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            Prickly on top, warm and fuzzy underneath: this perfectly describes the African Pygmy hedgehog. Under that menacing exterior is one of Nature’s most unique and intriguing mammals, an adorable pet with lots of personality. Normally shy and reclusive, hedgehogs become tame if gently handled and properly socialized. Hedgehogs are compact, quiet, and virtually odor free, making them one of the easiest pets to keep.

            Biological Facts

            • African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris)
            • Native to West and Central Africa. One of many hedgehog species found in Africa, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
            • They live in brush piles, rock crevices, and burrows. An insectivore related to moles and shrews
            • Average life span 3-5 years; can live up to 10 years
            • Reaches sexual maturity by 68 days, but first breeding generally does not occur until 6-8 months

            Behavior

            • Have a very strong sense of smell which they use to identify their surroundings
            • Will “self anoint” if exposed to strong or unusual smell, foaming at the mouth then spreading the foam over their bodies
            • Nocturnal habits – more active at night than during the day
            • Need to be handled and well-socialized when young to make well-adjusted pets
            • Some adult hedgehogs may not like to be handled regardless of socialization when young
            • Will range up to 1 mile in the wild
            • Do not hibernate
            • Commercial hedgehog diet (light or reduced calorie, high-quality adult cat food may be used if hedgehog food is unavailable) about 3 teaspoons/day
            • 1 teaspoon daily of chopped mixed vegetables and/or fruits (beans, carrots, apples, pears, berries, squash, peas, potatoes, tomatoes)
            • Offer live insects such as gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, earthworms, 3-4 times a week (avoid waxworms because they are high in fat)
            • Diet is extremely important because obesity is one of the most common medical problems seen in pet hedgehogs!
            • Hedgehogs are best housed individually, but may be kept in small groups as long as there is only one adult male.
            • Prefer quiet, dim environments. React with fright to loud noises or bright light.
            • Cage should provide enough room for movement and exercise. A 20 gallon or larger aquarium, sweater box, or similar smooth-walled enclosure is preferred in order to prevent escape.
            • Enclosures with wire mesh bottoms are not recommended as these can cause foot and leg injuries.
            • Enjoy privacy and require a box or other suitable hiding spot
            • Aspen shavings or recycled newspaper bedding recommended (NOT pine or cedar, not cat litter)
            • Sipper bottle with fresh water should be available at all times
            • Average temperature should be kept around 70-85°F. Low temperatures may induce hibernation. Provide supplemental heat with under-tank heating pads and radiant heat emitters as needed.
            • Will use exercise wheels (solid plastic, not open wire wheels)

            Diet

            • Commercial hedgehog diet (light or reduced calorie, high-quality adult cat food may be used if hedgehog food is unavailable) about 3 teaspoons/day
            • 1 teaspoon daily of chopped mixed vegetables and/or fruits (beans, carrots, apples, pears, berries, squash, peas, potatoes, tomatoes)
            • Offer live insects such as gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, earthworms, 3-4 times a week (avoid waxworms because they are high in fat)
            • Diet is extremely important because obesity is one of the most common medical problems seen in pet hedgehogs!

            Housing

            • Hedgehogs are best housed individually, but may be kept in small groups as long as there is only one adult male.
            • Prefer quiet, dim environments. React with fright to loud noises or bright light.
            • Cage should provide enough room for movement and exercise. A 20 gallon or larger aquarium, sweater box, or similar smooth-walled enclosure is preferred in order to prevent escape.
            • Enclosures with wire mesh bottoms are not recommended as these can cause foot and leg injuries.
            • Enjoy privacy and require a box or other suitable hiding spot
            • Aspen shavings or recycled newspaper bedding recommended (NOT pine or cedar, not cat litter)
            • Sipper bottle with fresh water should be available at all times
            • Average temperature should be kept around 70-85°F. Low temperatures may induce hibernation. Provide supplemental heat with under-tank heating pads and radiant heat emitters as needed.
            • Will use exercise wheels (solid plastic, not open wire wheels)

            Preventive Care

            • Routine physical examination every 6 to 12 months
              • Consult a veterinarian with experience treating exotic pets if you have any questions or concerns about your hedgehog’s health.
            • Annual fecal examination for parasites
            • Blood tests as recommended by your veterinarian
            • Dental disease and gum disease can largely be prevented by feeding an appropriate diet, routine brushing and scaling may be needed

            Common Medical Disorders

            • Salmonella infection causing anorexia, diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss. May become carriers and can spread the disease to humans or other pets
            • Dental disease, gingivitis, loose teeth
            • Mite infestations leading crusting, flaking, loss of spines
            • Fungal skin disease
            • Neoplasia
            • Obesity
            • Injury to the eyes
            • Leg and foot injuries
            • Liver disease
            • Kidney disease
            • Respiratory infections
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