Priest Lake Veterinary Hospital

2445 Morris Gentry Blvd
Nashville, TN 37013-2073



Hedgehog Husbandry



Natural Background

Hedgehogs, recognized for their distinctive spines, belong to the same family as moles and shrews, differing from the commonly associated porcupines. Among the popular pet species are the African hedgehog (Erinaceus albiventris) and the European hedgehog (Erinaceus Europaeus).



Due to their solitary nature, hedgehogs should be housed individually in roomy enclosures, featuring a minimum floor space of 2′ × 3′. It is crucial to use escape-proof cages with secure lids. Opt for bedding materials like aspen or pine shavings, hay, or recycled newspaper for their soft and absorbent qualities. Steer clear of wire, cedar, corncob, or scented substrates. Ensure hiding spots with options such as cardboard or wooden boxes, flowerpots, cloth bags, or PVC tubing. Choose solid exercise wheels over traditional rodent wheels. Hedgehogs benefit from supervised daily outings, and various toys contribute to their enrichment.


Temperature Sensitivity

Hedgehogs exhibit sensitivity to temperature fluctuations, with the ideal range falling between 75°F and 85°F. While they can tolerate temperatures between 72°F and 90°F, extreme conditions may induce a hibernation-like state of inactivity.


Dietary Regimen

Invertebrates form the primary diet of hedgehogs, and for pet hedgehogs, a daily intake of commercial hedgehog food is recommended. Your Nashville Exotic Vet recommends 1-2 teaspoons of food daily. Your Antioch Hedgehog vet recommends to supplement their diet with cooked meat, egg, low-fat cottage cheese, and limited fruits. Treats like mealworms, earthworms, waxworms, or crickets can be included. Calcium supplementation, particularly for insects, is advised. Feeding sessions are best scheduled around dusk, and any uneaten food must be promptly removed to prevent spoilage.


Interaction and Handling

Although hedgehogs may not naturally lean towards cuddliness, gentle handling and the provision of treats can help create positive associations with human interaction. Evening sessions are preferable for engaging with more reserved hedgehogs.


Distinctive Behaviors

Hedgehogs adopt a defensive posture by curling into a ball, causing their spines to project outward. Their nocturnal habits involve active foraging for food during evenings. The intriguing behavior of "anointing" sees hedgehogs spreading frothy saliva with a novel scent on their spines. In captivity, hedgehogs typically enjoy a lifespan of 5 to 10 years.


Common Health Considerations

Regular veterinary check-ups are paramount for hedgehogs. Vigilance towards subtle changes in behavior, appetite, and weight is crucial. Spaying is recommended for female hedgehogs to mitigate the risk of uterine cancer. Avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity. Discourage hibernation-like behavior, and promptly address infestations with skin mites, fleas, or ticks under veterinary guidance. Consistent monitoring of weight and swift veterinary intervention for significant weight loss are imperative.