Hedgehogs: the pet you can't pet

Hedgehog being held

Image via Wikipedia

Has the British African pygmy hedgehog craze hit Chicago?

Breeders of these tiny, prickly critters are reporting their hedgehogs are the hot new thing for rich British women, who are replacing the Chihuahuas and pugs that once had pride of place in their handbags. Domesticated hedgehogs (which cost $400 a pop) are winning the hearts of U.K. buyers — including, reportedly, the wives of several top soccer players — as they require less care and attention than a dog, and are more portable and cheaper to feed.

via Forget Fido: Pygmy Hedgehogs are New Hot Pet

My roommate has a hedgehog for a pet. Former roommates used to talk about how much they wanted a hedgehog named Sonic as a pet. A friend of mine recently purchased a hedgehog over Craigslist (and had it die on her less than a month later). So why are they so popular? Steve Maciontek, the General Manager at Animal Kingdom, explained in an e-mail:

Animal Kingdom has offered African Pygmy Hedgehogs as pets long before their current popularity became evident.  These shy, quiet pets are great pets for households that cannot have dogs, cats, birds or other small animals.  They are virtually odor-free and rarely have health issues.  Animal Kingdom has seen a growing interest in these pets, particulary with college students, and couples who both work.  We estimate that our sales have doubled during the past year.

If you’re interested in owning one of these little critters yourself,  here’s a comprehensive guide to caring for your hedgehog  including cage arrangement (the poem on top of the page is well worth the click), and here’s a good link on how to litter train your hedgehog. Also, be careful where you get your hedgehog from!

Accidental punctures to themselves from their quills, obesity, and upper respiratory illnesses are the main concerns of hedgehog owners. We caution many of our customers to be very careful where they purchase their pet from.  Many dealers, including internet sellers, have no idea how to pick one of these pets up let alone care for it.  Ask questions.

adds Maciontek

I personally don’t understand the appeal. Yes, they are cute, but you can’t really cuddle them. My roommate naps on the couch with the hedgehog on her belly. The most entertaining thing the hedgehog does is swim and float around on its back in the bath tub.

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