SELECTING A HEDGEHOG:
So you think a hedgehog is the pet for you?
READ THE FACTOIDS BELOW AND SEE IF ONE FITS YOUR OWNER NEEDS:
Now that you have a BRIEF outline of HEDGEHOG FACTS...if you can feel comfortable with ALL of the above factors...then a HEDGEHOG may be the RIGHT pet for you!!! Search more below for additional HEDGEHOG FACTOIDS to assist in your decision making process...
1. LEGAL MATTERS:
* It is important to ensure that owning a hedgehog is legal in your State. The state of MINNESOTA allows hedgehogs to be purchased and owned at this time. Before you purchase one in your state, check with the North American Hedgehog Association (NAHA) for more information.
* List of ILLEGAL States to OWN a Hedgehog: I will NOT sell to individuals residing in these states.
2. WHERE TO PURCHASE:
|* Breeders vs. Pet Store:
Search for "Small Scale" breeders, anyone with large populations of hedgehogs, most likely has less time to spend with each one. Not only is time a matter of concern, but caring for each hedgehog also can be at risk. Be sure, even though large scale breeders have hedgehogs available more often, this does NOT mean the QUALITY is there (Quantity vs. Quality). In the instance of owning a hedgehog, QUALITY is very important since they are NEWER PETS on the market, and their temperaments are NOT GUARANTEED to be GOOD. GOOD TEMPERAMENTS require TIME with EACH HEDGEHOG.
The premised should be clean, especially the cages in which the hedgehogs are being housed. Small sized cages, shared cages, Cracked food or water containers, food containers that are nearly empty, excessively dirty cage floors, the absence of a nest house/box, or cramped in spaces for the cages all indicate a seller who is not caring correctly for their stock.
* Gender Requirements:
If hedgehogs are of selling age and opposite sexes are housed in the same cage, this is very bad management. Many pet owners have obtained youngsters only to find themselves presented with a litter of unwanted babies within two to three weeks of being an owner.
If the breeder or store assistant cannot tell you the sex of a hedgehog, ask if anyone can help you. This is critical to know which gender the hedgie may be, and if someone is not able to inform you of this, I would be wary of purchasing one from them.
The hedgehog's temperament must be good. When a young hedgehog is first lifted from it's cage, it will either remain in a relaxed position, meaning "non-defensive" or it will curl into a ball "defensive". The former is ideal. This indicates that the pet is well bonded to humans. However, if it does curl into a ball, don't fret, as long as it uncurls within a few moments. If it remains in a ball, this typically means that it has not been handled as much as it should have been to be well bonded to humans or it may have a nervous disposition. The first situation will easily improve with some work, the second will be more difficult proposition. How will you know the case, the answer is that you will not until it "is too late". The best answer is to leave no doubt in your mind about the disposition, staying away from temperamental hedgies.
Seek out information about USDA Licensure. Breeders that breed 3 or less hedgehogs, do NOT need a licensure in most states. If they are breeding more than this number, seek out information about licensure (they need to pass certain stipulations prior to being authorized to breed legally at such a high level).
3. HOW OLD?
|* Hedgehogs are best when obtained between the ages of 6-10 weeks of age. This is still young enough for a hedgehog to adapt to new environments and scents, without much difficulty. Most hedgehogs are weaned at 5-8 weeks, most of the time average of 6-7 weeks. This is an alright time to separate the babies from the mother, as long as they are eating solid foods of all sorts.|
|* Each gender makes a suitable pet. The main issues to seek out in a hedgehog, is temperament and health. If you seek out to obtain two hedgehogs, a combination of two females is the best choice; due to males typically fighting as they get older even if from the same litter. Two sows from the same litter can make great companions, providing company for each other :)|
Male: Belly Button Penis Female: Vagina In Rear
5. ASSESSING HEALTH:
|* You will use this knowledge in your day to day assessment of your hedgehog. The temperament is important for inspection of your hedgie, to ensure it is in good health. A pokey ball can be difficult to navigate for these purposes.
Before a physical check, watch your pet move around. There should be no signs of limping or other restriction. hedgehogs can move very quickly. Lameness may be due to minor sprain, a genetic deficiency, or a permanent or temporary problem with the leg joints. If it a temporary issue, the symptoms should clear up within a week or two. If this is apparent at all, if usually appears in youngsters prior to weaning age, so it should not be evident in the stock from which you are choosing. It is best not to take a chance with a lame individual.
* Assessment - What Meets the Eyes:
The eyes should be round and clear, neither bulging nor sunken. The ears are small and erect with no signs of scaling. The nose should be dry and moist, not running. Having said this, it does something happen that a very healthy youngster may have a somewhat wet nose. However, the nose should not be dripping, and the nostrils should not be swollen. All other aspects of the pet should be checked out as sound.
The anal region should be clean, with no signs of swelling , congealed fecal matter, or staining, which would suggest diarrhea. Carefully inspect the underbelly and facial fur for any sings of parasites - mites are most common, especially during hot weather. Also check the base of the spines. It is here that mite action will evidence itself. The spines might also be falling out. There should be no signs of bald spots, reddened skin areas, missing spines, or swellings or abrasions anywhere on the body.
6. HEDGEHOG BEHAVIOR:
Hedgehogs are largely nocturnal animals, hiding during the day under fallen logs, among tree roots, rocks, or in burrows. They prefer a dry shelter, and may sleep either stretched out or curled up in a typical ball. They make the burrows using their front paw and kicking the dirt behind them with lateral strokes. Strong claws make it possible to gain a hold on walls or fences (they can climb out of cages). If you sit quietly in a natural setting around dusk, you will first see the sharp, quivering, inquisitive snout emergin from the leaves (on top of burrow), followed by, if the coast is clear, by the rest of the prickly body.
When leaving a burrow at dusk, the hedgehog is always extremely hungry, and goes off hurriedly and noisily in search of prey. It has its own well-defined routes, an dknows every inch of its territory, which it will have patrolled since its youth.
* Juvenline Behavior:
When a young hedgehog first leaves its next, it gets to know its new surroundings in two different ways. First the mother takes the young out in search of food. One sometimes sees a mother with a whole procession of little hedgehogs in tow, but the individual hedgehogs soon want to go out on thier own. At first they stay close to the nest, to get oriented with the surroundings, noses snuffling close to the ground. They will continue to explore further, until they become more accustomed with the area.
* Hibernation and Aestavation:
Hedgehogs, when in the wild, will hibernate in the winter months (when cold). The hedgehog will go into hibernation when little or no food is available. This may be due to the dramatic reduction in the metabolic rate. This is not a conscious state; the animal does wake periodically though. The average normal body temperature of the European Hedgehog is 95.5 F, during hibernation the temperature drops down to 42.8 to 50.5 F, the breathing and pulse rate drop dramatically as well. During hibernation, the hedgehog has few defensive mechanisms. It remains sensitive to sound and touch in the area of the head, but it is so sluggish that it cannot respond adequately to attack.
* Spines and Defensive Behavior:
Hedgehogs have a back full of quills/spines. When the hedgehog is foraging, the spines are laid back and relaxed. When danger or threats are present, or when sudden sharp noise is heard, the animal rolls itself into a ball so that the head and limbs are hidden under the body. The spine, at this time, are basically hollow, stiff hairs, that stand out erect. The spines are very stiff and sharp at this time.
Hedgehogs have various sounds that they will emit and an excellent sense of hearing. High frequency, whistling noises provoke shock reaction, and should be avoided. The tinkling of glass, the flicking of light switches, the sometimes unusual tones from the radio and television, even the clucking of the tongue - are all sounds that the hedgehog cannot abide (even if tame).
The hedgehog itself makes a few sounds as well.
Hedgehogs need exercise. They are very active animals and very inquisitive. If they do not get exercise, they will become physically crippled, by staying in the same, small cage for too long. You can obtain wheels, for evening exercise; but it is also very important to get your hedgehog out of the cage daily. Let it either run around in an enclosed area (I have a play pen and carpet laid underneath it for "accidents"), or let it run around your house. You can allow it to roam outside, be cautious of "runaway" hedgehogs or chances of illness/bugs being more available outdoors.
* Banishing Boredom:
Hedgehogs are naturally active animals, thus needing to remain active in order to stay healthy. One that just gets food and drink will become lazy, fat, and eventually infirm. A hedgehog with nothing to do, will eventually become lazy, restless, and feel sorry for itself, then eventually become indifferent.
When alarmed, or if unaccustomed to your scent, a hedgehog can suddenly, and painfully bite. And not only on your hand, but also on your ankles or foot. Biting can be a sign of fear, of defensiveness, or of being hungry. A good indicator that your hedgehog might bite you, is they typically will lick you first (espeically if your scent is unfamiliar). One of my mother hedgehogs does this consistently with me, she will begin to lick me, but I do not allow her to continue to do this. She is very very curious, and likes new scents, usually annointing herself afterwards. If I were to allow her to continue to lick, it is natural for hedgehogs to use their teeth as well when becoming accustomed to new scents, and she would most likely bite me. This would not be out of anything, but curiosity. I have not been bitten by any of my hedgehogs to this date, due to being aware of warning signs that might lead to biting (all animals lick and prepare prey, before biting and killing it). Hedgehogs are "wild animals" in many instances, they have been "captive" as pets for only a few decades, thus still having a lot of the instincts still engrained. In the instance that your hedgehog does bite you, the time that it takes for the hedgehog to let go, is the sign of animal temperament it has. If it holds on and bites tightly down, this is not a good sign. In this instance, you SHOULD NOT try to shake it off because that will only encourage the animal to hang on all the more. Hedgehogs are insectivores, and once an invertebrate victim is caught in the mouth, it is held tightly until the prey is exhausted. However unpleasant it might be to have a hedgehog biting you, struggling only makes it worse, if it did not let go right away. This is just the way it is. Use your brain and watch for signs, to prevent being bitten. If the hedgehog starts to lick you, don't let it continue to do that behavior, before it is too late!!!
* Self- Annointing:
If a hedgehog comes across a scent or unfamiliar smell, they will typically begin to lick and chew the object, during which a copious amount of frothy saliva is produced. Using it's long tongue, the hedgehog haunches over, and begins to spread the foam all over its spines. Various suggestions for this behavior involve: it cools the hedgehog off during warm weather, it is part of their self-defense, or it may aid in pest control.