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Things to bring for your hedgehog’s road trip

Yes, you can take your hedgehog to the family cabin, camping or even pet-friendly hotels.

 

Ginger went on her first weekend road trip before she was even fully grown. After the trip, I noticed she was more used to me and huffed and puffed less. Taking your hedgehog on a road trip can help your hedgehog bond with you.

 

Here’s what you’ll need to make the adventure as stress-free as possible:

 

Travel bag: Bring your hedgehog in the car in a portable travel bag. I use a small bag with a ventilation hole that I buckle into the back seat. Remember, put your ball of quills in the back seat, not up front where an air bag could damage their little body. Hedgehogs are content to burrow in these bags for hours without making a peep. I also put her favorite snuggle sack in the bag to make it even comfier.

 

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Buckle your ball of quills in the back seat, not the front seat. Air bags can hurt your hedgehog’s fragile body just like a baby.

 

Baby wipes: You will want these along to clean up your hedgehog after they take a pit stop. Yes, when you get out of the car to stretch and go to the bathroom you should also let your hedgehog run around on the grass. They will likely go to the bathroom, too. If it is during the day time, make sure to let them out every few hours as hedgehogs often get up during the day at some point to go to the bathroom and have a snack in their cage. Be patient as they may need to get used to the surroundings before going to the bathroom or eating.

 

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Your hedgehog can take a rest area break just like you.

 

Food, snacks, water: Bring along a sufficient supply of food and water for the trip and keep a small amount accessible in the car to offer to your hedgehog along the way.

 

Portable cage: You’ll want to have a cage that is not too small and not too big; at least about 18 inches wide and long for weekend road trips and larger for week-long trips. You will also want it to be tall enough to fit your hedgehog’s wheel if you are going for more than one night. Collapsible kennels for dogs or cats work well. Make sure you can completely secure the opening or sew on snaps like I did to this cat tent. Have your hedgehog test out the kennel or tent for at least one day a few days before your trip so they can get used to it and so you know there are no issues with the cage.

 

Wheel: When Ginger went on her first road trip, she was not fully grown so she could still use her smaller baby wheel on the trip. Once your hedgehog is fully grown, you should bring their wheel along if at all possible to help them keep their energy up. Hedgehogs will not die without a wheel for a week, however. I had a hedgehog in the ‘90s when no one knew about wheels for hedgehogs. Hokey Pokey lived a full hedgehog life although I am sure he would have been more fit and happy with a wheel.

 

Sleeping hut: Don’t forget to bring their favorite sleeping hut or pouch to put in their cage at night so they can burrow in it and feel like they are at home.

 

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Ginger’s first camping set up included a small tent, her strawberry sleeping hut, small wheel, small litter tray and food and water bowls. 

 

Food and water bowls: If you only use a water bottle, you will have to find a portable cage it can be attached to. But now might be a good time to train your hedgehog to also drink from a water dish. I personally use both in her cage at home in case she spills her dish or the water bottle leaks. Side note: If you do use a water bottle, make sure the ball and spout are large enough so that your hedgehog can get enough water out and also not get its tongue stuck in the spout. Hedgehogs love water. Try one with a 16mm diameter. 

 

Small litter tray: I abandoned the litter tray after the first night on our road trip because her weekend cage was just too small for her not to create a litter trail to her food and water bowls. I think she enjoyed just going on her wheel. 🙂

 

Thermometer, emergency blanket, hand warmers: Bring along the thermometer you use to monitor your hedgehog’s room temperature at home. If you don’t have one, get one that tells you the high and low temperature over 24 hours. If the temperature drops below 72 degrees and your hedgehog’s face or tummy feels chilled, you will need to cuddle them or wrap them in a blanket surrounded by an emergency blanket or hand warmers until they are again fully warm to the touch. When a hedgehog’s tummy turns cold, they could be attempting to hibernate, which is dangerous for their health. Before you travel, check the weather to determine whether it is wise to bring your hedgehog along if you are not able to control the temperature of your lodging.

When I brought Ginger camping at my parent’s farm for one day she slept in her little tent during the day (her night) when it was warm but I put it in the cabin overnight (her day) because the temperature was going to drop too low.

 

Camera: You’ll want to capture lots of memories with your ball of quills on your road trip! Take shots at scenic areas and don’t be afraid to pull over just for a photo shoot break.

 

One more thing: Enjoy the journey!

 

 

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Going on a road trip with your hedgehog can bring you to new places in your relationship with your ball of quills.

 

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

 

 

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Good grief: Face your hedgehog’s death with tears

I came home from a camping trip in middle school in the ‘90s to my mother in tears – Hokey Pokey died while I was away.

 

My mother was rather beside herself having watched him slowly die while not knowing what to do for him. It was the ‘90s and we were just getting the internet. We didn’t know of blogs and websites about hedgehog care. There was nothing to Google. Exotic vets that see hedgehogs were few and far between.

I, being the strong, independent, grown up middle schooler I was, hardly shed a tear. But for almost 20 years I have kept a few of his quills tucked away in my desk. A photo of him in a hedgehog frame has been solidified, like a painting that cannot be erased.

I also somehow felt I was to blame for Hokey Pokey’s death and that kept me from properly grieving. As I became a middle schooler, I remembered I had been spending less time with my pokey friend as my attention shifted to teenage girl things. Hokey Pokey was my childhood dream and I was growing into new interests. I felt I must not have been taking good enough care of him and that is why he got sick.

It was only years later I realized that Hokey Pokey was about four years old when he died and that is the expected life span of domesticated hedgehogs.

The short life span of hedgehogs, plus the fact that they are susceptible to difficult diseases such as cancer and wobbly hedgehog syndrome, can cause much grief to the hedgehog community.

As I peruse across Instagram adoring cute hedgehogs, I invariably come across a RIP account or a current friend who recently lost a beloved spiky pal.

In these moments, I think about my new, dear hedgehog Ginger and how quickly she may pass.

Ginger brought healing to my heart after nearly 20 years of silently blaming myself for Hokey Pokey’s death. It was through becoming part of the ‘2010s hedgehog community that I realized a hedgehog owner cannot prevent their hedgehog from dying when it is their time to go, but they have the privilege to give them a loving life for three to four years.

In death and in life, the power of love is what reminds us there is still hope. If you loved a hedgehog, cry. If you love a hedgehog, cry. For, we cannot prevent their deaths and make them live for more years than they have been given. We can prolong their days, but we cannot prolong their lives. How I wish hedgehogs lived longer than four years.

 

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I have kept some of Hokey Pokey’s quills for nearly 20 years.

 

Crying is a gift God has given us to face the grief that is part of this broken world. Someday, there will be no more crying or pain, and no more dying hedgehogs. Just cute, healthy ones scurrying about forever beneath the fruit trees next to the river of life that flows from God’s throne in the new heaven and new earth.

Grieving your hedgehog’s death is healthy. Grief is good in that it helps you face the reality of your love and loss. Others may not understand how you could be so distraught over a small creature, but please, cry. It will bring healing to your soul.

If your hedgehog has died, consider taking another one into your life when you are ready. Ginger certainly was a gift from God to me to remind me how new life can comfort and heal what has been lost, even years later.

Not long after I got married, I began longing for a hedgehog. I started buying all sorts of hedgehog decorations: salt and pepper shakers, mugs, linens, Christmas ornaments, etc. etc.

I was remembering with happiness my childhood hedgehog days but unsure whether the investment of time and money was worth having another hedgehog. But I was finally ready to face my lost longing with new life. I started praying for a blonde girl. I contacted a breeder.

Ginger was born on my birthday.

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers to FAQs about hedgehogs

Everywhere I go with my little ball of quills people want to know who she is . . . so I tell them.

 

Yes, she’s a hedgehog. Her name is Ginger. She’s blonde — not albino — a recessive gene that makes her quills cinnamon and ginger-colored. Hedgehogs are born in many shades  — salt and pepper or chocolate brown are the most common.

 

No, she doesn’t release her quills like a porcupine. Actually, they are technically spines, not quills. They feel bristly like a hairbrush or beard, but you might get poked if she curls into a ball.

 

Yes, she might be nervous or shy about meeting you, which is why she starts to curl into a ball.  Or she might be tired. Hedgehogs are nocturnal and she probably ran a few miles on her exercise wheel last night. When she gets up in the late afternoon, it is early morning for her and she sticks out her two-inch long tongue and yawns. If she makes a huffing noise, then she is really nervous.

 

No, it’s not too hard to take care of her. She eats cat food, mealworms, eggs and fruit. She lives in a rabbit hutch inside, which needs to be cleaned often. She uses a litter box, but not 100 percent. She often has an urge while exercising on her wheel. To give her a bath, I brush her with a toothbrush in warm water with oatmeal soap and coconut oil.

 

Yes, she was expensive. I got her for $250 from a breeder. I took her home at six weeks old. She is full size at six months. She went through the “terrible twos” when she shed her baby quills and grew in adult quills. It is uncomfortable, like a baby teething. She was grumpy and curled into a ball and made huffing noises more often.

 

No, she is not a wild animal native to the U.S. She is an African pygmy hedgehog, which was bred for domestication from two types of wild hedgehogs about 30 years ago. She looks and acts differently than wild hedgehogs in Africa, Asia and Europe. She still has some wild nature in her; the more time I spend with her, the tamer she becomes. She loves to snuggle in a blanket.

 

Yes, she is a great pet — but not for everyone. She needs a lot of unconditional love, understanding and fortitude. She is near-sighted so she can’t see well what is going on around her, which is why she can be timid. I spend lots of time with her so she gets to know my voice and smell. I pet her from her nose to her back so she knows it is me. But she still huffs and puffs into a spiky ball sometimes.

 

No, she won’t live long. The lifespan of domesticated hedgehogs is four years. They are susceptible to cancer and a neurological condition called wobbly hedgehog syndrome. They can also get mites or infections. There are vets who treat hedgehogs.

 

Yes, she is adorable. She slowly pokes out her snout out from her ball of quills as she sniffs the world and uncurls. She explores her surroundings and then finds a cozy place to burrow. If she comes across an interesting smell, she will lick and chew the object, salivate and spread the new smell on her quills, a normal behavior called “anointing.” She is camouflaging herself with the smell, or perhaps wants to perfume herself. No one really knows why.

 

Yes, ask me more questions. I love talking about her. She is fascinating — both cuddly and prickly, a pet for those who are intrigued by paradoxes and enjoy an adventurous challenge.

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

This article was originally published as a column in the White Bear Lake Press, where she is an editor. 

http://www.presspubs.com/vadnais/opinion/article_078c3a8e-602d-11e7-9306-4f52812ed588.html

Should you feed your spiky friend hedgehog food or cat food?

“What is the difference between hedgehog food and cat food?” I asked the vet.

“Cat food is made for cats and hedgehog food is made for hedgehogs,” he answered in a demeaning, negative tone. Wow, I thought. Super duh, sir. I’m paying you for this appointment? I was asking about the nutrition values and ingredients, not the obvious label on the front of the bag.

I pressed him because I am a journalist by trade. Is it the proteins, I asked? He mumbled something about vitamins and what hedgehogs eat in the wild. I let him move on.

But I didn’t move on. In Ginger’s appointment notes, the vet wrote that I should try supplementing Ginger’s cat food with some hedgehog food. But I still didn’t know why. I’ve heard multiple times from breeders and hedgehog owners that they recommend cat food over hedgehog food. If this exotic pet vet thinks he knows so much, I needed to know why.

So, I did some research on the nutritional analyses of several hedgehog foods compared with the kitten food recommended by my breeder.

 

Blue Wilderness Kitten food:

40 percent crude protein

20 percent crude fat

3.5 percent fiber

10 percent moisture

Vitamins: A, B, C, D, E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus.

Notable ingredients include poultry, peas, dried egg, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsley, kelp, cranberries, blueberries, apples, spinach, blackberries, pomegranate, pumpkin, barley and chicory root.

Yum, that sounds good! Hedgehogs love eggs, berries and fruit and I imagine they would love digging for root vegetables in the wild.

 

Mazuri Hedgehog Diet food:

28 percent crude protein

12 percent crude fat

13 percent crude fiber

12 percent moisture

Vitamins: A, B, C, D, E, K, calcium

Notable ingredients include poultry, soybean hulls, wheat, beet pulp, brown rice, dried egg, animal fat, apple and fish meal.

Soy, wheat, rice and fish. Huh. Weird. Do hedgehogs really eat that in the wild?

 

Ultra-Blend Select Nutrient Rich Hedgehog Diet food:

30 percent crude protein

8 percent crude fat

5 percent crude fiber

10 percent moisture

Vitamins: A, B, D, E, calcium, phosphorus

Notable ingredients include poultry, corn and wheat.

Sounds like whoever made this spent lots of time on a farm, out in the corn and wheat fields with their chickens …. and hedgehog.

 

Sunseed Vita Prima hedgehog food:

38 percent crude protein

8 percent crude fat

9 percent crude fiber

14 percent moisture

Vitamins: A, B, C, D, E, calcium, phosphorus

Notable ingredients include poultry, wheat, soy, fish, beet pulp, mealworms, flax seed and kelp.

Oooo, throw in some mealworms, then it is definitely what hedgehogs eat in the wild.

 

Exotic Nutrition Hedgehog Complete food:

35 percent crude protein

14 percent crude fat

17.5 percent crude fiber

Vitamins: A, B, D, E, calcium, phosphorus, selenium

Notable ingredients include bloodmeal, soy, corn, molasses, beet pulp and mealworms.

What is bloodmeal? It is the first ingredient. Oh, Wikipedia said it is a dry powder made from blood, used in animal feed. It is often made from the leftover blood when cattle and pigs are slaughtered. Excuse me? Not to mention molasses.

 

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Ginger the hedgehog recommends Blue Wilderness kitten food. It is made without corn, soy or wheat and contains foods hedgehogs may eat in the wild, such as berries and root vegetables.

 

So, I think the Blue Wilderness kitten food is the best choice for my hedgeghog. Berries, fruits, eggs, pumpkin and sweet potatoes sound much more natural for hedgehogs than soy, corn, wheat, rice and bloodmeal.

However, it does appear that most “hedgehog” foods include higher fiber and lower fat content than kitten food. Hmmm, I have noticed a few rather large hedgehogs on Instagram. It would make sense that hedgehogs eat a rather low-fat, high-fiber diet in the wild. They eat lots of crunchy fiber from insects and fruits.

My goal will be to increase my hedgehog’s fiber intake without taking away her apparently natural and nutritious kitten food. I plan to supplement her diet with more fruits. She also loves dried mealworms. And dried mealworms have three times more fiber than live ones, according to mealwormcare.org.

This hedgehog trail mix also sounds delicious for when we go on adventures:

Sunseed Vita Prima Wigglers and Berries:

Ingredients: mealworms, corn, celery, millet, bell pepper, strawberries, egg, wheat, oats and oil.

Happy eating, hedgies!

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

Hedgehog bath time basics, plus ducky

Just don’t forget the rubber ducky. Seriously.

For many hedgehogs, bath time can prove to be unenjoyable. They feel out in the open; hedgehogs are burrowing creatures and being in any open area can produce the need to hide.

It helps to have an object the hedgehog can push around and attempt to hide behind in the tub. Hence rubber ducky. Duckies can also provide a valuable distraction for your hedgie while getting washed.

It is necessary to fully bathe your hedgehog at least once a month. I have heard of some hedgehog owners who bathe their hedgehog weekly and some who bathe monthly.

Those who bathe monthly usually suggest doing so because hedgehogs can get dry skin and water can dry it out more. However, if your hedgehog is like most hedgehogs, it runs in the poop it leaves on its wheel. Sometimes it even apparently rolls around in the poop in its litter box and can get it in its quills. Leaving dried poop on your hedgehog for weeks is a bad idea.

I personally would recommend a bi-weekly bath with the right ingredients to keep your hedgehog’s skin supple.

For a full bath, you will need a toothbrush, all-natural soap and coconut oil, melted. Also, have a towel on hand just for your hedgie.

 

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You can brush your hedgehog with a toothbrush to clean its quills.

 

Here’s how you can bathe your hedgehog:

  1. Fill a sink about two inches with warm water. Your hedgehog will have a much more enjoyable bath if the water is warm, but not hot.

 

  1. Put a bar of soap or liquid soap in the water. I personally use an all-natural, organic oatmeal soap I bought at a natural foods store for $2. The brand is Sappo Hill Soapworks. Oatmeal apparently can help keep a hedgehog’s skin dry. Swish the toothbrush around in the soapy water and gently brush your hedgehog’s quills.

 

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All-natural oatmeal soap is a good cleanser for hedgehogs.

 

  1. I have found that oatmeal soap is not enough to keep my hedgehog’s skin from becoming dry, even if it is not bathed often. After washing, rinse your hedgehog off with a bit of warm water from the tap. Then refill the sink and add about a tablespoon of coconut oil to the bath. Swish the toothbrush around in the oily water and brush your hedgehog’s quills again. Another advantage to using coconut oil on a hedgehog’s skin is that it is antifungal and can be a natural prevention tool against ringworm.

 

  1. Rinse your hedgehog off with the toothbrush and warm water.

 

  1. Wrap your hedgie up in a towel and snuggle with it for at least an hour while it dries. Letting the oil soak into the hedgie’s skin while it rests in the towel will ensure its skin stays supple until it’s time for its next bath.

 

Intermittent “poopy boots” wading baths will also likely be needed before your hedgehog’s next full bath.

To clean just its feet, I usually put my hedgehog in about half an inch of water in the bathroom sink when it has collected quite a bit of poop on its feet. I let her run around in the water for a minute or two. Her scrambling and the water softens the poop and then I wipe each “poopy boot” with a paper towel.

There are many ways to bathe a hedgehog. This is what I have found works for mine. Comment below on how you bathe your hedgehog!

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

Huff, huff away: Socializing your hedgehog

When a hedgehog huffs and puffs even at the sight of their owner, it might seem logical to continue to shelter the hedgehog from the outside world — but the better option is to get that little hedgie out and about.

Hedgehogs have only been commonly bred as pets in the U.S. for several decades, which means they still have some of their wild nature in them.

Part of the exciting journey of having a pet hedgehog is that you actually get to participate in taming your hedgehog. The more hedgehogs are around people, the more they will be calm and comfortable around people.

Hedgehogs are nearsighted, so they analyze their surroundings through sound and smell. Since hedgehogs don’t see well, they can become anxious when they are unsure of their surroundings.

If hedgehogs get used to hearing people and realize they are not human prey, they will learn to relax when they hear and smell humans.

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You can pet your hedgehog at the same time a stranger does to help them feel more comfortable.

Here are five tips to socializing your hedgehog:

1. Start by socializing yourself with your hedgehog. Sing to your hedgehog when you wake them up. Let them know it’s you. Say, “It’s just me.” Softly call out your hedgehog’s name. I always sing a good morning song to my hedgehog.

2. Spend quality time with your hedgehog on your lap. Hedgehogs need to get used to your voice, smell and feel. Movie time!

3. Carry your hedgehog out and about in a snuggle sack inside a bag or backpack but don’t take them out of it the first few times. Let your hedgehog hear the world before bringing them out into it.

4. Bring your hedgehog to a small gathering of friends or family where they will be held and touched by other people. Explain to your friends or family not to be alarmed if the hedgehog huffs or puffs. Let the hedgehog react however it does without being alarmed and speak in a calming voice to the hedgehog as it meets new people.

5. Take your hedgehog out on the town! Carry them in a snuggle sack and let them get used to the sounds of the environment. Take them out proudly and snap a photo. Let strangers approach your hedgehog and show them how to hold or pet it if they are interested.

 

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Take your hedgehog out in a cuddle sack to get used to the sounds of the outside world.

 

Sometimes your hedgehog may actually appear to be friendlier around strangers than yourself. When you take them home they might start to huff and puff after they were so well behaved out and about. This is normal — children do this too, don’t they?

Your hedgehog may be nervous or excited about the new place and people. You become their familiar comfort when they are out and about. At home, their wheel, sleeping hut and cage might be their more familiar comfort. They likely realize they are home when they smell the familiar smell of your house. They might be asking to go back into their cage.

Let them, or if you had home hedgie plans, take a treat and singing break.

The more you take your hedgehog out and about, the more used to you they will become. They will also learn you are their protector in a big world of strangers.

When your hedgehog doesn’t even give a little huff when you take them out of the cage one day, you will know all the socializing has been worthwhile.

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

 

When God made hedgehogs

It was the sixth day of creation.

 

It must have been late in the day, toward dusk, when God made his most unique creatures. His creative juices were flowing. Elephants, armadillos, platypus, manatees. The unique nocturnal creatures must have been the very last.

 

Perhaps a rat or a mouse ran by, followed by a porcupine.

 

“Ah-ha,” God must have said to Himself. “The last creature I make on earth before the human shall be like a combination of a unicorn and a mouse … except I didn’t quite get to the unicorn. A multi-corn mouse shall do.” And poof it was.

 

The hard-to-place creature was named after other familiar living things when it was presented to Adam for official naming. The multi-corn mouse poked out only its snout from a hedge when Adam saw it.

 

It was Eve who later fully discovered the hedgehog after Adam had gone to bed. It curled up in her lap while she was star gazing near a strawberry patch. “Well, hello there, little hedgehog … oh, my what bristly fur you have,” she noted. Eve enjoyed petting the textured, curled up creature as the moon rose.

 

The hedgehog suddenly scuttled back into the strawberry patch when it heard a twig crack. In Eve’s hand was left a quill, a small spine banded in brown and white.

 

She dipped it in a bit of strawberry juice and became the first human to write.

 

C-U-T-E, she etched on a leaf.

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

10 reasons to get a hedgehog

1. You think hedgehogs are cute.

2. You are a night owl. Hedgehogs are nocturnal. While you can teach hedgehogs to wake up during the day to romp and play, it is best to mostly stick to their natural nocturnal schedule and play with them in the evening.

3. You like tactile experiences. Hedgehogs have fur on their belly but the place you will most often pet your hedgehog is on their back where their quills are. When hedgehogs are relaxed and their quills are laid flat, they feel textured —like a beard only thicker and rougher. You will sometimes be poked.

4. You are more of an introvert than an extrovert. Sometimes I think hedgehogs chose to be nocturnal because they are such introverts. Your hedgehog needs plenty of time alone. They get that overnight. They also need plenty of time just hanging out with their primary owner. However, you and your hedgehog must be prepared to be social if you go out and about together. Hedgehogs attract a lot of attention from strangers. Read Huff, Huff Away: Socializing your Hedgehog.

5. You like a challenge. Hedgehogs are not naturally affectionate. You need to teach your hedgehog you can be trusted and this journey comes with dealing with your hedgehog’s sometimes apparent rejection of you. Hedgehogs need to be loved through their scared huffs and puffs.

6. You like to snuggle. Hedgehogs mostly like to burrow in “snuggle sacks” while they are out of their cage. Hedgehogs also like to explore around the house and outside but you will notice they tend to wander to any dark corner they can find. They are digging, burrowing creatures. They like to nap and burrow in blankets and their owner’s clothes. You can put them in your pocket.

7. You enjoy learning. Taking care of an exotic pet is a learning curve. You’ll need to do lots of reading on what hedgehogs need for their care and find a veterinarian who is able to care for hedgehogs if your hedgehog has any medical issues.

8. You can handle a mess. Hedgehogs can be litter box trained. However, it is rarely 100 percent. Hedgehogs can poop on their owners while they are out and about or around their cage. They often poop while they are on their exercise wheel. They also poop a lot. This mess needs to be cleaned. Often.

9. You don’t have a big pet budget. While hedgehog babies can cost a couple hundred dollars, the cost to care for a hedgehog is relatively low compared to larger pets. Pet hedgehogs generally eat cat food, mealworms and fruit. They don’t eat a lot. (I’m not sure where all that poop comes from!) Their litter boxes are small and one large bag of litter can last a long time.

10. You can let go. Pet hedgehogs have a lifespan of about four years. You should be prepared to have lots of fun and pour love on your hedgehog during that time knowing that your memories can expand beyond the time you had with your hedgehog.

If your heart skips at most of these 10 reasons to get a hedgehog, you might just be a hedgehog owner.  If you felt stressed or overwhelmed reading them, it might be better to live vicariously through a hedgehog on Instagram or a stone hedgehog in your garden. That’s totally cool, too.

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

 

No fear: Bonding with your hedgehog

To bond with your hedgehog, first put away all fear that your hedgehog will not open up to you.

Hedgehogs seem to be naturally nervous creatures. It’s why they sometimes begin to furrow, make huffing noises and puff out their spines.

Hedgehogs are near-sighted so they cannot clearly see what is in front of them until it is very close. They mostly discern their world through smell, sound and touch.

Hedgehogs can sense fear and anxiety in a person’s voice or manner of touch. When a hedgehog senses fear in a person as they touch them (perhaps because they are afraid of being poked), it is more likely to react with nervousness — huffing and puffing.

It is best to approach a hedgehog with no anxiety about hedgehogs yourself. This boils down to two basic anxieties to be addressed.

First, make sure you have resolved in yourself that being a caretaker of a hedgehog is about the hedgehog and not about you. While having a pet can certainly be fulfilling, it is also full of downsides and sacrifices. Having a pet hedgehog can be especially trying for those who buy a pet just because they want the affection of an animal.

Hedgehogs need a lot of unconditional love to open up to you. If you are overly anxious for your pet to respond to you in a friendly, fulfilling way, your hedgehog may sense your anxiety when you are around it. Relax and decide to tame your hedgehog for its own benefit — because having a human friend is fun.

Second, you should take charge of your hedgehog’s anxiety. This means that when your hedgehog reacts to you with huffing and puffing you should not become anxious yourself. This can lead to a cycle of anxious hedgehog, anxious owner, anxious hedgehog….

Instead, speak to your hedgehog in a calming manner. Don’t react to its huffing and puffing with reprimands or by being overly sympathetic. Just let your hedgehog know there is nothing to fear. Don’t let your hedgehog’s feelings of nervousness control your feelings. You are a happy hedgehog owner.

It is best to try to pet your hedgehog in a way that calms its natural tendency to anxiety. Try this:

Place your hedgehog on your hand stomach side down and let it uncurl. Don’t pet your hedgehog unexpectedly on its back. Instead, let it smell your fingers and then begin to rub its nose, up to its forehead quills and then to its back. Don’t be timid when you pet your hedgehog, but do be gentle.

It is also important to spend a lot of time cuddling your hedgehog in a snuggle sack or carrying it around in your pocket so it gets to know your smell and voice.

 

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To give your hedgehog a quill kiss, start nose to nose with your hedgehog.

Someday, you may even be able to give your hedgehog a nosey quill kiss. Put your nose next to theirs and rub it up their face the same way you would if you were petting them with a finger, but end with a kiss on their forehead quills.

Animals can sense your demeanor and your confidence. Be confident about holding and petting your hedgehog and you will help to put them at ease and open up.

 

 

Sara Marie Moore is a journalist and happy hedgehog owner. She had her first hedgehog in fourth grade long before the current hedgehog craze. 

 

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