Finding the right hedgehog for you! Part 3

What are some of the places I should consider looking for a hedgehog, and is there anything special I should know about them?

Pet Stores:

     Many people are first exposed to hedgehogs in a pet store, and for some people this ends up being the only readily available option for getting one. While there are wonderful pet stores out there who truly care about making excellent animals available, taking good care of them until they go to their new homes, and carefully screening potential owners to make sure they know what they are getting into, these kinds of stores are unfortunately the minority. While the store’s employees may not know a great deal about hedgehogs, they should be able to competently handle the hedgehog to get it out for you, know some basic information, and for anything more in depth know who to ask, be able to give you a caresheet, or direct you to a book. The person you are talking to also should not give you any massive misinformation (we’ve heard from people who have been told that you can only handle hedgehogs with leather gloves, and once case where someone was told that only an expert can sex a hedgehog. If you don’t already know just how silly that is, please take a look at our “Sexing Your Hedgehog” page. It is not up yet, but will be up soon.) This brings up something VERY important to take into consideration when talking to pet store employees. If they cannot tell you how to sex a hedgehog, they quite likely do not know or do not care, and have probably not worried about whether males and females are kept together. This can lead to “surprise” litters which may very well have resulted from brother impregnating sister. A final but very important question to ask is where the hedgehogs in the store come from. If you are lucky they will have information on the breeder, the animals parents, and an International Hedgehog Registry litter registration form for you, but don’t count on it. Many babies at petstores are from wholesalers who buy from massive breeding farms or “hedgehog mills”. If the petstore tells you their animals are from a small, local breeder, don’t be afraid to contact the breeder to confirm this. A good friend of ours was tormented for MONTHS by people calling and blaming her for their sick pets, because the local pet store was lying and telling everyone they had gotten the babies they were selling from her.


     Breeders, as a rule, are the ideal place to purchase a hedgehog. However, just like there are some wonderful pet stores out there, there are also some horrible breeders, and many between the extremes. There are both large scale and small scale breeders who treat their animals as a product to be manufactured, and there are both large and small breeders whose animals are very much a part of their family. It is very important that you feel comfortable with the breeder you are considering purchasing your pet from. I can’t stress enough how important carefully thought out breeding, with a goal of improving health and temperament, and then giving the resulting babies a chance to become familiar with human handling while still with their mother, is to the making of good pets. Make sure you take the time to talk to the breeder you consider buying from, and ask all the questions suggested in earlier sections. In addition to the basic information, most breeders who are truly working towards improving hedgehogs as a species will be more than willing to discuss why they bred particular animals and what they are wanting to work towards in their breeding program. Breeders should also be willing to put into writing any guarantees they offer, and will very likely have a contract they want you to sign that also details what they expect you to commit to as an owner.

Rescue Organization:

     Any time you make the decision to take in a rescue animal of any kind, you need to realize that every individual comes with its own history and problems. Are you comfortable taking in an older animal that you may have less time with but who needs a good home as much as any baby? What about one having health or behavior problems? Can you honestly give this animal what it deserves and needs? So many rescues can make wonderful pets with the added benefit of the new owner knowing that they gave this animal a second chance at the love and care it deserves. However, if you are not sure you can accept this animal, flaws and all, it is not fair to either you or the animal for you to take it home knowing it is not the pet you had in mind. If you are certain that you are comfortable taking in a rescue animal, you should screen the rescue much as you would a breeder or pet store. The rescue should be able to give you at least a little information on the hedgehog’s history and the reason it was given up, as well as any medical care it has needed since being taken into the rescue and any observations the rescuer has made about the animal’s temperament and health. A good rescue should also interview YOU some to make sure you will be a good owner for the animal and are prepared to provide the care it needs. Many rescues charge a fee or request a donation to help them in continuing to rescue other animals, however this should not be excessive.

Other Special Circumstances:

     There are numerous other circumstances in which you may find a chance to add a hedgehog to your life. There may be an ad for one in your local newspaper or on the internet. A classroom pet may be needing a permanent home. You may hear of a friend of a friend who is wanting to find a new home for their pet, or whose pet has had babies. Regardless of the details, this can be a wonderful chance for both you and the hedgehog, but it is important that you go into it with at least as much caution as you would give to a more traditional method of finding one. Especially if you are getting this animal from someone you do not know, and are being asked to pay money for it, you need to be very cautious and ask many of the same questions as you would from a breeder or pet store. If this person has kept the animal as a pet, they should know the answers, but unless they have paperwork from the animal’s purchase, its registration, or it’s vet visits, there is rarely any way to prove that they are telling the truth. In the end you need to be careful and ask lots of questions anywhere you consider getting a hedgehog. Hopefully this article has helped you to better understand what you need to look for and to ask so you can end up with a healthy, friendly hedgehog that can be your companion for a long time.

Part 1  |  Part 2

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