When it comes to purchasing a hedgehog, price ranges for the pet itself, housing, equipment, and even food can vary by as much as several hundred dollars. Most potential pet owners find that it’s very easy to step out of their budget considering all of the items that are necessary to initially set up a home for the animal. If you are attracted to the idea of caring for a domesticated hedgehog, you might be off-put by the costly pet store price tags of necessary items, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t find a thrifty alternative to cut down on the initial setup costs. Check out some of the following ways that can help you save money so that you can enjoy your new pet without stressing over wallet-bombing setup prices.
As a hedgehog is considered an exotic pet, they can be very expensive to purchase. Hedgehog breeders are at liberty to charge basically whatever they think potential customers will be willing to pay because these animals aren’t as easy to find as, say, guinea pigs or rabbits. The phrase, “If you don’t like the price, shop elsewhere,” is one that breeders could definitely take advantage of because it isn’t as if hedgehogs are being flogged on every street corner. It is not uncommon for breeders to charge anywhere from $100 to $300 and as much as $500 for specimens with rare coloring or patterns. If this type of animal isn’t a popular pet in your area then breeders may also be difficult to find. In such a case, you may want to consider getting your hedgehog through an adoption facility. Petfinder is a website that allows people to search for virtually any type of domesticated animal. All you need to do is type in the species in the search form as well as the area in which you live and however many miles you are willing to travel to obtain the animal. The animals listed on this website are typically domesticated, although there may be some private listings for animals that may not be completely acceptable as house pets (which is most often the case with feral cats).
You could also search pet advertisements in your local newspaper. If you can’t find any people selling hedgehogs (or they want way too much for them), then you could always put a wanted add out describing what you’re looking for, such as coloring and/or gender, and how much money you are willing to spend. You could also try searching the Craigslist website. If you have never been on Craigslist before, it is a collection of advertisements sorted by local area. There is a “pets” section on the website that you can browse or you can type in exactly what you’re looking for. If you can’t find any results then you might try posting a “wanted” ad on the website to see if anyone responds.
Look into Used Cages and Equipment
Used equipment may seem like a cop-out for the first-time hedgehog owner, but there’s no harm in putting existing equipment to good use as long as everything is in good shape. (Plus, your hedgie won’t be upset with you simply because he hasn’t been given a brand new cage or running wheel.) There are many options at your disposal when it comes to finding used pet equipment. First, consider looking at garage sales, thrift stores, or flea markets. Hedgies don’t require a species-specific cage; it simply needs to have a solid floor (preferably with a drop-in pan for easy litter/bedding cleanup) and a wire enclosure in which the bars are small enough that the hedgehog can’t get himself stuck. A guinea pig cage or a large hamster cage (without running tunnels) would be suitable for a hedgie. As these are very popular rodent pets, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding used equipment by searching for a guinea pig or hamster cage.
Your hedgie will also need a water bottle, a food dish, a house or cave-like hidey hole, and a large exercise wheel. These items are pretty cheap to purchase from pet stores, but you might find a better deal shopping online where sellers tend to be more competitive. If you’re a fan of eBay then you should definitely search for accessories here – most of which you can buy brand new at a fraction of the cost of pet store prices. Again, Craigslist would be another great venue to search because many people are anxious to make back some of the money spent on rodent pets that simply didn’t work out for their family.
Make Some Equipment Yourself
Some equipment can actually be made yourself if you have a knack for craftiness and access to tools. You could easily create a play tunnel for your pet using a straight piece of PVC piping. If you want to mount this onto the cage wires then simply drill holes at the ends of one side of the pipe and secure the piece to the cage using bolts and wing nuts. If you have a sewing machine, a pair of scissors, and an old pillow, you could transform the pillow into a cushy bed for your hedgie. To make things easier, consider applying one side of a strip of Velcro to the underside of the bed and the other piece to the bottom of the cage. This will prevent the bed from slipping around and overturning. You could also create a simple feeding dish using an old metal bowl. Drill a hole in the back of the bowl and use a screw and wing nut to secure the bowl to the wall of the cage.
If you have a handiness with carpentry then you might even be able to save yourself a great deal of money by building your own hedgie cage. Appropriate wiring may be the hardest piece to come by, but you will still save yourself a great deal of money by putting the cage together yourself as opposed to buying one new. Besides, by creating the housing yourself you will be able to use dimensions that better suit your home (such as a corner-style cage) and affix legs to the structure so that you can have the housing as high or low as you like without having to invest in a stand or table for the housing.
Invest in Pet Insurance
Although it may seem a bit strange to purchase health insurance for your hedgie, it’s actually a very wise move for the future. As a responsible pet owner you should be committed to taking your pet hedgehog to the veterinarian at least once a year for a checkup. If your hedgie has never been to the vet before, if it is lacking necessary vaccinations, or if it appears ill in any way, you should make it a point to schedule a vet visit as soon as possible. Vet fees for exotic animals like this tend to be more costly than a checkup for a traditional pet like a dog or cat. Some veterinarians won’t even see hedgehogs because they may lack the appropriate knowledge about this animal to provide the care that the animal needs, which could leave you having to seek out an exotic animal specialist. Although pet insurance will cost a minor fee each month (or a manageable lump-sum for the year), it can definitely come in handy for unexpected vet visits, especially if the animal suffers an injury, develops a long-term illness, or requires surgery.