How to take care of a hedgehog? This nocturnal animal that looks like a ball of spikes and sometimes considered as a good luck charm is difficult to tame.
If you are lucky enough to have this hard-haired visitor in your garden, you can easily approach it by offering the comfort this animal needs.
In captivity, hedgehogs have an average life expectancy of 8 years. In the wild, its longevity is shorter. It hardly survives more than 3-4 years if facing predators and human activity.
Note that it is a wild animal whose life habits are quite incompatible with domesticity anyway.
It lives not that long but happily in its natural habitat. However, if you are a big fan of the hedgehog and want to pet it with care, we give you our best tips on how to domesticate a hedgehog and every piece of information will be useful for you.
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Can I adopt a hedgehog?
Before taking in a hedgehog at home, it is advisable to find out about the legislation in force in your country.
The European (or common) hedgehog is protected because it is a victim of deforestation. However, the hedgehog is very popular as an exotic pet in few countries.
This is the case in Quebec, Canada, where the African hedgehog is bred and can be purchased. It is immediately recognizable thanks to its white belly.
In Switzerland and Belgium, it is also possible to buy hedgehogs by contacting certified breeders in order not to take part in a potential illegal animal traffic. A certification will then be delivered to you under conditions.
In the US, owning a hedgehog is not legal in some states such as California and Georgia.
Where to find a wild hedgehog?
Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals. They can be seen from sunset near bushes and other shrubs in Europe. And no, hedgehogs are not native species in America!
If you want to see hedgehogs in a country where it is not possible to breed them, take a walk in the forest on small country roads or near shrubs in the city at night. They also like to walk in the vegetable garden and sometimes even near the cat’s bowl!
Be aware that a hedgehog visible during the day is not normal. If you find a hedgehog when the sun is in the sky, it is most likely lost. In any case, it is in distress and in danger.
To rescue it, move it into the shade under the nearest bush. Don’t be afraid to pick up a hedgehog. If it is frightened, it will curl up in a ball. You can touch it by gently running both hands underneath.
To tame a wild hedgehog without capturing it and breaking the law, you can simply leave some kibble-type food in your garden, although you should be aware that this may attract other, rather undesirable animals.
How to choose a hedgehog?
Before buying a hedgehog, make a few basic checks. A sick or unhealthy hedgehog may not survive transportation or a change of environment.
If the hedgehog’s nose is dripping or sneezing regularly, if it has scabs (ears, eyes, quills…), if its coat is sparse or if it struggles to keep its head up, you are in the company of an animal in bad shape. Consult a professional veterinarian.
Raising a domestic hedgehog
Hedgehogs can very friendly pets. It can play ball with you and likes to run around like a hamster.
However, it has a great need for space. In its natural habitat, the hedgehog travels quite long distances to feed.
While the common hedgehog hibernates when temperatures are cold in Europe, the African hedgehog does not thanks to the favorable climate where it lives in the wild. That’s why it’s in your best interest to keep this kind of hedgehog in a place that is above 20°C (68°F).
Also note that a sudden drop in temperature can make your pet very sick. Some people choose to keep their hedgehogs with them in the winter.
By the way, t he price of an African hedgehog is more or less about 230 dollars.
The hedgehog shelter
This nocturnal mammal hunts at night and sleeps during the day. It needs a large space and a warm place where it can feel protected.
In a very large container, put cardboard, cedar shavings, pieces of wood and he will be able to make a shelter that suits him. Don’t forget a small blanket.
If you like to do-it-yourself, don’t hesitate to build a more sophisticated shelter while keeping in mind the basics mentioned above.
You can also order a cute shelter for hedgehog (inside) on Amazon here.
What does a hedgehog eat?
If you have a pet dog or cat and its food bowl is lying around the garden, you’ll probably be lucky enough to attract a hedgehog. So what does it eat?
When it comes to food, these wild animals are very fond of cat food. It is therefore not uncommon to observe a hedgehog eating it. But as you may have guessed, in the wild, the favorite food of these famous balls of quills are different. It is an omnivore with a strong tendency to eat insects.
In the forests, the countryside and the small green spaces of cities, the hedgehog feeds itself mainly on insects. It is not the friend of gardeners for nothing, it loves to eat slugs, snails, even small field mice…
You can therefore offer him daily the equivalent of 10-30 g so about 0,5 to 1 oz (depending on his weight) of crickets, grasshoppers, gastropod molluscs and other worms.
As a base, you can also buy ferret food or dog and cat food. The protein content of such prepared food is suitable for hedgehogs.
To quench its thirst, water in a cup or a hamster bottle will do the trick.
Occasionally, as a treat, you can give your hedgehog pieces of fruit. Hedgehogs are particularly fond of bananas, apples, strawberries, mangoes and raspberries.
In terms of meat, hedgehogs like to eat cooked chicken or canned tuna.
Dangerous foods for those animals are dairy products, bread, carrots, corn, peanut butter, onion, dried fruits and grapes.
You can simply order hedgehog food here.
Reproduction of the hedgehogs
While being sometimes playful, the hedgehog is rather solitary, it seeks a mate only during the breeding season. The males fight badly to reproduce but the females support each other quite well.
During the mating season (May-June), the hedgehog couple starts a courtship including muzzle rubbing. Once coitus is complete, the male leaves the female who is responsible for the care of the baby hedgehog and who usually does not arrive alone.
The sexual maturity of a hedgehog is reached after one year. However, in order to achieve a successful pregnancy, the female needs to be 2-3 years old.
The gestation period lasts 40 days, during which the female isolates herself without eating. She gives birth to an average of 5 baby hedgehogs but only one or two will reach the age of one year.
The babies need warmth. Provide a blanket for them to snuggle up in, water always available, and cat formula food when they have teeth.
CAUTION: do not touch an unweaned kitten, its mother may reject it.
The health of the hedgehog is an important issue. In the case of a wild hedgehog found injured or in bad shape, take it to a veterinarian who will know how to treat it.
With ticks, brush cutters, cars… The common hedgehog is in constant danger.
As for your domestic hedgehog, be careful when you feed it. Never give bread and only give cat milk to the baby hedgehog as a replacement if its mother is not with it.
Remember that if your hedgehog seems unwell, for example when he coughs, contact a vet.
Watch a hedgehog in his natural environment thanks to Youtube :