Types Of Hedgehogs For Pets – How To Recognize Them

There are many different breeds of Hedgehogs in the wild. which are the suitable types of hedgehogs for pets.

Although, there are a few suitable types of hedgehogs for pets, in some areas hedgehogs are seen as threats to native wildlife and are treated as pests.

Hedgehog Characteristics

Typically, hedgehogs have a small body with a spiny coat, short legs and pointy nose. In addition, other characteristics include:

  • Average length of 10 to 30 cm
  • Weight of 155 grams to 1.584 kg
  • Lifespan from 3 to 8 years

As a rule, these animals can live up to 8 years in the wild but in captivity they can reach up to 10 years. Although, it might sound like a good idea, not all hedgehogs are suitable to be kept in captivity and as pets.

The hedgehogs that are suitable for pets, are usually small in size and already domesticated.

Hedgehog Categories And Species

There are total of 17 hedgehog species that fit in 5 categories. These types of hedgehogs can be found living in Europe, Middle East, African and Central Asia. Around 1 million of West European hedgehogs live in UK.

Erinaceus

There are 3 species in this category

Scientific NameAlso Know AsNatural Habitat
E. europeausWestern European hedgehogBritain, Ireland, southern Scandinavia, Western Europe, New Zealand*
E. concolorEastern European hedgehogEastern Europe
E. amurensisChinese hedgehogChina and the Korean Penisular

Paraechinus

Also, known as ‘desert hedgehogs’

Some characteristics include

  • Wide parting in the spines on the top of the head
  • Large ears
  • Thick, soft fur on the sides of the body

There are 3 species in this category

Scientific NameAlso Know AsNatural Habitat
P. aethiopicusEthiopian hedgehogthroughout North Africa
P. hypomelasBrandt’s hedgehogOman, Yemen, Iran Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Pakistan
P. micropusIndian hedgehogIndia and southern Pakistan

Mesechinus

Typical characteristics include

  • Absence of spineless section on top of the head
  • Brown banded quills

There are 2 species in this category

Scientific NameAlso Know AsNatural Habitat
Mesechinus dauuricusDaurian hedgehogRussia and northern Mongolia
Mesechinus hughiHugh’s hedgehogCentral China

Hemiechinus

This type of hedgehogs are also known as ‘long eared’ hedgehogs.

Some of the typical characteristics include:

  • No central parting of the spines on the tp of the head
  • Long ears
  • Prominent big toe

There are 4 species in this category of hedgehogs

Scientific NameAlso Know AsNatural Habitat
H. aurituslong eared hedgehogNorthern Africa to Mongolia
H. collarisHarwicke’s hedgehogEastern Pakistan and northern India
H. dauuricusDaurian hedgehogMongolia and China
H. hughiHugh’s hedgehog or Central Chinese hedgehogChina

Atelerix

Typical characteristics include

  • Small in size, usually the as big as a small grapefruit
  • Central parting of the spines at the crown of the head
  • Short ears
  • White/cream band across the forehead
  • Usually, spines are brown or grey in colour with cream tips
  • This type of hedgehog have four toes and have no big toe on the back foot

There are 4 species in this category.

Scientific NameAlso Know AsNatural Habitat
A. albiventrisWhite-bellied hedgehog or four-toed hedgehogCentral and Eastern Africa
A. algirusAlgerian hedgehogAlgeria, Morocco, Tunisia, northern Libya, southern France, Spain, Canary Islands, Balearic Islands, Malta and Djerba
A. frontalisSouth African hedgehogSouth Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana
A. sclateriSomalian hedgehogSomalia

Hedgehogs As Pets

The most common types of hedgehog for pet are the following

  • The African Pygmy Hedgehog
  • Cross between white-bellied or four-toed hedgehog
  • The Algerian hedgehog
  • The Egyptian long-eared hedgehog and the Indian long-eared hedgehog

African Pygmy Hedgehog

Description and Habitat

The most common type of hedgehog for pet is the African pygmy hedgehogs. This type of pet hedgehogs are quiet, active, and require a lot of care. Despite being small in size, they require a time and attention.

They are solitary and nocturnal by nature. Furthermore, as nocturnal animals, they would require to be fed during the evening or night.

Size

The African Pygmy Hedgehog can grow up to 16cm and weigh up to 450g.

Appearance

The typical characteristics of the African pygmy hedgehogs are the following

  • Long, pointed pinkish-brown face, with dark noses
  • Round, dark eyes
  • Round brownish ears
  • Short, white hair on their brows, cheeks, and bellies
  • The hairs on their backs and sides are un-barbed spines

Diet

The African pygmy hedgehogs’ diet is naturally omnivore. They mostly feed on small bugs such as insects or spiders. In addition to that, they also eat plants such as small vegetables and eggs. If kept in captivity, is essential to include live insects to their diet as that helps preserve their natural eating and hunting habits.

Lifespan

This type of hedgehog for pet can live in captivity on average 4 to 6 years, in some cases up to 8 years. On the other hand, in the wild they live up to 3 years maximum due to predators, disease and other factors.

Can I Keep African Pygmy Hedgehog As Pets

The African Pygmy Hedgehog is one of the suitable types of hedgehogs for pet. It is also the most popular one. They are relatively easy to care for as they can be fed grain free cat food, insects, fruit, veggies or hedgehog food.

Typically, they need a cage averaging 120x60cm. In addition, they will require a shelter, bedding and litter box.

Finally, the one thing you need to be careful with is their diet as they can become obese. In order to prevent this, you can also add a running wheel to their cage.

If you want to learn more about pet hedgehog cage set up click here What To Put In A Hedgehog Cage – Hedgehog Cage Setup

Algerian Hedgehog

The Algerian Hedgehog is a nocturnal and insectivorous mammal. This type of hedgehog is related to the African Pygmy species but there are some differences such as

  • The Algerian Hedgehog is larger than the African Pygmy
  • They have larger feet with longer nails compared to the African Pygmy
  • African Pygmy prefer open grassland as opposed to the Algerian Hedgehog that prefers forests with mild climate

Description and Habitat

The Algerian Hedgehog can be found living in Algeria, France, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Spain, and Tunisia.

Size

This type of hedgehog can grow in length from 20cm to 25cm. In addition to that, it has a longer snout and longer legs, to make it run faster.

Appearance

The Algerian Hedgehog has brown or grey quills with white or cream tips. Usually, they don’t have a mask or only a very light one. The fur on their belly is typically brown to white or creamy and the legs are dark in colour.

Diet

The Algerian Hedgehogs’ diet is insectivorous. However, their natural diet can change in relation to seasonal variations in food availability.

Lifespan

The Algerian Hedgehog can live from 3 to 7 years. Whereas, if kept in captivity it can live longer.

Can I Keep North Algerian Hedgehogs As Pets

Although, this type of hedgehog is suitable to keep as a pet, in some states it’s prohibited by law. The mentioned states include include Hawaii, Maine, Alabama, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Washington DC, New York, and Vermont.

 Egyptian Long-Eared hedgehog

The long-eared Hedgehogs can be more difficult species to keep as a pet compared to the African Pygmy Hedgehog. The reason for that is they are less domesticated, and therefore can have more aggressive temper.

Description and Habitat

The Egyptian long-eared hedgehog is usually found in Central Asian countries and some countries of the Middle East. This type of hedgehog lives in burrows that it either finds or builds.

Size

The Egyptian long eared hedgehog can grow up to 21cm in length and weigh from 250 to 400g. Its light weight makes it a faster runner.

Appearance

Typically, they have light fur on the underside along with white/cream hairs on the tips of their ears.

Diet

The long-eared desert hedgehog is omnivorous but feeds mainly on small invertebrates and insects. Favorite foods include grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects. They also consume eggs, fruit, vegetables and even small vertebrates such as lizards and snakes.

Lifespan

In the wild they can live up to 6 years. Whereas, in captivity thanks to the lack of predators and controlled diet can contribute to a longer lifespan up to 8-10 years.

Can I Keep Long Eared Hedgehogs As Pets?

The Egyptian Long Eared Hedgehog is a suitable type of hedgehogs for pet. However, this species is predisposition to contracting a plague as they are prone to parasites.

As a result, if they contract a plague they can be contagious and transmit the Boutonneuse fever.

It’s essential to buy the hedgehog from a reliable place to ensure it’s safe to keep as a pet.

Indian Long-Eared Hedgehog

Description and Habitat

The Indian long-eared hedgehog is a species that is small in size and can be found living in northern India and Pakistan. Furthermore, they are nocturnal mammals that can survive in dessert, under rocks and more.

Size

They average 16 cm in length and 130g in weight.

Appearance

The Indian Long Eared Hedgehog’s typical appearance include dark skin and spines sheathed into their muscles. In the case of danger instead of rolling into a ball, this type of hedgehog can use their spines to fend off predators by using the spines to attack.

An interesting fact about this species is that the male performs a dance over several days in order to attract their female partner.

Diet

The Indian long-eared hedgehog’s diet is insectivorous. As their natural environment is dessert like, they receive most of their water through the food they consume.

Lifespan

This species of hedgehog can live up to 7 years.

Can I Keep Indian Long Eared Hedgehogs As Pets?

The answer to that question is – yes but there are many obstacles to owning this species. To start with, this type of hedgehog needs to be imported from Asia, so you won’t normally find them in pet stores.

As a result, the Indian Long Eared Hedgehog can be difficult and costly to get a hold of. On top of that, you will also need permission from your state to keep Indian long eared hedgehogs as pets.

Finally, this type of hedgehog can only survive in hot temperature. Therefore, this can be a challenge for people that live in cold or mild climate areas.

European Hedgehog

Description and Habitat

This type of hedgehogs is also known as common hedgehogs. Usually, they are found in places such as Europe, Iberia, Italy and Scandinavia. The European hedgehog can survive in various environments such as grassland, woodlands, meadows, vineyards and more.

Appearance

Typically European Hedgehogs are brown in color and have the shortest tail among all hedgehog species. The European hedgehog can weigh up to 1100 grams but they usually double in weight during winters. Overall, they are the largest hedgehog in the world.

In some rare cases, the European hedgehog would have blond color skin. This is due to rare kind of genes. This type of colour hedgehog is usually found in two places, North Ronaldsay and the Channel Island of Alderney.

Diet

The European hedgehog is omnivorous. They feed on insects such as beetles, caterpillars, insects, slugs, fruits and earthworms.

Lifespan

European hedgehogs average lifespan is only three years in the wild due to starvation that usually occurs during hibernation. On the other hand, in captivity they can live up to 10 years.

Can I Keep European Hedgehogs As Pets?

The short answer is yes. They can live up to 10 years in captivity but require a lot of care and attention. The European hedgehog is protected by the law in some countries such as Denmark and Poland.

Summary

Overall, hedgehogs are relatively easy to care for as they are not expensive to feed compared to many other household pets. In addition, you won’t have to take it for walks and it won’t run around the house chewing on furniture.

As they are intelligent animals, they enjoy playing and running through mazes and tunnels. If raised properly, you can build a great relationship with your friendly pet hedgehog.

Overall, the hedgehogs that you can keep as pets are the African Pygmy, both types of long eared hedgehog, Algerian hedgehog and European hedgehog.

However, the most suitable types of hedgehogs to keep as pets with least complications would be the African Pygmy and the European Hedgehog.

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