Pets are like family members. But not all pets are good for families. And that’s especially true when it comes to certain exotic animals. These pets don’t handle too much attention because they haven’t been domesticated for a long period of time. In this article, we’ll find out if hedgehogs fit into this category of pets. You’ll learn all about taking a hedgehog as a pet into your family.
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Quick answer: are hedgehogs good family pets?
Hedgehogs are good for families who have done all the necessary research prior to getting one. Families with small children should take extra caution before deciding to get a hedgehog. Since they are exotic animals, it’s not the same as getting cats or guinea pigs.
What makes a good family pet?
There is no universal rule for what makes a type of pet good for families. However, you are able to factor in numerous points that may help you make the decision.
- What are the costs of looking after the pet?
- Does it need exercise?
- What are its needs for physical space?
- What kind of special equipment do you need for this pet?
- How much grooming and cleaning does the pet need?
- Is it hard to find proper food?
- Where is the pet going to live?
- What are its needs regarding attention and care?
- Does the pet get along with children?
- Is the pet safe with children?
- What are any other concerns to address before getting one?
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider. But you shouldn’t disregard any of these points. That’s because pets are living creatures after all. They deserve the best conditions. At the same time, it’s important that your children are safe and vice-versa.
Now, it’s time to go over the major points of hedgehogs’ suitability as family pets. We can’t tell you whether to take a hedgehog or not. But we can give you all the necessary background information. Then you can decide whether a hedgehog is a suitable pet for your family.
The costs of keeping a hedgehog are moderate to high when compared with other pets. There are certain base costs that you can’t ignore. These expenses are associated with providing essential living standards for your hedgehog.
- Cage. Your hedgehog needs a cage or any other suitable home where they spend most of their time.
- An exercise wheel. Hedgehogs need to move every night. It’s in their blood. You can’t have a hedgehog without an exercise wheel.
- Bedding. Every cage must have some bedding on the bottom. This ensures comfort and hygiene for your prickly buddy.
- Thermometer. You need a thermometer as close to the cage as possible. Hedgehogs are sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
- Toys. Hedgehogs enjoy playing around with interesting objects and toys. You should provide enrichment activities for your pet.
- Hiding area. This isn’t as essential as other things on this list, but you should still get one. Then your hedgehog has less stress.
- Food bowl. Your hedgie needs to eat from somewhere. Getting a food bowl is the smartest option available.
- Water bottle. Hedgies need a constant water supply. Bottles are better because lightweight vessels could easily be tipped over.
- Heating device. Does your room temperature sink below 73-78 degrees Fahrenheit? It’s life-threatening for your hedgie. Buy a safe heating device.
The exact costs of these things vary wildly. You need to shop around and see what fits your budget. With many things on this list, it’s better not to pick the cheapest option that you see first. The quality may result in hazards for your pet.
Regular costs of having a hedgehog
But you need to account for the regular costs of maintaining your hedgehog’s quality of life as well. Here are the main things you should have in your calculations:
- Food and water
- Medical bills
- Pet insurance (voluntary)
- Funds for replacing any essential things that get damaged or broken
- Grooming products
Hedgehogs do need quite a lot of exercise. In the wilderness, they cover vast distances every night as they scavenge for food. However, this exercising takes place during the nighttime in the case of pet hedgehogs as well.
You aren’t able to get your hedgie exercising during the daytime. Waking your hedgehog up means that they get grumpy until completely waking up. Still, they most likely will not feel like hitting the exercise wheel.
#3: Physical space
Hedgehogs are not that social. Hence, they do need their space. When we talk about strictly physical space, then you should have a cage that is at least 24” x 24”. Cages of at least four sq feet allow them to move around and enjoy their life.
Of course, you might want to cuddle up every now and then. In these cases, you have to respect your hedgehog’s boundaries. Not all of them are up for extensive cuddling sessions. Some of them want individual physical space without any annoyances.
#4: Special equipment
We already covered the things you have to buy when getting a pet hedgehog. Compared to other small animals, hedgehogs don’t have any requirements for special equipment.
#5: Grooming and cleaning
Your hedgie needs regular cleaning. But it’s important to use products and techniques suitable for hedgehogs. We have covered this in another blog post. This isn’t a huge burden because you shouldn’t wash your hedgehog too often. It’s bad for their sensitive skin that’s prone to dryness.
But cleaning the cage is another topic altogether. You definitely need to clean the cage and things inside, such as the exercise wheel and food bowl. Accounting for this aspect, you could say that hedgehogs can be quite high-maintenance pets.
#6: Proper hedgehog food
Hedgehogs need high-quality food to stay healthy. While hedgehogs themselves might not be that picky, it’s up to the owner for providing adequate and nutritional food.
High-quality cat food with a small kibble works fine. But in some pet stores, and online, you are able to find hedgehog food. Although, you’d have to check the ingredients list and nutritional value. Sometimes pet food producers aren’t entirely backed by research when coming up with new formulas.
#7: Cage location
Family pets are always up for competition: which room will have the pet for the most time of the day? Most of the time, children want to have an animal in their room.
Is it a good arrangement for hedgehogs? It depends on how old your children are. Very small kids might not understand how to properly handle the hedgehog. Older children might do just fine.
#8: Attention and care
Hedgehogs are the polar opposite of dogs when it comes to attention-seeking behavior towards humans. Your hedgie doesn’t crave contact and interaction. In the wild, they are quite solitary.
When you have children in your family, it’s important to find ways to restrict too much playtime with the hedgehog. Otherwise, all of this attention can create a lot of stress for the small animal. This is unhealthy and should be avoided at all costs.
#9: Getting along with children
Hedgehogs get along with children just fine. In fact, they get along with every human and pet that doesn’t want to attack them. There is one concern, though. Children can do things that stress out your hedgehog. Constant attention, touching, and interaction can be too much.
Therefore, you should mark down some ground rules. The playtime needs to be limited. Also, you have to clearly communicate the boundaries. For example, there should be no pushing, dropping, and other actions that could hurt your hedgie.
#10: Unique requirements
Hedgehogs are exotic pets. People are much more used to cats, dogs, and other domesticated animals. We know how they act and what they need from us. However, hedgehogs have been far shorter time as our pets.
This is why you should consider all the aspects before you make the final decision. Just consider the following:
- Hedgehogs are nocturnal, they sleep during the daytime.
- Medical bills might be higher compared to conventional pets.
- Hedgehogs can get scared easily and curl up into a ball.
- Your hedgie needs strict temperature control.
- Hedgehogs enjoy limited social interaction.
- You should keep hedgehogs and other pets, such as dogs, always separate from each other.
Hedgehogs are good family pets when each family member knows the needs and unique traits of these exotic pets. You need to make sure that children know how to respect your hedgehog.
Analyze your current living situation to make the final decision on taking a pet hedgehog.