The breeding and domestication of hedgehogs first became popular in the 1980s. Breeders experimented with various wild species. The most popular domesticated breed is the African Pygmy Hedgehog, a hybrid between the white-bellied or four-toed hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog all from the atelerix variety. which includes the somali sciateri hedgehog.
The African Pygmy Hedgehog is bred exclusively in captivity and does not exist in the wild.
It is smaller than any breed of wild hedgehog, weighing in between 300 and 550 grams. They are anywhere from six to eight inches long. They have pointed snouts, round dark eyes and unbarbed spines (or quills) on their backs instead of fur. They do, however, have soft fur on their bellies. They have four toes on their hind feet, but five on their front feet.
Hedgehogs have keen senses, but while their eyesight is good the most highly-developed sense is their sense of smell. They use smell to find food from a distance, even if it buried as much as two inches below the ground.
The lifespan of an African Pygmy Hedgehog in captivity is anywhere from three to five years. They are nocturnal creatures, accustomed to being on the move all night long. If you get a pet hedgehog, expect it to be awake all night and sleep all day.
They are not known to cause any allergies, which makes them excellent pets for people who are allergic to more common pets like cats and dogs. They can be great pets for older children, as long as there is adult supervision.