Personality of pet Hedgehogs

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Understanding Exotic Pet Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are still considered as exotic pets. Exotic is just another word for WILD. They have only been kept as pets for a couple of decades and they still possess many of the wild traits their ancestors do. In the wild, hedgehogs are not social beings! In fact they are fairly nervous little creatures who live their solitary lives scurrying around in the shadows of night in search of a meal or to mate, hoping not to become dinner for birds of prey and other predators. In time with dedication from conscientious breeders the pet hedgehog may very well one-day be considered as a truly domesticated pet. When we choose to keep them in captivity and make them our pets we need to accept and appreciate their natural predisposition and be committed to interacting with it on a daily basis in order to keep it trusting of people.

Most exotic mammals are not like domesticated cats and dogs. People thinking of keeping hedgehogs as pets, need to consider that whereas a dog loves constant attention, a hedgehog is far more likely to appreciate its own space and company. They are not usually animals that you can teach to be obedient. They don’t really care if you, their owner, is pleased or displeased and do not care how much you love it or how much it would mean to you, if he / she would love you back. It cares about its own survival!

Because they are not like dogs and cats does not mean they will not make a nice pet. Constant attention, patience and lots of socialization are the key to building a trust between you and a hedgehog. Once a hedgehog recognizes your voice and smell and realizes that you are not a threat it will look to you as a provider of food and also as a safe place to be. They are capable of bonding with their caregiver and to many people, there is no better pet than a hedgehog.

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether a male or a female makes a better pet.

To a small degree gender does play a role in the development of the personality but there are also many other things that contribute to developing their personality.

We also need to consider the following:

Health - A hedgehog that feels under the weather will likely not want to be disturbed.

Heredity - Plays an important factor in predetermining the personality of pet hedgehogs. By carefully selecting the calmest, healthiest parents before pairing, increases the chances that they will pass on some of their behavioral traits to their offspring.

Habitat - If housed or born in an enclosed habitat, one that he or she can’t see out of; when it is taken out to be played with, the experience will be very shocking and the little guy is likely to react defensively.

Socialization - Must start at a very young age. You must wean your pet onto human companionship, even before it is fully weaned from its’ mother. If a hedgehog has not been handled from a young age, you will need to slowly begin visiting him more and more each day with offerings of food as a bribe. When they are comfortable with your presence (voice and smell) they will likely become friendlier and actually start looking forward to your visits. "This takes patience".

Seasonal, temperature and light changes - Can affect the personality of many tropical animals. During the time of plenty, the rainy season (spring and summer) you may notice that your pet is a little more active then he or she would be during the fall and winter. Most animals have an internal clock that is part of their genetic makeup and in some ways are preprogrammed to be less active at certain times throughout the year, especially when it is cooler and darker.

Gender (male versus female) -The male hedgehog tends to be a little more of a risk taker than a female. In the wild he is either looking for food or looking for a mate whereas a female is thinking of raising a family, protecting the nest / home and her territory.

If I were to pick a hedgehog based on gender, I would prefer a male but without considering all of the other factors that contribute to the development of their personalities, choosing any pet based on gender alone may not be the ideal way to pick out a hedgehog.

*  Do to time constraints, we no longer schedule pick-ups or visits to our home in Mississauga  however we still welcome  visits to our home in Niagara Falls, Ontario ( Just under an hour from Mississauga )

* Please feel free to email your questions to heritagepets@primus.ca

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