Hedgehogs are small, spiny, insect-eating mammals native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and New Zealand. And while they don’t exist in the wild in North America, many domesticated hedgehogs are kept as pets stateside and are often mistaken for porcupines. However, unlike the porcupine, hedgehogs have smooth quills similar to the bristles of a brush, making the creature a lovable pet rather than a dangerous predator. The African Pygmy Hedgehog (or four-toed hedgehog)—the smallest of the bunch—is a great companion. They’re a wonder to the eye, too, as selective breeding yields an array of color patterns like salt and pepper, snowflake, and cinnamon.
African Pygmy Hedgehog Behavior and Temperament
Pet hedgehogs are quiet, active, entertaining, and low maintenance. They are nocturnal, making them a good pet for someone who has a 9 to 5 job. These solitary animals prefer to be housed alone and may fight if kept with other hedgehogs. And, sorry, they don’t really crave human affection, so cuddling isn’t their strong point. Even still, gentle and frequent handling seems to tame these creatures and many breeders sell pets that have already been “hand tamed.”
Even a tame African pygmy hedgehog needs to get used to you. So, at first, this discerning pet may curl into a spiky ball when you try to pick it up. Be patient. Just cradle this ball in your hand, allowing your hedgehog to unroll itself and start exploring in its own time. When your hedgehog realizes you mean no harm, it will seem more active and its spines will lay flat.