If you are looking for a unique and relatively low-maintenance pet, you may have considered getting a hedgehog. Hedgehogs are ideal when you don't have much time and space or if you rent a home in which you are not allowed to have larger animals. But don't make these six mistakes when you first take your new spiky friend home.
Not Getting Them Used to Being Handled
Although they're naturally quite prickly, hedgehogs can make their quills lie flat when they want to. The key is to get them to relax and get used to being handled frequently. Having your hedgehog comfortable with handling makes them more fun as pets and makes it easier on everyone if you ever need to see a veterinarian.
While you're training your hedgehog to become accustomed to humans, you can use a small towel or suede work gloves to protect your hands. Eventually, your hedgehog will uncurl and flatten its quills every time it hears your voice or smells your scent.
Thinking It's Sick When It Spits
Hedgehogs make spit balls around things when they want to explore them or possess them. There's no need to run to the vet if you experience this phenomenon; it's just your hedgehog's way of extending its senses.
Not Finding a Small Animal Vet in Advance of Needing One
If your hedgehog self-mutilates, such as biting its own hands and feet, which is common as they age, you do need to see a vet right away, however. Likewise, you will need to seek professional care if your hedgehog gets cut or scraped.
Hedgehogs will bite at their own wounds, so you may need to have them sutured with a few tiny stitches under the skin. A bandage can then be applied, and the bandage will likely be surprisingly well tolerated.
Before you ever encounter an emergency with your hedgehog, locate a vet such as Northwest Animal Hospital near you that treats exotic pets and has a small-animal surgery in the clinic.
Offering Only Pellets as Food
You can purchase pelleted food for your hedgehog, but that gets boring. Hedgehogs are omnivores and will enjoy a variety of live insects, chopped vegetables, and fruits as well as meat or even canned cat food.
Not Giving Your Hedgehog Enough Exercise
Be careful, though--all that food and not enough activity can bring out the "hog" in your hedgehog. Make sure you offer your hedgehog regular exercise.
While you can actually train your hedgehog to walk safely on an iguana leash, there are better ways to get them moving. A plastic baby pool is the perfect way to let your hedgehog run free with limits, and it's easy to sanitize too. You can add mazes and tunnels for extra fun.
Just make sure there are no birds of prey in the area if you are exercising your quilled companion outdoors. Use your little hedgehog gym inside for the safest play environment.