African Pygmy Hedgehog FAQ

African Pygmy Hedgehog FAQ

Welcome to the world of the pet African Pygmy Hedgehog! So, you’ve been thinking of getting a hedgehog. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions. These answers are given from my years of owning and breeding. Breeder do and use things slightly different to one anougher so always ask your breeder also.

Will my baby hog be the same colour as the parents?

There is no guarantee babies will look like their parents at all. Hedgehog colours actually include a range colour combinations. This means even when similar looking parents breed the baby can end up with a very different combination of traits. Hedgehogs also carry recessive genes for other colours that they can pass to their offspring. There color can change and develop up until they are 6 months of age.

is the temperament of the parents indicative to what the hedgehog babies are like?

Breeders tend to look at both potential parents to have wonderful personalities to breed from their young but I find that this makes absolutely no difference to the way they parent or their overall personality.

Is their anywhere hedgehogs can go like a cat cattery or dog kennel when we go on holiday?

Yes there are hedgehog boarding places which are spread throughout the UK. Most owners fined also that the majority of reptile boarding’s will take hedgehogs. They may require you to provide the wheel and food but that is all.

Should i buy a light or heat pad for the cage? Anything that plugs in has potential to short out and cause a fire, overheat and cause burns, or fail to work. They could get knocked over cause injuries to. Also, hedgehogs can over-heat in a small aquarium that is not well-ventilated. If you are going to use a heat source in your cage you must use a thermostat to control the temperature. They must also maintaining an appropriate ambient room temperature or heating only a portion of the cage so that the hedgehog can move away if it gets too hot. one option to prevent the above is the snuggle safe heat mat. I don’t use heat mats or heat lights and have no issues. I fined with the standard house heating, using hedgbags and car fresh in the bedding area and placing a blanket over the mesh lid if in a zoozone to prevent drafts helps keep my hedgehogs warm enough eliminating all possible risks and hazards mentioned above.

Why do hedgehogs need to be kept warm? The cage should be kept at 73-78° F (23-25° C) constantly. When they get too cold hedgehogs will attempt hibernation. Captive bred hedgehogs do not know how to hibernate properly which is why hibernation is so dangerous. Make sure your hedgehog does not get cold! Be sure to keep a thermometer in your pygmy hedgehog’s cage to keep an eye on the temperature.

How do I pick up my pygmy hedgehog?

The best way to pick up a pygmy hedgehog is to scoop him/her up with both hands under the belly, like a cradle. If the pygmy hedgehog balls up quickly or already is in a ball, the best way to pick him up would be to use your hand or a blanket to roll him into your hands or the blanket.

My hedgehog hates me. How do I get him to like me?

No hedgehog hates humans. They may be scared, or angry, or have had a bad experience, or even may be quilling. The first thing to do to get a pygmy hedgehog comfortable around you is to put a worn shirt that smells like you in their cage to sleep with (make sure it has no loose strings). If you’ve just gotten your pygmy hedgehog, let it settle into its new home before handling too much. Then, you can start off by placing pygmy hedgehog in a blanket in your lap. Usually quiet, dark rooms will help them relax. You can gradually build up handling time from there. Also, new smells (such as other animals) may frighten your pygmy hedgehog. Make sure you wash your hands before handling, as pygmy hedgehog may not recognize you if you smell like a big scary dog.


Soft Purring and Whistling: This is a sign of pure contentment. Puffing: Displeasure, uncertainty. Snorting or “Sneezing”: Usually accompanies puffing and means the same thing. Hissing and Clicking: These are warning sounds of irritation and or fear. Snuffling: Happily checking things out. Chirping: Usually done by males while breeding and by nursing babies. Screaming: Physical pain or fear. Sounds Heard During Sleep: Snoring, huffing, chirping are all common sounds made while their sleeping”.

Do and why do hedgehog make noises in their sleep?

They can do it’s not uncommon but not common either. There is no real answer but I have found it in only in a hand full of hoglets which have just been taken away from their siblings that do it.

Do hedgehogs cost allot to keep?

No they are very inexpensive. Even more so if their food, bedding &litter is bough in larger quantities rather than small monthly quantities. Most people don’t require extra heating or lighting but if you do this may be a additional cost. Also you should always be aware that any pet might one day need to visit the vets to.

Will the baby hedgehog be the same colour as mum or dad or a mixture of both?

There is no guarantee babies will look like their parents at all. Hedgehog colours actually include a range colour combinations. This means even when similar looking parents breed the baby can end up with a very different combination of traits. Hedgehogs also carry recessive genes for other colours that they can pass to their offspring.

Can pygmy hedgehogs be Litter Trained?

At least, for 80% or so of the hedgehogs out there, litter training can be very effective. Training is quite basic. First, set up a litter tray with a small lip and Place the wheel in. Also use a different type of litter than bedding. Your hedgehog will instinctively ‘potty on the run’. Any that comes off the wheel will land in the litter tray, doing most of the training for you. Any ‘mistakes’ made elsewhere in the cage should be picked up and placed in the litter tray. This will cause your hedgehog to quickly realize where he/she is supposed to potty. While some hedgehogs will remain stubborn and seemingly not care, *most* will start to only potty in the litter tray.

My hedgehog’s nails are getting long, can I clip them?

At some point in your hedgehogs life you may or may not have to clip his/her nails. Because African Pygmy Hedgehogs tend to run with their back feet up at a slight angle this therefore means that their nails don’t file themselves down when they exercise on their wheel. They don’t do this with their front feet so you may not have to touch them! Nail clipping is easier to do on a hedgehog that is used to being handled. However for the not so sure ones, you may find it easier to clip their nails whilst having a very shallow bath as no hedgehog likes to get its nose wet! Otherwise you can go to the vets if you are not sure. Use human clippers/scissors as these are a good size. Only clip the tip of the nail to avoid the ‘quick’.

Do hedgehogs smell as much as some other small animals, like ferrets or guinea pigs?

Hedgehogs are naturally clean animals and smell very little. They do not produce a musky odour like ferrets. As long as they are bathed when necessary and have their cages cleaned 1-2 times per week, there is no odour associated with owning a hedgehog. Why is my

hedgehog bald on the top of his head?

The “bald” strip on a hedgehog’s head is called a “reverse mohawk”. It’s there so the quills in front can cross each other when the hedgehog rolls up into a ball.

Are hedgehogs rodents?

No. Hedgehogs are part of the order Erinaceomorpha whereas rodents belong to the order Rodentia. The main difference when it comes to keeping these animals as pets is that rodents (mice, rats, guinea pigs, etc.) have continuously growing front teeth and they must continuously gnaw to wear their teeth down. This is also true for rabbits. Rodents and rabbits therefore can do damage to items in their cages and any other items (furniture, shoes, electronics wires, etc.) that they get the chance to chew on. Hedgehogs do not chew on anything – except for food, of course.

Are hedgehogs clean and do they require lots of my time?

African Pygmy pet hedgehogs are easy to look after, as long as you have the things they need to keep them happy and healthy. Large enough cage with wheel and toys. If you get your hog out of his cage on a regular bases handling him and letting him roam around on and around you will make his quills flat and you will be able to pet him without him balling up. Hedgehogs themselves require very little from their owners. Fresh food and water and regular cage cleaning are the basic requirements. They don’t need to be walked and rarely need bathed. Hedgehogs are quiet by nature, and the most noise they make is their wheeling activity which can be prevented by purchasing a silent wheel and possible bedding rearranging .A regularly maintained cage and hedgehog that is fed a good diet typically does not smell. Most hedgehogs will regularly use a litter pan placed under the wheel.

Are hedgehogs good pets for children?

African pygmy hedgehogs are suitable pets for older children as they need careful handling, so are not really suitable pets for really young children.

Can I take a hedgehog to any vet?

It is worth checking with your local vet as some may not know enough about them. You may need to find a vet that deals in exotic animals.

Do Hedgehogs Have Fleas / Mites?

This is possibly the most common hedgehog question most owners will encounter due to the miss conception that hedgehogs always have fleas. The truth is that hedgehogs in general do not have fleas & the chances of them getting mites is as the same as your pet hamster.

Do hedgehogs bite?

As with any pet with teeth there is always a chance you could get bitten. Hedgehogs do not usually bite, and I have never been bitten by one. It is advisable to wash your hands before handling your hedgehog, as if you have been handling anything they might find yummy, there is a chance they might fancy a taste. Overall I would say it is highly unlikely you would get bitten. Usually if this is going to happen its when they are young.

Like any other young animal puppy, cat etc they do sometimes try it on. You will tend to notice some licking before they bite. Once they lick though it might be cute remove your hog from that position into a new one and keep doing this untill he or she does it no more. It has been known that some hedgehogs bite if they are afraid or even if their hungry.

My hedgehog is losing lots of quills. What does this mean?

Your pygmy hedgehog most likely is quilling or has mites. If you know your pygmy hedgehog is over a year old and it if happening all the time your hog may have mites but this is unlikely but check . A vet can diagnose and treat mites. It could also be because of too many baths as this can cause dry skin and constant quilling or It could be diet. Wash them in avrnno bath oil rinse and dry but don’t wash it off at it will soak into the skin and help recovery but the issue needs eliminated too? Quilling is perfectly healthy and all pygmy hedgehogs do it. They basically are shedding baby quills and getting adult ones, and is sometimes compared to human baby teething. It occurs at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and sometimes again at a year. Your pygmy hedgehog will most likely be a bit more temperamental and uncomfortable. You wouldn’t like needles poking through your skin either! A warm oatmeal bath helps, and make sure you are extra gentle.

My pygmy hedgehog is foaming at the mouth and spreading on his/her quills! Does he/she have rabies?

Nope! This is called “self-anointing”. No one knows why they do it, but it has been compared to “anting”, a behaviour done by some birds. When a pygmy hedgehog finds a new smell, or one they just like, they will froth at the mouth, contort themselves, and spread the saliva mix on their quills. Some pygmy hedgehogs do this often, some, never at all. Pygmy hedgehogs especially like to do this with new food and I’ve also seen them do it with new bedding. Be careful if you are feeding strawberries or something similar, you may end up with a pink hedgehog!

I found bloody on the Wheel and Feet

Some morning you will take a look in your hedgehogs cage and find a bloody wheel. Do not panic.

Very often hedgehogs will run so much they injure their feet. This especially happens with young hedgehogs and older hedgehogs who have never had a wheel before. Usually the bleeding area will be between an outer toe and the one next to it. Often there will just be a slight reddening of the area, nothing else.

It is best to give him a foot bath and leave the wheel out for a night to let it heal. Watch his feet closely for signs of infection. This may happen numerous times before his feet toughen up.

My hedgehog Sneezing is he sick?

Often hedgehogs new to a home will be sneezing. At times the change in environment can cause a bit of sneezing. This is usually random sneezes that go away in a day or two.

Certain beddings can cause allergies as well as nose irritation and sneezing. All loose beddings such as shavings are dusty and depending on the individual hedgehog can cause a reaction.

Often to those unfamiliar with hedgehogs it can be difficult to tell if the hedgehog is truly sneezing or is a normal little snuffling sound. Listening closely and watching the hedgehog will show the difference. Often a hedgehog that is sneezing will also be licking his/her nose frequently. While hedgehogs do lick their noses and some more than others, it should be assumed that a hedgehog that is sneezing and also licking their nose frequently has a runny nose.

Runny noses are not always a concern. but if you see any thick, cloudy or coloured mucous means infection and the hedgehog needs to be treated by a vet ASAP.

The first thing to do if your hedgehog is sneezing is to put him or her on cloth cage liners. A temporary liner can be a pillow case, flannel baby receiving blanket, or T-shirt. Ensure there are no loose threads or raw edges to the fabric. Never use a towel or any loose woven or loopy fabric as the threads can get wrapped around tiny nails.

Once you have something to use as a liner, hand wash it and Either dryer dry or hang inside to dry. Do not hang outside as allergens and pollens can attach to the liners.

My hedgehogs cold to the touch, Lethargy and Wobbling

These symptoms are normally due to your hedgehog becoming too cold. Immediately warm your hedgehog up. Place the hedgehog under your shirt, or in a hedgehbag that have been warmed in a dryer. Once your hedgehog is warm, either increase the temperature in the room and make sure there are no drafts. If your hedgehogs cage is in a draft place a towel, blanket direct over the draft to your hedgehogs cage as this will also help him stay warm.

Is it best to buy a male Or a Female hedgehog?

Personally I have not seen a difference in temperament. So unless you are buying your hedgehog for a specific purpose I would advise that you choose a hedgehog that seems to appeal to you.

Can Hedgehogs Be Kept Outside?

hedgehogs cannot be kept outside, the general rule of thumb is if you are warm enough in a T-shirt then it is warm enough for a hedgehog. It is possible to let hedgehogs out in the summer in an run, however this is only on really hot days & it is important to check the ground for bugs etc first. Hedgehogs should not be left unsupervised & must be provided with Shade & water at all times.

Do Hedgehogs Spines Hurt?

Again if a hedgehog wants to hurt you with their spines they can, however this is rare with a tame well handled hedgehog and if you do get prickled it’s not all that bad

Can I keep Hedgehogs in pairs?

In is not normally possible to keep male hedgehogs in pairs, however females can be kept together each other. Also age plays a big factor, you will stand more chance of getting hedgehogs who are under 6 months to live together. It is important to keep an eye on them to ensure they are still happy with their living arrangements & if necessary provide separate beds or even separate enclosures.

Another point to remember is that if you are planning to breed your hedgehogs it is not advisable to keep them together as when the babys are due you will have to split them up which could cause distress (not advisable for a pregnant hedgehog) & it is probable you will not be able to house them together again after the babys have left the nest

I’m Allergic to cat, dogs, rabbits etc will i have allergies to hedgehog too

Hedgehogs do not produce a lot of ‘dander’ which is what can cause an allergy to an animal. This makes them a suitable alternative to a furry pet for allergy sufferers. However, people could still be allergic to their bedding or food. Hedgehogs themselves are allergic to cedar and many wood oils so these

Do Hedgehogs Get Along with Other Pets?

As with anything else, careful consideration should be given before introducing any new pet into a household of established pets. But when it comes to other household pets, African pygmy hedgehogs have an advantage over other small pets due to their extraordinary defence system!

Often people ask me if a hedgehog will get along with their cat or dog. This will depend a lot on the characteristics of the other pets in the house and your hedgehog. As well, any interaction between your hedgehog and other household pets should be carefully supervised, especially in the beginning. Just use caution and common sense. Don’t leave your hog unattended around other pets and make sure their cage is securely locked when your hedgehog is in it so that your dog or cat cannot get to them. But generally speaking, African pygmy hedgehogs are pretty well-equipped to defend themselves from other pets and seem to tolerate other pets quite well. Cats typically seem to quickly develop a healthy respect for the quills of a hedgehog, and keep a respectful distance. Dogs, too, are generally quite wary of the hedgehog’s armour. As for other pets, they seem to get along fairly well with hedgehogs as well

Introductions should be made carefully, preferably with you holding the hedgehog. Overall, hedgehogs are quite amiable and non-aggressive, which combined with their excellent defence mechanism, makes them a fairly agreeable combination with other pets

Can you get pet insurance

Exotic Direct are the only pet Insurers in the UK that will insure pet hedgehogs

Whilst we cannot give any advice on insurance products, we do recommend you think about insuring your African pygmy hedgehog.

What does UKAPH registered mean?

UKAPH means “UK African Pygmy Hedgehog”. UKAPH registered means that all of the hedgehog’s information is on the registry system and is shared with the International Hedgehog Registry. All hedgehogs registered are pedigree. The information may be shared with other owners and breeders to help with any inquiries, health issues and also to prevent cross breeding.

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