An introduction to domestic hedgehogs

You may have noticed that biology is not my strongest science, but even so, I can’t help but quantify my hedgehog’s experiences as he explores the world. Hedgehogs are classified as exotics; they are rare pets, even illegal in some locations.

Introducing my small friend.

Introducing my small friend.

Pet hedgehogs are a hybrid of several African species of hedgehog, a tiny ball of quills roughly a third the size of European hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are bred for health, temperament, and appearance, and at this point they’re pretty far removed from their wild cousins. They aren’t well-studied as a species, so recommendations on how to take care of them is subject to a lot of contradiction and rumour. Observing my quilly companion’s behaviours allows me to add a few data-points in upcoming monthly installments.

Common Myths

  • Hedgehogs are not rodents. They also aren’t very closely related to porcupines, echidna, or even the extremely bad-tempered tenrec. They are fairly closely related to moonrats, a shrew-ancestor. Their teeth do not keep growing, so giving them gnaw-toys is a bad idea.
  • Quills stay put. Hedgehog quills are a modified hair made of the same material as fingernails. Unlike porcupines, hedgehog’s quills stay firmly attached to them at all times. They will sometimes raise their forehead (visor) quills and hop-jump as a offensive maneuver. Quills are shed in large quantities as baby hedgehogs grow larger and replace their thin, super-pointy quills with larger, less-savage adult quills. Quilling is a fairly miserable process, akin the discomfort of teething, and leads to bad-tempered hedgehogs.
  • Hedgehogs don’t smell. They don’t have a strong odor like guinea pigs and other rodents.

Do you have any questions about hedgehogs? Have you heard rumours about them that you aren’t certain are true?

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