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How To Care For African Dwarf Hedgehogs
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When the term exotic pet is used many people may not realise that dwarf hedgehogs are becoming classed in this pet category as they are considered unusual and interesting as pets even though there are fourteen known species in Europe, North America and Africa.

As carnivores, hedgehogs consume much more than copious quantities of insects such as woodlice or earwigs or grasshoppers but feast on earthworms, snails, beetles, caterpillars so much so that they are rapacious countryside foragers.

As scavengers, they will consume carcasses. As opportunists, they will consume chicks and bird eggs. Blackberries and Fruit segments from apples, oranges, pears are another treat for them. Pet owners can supplement their diet with dog biscuits.

Even with this varied diet and diverse source of nutrition, hedgehog life expectancy will not exceed four years allthough with careful pet owners this can easily double.

Be aware that hedgehogs are nocturnal carnivores which hibernate for four months of the year from November-February. If they are kept indoors in the warmth of the home as a domestic pet then they will only hibernate for short periods. During this time body temperatures drop by 20% and heartbeat slows from 180bpm to 20bpm as they are dormant.

As they are about 9 inches in length on average and covered in bristles known as quills and are nervous by nature with clear eyes and an alert and curious character ready to explore the immediate environment.

Sounds and smell are highly developed in your pet hedgehog whereas eyesight is not. If you have any pygmy hedgehog as a pet you should be aware that they bond with their keepers by identifying them by smell. Be aware it is best to buy your pygmy hedgehog at 8 weeks old.

Like many exotic pets that love to climb and wander and explore, your pygmy hedgehog requires a safe and secure environment which is escape proof. Wire cages with small ventilation holes that are escape proof will be of benefit to both yourself and your pygmy hedgehog.

Ensure that there are either water bottles or bowls of fresh water available. Keep your hedgehog warm by inserting a large heating pad underneath the cage. Wide exercise wheels are essential as your hedgehog loves to be active and playful.

Ensure there is a wide sand filled play pen filled with hidden worms so that your pygmy hedgehog can dig and root at the same time. Shavings and clay litter in abundance and depth should fill your cage. You can even place old shirts you have worn that day into the cage so they can recognise your body scent. When you handle your pet pygmy hedgehog, pick up your pet by holding them on both sides but never in the middle.

When they have overcome their initial anxiety and are familiarised with your scent, you can hold them from the back with the head beneath your fingers and cradle them gently until they are comfortable and at their ease. So when the nose shows and the legs emerge you can lower them down and let them roam around.

You can buy your pet dwarf hedgehog many toys and watch their behaviour as they climb all over water bottles and race the treadmill. If you run short of mealworms, beetles, caterpillars you can safely add good quality dog food rich in fibre to their diet.


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