This guest post is by Kwintine Mathews.
Are you tired of the usual canine and feline companions? If you’re searching for an interesting and unique pet, you might want to consider the adorable hedgehogs. These small creatures belong to the Erinaceidae family, which is mostly based in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Hedgehogs typically have round bodies, pointed noses, and short tails. Its distinctive attribute is its prickly spines that you can see throughout its body except for its face, legs, and belly.
While these fun pets are considered low-maintenance, you still need to efficiently care for them to keep them healthy.
If you’re interested in becoming a hedgehog owner, you should know the different species of hedgehogs to decide which is right for you.
Meet the Hedgehog
There are 5 genera and 16 species of hedgehogs throughout the regions of Europe, Asia, and Africa. You will find these critters in various tones such as salt-and-pepper, albino, and pinto. Normally, a hedgehog can live between 4 and 10 years.
While there are several noted species of this animal, only a number of breeds can be raised as pets. The typical breeds of hedgehogs found in most homes are:
- African Pygmy (Atelerix albiventris)
- Egyptian long-eared (Hemiechinus auritus auritus)
- Indian-long-eared (Hemiechinus collaris)
The African Pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) originated in sub-Saharan Central Africa. This four-toed critter dwells on Savanna regions and mainly crop fields. It is approximately 20 centimeters or 8 inches long.
Physically, its entire body is fully white which makes its dark head simply stand out. A collectively noisy and active group, African Pygmy hedgehogs can naturally swim and climb.
The Egyptian Long-Eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus auritus) comes mainly from the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean, and a few places in East Asia. As a result, this breed favors warm climate.
Furthermore, the long-eared hedgehog has the unique trait of being able to release its short spikes and escape instead of curling up into a ball as a defense which is common for hedgehogs.
The Indian-long-eared hedgehog, on the other hand, is native to the dry regions of Pakistan and Northwestern India. This type of species is inherently small with a dark color.
The Indian Long-Eared hedgehog is really interesting because it conducts an elaborate ritualistic dance to impress the females.
Why You Should Choose a Hedgehog
If you're still on the fence about whether or not to get a pet hedgehog, consider the benefits of caring for one of these intelligent creatures.
The hedgehog is a typically quiet pet. It may make muffled noises from time to time but otherwise, this gentle pet is great for those living in apartments and those who prefer a single pet.
One of the great perks of owning a hedgehog is that you don't have to take it outside for walks.
Inside your home, it will not roam around your living room and chew your furniture. While each hedgehog is different, when you take good care of your hedgehog and spend time with it, it will reward you with many years of friendly, happy companionship.
If you are eager to buy a hedgehog as a pet, consider these fascinating facts about these curious creatures:
- Hedgehogs have a weird behavior called “self-anointing”.
They make frothy saliva in their mouth when they eat a poisonous plant. Afterward, they lick their spines which scatters the poison all over their spikes. Researchers suggest that hedgehogs do this to hide their scent from predators or as a defense mechanism when attacked.
- Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures. They sleep mostly during the day and come out at night.
- They have a reputation of being a “gardener’s friend”. In the wild, their favorite foods are insects, worms, centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and snakes, which are considered pests to gardeners.
- One hedgehog has about 5000 spines. They shed their quills when they are babies and new spines grow in their place. This process is called quilling.
- Hedgehogs are born blind.
- There are several cultures that eat hedgehogs. The Bedouins in the Middle East used to regard hedgehog meat as a good treatment for arthritis.
There are a group of people in Pakistan and India known as the Romanis. These people eat boiled or roasted hedgehog meat. They use the fat and blood for medicinal purposes.
- When hunting for food during the day, hedgehogs rely on their senses of smell and hearing because they have weak eyesight.
- Hedgehogs are solitary animals. They only pair up to mate. The male persuades the female, which sometimes takes hours. After mating, the pair will separate, and the male has no role in bringing up the family.
- There are US States and Canadian municipalities which ban hedgehog ownership. In the UK, wild European Hedgehogs are endangered, thus it’s illegal to own one. African Pygmy hedgehogs, however, is legal in the UK.