Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Pygmy Hedgehog

Surprisingly, this is the picture you find in the dictionary for "cuteness."

Ever wish you could have a real life Pikachu? Or maybe you've always wanted to have Sonic the Hedgehog as your pet.

Well, the closest you'll get is with the pygmy hedgehog, also called "hedgies." While the pygmy can't run at supersonic speeds, and thankfully cannot volt tackle, it has cuteness in spades. Here's a brief profile on the newly domesticated pygmy hedgehog and all its exotic coolness:


The Romans first domesticated the hedgehog for an unusual purpose--needles. Using the hedgehog's quills, the ancient Romans prevented calves from suckling after it had been weaned. Hedgehogs were also used as food.

It was nearly 2,500 years later in the early 1980s that hedgehog domestication became popular in the United States. Fortunately for our spiky-haired friends, hedgehogs are no longer used for consumption purposes.

Hedgehogs still maintain some of their wild habits, including a fear of predators (especially us humans), but proper handling and affection at the early stages can help make for a long lasting and friendly relationship with your new pet.

Can Anyone Own a Pygmy Hedgehog?

"I can see my running wheel from up here."

Even while ownership of pygmy hedgehogs has grown in popularity, there are some states in the U.S. that do not allow them. These include:
  • California
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Nebraska
  • New York, New York
In some states like Arizona, you need a permit to obtain a hedgehog. While in others like Pennsylvania, the laws technically allow them but with some cloudy provisions. Hedgehogs cannot be imported into PA, but descendants of hedgehogs in state as of 1992 are allowed. Since it would be difficult to determine just how a hedgehog came to be in the state, they might as well be fully legal in PA.

Some places like Quebec, Canada and Australia ban the ownership of pygmy hedgehogs outright.

Eating Habits

A pygmy hedgehog will eat almost anything within reason, however they do not take well to dairy products. Herbivores by nature, they are known to eat things like: insects, chicken, turkey, vegetables, fruit, meal worms, and crickets. In the wild, they mainly eat insects, so it's probably best to stick with feeding them creepy crawlies.


Fun fact: Pygmy hedgehogs make good bankers.

Pygmy hedgehogs, like other members of the rodent family, are scavengers. They enjoy exercise, and require lots of space to run around and explore. If space is not available, use a wheel similar to what you would use with a hamster. Wire wheels are not safe for hedge hogs, so be sure to use a bucket wheel instead.

Keep in mind that hedgehogs have poor eyesight, and generally do not do well with heights. So, keep your hog safe on ground. Also, it's best not to use a cage with a wire bottom, as hedgehogs can easily get a leg trapped in between the bars.

10 Fast Facts about the super cute and fun pygmy hedgehog:

Fun fact #2: Hedgehogs love red shoes.

1.) When irritated, hedgehogs make grunting, popping noises. They're usually quiet as mice, but when handling them be sure to listen to see if they are getting aggravated in any way. A constantly stressed hedgie can develop illness over time.

2.) Hedgehogs produce very little dander. If you're allergic to cats and dogs, but still want a lovable pet, a pygmy hedgehog may be for you.

3.) The term "hedgehog" derived from Middle English around 1450. The term "heyg" or "hegge" mean hedge, and "hoge" or "hogge" indicate its pig-like snout.

4.) The hedgehog has a big family. There are 16 species of hedgehog all over the world in places like Europe, Asia, Africa and later they were introduced to New Zealand. They have changed little in heir 15 million year history, so a hedgehog you see today would look very similar, if not the same, to one you'd see during the Miocene Epoch.

5.) Hedgehogs are expensive, but are generally easy to obtain. Provided you live in a state that allows them, you can check out one of the breeders listed here to find the hedgehog of your choice.

6.) A baby hedgehog is called a hoglet.

7.) Hedgehogs are nature's exterminators. Have an insect problem in your house? A hedgehog will dutifully catch any insects it finds and use for snacks.

8.) Hedgehogs are affectionate. they will curl up in your hand and fall asleep, provided they trust in the first place. However, if scared, a hedgehog will roll into a tight ball leaving out just its spikes.

9.) In some parts of the Middle East, hedgehog meat is believed to be medicinal. Some believe it can cure diseases like rheumatism and even arthritis.

10.) There anywhere from 5,000 to 6,500 quills on the average hedgehog. These quills are made of keratin, which is the same stuff that makes up your fingernails.