taking care of pet hedgehog

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets? Ultimate Guide to Taking Care of Your Pet Hedgehog

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets? Comprehensive Guide to Taking Care of Your Pet Hedgehog.

One of the things we all wonder is can you have a hedgehog as a pet? The simple answer to the question is:

Yes, you can have a hedgehog as a pet and it is becoming increasingly popular in the US, UK and across the world – Hedgehogs make good pets!

Maybe you live in a small house and so getting a dog would not be feasible, or perhaps you are wanting a pet that is less traditional. If this sounds like you, read on to find all the information you need to have and take care of your pet hedgehog.

What type of hedgehog can you keep as a pet?

The most common type of hedgehog that is kept as a pet is the African pygmy hedgehog, also known as the four-toed hedgehog, or the white-bellied hedgehog.

The African pygmy hedgehog is the smallest type of hedgehog, typically between 6 – 8 inches and 18 – 25 ounces in weight. When in the wild, they typically live for between 2 and 3 years, while the life span increases to around 8 years when kept as a pet in captivity.

Also, did you know that the female African pygmy hedgehogs are generally larger than the male ones in size!

So when we are talking about a pet hedgehog in this guide, you can assume we are talking about keeping the African pygmy hedgehog.

Can you have a hedgehog as a pet? Is it legal?

Ok, so we said you can have a hedgehog as a pet previously, this might not be completely true – it depends on where you live. In some countries and some states within the USA, it is completely illegal to keep hedgehogs as pets, while some may require a permit. For example, in the USA, while it is legal to keep a hedgehog as a pet, there are some places and states do not allow and some that you would need a permit for. We have outlined these below.

USA – Is it legal to keep a hedgehog in my state?

While it is legal to keep a hedgehog as a pet in most states of the USA, there are some places that forbid pet hedgehogs including:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • Georgia
  • Pennsylvania
  • New York City

In the following areas, you will need a permit to have a hedgehog as a pet.

  • New Jersey
  • Wisconsin

And there are some areas where the hedgehog ban has been lifted recently including Arizona, Maine, Wyoming & Washington DC.

List of countries that allow pet hedgehog

  • UK
  • Canada (except Ottawa)
  • Austria
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Poland
  • Sweden
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • Ireland

List of countries that are illegal to keep a hedgehog as a pet

  • Australia
  • France
  • Singapore

Where can I buy a pet hedgehog?

So now that you know it is legal in your area to own a pet hedgehog, all you need to do is find one. As with anything else today, your search should start online, Google specifically (unless you know of good breeders already). You can Google “hedgehogs for sale in {your area}”. It can be quite difficult to find pet stores or breeders who sell pet hedgehogs. This is because they need to obtain a USDA (the United States Department of Agriculture) license in order to legally breed and sell hedgehogs. And understandably many simply don’t want to go through the process of doing so. Also according to the breeders, they are not the easiest to breed.

Directly from Hedgehog breeders

Probably the best option to purchase a pet hedgehog is directly from your local hedgehog breeders. Breeders are typically very knowledgeable and take great care of their hedgehogs, ensuring they are healthy.

With the number of breeders being relatively low, you may struggle to find reputable hedgehog breeders near you. In fact, many people travel a good few hours to find and buy pet hedgehogs – so this is something you may have to expect.

A good breeder will make an effort to educate you on how to take care of your pet hedgehog

From pet stores that sell hedgehogs

While it is possible to buy a hedgehog from stores, there are definitely potential negatives to doing so. For example, many pet stores will not be as knowledgeable as breeders for sure.

One of the things I have heard from some of the hedgehog owners is that multiple hedgehogs are often kept in the same cage. This can be problematic for many many reasons. If females and males are kept together, there is a chance that they can be pregnant. What’s more, the fact that they are potentially improperly cared for, and can result in health problems.

Sure, there will be pet stores who properly care for their hedgehogs for sale, but one thing to remember when buying a hedgehog from a store is to be very very cautious and careful.

Adopting from existing hedgehog owner

Again, you should be cautious about getting a hedgehog from non-breeders as it is extremely difficult to know whether they have any underlying health issues.

There are a few important things you should look out for when choosing and buying a hedgehog

  • Visit the breeder to see what kind of conditions the hedgehogs are in.
  • Are female and male hedgehogs housed together? If so, avoid them as this can cause pregnancy or other health issues.
  • Make sure they are USDA licensed breeders/shops.
  • Ask to see the parents
  • Ask for information about their health. Reputable breeders should be able to provide you with veterinary checks on the hoglets.
  • They should be around 6 – 12 weeks at the time of purchase.

How much do pet hedgehogs cost?

One of the initial questions you will be asking yourself when considering owning a pet hedgehog is “How much do they cost?” “Are they expensive?”

Typically, pet hedgehogs cost price can range between $100 and $300 in the USA.

If you are offered anything lower, be wary!

So why are they expensive compared to other small pets like hamsters and guinea pigs? Because they are exotic animals and exotic animals mean exotic prices.
There are a number of factors that could have an impact on the price including:

  • Color
  • Age
  • Temperament
  • Location

There are also additional ongoing costs associated with owning a pet hedgehog, such as vets fees, food supplies. For example, some hedgehog cages can be incredibly expensive!

What do pet hedgehogs eat?

It is important that your pet hedgehog gets a balanced protein-based diet. They can eat

Main meal

Dry Food

Your pet hedgehogs main diet should be comprised of dry food that is high in protein. You can feed:

  • Dry cat food
  • Dry dog food
  • Dry hedgehog food


Fruits and Vegetables

A small portion of fruits & vegetables can also be added to the main meal as treats. It is important that these are not overfed as it could lead to causing them to become overweight, as well as giving too much sugar

You can, for example, feed:

  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Kiwi
  • Watermelon
  • Cherries
  • Bananas
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Corn
  • Carrots

Insects (live, freeze-dried or canned)

Insects can also be fed as treats, and it is important that these are

  • Mealworms
  • Crickets
  • Beetles
  • Waxworms
  • Millipedes
  • Grasshoppers

Cooked Meats

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Beef
  • Lamb


  • Scrambled egg
  • Boiled egg

Baby food

There are also some food your pet hedgehog should avoid, such as:

  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Avocados
  • Milk
  • Bread
  • Raw meat
  • Chocolate

How long do pet hedgehogs live?

You can expect your pet hedgehog lifespan to be between 4 to 8 years, which is considerably longer than the African pygmy hedgehogs that live in the wild – they typically live between 2 and 3 years.

Do you keep your pet hedgehog outside?

Pet hedgehogs should be kept indoors and need specific temperatures. A pet hedgehog would need a stable temperature as some argue that the temperature fluctuation as a result of keeping your hedgehog outside can cause a hibernation attempt.

What do you need to keep a pet hedgehog? What supplies/housing do you need?

Like us humans and all other species (well not all but you get the point), your pet hedgehog will need a house and it is important that you have the right home set up for it to make sure the hedgehog is happy to reduce stress.

These are some of the essential supplies:

  • Cage – although Hedgehogs are only small, they need space to run around. The hedgehog cage should be at least 4 square feet (2 sq ft x 2 sq ft). The cage needs to have enough room for them to run around. Also with eating, sleeping & play areas.
  • Bedding
  • Exercise wheel
  • Heat pad – it is recommended that the hedgehog cage is kept at 74 Fahrenheit (23.3 Celsius) or higher.
  • Food bowl – to be cleaned & supplied with new food daily
  • Water bowl – to be cleaned daily
  • Nesting box with a small opening
  • Thermometer
  • Toys & entertainment – who/what doesn’t like toys?

Hedgehogs; Health and Vet care

Hedgehogs can have a number of health issues, such as

  • Dental issues
  • Obesity
  • Digestive issues
  • Respiratory infections

Fortunately, most of these can be avoided or minimized by, for example, providing properly balanced diet and keeping their living space clean and tidy.

Some of the less common health issues pet hedgehogs can have are Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome, also known as WHS. WHS is a progressive, degenerative disease, which slowly degrades the body muscle. The most obvious sign is instability when trying to stand still.

Although pet hedgehogs are becoming popular and more common than before, they are still exotic animals and many will consider them “unusual”, and it is important that you find vets that treat exotic animals. The hedgehog breeder should be able to give more information on this, and furthermore recommendations.

Pros and cons of having a hedgehog as a pet

As with any other pets, there are pros and cons associated with having a hedgehog as a pet.


  • Pet hedgehogs are generally friendly in nature – love to be handled. Although, hedgehog quills can be uncomfortable to handle, they don’t hurt when handled gently and carefully.
  • Typically not destructive or aggressive
  • Hedgehogs are typically not smelly
  • Hedgehogs are solitary animals, meaning they are relatively low maintenance pets, unlike dogs where they need a lot of attention from their owners
  • They are not very noisy pets


  • The costs associated with owning a hedgehog can be expensive, with them being exotic animals
    • The cost to actually buy a hedgehog
    • Ongoing/maintenance costs
  • Could be more difficult finding vets that would treat hedgehogs
  • Limited breeders and pet shops that sell hedgehogs
  • They may nott be suited for families with small children – as sudden movement and a lot of noise can cause them stress
  • Putting more than one hedgehog in the same cage can cause fighting, so it is recommended that they are kept separately

So. do hedgehogs make good pets?

We think that hedgehogs make good pets – but it really depends on what you want from a pet, and considering the information in this guide, we hope it has given you a clear idea of whether a pet hedgehog is something you want.

Have you got a pet hedgehog?

Have you got a pet hedgehog? If so we would love to hear your experience and if you would like to share the pictures of your pet hedgehog, we would love to see them too!

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