First, we start with the base color. The base color is the color of the skin, mask, ears, and arms/legs. Each color can also range from light to dark versions of that color (for example, light gray to dark gray).
Note: Albino is a recessive gene that means the hedgehog lacks pigmentation. The skin is pink, eyes are red, and quills are white.
Some hedgehogs have a special pattern with their quills. This typically ranges from snowflake to pinto to all-white. The patterns also vary depending on how much pattern is present. For example, minimum pinto, to reverse pinto or snowflake and high snowflake.
Facial markings indicate the pattern on a hedgehog's face, nose, eyes, and/or ears. As you can imagine, there are many variations, so we have included the most common facial markings.
Another great resource for hedgehog colors is the International Hedgehog Association, where there are pictures of many of the color combinations.
What colors, patterns, and facial markings are we missing? What is the most unique color/pattern combo you've seen?
Who will be responsible for the hedgehog?
Like all pets, hedgehogs require specific care and attention including, but not limited to feeding, fresh water, socialization, cage and wheel cleaning, nail trimming, occasional baths and more. Who will be responsible for making sure the hedgehog is taken care of? If your child's interest wanes, are you willing to step up to take care of your pet for the lifespan of the hedgehog (up to 6+ years)? Note: We ask that all minors (under 18) who submit an adoption application, have a supervising adult that is willing to care for the hedgehog for its entire lifespan if the child cannot/does not.
Why does your child want a hedgehog?
Ask your child why they want a hedgehog. The response might surprise you! It's important that your child has done the research, knows the appropriate care, and is ready to take on this responsibility for the rest of the hedgehog's life.
Do you want a cuddly pet?
Hedgehogs are not "soft" and "cuddly" per se. They do have quills, designed to be defense mechanisms, so they can be sharp - especially baby quills. Friendly hedgehogs will generally let their quills down after they get used to you. It's important that your hedgehog is socialized regularly, in your hands, without gloves on. If you or your child is too afraid to handle hedgehogs, they are likely not an ideal pet for them at this time.
So what is the best age to start owning hedgehogs?
There is no one specific right answer for this question. It will come down to your child's level of responsibility and maturity. Typically, I see this stage reached around middle school (or older) depending on the child WITH an attentive supervising adult. I personally, adopted my first hedgehog when I was about 12 years old.
Ultimately, you know your child best and know your willingness to step in to become the primary caregiver if your child is no longer as interested as the hedgehog deserves.
What age did you get your first hedgehog? Let us know!
You're looking at getting a hedgehog as a pet, but are they legal? In most locations, they are legal to own as pets, however there are some exceptions.
Hedgehogs are currently illegal to own in the following locations:
The laws are always evolving and changing, so you want to be sure to check laws in your state and local municipalities on owning and traveling with an exotic animal, specifically hedgehogs.
Unfortunately, we will not sell a hedgehog to you if you are located in any area where owning a hedgehog is illegal.
Have the laws changed in any of these locations? Are there new locations where hedgehogs are illegal? Let us know!
You've decided a hedgehog is the right pet for you, but where do you begin to find the perfect hedgehog for you?
Like any pet, you will not want to buy your new family member from just anywhere.
We realize it can be hard to discern a quality hedgehog breeder from a back-yard breeder, so we've put together some helpful resources on where to look for breeders and questions to ask potential breeders before purchasing your hedgehog.
Where to find breeders
First, let's cover where to not find your reputable breeder. I would avoid the following:
So where, then, is the best place to find a breeder?
questions to ask breeders
Most reputable breeders are happy to answer questions about their breeding programs. If you receive push back, it may not be the best fit.
For example, here are the answers to the above questions For Penny's prickly pigs
Where did you find your breeder? What other questions were helpful when you were looking for a breeder? Is there another great resource for hedgehog breeder listings? Let us know!
how to prepare a hedgehog cage
It's very important to prepare a proper hedgehog habitat before their arrival. Not all small pet habitats are ideal for hedgehogs, so please see our blog post on How to Prepare a Hedgehog Cage for detailed items, where to purchase them, and things to avoid.
What is the perfect hedgehog environment
Putting together your perfect hedgehog cage is only part of the hedgehog environment.
what do hedgehogs eat?
It may surprise you to learn that the best diet for hedgehogs is high quality cat food. Thankfully it's nutritionally better (and cheaper! and easier to find!) than "hedgehog food." We feed our hedgehogs Purina ONE chicken flavor cat food. You can also mix a few types of cat food together to make a blend of proteins.
Be wary of too many additional treats (mealworms, etc) as hedgehogs can become obese. It is also helpful if you regularly weigh your hedgehog to track any sudden increases or decreases in weight, which can clue you in if there is a hidden health issue going on.
Also, hedgehogs are lactose intolerant, so do not feed your hedgehog milk or dairy.
What basic care do hedgehogs require?
In the grand scheme of things, hedgehogs are fairly low maintenance pets. With a dedicated and attentive owner, hedgehogs are easy to rewarding pets.
How to find an exotic vet
Hedgehogs do not require routine veterinary care. However, you always want to know your nearest exotic vet BEFORE a need should arise. You also want to make sure that your vet has experience specific to hedgehogs.
Here are some great ways to find your exotic vet. Be sure to call the ones you're interested in and confirm they are experienced with hedgehogs and ask procedures for regular or acute care as well as in case of emergency. Some vets have a different emergency or after-hours phone number.
Our recommended exotic vet in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area:
NC State Veterinary Hospital
why is my hedgehog foaming at the mouth?!
You're hanging out with your hedgehog and everything is great. All of a sudden your hedgehog starts "foaming" at the mouth and spitting it onto their quills. Yikes!
No, your hedgehog does not have rabies. No, your hedgehog is not having a seizure. This process is called anointing. When hedgehogs come into contact with new smells and tastes, hedgehogs anoint themselves. Why exactly, we're not sure. It's believed they may be saving that scent for later.
Either way. Don't fret. This is a completely normal part of hedgehog ownership.
Note: If there are other concerning things happening with your hedgehog, you should call and consult with your exotic veterinarian.
What else do you want to know about hedgehog care? Let us know in the comments!
Rachel, the owner of Penny's Prickly Pigs has been breeding hedgehogs since 2008, and owned hedgehogs off and on for 23+ years. We maintain a small herd to focus on quality and personality. We track pedigrees on all of our hedgehogs.
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