Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets? (Are They High Maintenance?)

Hedgehogs are not just unusual in appearance! These nocturnal creatures are troublemakers in the critter community and people often say this exotic pet is expensive and high maintenance. But is that really the truth? 

Hedgehogs are solitary, low-maintenance pets that do not require much interaction from their owners. Even more, they are affordable! This makes them great company for someone with a busy schedule or on a low budget. 

A low-maintenance pet like a hedgehog is perfect for anyone who has a reclusive life. They are a bold and impressive pet choice and pay tribute to the person’s (literal) nocturnal habits. 

How Much Attention Does My Hedgehog Need from Me? 

Hedgehogs do not require excessive attention. Just spending a few minutes of your day socializing with your hedgehog can help you can maintain a close relationship. In fact, it may even strengthen your bond!  

Many first-time hedgehog owners make the mistake of forcing their affection on their hedgehogs and forget that these animals prefer to be left alone, especially during the daytime. 

You do not need to devote all your time to your hedgehog, but you must remember that owning a pet is a commitment and you need to give them the attention that they deserve. 

If you cannot dedicate time each day to your hedgehog for bonding and socializing, then you might want to reconsider adopting a hedgehog. 

Things You Need to Adopt a Hedgehog 

Hedgehogs are not expensive pets, and neither are the start-up costs for getting your new family member’s home put together. So, if you are interested in adopting a hedgehog and are concerned that there is a massive cost for adopting your pokey bud, just relax!  

The information in this list below summarizes everything you could possibly need to know about adopting your first hedgehog! From buying your hedgehog cage to your first visit to the vet, this is everything you need before you bring your hedgehog home for the first time!

Things you need to do before adopting a hedgehog include: 

A Hedgehog Cage 

Before anything else, you will need a cage to keep your hedgehog in! People often use Guinea Pig cages or rabbit cages because the size is convenient. You can also make your own bin cage (minimum of 105 quarts) as well which many people prefer because it is easier to clean and more durable. 

Many hedgehog owners also recommend purchasing multi-tier cages which offer even more room for your hedgehog to explore throughout the night. Of course, making their space larger is going to make maintenance more difficult. Multi-tier cages mean washing multiple blankets, cleaning multiple surfaces, etc.

Single-tier cages (like this one) can be emptied, sprayed down, and cleaned out quickly but a multi-tier cage will take more time. It boils down to the amount of time you are willing to take. So, before upgrading your cage or purchasing an add-on you should ask yourself whether you are ready to make the commitment and extra time.

Ideally, your hedgehog’s cage should be as big as possible so there is enough roaming space for them to get proper exercise throughout their busy night! Whether their cage is multi-tiered or single-tiered, be sure that you are using a sturdy and reliable cage. 

Bedding 

Bedding provides your hedgehog with comfort and warmth! That is why you should always provide your favorite family member with the best bedding you can find! Hedgehog owners typically turn to fleece for their bedding since it is warm, and does not fray which means it will not snag your hedgie’s quills.

Fleece blankets can also be washed and reused which costs only the amount of soap and water! Another common and eco-friendly option is shredded paper which is a great insulator but because it is not reusable, it costs extra, unlike fleece!

It is generous to lay a few extra pieces of fleece or shredded paper materials around your hedgehog’s cage and let your hedgie make its own bedding inside its hideaway! This is good for brain stimulation and lets them make themselves feel personally comfortable inside their new home!

Litter Box 

It is not uncommon for hedgehogs to go to the bathroom while they run on their nightly marathon! That is exactly why having a litter box underneath their exercise wheel can be helpful for maintaining a clean environment.  

Although a litter pan is not necessary, it will severely cut down on how frequently you must clean your hedgehog’s cage. It catches the mess before it hits your fleece blanket (or other bedding material) and can be disposed of quickly and easily. 

Hedgehog litter boxes only need to be changed once per week which is very convenient for owners who have busy schedules. Hedgehogs use recycled newspaper litter pellets (not the clay-based litter that cats use), an affordable and dust-free litter that is not harmful if ingested by your hedgehog!

Toys 

Hedgehogs are very playful and enjoy having a wide variety of toys to choose from so their minds can stay stimulated. There are endless toys to choose from, too, but some common hedgehog favorites include balls and wooden tunnels! 

Ironically, hedgehogs love to play with cat toys! Cat toys come in a wide variety of colors, designs, and types which gives you the opportunity to find a toy that fits your hedgehog’s tastes and stimulation needs! You can find cat toys at any pet store, most grocery stores, and even convenience stores!

A Heat Source 

Humans turn the temperature of their house down at night and for hedgehogs who rely on their external surroundings for warmth, this can be problematic. Temperature is important for your hedgehog which is why having a proper heat source, like an automatic heat lamp is crucial to their survival! (Be careful that it’s not too warm, however!)

Hideout 

Hideouts imitate hedgehog dens in nature where they would hide out from lethal predators! Hedgehogs are natural prey which is why they are always close to defense mode so giving your hedgie a moveable fort, blocking them on all sides, is crucial to their comfort! 

Place a hideout in your hedgehog’s cage along with some insulation inside like additional bedding and they will dig a nice, comfortable den for themselves! Insulation is important for maintaining proper body temperatures and preventing hibernation

Shots and Vaccinations

Hedgehogs do not require any vaccinations which means no poking and prodding for your pricky pal! That being said, you still need to take your new pet to the vet for an evaluation after you first adopt them!  

Knowing the current state of your pet’s health and whether they require any special treatment is important to the maintenance of your hedgehog. If something is wrong with your hedgehog, it is important you do something and do not release it into the wild. A pet hedgehog cannot live in the wild!

Food and Water 

Hedgehogs have a low-maintenance diet that requires nothing more than nutritious hedgehog food from your local pet store. Keep your hedgehog free-fed at all times, with their dish easily accessible and secure at all times! 

Water can be served either in a heavy bowl that will not tip over from your hedgehog’s weight or a hanging bottle. In both cases, your hedgehog should always be able to reach the water and you should change it frequently. 

What Makes Hedgehogs Affordable Pets?  

Many people think hedgehogs are unattainable, exotic pets when in fact they are domesticated pets that anyone can afford!

In addition to their low adoption fees, upkeep is exceptionally low for hedgehogs because they do not require constant doctors’ visits and annual exams like typical house pets such as your cat or dog.

Furthermore, hedgies are solitary pets which means you will only be buying for one pet and the reusable hedgehog supplies in your cage can be changed out without damage! 

Are Hedgehogs Easy to Care For?  

Hedgehogs are very easy to care for because they do not require a lot of attention or maintenance. In fact, hedgehogs need to be bathed less than once per month and their weekly cage-cleaning process takes no longer than fifteen minutes, in total! 

To a degree, hedgehogs would just love to be left alone. However, they have just the right amount of love for their human companions to make them loving and dependable pets! 

How Long Can a Pet Hedgehog Be Left Alone? 

Hedgehogs can be left alone for numerous days, if necessary, but that does not mean they do not require socializing.

If you leave your hedgehog alone and do not socialize with them, odds are they will start to become grumpy and may develop hostile behaviors toward you and other people.  

If you are forced to go out of town or take a vacation, have someone your hedgehog is familiar with watching your hedgehog and keep them company until you return! Leaving them unattended is dangerous.  

Do Hedgehogs Need Hygienic Care? 

Hedgehogs are exceptionally clean animals and do not require much care from their owners hygienically. However, their grooming skills are limited which is why they must be bathed every month or so.  

They also require nail clippings every few weeks. Many hedgie owners claim the difficulty of your nail clipping experience is unpredictable and it does not matter how gentle you are. If your hedgie decides that they do not like getting their nails clipped, it will never be an easy task! 

Do I Need to Clean a Lot After My Hedgehog? 

Hedgehogs are not high-maintenance animals and their cages do not require ample cleaning. But your hedgehog’s litter box will require cleaning at least once per week. In addition to their cage being cleaned once every week! 

Even though your hedgehog is a hygienic animal, you must also do your part in providing them with a clean environment.  

Can Hedgehogs be Transported Easily? 

In an ideal world, you will not be taking your hedgehog around with you. This can startle your hedgehog and cause them great stress.

If needed, hedgehogs can be transported using an animal traveling carrier. It should be big enough that they can move around, and you should provide them with a fleece blanket to bury themselves in.

Weather permitting, you may also use a hedgehog leash and take your hedgehog on a walk. Remember in both cases that you should be aware of the temperature. 

Are Hedgehogs Good Pets for Kids? 

Hedgehogs are not good pets for children! Because this fierce mammal is nocturnal, young children will never get to bond with their barbed bestie.  

In hindsight, the hedgehog’s low-maintenance nature would be perfect for any new pet keeper. Unfortunately, because they are only active during odd hours, that means that they are not for everyone, primarily children.  

The more you poke and prod a hedgehog, the more they are going to resent you which is why letting a young child adopt a hedgehog or having a hedgehog as a class pet would be a bad idea. 

These nocturnal animals can get shocked easily. If a child does not understand that they cannot disturb the sleeping hedgehog during the daytime, they run the risk of getting bit!

Hedgehog Pros and Cons 

There are many reasons why you should get a hedgehog but admittedly, hedgehogs can be high maintenance at times which has its own benefits and drawbacks.

In fact, the nocturnal hedgehog makes a great pet for anyone with an obscure schedule. However, for a young child, this is an impossible pet to develop a real bond with. 

Hedgehog Pros

  • Adorable 
  • Active (at night) 
  • Fun  
  • Long life span!
  • Affordable 
  • Independent
  • Do not smell bad
  • Quiet
  • Nocturnal 

Hedgehog Cons 

  • Nocturnal 
  • Solitary 
  • Anti-social 
  • Moody 

Sure, hedgehogs can be menacing pests sometimes but just because they are anti-social and prefer the nightlife does not mean they cannot be a good time!  

Conclusion

Hedgehogs are clean and low-maintenance pets with a long lifespan. They can provide great companionship but do not require much socialization, just daily talks and snuggles are enough to help them thrive and enjoy life!

Given they are such a joy to be around and keeping up with their physical and social care is a breeze, it is unfortunate that hedgehogs are nocturnal. But these spiky mammals only dwell in the darkness which is one reason why many people will never be fortunate enough to have them as pets!

If you live the nightlife and want a peculiar pet, you might want to try adopting a hedgehog! These pets are very easy to manage and can be great companions!