Many people who have seen hedgehogs are quite taken with their appealing, charismatic faces, and wonder if it is possible to keep a hedgehog as a pet. In fact, hedgehogs are popular pets all over the world, ranging from the United States, where they are kept as indoor pets, to Britain, where pet hedgehogs have the run of the garden to help with pest control. Hedgehog breeders provide their clients with specially bred hedgehogs sometimes known as African Pygmy Hedgehogs. These hedgehogs are bred to be small, and are handled from a young age so that they will be tame.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs are not actually a specific species, but rather a crossbreed of several small hedgehog species, and they also come in a variety of colors. A pet hedgehog is usually small, around eight inches (20 centimeters) in length. The quills of a hedgehog are not sharp spines like those of a porcupine, so they will not harm people who handle hedgehogs normally. When relaxed, the quills lie flat, and sometimes hedgehogs will even roll over so that their owners can pet their soft undersides.
When selecting as hedgehog to keep as a pet, try to seek out a reputable breeder. If you can, handle the hedgehogs to pick out a particularly tame animal that you feel a connection with. Check to make sure that the hedgehog's eyes and nose are clear, and that the hedgehog is not too fat, too skinny, or otherwise unhealthy. Have a box prepared to take the hedgehog home in, and plan on keeping it in a cage for a few days before allowing it the run of the house.
After being given a few days to acclimate, a pet hedgehog will take readily to being allowed to roam around the house, and you will be able to pick your pet up as well. Do not be discouraged if the hedgehog rolls up into a defense ball; the animals are naturally shy, and it may take some time for the hedgehog to get used to you. Continue to hold the animal until it relaxes and begins to explore your hands.
Hedgehogs prefer roomy cages to live in, and should not be allowed to roam the house without supervision. You can use bedding designed for small mammals, and add a litter box for the hedgehog, taking care to keep it well away from food and water. Hedgehogs also appreciate having a secure place to hide, so provide a small nesting box to curl up in. Hedgehogs are insectivores, and are the healthiest when given a balanced and varied diet of insects, specially designed food, and small amounts of fruit.