’ll find for sale at your local pet shop are the African Pygmy hedgehog, also known as the Four-toed hedgehog. The African Pygmy hedgehog is, as you probably guessed, native to Africa. Hedgehogs are a newer exotic animal that people are keeping as pets. With their growing popularity, more and more people are interested in these cute-looking creatures. But, are hedgehogs good pets for kids?
The hedgehog is very energetic. When in the wild, they will travel long distances looking for food. They are omnivores, eating a wide range of foods. Hedgehogs will eat venomous snakes, spiders, and scorpions because many toxins do not affect them. They make adorable little noises, like grunting, huffing, chuffing.
A hedgehog will even scream if it feels it’s in danger. Hedgehogs have around 5000 quills on their back which it uses as a defense mechanism against predators. Hedgehogs are one of the oldest mammals on earth.
Okay, so we know they are cute, and clearly unique but do they make good pets for kids or not? Let’s find out!
Are hedgehogs good pets for kids?
Hedgehogs do not make good pets for kids because they have habits and characteristics that make them less than ideal for a child. Hedgehogs are adorable and Instagram’s famous hedgehog we have all come to adore as Mr. Pokee makes hedgehogs look like an excellent pet for kids.
But the truth is that they aren’t very affectionate, they’re messy, need regular bathing, and their quills make adults leary, let alone kids. They are quills, after all, and they do hurt. Hedgehogs are also illegal in numerous states.
How hard is it to keep a hedgehog as a pet?
It’s not extremely difficult to keep a hedgehog as a pet, you just need to clean them regularly and take care of them properly. However, this responsibility comes with any pet.
Hedgehogs require at least 4 square feet of space, food, kibble with fresh fruits and insects offered regularly. You will need a wheel, hides, and bedding. They don’t play much, so lots of toys are not necessary. Hedgehogs require warmth. If the room is not between 72-80 degrees, you will need to invest in a heat source.
Hedgehogs do poop while they run, this is natural for them, so their wheel will become very messy, as will they. This is the main reason for the frequent baths and cage cleaning.
They are not very social, so they don’t require more than a half hour to an hour a day of your time holding them. Most Hedgehogs would much rather explore.
Pros and cons of hedgehogs as pets
Hedgehog pet pros:
- They are happy to keep to themselves and don’t need a whole lot of one on one. This works in your favor if you have a busy schedule.
- Hedgehogs are low maintenance.
- Have I mentioned they’re seriously cute?
- They are inexpensive compared to other pets.
- African Pygmy hedgehogs can be neat to watch.
Hedgehog pet Cons:
- They are nocturnal, so they are noisy at night, which isn’t much of a problem until they use their wheel. Which can be a lot. So they wouldn’t work well in a child’s room.
- They have quills. Quills make them harder to handle at times, not as easy to cuddle like other animals. Quills can hurt, especially if they are grumpy.
- They are not social. If you are hoping for an animal that wants to be with you and shows affection, hedgehogs might not be a good fit.
- They are messy, regular cleanings for them, and their wheels are needed.
- Hedgehogs do carry salmonella, small children are more at risk due to their underdeveloped immune systems.
- Hedgehogs are illegal in multiple states.
- They live 4-7 years. They are a long-term commitment.
- Exotic vet prices, because they are exotic, their vet bills can be expensive.
- Hedgie hives, Yes, it’s a real thing. Due to a hedgehog’s waste and saliva, their quills can cause a rash if they puncture the top layers of skin. Hedgie hives will usually go away when washed.
- They do need a decent amount of space, more than some other pets.
Do hedgehogs bite?
Hedgehogs, like most animals, can and will bite. They, however, don’t have a hard bite and won’t typically go out of their way to bite their owner.
Do hedgehogs like to be petted?
Hedgehogs are not social animals, and many don’t like to be petted, but others do warm up to human affection and allow you to pet them.
Do hedgehogs like to cuddle?
Hedgehogs are not very affectionate, and most in captivity do not feel the urge to cuddle with their owners or seek out affection.
That’s not to say all hedgehogs are like this. Through lots of patience, time, and dedication, hedgehogs have come around to enjoying and seeking out affection from their owners.
Do hedgehogs love their owners?
Hedgehogs are naturally shy animals. Warming up to their owners takes time, but when they do, they can form a bond. Completely trusting their owners and will show and enjoy affection.
Do hedgehogs shoot quills?
It is a common misconception that the African pygmy hedgehog can shoot quills. When it is afraid or angry, they’ll tense up, and their quills will stand straight up, making them very pointy. They will then roll into a ball, and if they are feeling extra feisty or defensive they will jump, trying to jab quills into a predator, but they can not shoot their quills.
Are hedgehogs rodents?
Hedgehogs are not rodents nor porcupines. Hedgehogs are mammals and are actually more closely related to shrews and moles.
Other starter pets for kids
A list of a few good starter pets for kids are:
- Guinea pigs
Hedgehogs are appealing. With their cute little noses, and sweet little paws, they are almost irresistible! Hedgehogs, though, being as cute as they are, are just not ideal for children. Children typically want to play and cuddle their pets, and hedgehogs are really not capable of that kind of affection, at least not without lots and lots of time and patience.