African Pygmy Hedgehog Care


11401 NE 195th St. Bothell, WA  98011

(425) 486-9000 PHONE  (425) 486-9002 fax

Biological Facts

African Pygmy Hedgehogs (Atelerix albiventris ssp x Atelerix algerius, hereafter referred to as APH) are interesting exotic pets with relatively simple care requirements. They display a variety of interesting behaviors, and many hedgehogs will become quite tame with regular, gentle handling. Although they can live up to 8 years, their typical lifespan range is between 4-6 years. Males tend to be larger than females.

APHs do not hibernate. They will, however, go into torpor if their environmental temperatures drop below 70 degrees F for any length of time. This can lead to serious immunosuppression and disease. We recommend providing supplemental heat to keep their environmental temperatures at 70-80 degrees F.

APHs are a nocturnal to crepuscular (active primarily at night and at dusk and dawn) solitary animal. They do not get “lonely” for another hedgehog, and are happiest when kept alone. They will frequently taste and mark items in their territory, followed by salivating on themselves. This behavior is known as “annointing,” and is considered normal.

General Care

The cage floor needs to be solid, and no less than 3 feet2 in dimension. Fleece blankets covered with a recycled paper product such as Carefresh are an excellent bedding choice. Hedgehogs like to dig through the loose paper substrate. Wood shaving substrates are generally not recommended, as their aromatic nature can be irritating to the respiratory tract, and splinters may cause injuries.

Hedgehogs do not tolerate loud environments. They prefer shady, darker areas out of the main traffic within the house. They should always have access to several hide boxes within the cage in order to minimize stress.

Running wheels should be provided to promote exercise within the enclosure. Plastic wheels are much safer than metal wheels. When free ranging in house, APHs will seek out “holes” and under furniture. They should never be allowed to roam the house unsupervised.

Hedgehogs are primarily insectivorous, although they do eat some vegetables and fruits as well. Cat food should not be fed as a staple diet, as it is too high in protein and fat for these animals.

Recommended daily diet for one average hedgehog is 10 grams (1.5 tsp) insectivore diet (Mazuri, Zupreem and Reliable Protein Products); 10 grams (1.5 tsp) high quality kitten chow (Eukanuba, Natural Balance, Evo ); 5-7 grams (1 tsp) fruit/vegetables, chopped; and 2-3 insects (medium mealworms, waxworms, crickets, roaches, etc.).

Hedgehogs should never be fed avocados, onions, grapes or raisins, or chocolate.

Disease risks

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are predisposed to several diseases. Every owner should be aware of these common health problems:

  • Cancer
  • Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome
  • Dental disease
  • Heart disease
  • Mites
  • Ringworm
  • Obesity
  • Parasites

Please note: Hedgehogs are commonly identified as carriers of Salmonella bacteria, which can spread to people and cause serious illness. Please wash your hands carefully after handling your hedgehog, and always supervise children when they are handling hedgehogs.

We strongly advise that you consult a veterinarian trained and experienced in hedgehog medicine and care should you have any health concerns for your pet. A misdiagnosis or inappropriate treatment may have dire consequences.

Legalities of hedgehog ownership

Many states have regulations concerning ownership and importation of African Pygmy Hedgehogs. Although Washington does not have any at this time, many states have strict laws concerning them. Some of these regulations, as well as most of the international regulations concerning hedgehogs, are because they can carry Foot and Mouth Disease Virus, a serious disease that can infect and kill livestock. Be sure to contact your veterinarian prior to moving your hedgehog across state or international lines to check the regulations involved.


March 30, 2015

Content of this Care Sheet Courtesy of:

The Center for Bird and Exotic Animal Medicine 

11401 NE 195th St. Bothell, WA  98011

(425) 486-9000 PHONE  (425) 486-9002 fax