Animal-World’s Featured Pet of the Week: The African Pygmy Hedgehog!

February 17, 2013 by  
Filed under Catch All, Featured Pets, Small Pets

The African Pygmy Hedgehog

Animal-World’s Featured Pet for this week is: The African Pygmy Hedgehog!

I decided to talk about a pet that is a little more on the exotic side this week. The African Pygmy Hedgehog! Many people who have owned these little critters will give you glowing recommendations of how great they are to keep as pets! While we did not carry Hedgehogs in the pet store I worked at, I did have a friend who owned one. I was able to regularly see and interact with her hedgehog named Dizzy! Dizzy was almost always asleep when I came to visit. This is because Hedgehogs are nocturnal. Sometimes my friend would wake Dizzy up just so I could hold her, and she would act very sleepy until she was allowed to go back and rest!

The African Pygmy Hedgehog Atelerix albiventris, is a small animal that can fit easily inside of an adults palm. They don’t make much noise or cause much odor. As long as you hold them regularly they will be unafraid and friendly towards you. They are a good pet for adults and children who are responsible. If you are a very busy person, a Hedgehog can be a great pet because they don’t need much attention. You can work or be out all day and not worry about them being lonely. They are solitary creatures in their natural habitats and only become active at night. They don’t need a huge environment or a lot of room to roam in, which makes them appeal to apartment dwellers as well.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are part of the Erinaceidae family, which is the oldest living insectivore family. Yes, Hedgehogs are insectivores, not rodents. However they do not only eat insects. They will also eat many fruits, vegetables and sometimes even frogs or snakes or bird eggs. Their natural habitats are located in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Their preferred environments are fields, woods, hedgerows and gardens or farms. Although they are not native to North America, they were imported regularly until 1990, when importation of Hedgehogs was banned. Because of this ban, people came together to form the North American Hedgehog Association (NAHA). This organization was dedicated to the continued breeding and keeping healthy of Hedgehogs in North America.

Housing your African Pygmy Hedgehog is simple. They can be provided with a relatively small enclosure (with no wire bottoms) about the size of a rabbit cage. They love to have a regular place to sleep and “hide” so a sleeping hut or other cave type hiding place is a must! They will not feel at home or feel very comfortable without one! Provide bedding on the floor of the enclosure. Many Hedgehogs can be litter-box trained, so you may want to provide a litter box as well. Change out the bedding and thoroughly clean out the cage at least once a week to keep your Hedgehog’s home healthy. If you would like to keep more than one Hedgehog, it is best to keep two females in a large cage and to give them separate sleeping huts. Two males are much more likely to fight. Remember that in the wild Hedgehogs are solitary animals!

The care and feeding of domesticated African Pygmy Hedgehogs is also fairly simple. As a base, it is best to offer them a commercially prepared Hedgehog food, to ensure they are getting proper nutrition. In addition to this you can offer them small amounts of fresh vegetables, fruits, and insects such as crickets and mealworms. They need fresh water daily too, and the best way you can provide this is with a water bottle.

The African Pygmy Hedghog is available almost everywhere in the United Sates. Some places require you to have a permit to own them, and they are illegal in California and Arizona.

Here is some additional information on Breeding Hedgehogs and on Common Hedgehog Health Problems. If you have more specific questions or concerns regarding these topics, these are good places to start.

Has anyone reading this owned an African Pygmy Hedgehog or had experience with them before? If so what do you think about them? Would you recommend them as a pet?

Thanks for reading!

Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.

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