The African Pygmy Hedgehog, once imported into this country as a
wild novelty pet, is now being domestically bred. By nature they are
solitary animals originating from central and western Africa. With
daily care and socialization they can be easily cared for friendly
The pygmy hedgehog; at first glance reminds one of a miniature
porcupine, to whom they have no relationship. Unlike the porcupine
they do not lose their quills and are actually insectivores as opposed to rodents.
Their closest relatives are the European hedgehogs which are significantly larger. The Pygmy only reaches
about six inches and will normally weigh up to one pound. The Hedgehog’s spines are modified hairs that are
stiff and prickly to provide protection. When threatened, they will tuck in their nose and tail presenting a virtual
spiked ball until danger passes. Pygmy hedgehogs are normally salt and pepper colored with cream colored
bellies. Several new color varieties are being developed including a pure silver, pure white, solid black, and
Pygmy hedgehogs will live six to ten years with good care and require no shots or special medical care.
However, they have one curious trait when presented with new situations or smells that may lead one to
believe something is amiss. This behavior, referred to as anting, entails the animal’s ability to salivate heavily
and rub this secretion on their spines, making themselves less desirable to a potential threat.
Pygmy hedgehogs prefer temperatures between 70 - 80 degrees, with cooler temperatures leading to torpor
(short form of hibernation). Commercial diets are now available. Our hedgehogs are fed Pretty Pets Hedgehog
Diet supplemented with an occasional insect (Mealworms, Giant Mealworms, or Crickets). Small amounts of
diced fresh fruit and vegetables will keep your pet in top condition.
Hedgehogs can become finicky eaters, sometimes refusing to accept diet changes to the point of starvation.
Once a proper regimen is established, it is best not to switch. Treats may be offered; including canned cat or
dog food, cottage cheese or scrambled egg on occasion.
The pet hedgehog is best housed in at least a 20 long gallon aquarium (30" x 12") with a screen to prevent
accidental escape. They should never be kept in wire bottom cages due to their foot structure. Water bottles
should be used to prevent soiling of the water supply, also a low sided water dish under it until you are sure
your hedgehog is using the water bottle.
A small, low sided food dish should be provided. Food and water must be changed daily. Ceder, aspen and
pine should not be used. A recycled newspaper bedding or corn cob pellets should be used as an absorbent
bedding. To provide security, we recommend a commercial hide such as a Habba Hut. This will also assist in
keeping their nails blunted. By nature they are meticulously clean animals and will use a small litter box with
absorbent litter if offered.
Avoid clay based cat litters due to respiratory issues associated with the dust. Bedding should be cleaned
at least weekly. Though females may be housed together if pups are not present, males must never be left
together as fighting will ensue.
There is no question that Pygmy hedgehogs lack the intellectual capacity of cats and dogs (in other words
they aren’t very bright). However, they do respond to gentle handling by their owners, and will learn to seek
them out, especially if given treats. When frightened by rough handling, they may vocalize with an assortment
of grunts, squeals, shorts, or sneezes, put their spines up or hop with their spines up as to afford a
warning to one’s hand, and may even nip.
Pygmy hedgehogs have very few medical problems, but several veterinarians in the area have some degree
of experience with them if assistance is required. The most common problem for hedgehogs is obesity (more
exercise and a lower fat diet). As with a dog or cat, your pet should be taken to your vet for an annual checkup
Monday - Friday
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|“The difference is
Black and White”
720 S Neil
Champaign, IL 61820
Sailfin Pet Shop, Inc.
720 S Neil
Champaign, IL 61820