When you’re looking for an exotic pet, hedgehogs might not come to mind. After all, most people think of hedgehogs as wild animals…perhaps even as pests. But there are varieties of this unusual animal that have been bred for human companionship.

Algerian hedgehogs make wonderful pets, as do the African Pygmy Hedgehog and the North African Hedgehog. There are several other varieties to consider, as well.

While some states in the U.S.A. do not allow citizens to own hedgehogs-they are not native to North America-other states do allow them as pets. Check your local regulations for information. But if you are allowed to own hedgehogs, they will quickly become valued members of your family.

Low-maintenance pets, they are curious animals that enjoy interactions with humans. They are also helpful. Left to roam the garden, they can eat up to 200 grams of insects each night. Of course, the area in which they feed should be kept free of insecticides.

Hedgehogs, unlike cats, dogs, or rabbits, spread no dander. That makes them wonderful pets for people who suffer from allergies to dander. However, some people can develop allergies to hedgehog food. Even though they are quiet animals, the most you will hear from them is a heavy huffing sound as they breathe.

Occasionally, they chirp softly. After you have spent some time with your new pet, you will learn what his noises mean. Sometimes they indicate he is upset or angry. If the latter is the case, beware. Because they are known to bite when they are upset, and their teeth are very sharp.

Hedgehogs need plenty of room to roam around, so supply your new pet with a proper cage. A wire cage is acceptable, as is a large glass aquarium. Keep in mind that your hedgehog will need lots of floor space in which to wander. A single-level container is best, as hedgehogs do not like to climb up and down.

If you prefer to allow your hedgehog to roam free, you must make sure your home is a safe environment. They will chew on power cords and wooden furniture. They may destroy pillows and upholstery as they burrow. They can also easily disappear because they love to hide. A better option would be to provide a fence or a playpen for your pet’s roaming environment.

Even though they enjoy playing with toys, something as simple as an empty toilet paper or paper towel tube will give your hedgehog hours of playful fun. PVC pipes offer more options for tubes, as long as they are wide enough for your pet. Make sure he has plenty of room to turn around.

Wire wheels are not safe exercise wheels for hedgehogs because his little feet can slip through the wire. The result could be a broken foot or leg. Bucket wheels are a better alternative because they are solid surfaces. Something else to avoid is any toy that has strings. These can tangle around the hedgehog’s feet, cutting off his blood supply. Do not give your new pet any toy that has sharp edges as he could cut himself.

If you educate yourself on hedgehogs, they can, as you’ll discover, be a perfect pet for you. Consult with veterinarians or pet store staff to get all the facts before you adopt one of these little animals. Getting the right pet is important for you and for the animal.

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