Overview of African Pygmy Hedgehogs
Hedgehogs are not rodents, and are insectivores in the family Erinaceidae. African Pygmy Hedgehogs are a hybrid created by breeding the White-bellied or Four-toed Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) and the Algerian Hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) together and never existed as a species in the wild. They are considerably smaller than a wild European hedgehog, do not have fleas and would not be able to tolerate living outside. African Pygmy Hedgehogs now come in a range of colours.
You should research and consider a decision to get an African Pygmy Hedgehog very carefully. They do not make good pets for everyone and require some specialised care - such as a careful diet and heating during the winter months. They cannot be kept outside, and must be handled and their vivarium cleaned frequently.
The best place to get your African Pygmy Hedgehog is from a registered breeder. A good breeder should have handled the litter from a young age and be able to offer plenty of advice and lifetime care. You can also consider getting an adult from a rescue such as the National Exotic Hedgehog Rescue.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs live around 4-6 years and do require daily interaction to keep them accustomed to you. They can also be quite messy to clean although some hedgehogs can be litter-trained. They require a cage of at least 3ft x 1.5ft x 1.5ft, complete with a solid-based large wheel, beds and other items. See our section on African Pygmy Hedgehog environment for more details and example setup.
Although it is uncommon, it is still possible to have allergies to your hedgehog and some people do not like handling their hedgehogs. If you have concerns over this, the best option is to find a good breeder and arrange a visit to see if hedgehogs are the right pet for you. African Pygmy Hedgehogs also have some unique behaviours which mean they are not a suitable pet for everyone.
Picking up your hedgehog can be difficult at first, especially if your hedgehog (or yourself!) is not used to it. An unhappy hedgehog may make huffing sounds, a bit like a minature train, and could even ball up completely with no head showing. You will need to handle your African Pygmy Hedgehog every day to keep them accustomed to you and well socialised. Sadly a lot of African Pygmy Hedgehogs are being rehomed or sold on due to their owners not having the time for them.
A healthy African Pygmy Hedgehog should weigh between 300-500g with males typically being smaller. It is a good idea to keep a record of your hedgehogs weight so you can notice any problems, although it is worth bearing in mind that a recent toilet can mean a difference of around 10g. It is important to feed a varied African Pygmy Hedgehog diet and be aware of what foods you must avoid.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs are solitary and should not be housed together as they can even fight to the death. If breeding, the pair should only be kept together for mating and then separated - although it is worth noting that breeding African Pygmy Hedgehogs is not easy, and it is not uncommon for mums to reject or even eat their own young. It is also very important to only breed females at the right age and weight as otherwise the chances of her litter and herself surviving labour are not high.