AFRICAN PYGMY HEDGEHOGS CARE SHEET
The vast majority of existing literature considers the basic diet of an African Pygmy Hedgehog to be
a good quality dry cat food (e.g. Whiskas, Iams) which is high in protein and also has the advantage of allowing the hedgehogs
to exercise their teeth thus preventing dental problems.
It is advisable to offer a varied diet as much a possible. The main diet can
therefore be supplemented with the following items:-
- Cooked Chicken, Mince or Lamb
- Boiled or Scrambled Egg
- Fruit and Vegetables
(All of my hoglets have been offered the above items in order to prevent “fussy”
In addition, live foods are also warmly welcomed by most hedgehogs
Crickets, Mealworms, Locusts and Waxworms
It is important to highlight that these foods should only be offered as a treat, perhaps once or twice
per week as they are high in fats. Fruits and vegetables may also be offered in the form of apple, tomato,
peas, mashed potato and broccoli. However, many hedgehogs generally tend to show little interest in such
foods. A way round this problem is to combine food items e.g. a little cat food together with a little
cooked chicken and vegetables. This ensures that the hedgehogs are consuming healthy foods which also provide
a valuable source of vitamins.
Fresh water should always be available to the hoglets
using a ceramic bowl. Water bottles are not recommended as there is a risk your hedgehog may get their tongue caught in the
spout and also water bottles do not provide a natural drinking position for hedgehogs.
Pygmy Hedgehogs are solitary animals in nature and only meet up together in order to mate and so it is advisable to house
them separately. However, a small number of hedgehog keepers have claimed to keep a small number of females
together without experiencing any problems providing ample space is provided. Keeping more than one male
together in the same cage will almost certainly lead to fighting.
The cage should be placed away from drafts and direct
sunlight to avoid stressing the hedgehog. Varying types of caging is used by many hedgehog keepers and
breeders. The most common of these are indoor cages designed for guinea pigs or rabbits (e.g. Ferplast
Duna and Zoozone Cages. Wooden Vivariums are also a popular choice of housing.
I would recommend using a fleece liner to cover the bottom of the cage. Shredded
paper can also be used. It is important here to highlight the dangers of using straw as bedding.
Problems with using straw have frequently been experienced by other hedgehog keepers, hence why I have never used it.
Straw and some types of hay can easily become wound around the legs of a hedgehog and may cut off the blood supply
to the legs if action is not promptly taken.
It is important to provide a secure hiding place for
your hoglet to sleep in. This may be in the form of a wooden next box or a hut, a wooden log, cardboard
tubes and shoe boxes, plastic igloos or bread bins.
Toys are warmly welcomed by hedgehogs. The best
investment would be a large exercise wheel (I use a 12” wheel used for ferrets). Wheels provide an
important source of exercise for our hedgehog, and help to prevent boredom and health problems such as fatty liver and obesity.
However, do ensure that the wheels are solid as many hedgehogs can catch their feet in the bars of those without a
solid base. In addition to exercise wheels hedgehogs also like tubes and balls which they can
push around their cage with their noses. Small toys available for cats or ferrets containing bells are
especially favourable for hedgehogs. African Pygmy Hedgehogs are adventurous in nature and also enjoy exploring
tunnels on any kind whether they are plastic or cardboard. I usually place small amounts of food around
the cage in the evenings (in tunnels etc) to provide some stimulation for the hedgehogs and keep them occupied.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs
are best kept at around 70-75 degrees (that of a comfortably heated house). If the temperature is significantly
lower than this, hedgehogs will attempt to hibernate (something that should not be allowed as it can prove to be fatal for
the hedgehog). During the colder months or if all round heating is a problem, small heat pads can be placed
underneath the sleeping quarters of the cage or a Ceramic Heat Emitter and temperature controller can be installed especially
if using a wooden vivarium.
I clean my hedgehogs out thoroughly once per week. In between such
times, any heavily soiled areas can be scooped out. I currently use washing up liquid for general cleaning
and a non-scented disinfectant for heavily soiled areas. Please note that any cleaning products with a
heavy smell can upset the hedgehogs.
BRINGING YOUR HOGLET HOME
The journey home combined with a change in environment
can be a stressful time for your hedgehog. I have provided you with some of your hoglets regular food in
order to try and keep the stress levels to a minimum. Even with such measures in place it is highly likely
that your hoglet will be very shy or even grumpy, and may even go off its food for the first few days (this is to be expected).
I personally believe that it is better to handle your hoglet from day one as it helps them to settle into their new
home. Babies will require a lot of sleep so remember to allow them to get plenty.
In addition, your hoglet is around the age to start quilling which can unfortunately sometimes
make them a little irritable. Baby hedgehogs will shed their baby “spikes” which are replaced
by adults ones around 8/12 weeks of age. You may notice your hoglet scratching a little, as it can be quite
itchy for them (don’t worry – this is a natural process).
It may take a couple of weeks before your hoglet has settled in properly, and your patience is required
(however, it is worth the wail). It is important to continue handling them during this period – even
if they may seem unwilling. This is best done in a quiet environment in the early evening (when your hedgehog
begins to wake up).
Hedgehogs will be happy to sit
on the palm of your hand or walk form hand to hand like smaller rodents. Some will use you as climbing
frames and others will be happy to snuggle up and enjoy cuddles - it is probably best
to handle them initially for short periods of time (5/10 minutes), which can gradually be increased as your hoglet begins
to relax in your presence. I hope that you enjoy your hoglet and that this information will help you as you embark
on your own adventure with your African Pygmy Hedgehog
AFRICAN PYGMY HEDGEHOGS
ARE A DELIGHT TO OWN BUT THEY DO NEED CARE AND ATTENTION. THEY THRIVE ON REGULAR EXERCISE OUTSIDE OF THEIR HOME AND NEED TIME
WITH YOU FOR CUDDLES AND TREATS. HANDLED ON A REGULAR DAILY BASIS THEY WILL REWARD YOU WITH THEIR INQUISITIVE BEHAVIOUR AND
PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THESE CREATURES ARE SOLITARY ANIMALS AND SHOULD BE HOUSED IN INDIVIDUAL HOMES
- HOWEVER APPEALING IT MAY BE TO PURCHASE A PAIR OF AFRICAN PYGMY HEDGEHOGS THAT ARE BEING HOUSED TOGETHER, IT IS IMPORTANT
TO KNOW THAT THE MALES CAN REPRODUCE FROM A REMARKABLY YOUNG AGE WHILST A FEMALE MUST BE SIX MONTHS OR OVER. IN THIS SITUATION
YOU WILL NOT KNOW IF YOUR FEMALE WILL BE CARRYING A LITTER AND IF SHE IS LEFT IN WITH THE MALE SHE WILL MORE THAN LIKELY KILL/EAT
THE LITTER WHEN IT IS BORN.