Personality of pet Hedgehogs

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Hedgehogs are considered as exotic pets. Exotic is just another word for WILD. They have only been kept as pets for a few of decades and still possess many of the wild traits their ancestors do. Over time, with dedication from conscientious breeders the pet hedgehog may very well one-day be considered as a truly domesticated pet. But for now, when we choose to keep them in captivity and make them our pets we need to accept and appreciate their natural predisposition and we need to be committed to interacting with it daily, to keep it trusting of people

In the wild, hedgehogs are not social beings! Typically, wild hedgehogs are naturally, shy, nervous little creatures who live solitary lives. In fact, they prefer and choose to live alone, away from other members of their own species, even chasing other hedgehogs away from their own territory. Sometimes siblings will cohabitate for a short time but eventually they too usually go their own ways and seek out someone secluded, where they can make their own little den. Hoping not to become dinner for birds of prey and other predators they do most of their scurrying around their territory, remaining in the shadows of moonlight. They are nocturnal creatures who are often seen searching for a meal or looking for a mate at night.


Exotic mammals are seldom 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 familiar human 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! But just because they are not like dogs and cats does not mean they will not make a nice pet. It takes time but they are known to form a bond with their caregivers. 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 as a safe place to be. Being that they are capable of bonding with their caregiver to many people, there is no better pet than a hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are considered as exotic pets. Exotic is just another word for WILD. They have only been kept as pets for a few of decades and still possess many of the wild traits their ancestors do. Over time, with dedication from conscientious breeders the pet hedgehog may very well one-day be considered as a truly domesticated pet. But for now, when we choose to keep them in captivity and make them our pets we need to accept and appreciate their natural predisposition and we need to be committed to interacting with it daily, to keep it trusting of people

In the wild, hedgehogs are not social beings! Typically, wild hedgehogs are naturally, shy, nervous little creatures who live solitary lives. In fact, they prefer and choose to live alone, away from other members of their own species, even chasing other hedgehogs away from their own territory. Sometimes siblings will cohabitate for a short time but eventually they too usually go their own ways and seek out someone secluded, where they can make their own little den. Hoping not to become dinner for birds of prey and other predators they do most of their scurrying around their territory, remaining in the shadows of moonlight. They are nocturnal creatures who are often seen searching for a meal or looking for a mate at night.


Exotic mammals are seldom 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 familiar human 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! But just because they are not like dogs and cats does not mean they will not make a nice pet. It takes time but they are known to form a bond with their caregivers. 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 as a safe place to be. Being that they are capable of bonding with their caregiver 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...

Gender (male versus female) - Without considering all 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! But, if I to pick a hedgehog based on gender, I would likely prefer a male.

Not unlike many other species, 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. His wanderlust in search for a mate is constantly exposing him to different situations and therefore he needs to be somewhat more flexible whereas a female is likely thinking of raising a family, building the nest / home and protecting her territory.

While, to a small degree, gender does play a role in personality, there are also many other things that contribute to developing their unique personality. Some of the other things that we need to consider are:

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

*Heredity - Genetics is certainly an important factor in predetermining the personality of pet hedgehogs but learned behaviors can greatly influence personality especially when learned at a young age. Hedgehogs have naturally evolved to be self-reliant and loners. So, when planning a new litter, it is important to carefully select the calmest, healthiest parents before pairing them together for mating. This can increase the chances that they will pass on some of their behavioral traits to their offspring. Babies learn how to react to various situations from their parents.

*Habitat - If housed or born in an enclosed habitat, one that he or she cannot see out of the baby does not have many opportunities to experience much. Then when it is taken out to be played with, the experience will be very shocking and the little guy is more likely to react defensively. When housed properly; in an open-air cage, located in a place within the home whereby it can experience different movements, new sounds, smells and other changes on a regular basis, hedgehogs tend to become a bit more social.

*Socialization - It is important to start at a very young age. You must familiarize your pet hedgehog with humans at a slow but steady pace. The best time to get them accustomed to human companionship is done even before they are fully weaned from their mother. If a hedgehog has not been handled from a young age you can still work at befriending it by slowly beginning to visit and spend time with him more and more each day. Offerings of food as a bribe often works as a distraction because food is an excellent motivator for hedgehogs. When they are comfortable with your presence (voice and smell) they will likely become, friendlier and start looking forward to your daily visits. "Socialization takes patience".

*Seasonal Changes- Temperature and light changes can have a huge effect on the personality of hedgehogs and many tropical animals. During the time of plenty, which is usually 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 (when food is harder to come by). Many animals have an internal clock that is part of their genetic makeup and in some ways, they are preprogrammed to conserve by being less active at certain times of the year. This is especially noticeable in hedgehogs. When the weather is starting to get cooler and the days are darker these changes send a message to them that food will not be as readily available and that they need to conserve energy by resting and being less active. (Hedgehogs in captivity, still preprogramed and functions in the way a wild hedgehog would and does not realize that food will still be as readily available year-round in captivity)

Some animals will instinctively hibernate while others such as hedgehogs can go into a state of torpor. (Torpor is discussed in more detail elsewhere on our site)

If, after reviewing our website http://heritagepets.ca/ should you still have questions that have not already been addressed on the site or if you would like to book a time to visit us at our home in Niagara Falls please call us instead of emailing.
289-990-hpets (289-990-4738) or 647-725-1111.
(Visits are in Niagara Falls only.
our phone lines are open from 10AM until 10PM daily.)

(secondary email critterscanada@cogeco.ca)

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