Hedgehog Care 101
Pint-size mammals known for their roly-poly, quill-covered bodies, as well as their gentle disposition, intelligence (they can navigate mazes with ease) and quiet nature.
- Pros: Can be litter trained; no natural odour; nondestructive (won’t chew furniture or cords).
- Cons: Do not like to share cages-separate housing per hedgehog required; can become obese.
- Food: mealworms, commercial hedgehog food or good-quality dry cat, kitten or ferret food; treats of fresh fruit or vegetables.
- Housing: Large cage or aquarium (minimum 91- by 61-centimetre base area; small box for “hiding.”
- Exercise: A hedgehog wheel and toys, along with playtime with its owner, will suffice.
- Possible medical issues: Wobbly hedgehog syndrome, a degenerative neurological disease; cancer, mites. Dr. Don Benoit, a veterinarian at the Fairview Animal Hospital in Halifax, says “Mites are probably the number 1 reason I see hedgehogs” Mites themselves are microscopic, but watch for dandruff-like flakes on your hedgehog or loss of quills (bald patches).
- Life expectancy: Four to seven years.
This article was originally published in the December 2009 issue of Reader’s Digest. Subscribe today and never miss an issue!