noun: hedgehog; plural noun: hedgehogs
- a small nocturnal Old World mammal with a spiny coat and short legs, able to roll itself into a ball for defense.
My definition: hedge·hog ˈhejˌhôɡ/
noun: hedgehog; common nick names: hedgies, hogs; my hedgehog’s name: Derek Jeter, aka Jeter, Mr. Hoggins, The Hog
- A small nocturnal animal that is very spiky, grumpy, eats and poops a lot and hates loud noises. Commonly thought to be related to the porcupine (it’s not, at all).
One year ago, I held my tiny friend in my hands for the first time. It hurt, he was very sharp and very scared. After an hour of coaxing and speaking hushed, soothing tones, he sat nestled in a blanket-lined shoebox on his way to his new home with me.
Before the arrival of my new family member, I researched, almost to excess, about how to care for a hedgehog. I read everything I could find about behaviour, bathing, cages (they’re actually called enclosures) and food. Every website said something different. I would have greatly appreciated someone saying: here’s everything you need to know, your one stop hedgehog shop.
So…here’s everything you need to know about a hedgehog:
- They are sharp
- They’re a little grumpy, especially during the day
- Generally, they don’t like to be on their backs in a ball
- They hiss and puff when they’re mad
- The make cute sniffly noises when they’re happy
- They know your scent
- They hate noises of almost all types
- They’re pretty much blind
- They’re nocturnal, invest in some ear plugs
- They’re not the best pet for kids or people with little patience
- At first, they ball up for hours until they get used to you
- Hedgehogs eat low-fat cat food (buy the good stuff)
- They like to eat, a lot. If you don’t moderate their food, they’ll just keep eating
- They’re picky eaters, some like to eat bugs (mine doesn’t), some like to eat hardboiled eggs (mine doesn’t), some like to eat plain cooked chicken (nope)
- Buy or make a big cage (sorry, enclosure)
- Hedgies need a lot of room to workout at night; run on the wheel, move some cat toys around, sleep in their house (ie. the ‘pet igloo’)
- They love their house, don’t mess with the house
- Add a blanket (hand towel size), they love that sh*t too
- It really doesn’t matter what kind of wood shavings you get
- You have to clean the wheel every day. Every day!
- Clean the cage once per week by sweeping out the shavings
- Warm water
- Add oatmeal, it helps with dry skin
- Trim their nails (this is soooo hard, we haven’t quite mastered it yet)
- The cuddles after the bath are the best part
Since the shoebox days, Jeter has grown to be over three times the size of his baby-self. He’s a bit of a grump with a weight problem but overall he’s a great pet. Generally, he is the opposite of me; quiet, reserved, shy. We really bring out the best in each other. He has an odd personality that makes me laugh. He has taught me to be patient, sit still and shut up. He likes to explore and hide under the bed, couch, closet and in pant legs. Overall, this little hog has toughened up my hands and warmed my heart.
If you have a question about hedgies, give me a call!