Caring for Your New African Hedgehog
Info from Aqualand on Erinaceus albiventris

 

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African Hedgehog Factoids

Origin

African savanna.  All locally bred these days.

Maximum Size

Six inches, one pound

Protection

Prickly spines

Sexual Differences

Males slightly larger and more aggressive

Longevity

8 to 10 years

Nocturnal

Prefers the night shift

Feeding Schedule

Remove food at night.  He’ll convert to days.

Water

Water bottle keeps water cleaner

Digger

Likes to burrow in litter and bury self

Attitude

Alert, inquisitive, shy at first

Substrate

Cobs, pine, or aspen.  Clean often.

Security

Needs a hide box or cave

Main Food

Hedgehog food best.  Cat food second.

Supplements/Treats

Insects, pinkies, meat, eggs, bananas, raisins

Cage

Bigger the better.  Likes to climb.

Exercise

Let him out of the cage to run around

Toys

Rawhide bones.  Paper sacks.  Newspapers.

Breeding Comments

Leave babies with mom

LA
Young (four incher) relaxed and snooping for action or food.

LA
Albino female just starting to relax.

LA
Here's a little half normal and half white.

LA
Not your average hedgehog
.

LA
Very relaxed three-inch male.

LA
This is how you know he's a male.


Origins:  African Hedgehogs originally came from (you guessed it) Africa.  All the specimens we see these days are U.S. born.  Most of those we sell are bred here in Des Moines.

Natural Environment:  Your hedgehog would really love to explore your backyard and garden looking for bugs (their natural food). They love both the exercise and the extra snacks they stumble across outdoors.  Keep an eye on them if you take them outside.

LA
When you first get your hedgehog, wear leather gloves till he learns to trust you.  Treats help.

LA
Young (three-incher) snooping out the environment.

Temperament:  New hedgehogs consider you a threat.  They go into their “prickly mode” where their spines go in all directions.  Once they learn to trust you, they relax their spines and actually enjoy being petted.  Once adjusted to their new environment, they become quite inquisitive and like to explore.

LA
Once they get to know you, hedgehogs respond when you approach their cage.

 

LA
Little guy and adult.

LA
Not every African hedgehog has the same personality.

LA
Some are much more inquisitive than others.

Size:  Adult hedgehogs attain about six inches in length and weigh about a pound.  If you want a “pocket pet,”  these guys never get large.

LA
Commercial hedgehog food works just fine.  Aspen makes the best litter.

Foods:  When these critters first started appearing as pets, we fed them cat foods.  Cat foods have too much fat in them.  Your hedgehog will get a little porky on a long-term cat food diet.  Better yet, feed your hog a commercial hedgehog food.  Use a heavy dish or your hoggette will knock it over for fun. They root underneath and tip over nearly any bowl you can find.  

LA
Hedgehogs really love super worms -- or any insect for that matter.

Treats:   Hedgehogs love insects -- particularly mealworms, super worms, and crickets.  They also like raisins and other bits of dry fruits.  Limit their fruit consumption.

Supplements:   Hedgehogs don’t need extra vitamins and minerals when fed the foods specifically made for them.  You can give them other foods as supplements to their diet to add variety.  (Don’t forget to try offering your hog a feeder goldfish.)

Lighting:  These little critters work at night, so you don’t need special, expensive lights for them.  If you want your hedgehogs to stay active during the day, provide no food at night.  They adapt to your schedule quite rapidly when hungry.

Heat:  Room temperature is fine.  Keep your hedgehogs away from the hot sun and drafts.

Water:  Water dishes collect litter and get tipped over as soon as hedgehogs find them.  Give your hoggette a water bottle.

LA
Once they accept you, they relax their pokers.  He's nosing around for food.

Handling:  New hedgehogs can bite you if they feel threatened. Scoop them up from below rather than grabbing them from above.  Use gloves at first or use a scoop.

Hide Box:  Give your hoggette a wooden box, cardboard box, or large tube to hide in.  Hedgehogs crave the security of their natural burrows.

 

Exercise:  Give your hedgehog a daily romp outside his cage.  They also like exercise wheels and ladders.  Avoid the wheels with spokes.  They get their little feet caught in them.  Multi-level ferret cages provide an excellent environment.

Toys.  Give your hoggette some tunnels or paper sacks or ferret balls to explore.  Hedgehogs like most ferret toys.  They also like to shred newspapers.

LA
He's sniffing you to see if you might taste good.

LA
Friendly after they get to know you.

LA
Take your time and bribe them with superworms.

In Summary:  Hedgehogs settle down and become excellent pets quite quickly.  LA.

LA
Little guy meeting a larger guy.

LA
This is known as anointing.

Sophie Hannan, Canada, May 26, 2006
My name is Sophie Hannan, President and founder of The Canadian Hedgehog Association. Your page was forwarded to my attention and I would like to let you know about at least one small mistake.
First, there is no such thing as a dwarf African hedgehog. They are simply
called African Hedgehog or White bellied.
Under one of the pictures, you suggest to use leather gloves to handle a
hedgehog at first. By using gloves, the animal doesn't get to recognize your odor and it will take longer to socialize. It is much better to take the hedgehog with its cover if you don't like the feeling of the quills. Thank you very much.

A:  No prob.  I'll add your comments to my hedgehog page.  And I'll also add your web site.  It's a nice web site.  LA
www.canadianhedgehogassociation.com

Dan Cuba, January 12, 2008
I arrived at your site while researching my new plecostomus and ended up at your hedgehog page ..
Just wanted to let you know that your “www.canadianhedgehogassociation.com” link there now goes to a “this domain for sale” page.
Thank you for all the helpful information – especially with regard to my new pleco

A:  Thanks for your info.  I added it to the hehgehog page.  LA

Victoria Barker, November 28, 2006
Hi! I own three pygmy hedgehogs at the moment, and like your site very much. However, there are several misconceptions on your hedgehog page, and I was wondering if you could please change them, or add in alternate information. :)
Male hedgehogs aren't any more aggressive than females unless they're placed with other males (which shouldn't be done anyway).
Food should be left out all night, and not limited. Unless it's a fresh diet
that will spoil -- which isn't the case with most cat foods -- hedgehogs
should have access to food at all time. If given lots of roaming time
outside their cage, or a suitable wheel, hedgehogs will remain at a
perfectly healthy weight. Removing their food at night would be like denying humans food during the daytime. It's when they're most active, and when they should have access to food.
Water bottles have many downfalls, although water quality should be taken into consideration. Water will stay clean if you replace it every day.
Hedgehogs can chip their teeth on water bottles, their necks aren't made
like rodents (so they shouldn't have to bend up to reach the nozzle), their
long tongues can get stuck between the metal ball and the lip of the nozzle, and it's more difficult to get water out of. When offered a dish, many hedgehogs will drink much more than when they had a bottle. The only downfall to dishes is that if you keep your hedgehog on bedding, the bedding may be kicked into it. If you get a heavy water dish, they shouldn't be able to knock them over, so that shouldn't be a concern.
Other bedding you can keep your hedgehog on is Carefresh and liners. Liners in particular are recommended, as they're cheap, reuseable, and create no dust (which can often irritate a hedgehog's sensitive nose). Sneezing is often cured by switching to liners.
I would never recommend hedgehog food to any owner. I just got a rescue who'd been starving to death on hedgehog food because she didn't recognize it as a food source. Most commercial hedgehog foods are not only a choking hazard, but hedgehogs have died of malnutrition because of it. They're simply inadequate as a food source. Cat food used to be inadequate as well, but now there are lite formulas that are a great base of most hedgehog diets.
Most high-quality cat foods come in a high-protein, low-fat version for
overweight cats, which is what you should feed. Look for fat under 10%, and protein over 20%.
As for exercise, hedgehogs should be provided with a solid-surface running wheel at least 11" in diameter. There are many brands available, and if you can't find any, there are even do-it-yourself sites on how to make your own wheels.
With their habit of annointing, giving them newspaper as a toy isn't ideal,
as it could potentially harm them. Some other recommended toys are toilet paper tubes (cut up one side so they can't get stuck), jingly cat ball toys, and sections of PVC pipe.
Keeping hedgehogs supervised outside is a good idea, but letting them eat things off the ground is not. Insects they ingest may have come into contact with pesticides or disease, which can transmit to your hedgehog.
Raisins present a choking hazard as a treat, and grapes have been attributed to sickness in hedgehogs. It's unconfirmed as to whether grapes are bad, but after several reports of a hedgehog getting violently ill after eating one, it's a very risky idea.
Ladders are very unsafe for hedgehogs. Their legs can be caught very easily. They have naturally bad eyesight, so it would be easy for them to miss a step and fall. Multi-level ferret cages are an especially unwise idea; I've seen hedgehogs fall from the ramps provided with such cages. Instead, hedgehogs should be kept on a single-level, rampless cage. If you're set on ramps, however, you could modify it and build walls on either side of the ramp so that the hedgehog can't fall off. Thank you!

A:  Thanks for the input.  I can't agree with you 100% (especially on the food).  However, I will add it to my hedgehog page.  LA

LA
Hours old new-born hedgehog.

LA
We we're totally unprepared for the little varmint.

LA
We came in at 9 am and found some new additions.  July 12, 2010.

LA
Her two cage mates were eating one baby and she was protecting one.

LA
She promptly had two more hoglets for a total of Three.

LA
They look like little bugs.

LA
Almost two-inches long.  July 12, 2010.

LA
July 20, 2010.

LA
July 29, 2010 -- fast growers.

LA
August 4, 2010.

LA
August 8, 2010

LA
Different guy April 20, 2011'

LA
always time for a nap.

LA
Very friendly young albino.

LA
Another in this litter of three.

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