How Long do Hedgehogs Live – It may come as a surprise to learn that hedgehogs are mammals that have been living in Southern Europe and Africa for millions of years.
Their diet mostly consists of insects but they have been known to eat plants and other animals if need be. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which means they sleep during the day and go to work at night.
Hedgehogs are recognizable by their quills, which are sharp hollow hairs that serve as a defensive barrier. When under attack, the hedgehog goes into a ball with his quills sticking out.
As well as being used for defense, the quills have a look and coloring that also serve as camouflage. The quills are usually brown with white tips, but you may also see grey, black, and even cream variants.
Having a Hedgehog as a Pet
As far as pets go, it is the African pygmy hedgehog that is the most popular. These hedgehogs have a lifespan of around 4-6 years but can live to be as old as 10. This hedgehog breed grows to around 6-9 inches long, and is an animal that prefers to live alone.
While the African pygmy I small, he is active which means he needs a cage with some room to move around in. The good news here is that you can get a good cage at an affordable price. He should not stay locked up all the time, though, so be sure to let your hedgehog out to explore.
As mentioned earlier hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures, and are best suited as pets for people who are home in the evenings. These are cute little animals, but they are not good with kids, as they can become frightened when a little one gets a little too rough. Either the animal or the child can become injured by the quills in these situations.
Generally speaking, though, hedgehogs are docile animals that are easy to look after. They are clean, and don’t have much of a smell to them. The food that they eat is easy to find and affordable, making the hedgehog a fun, truly unique pet option.
How long do hedgehogs live?
There are more than 10 different species of hedgehog out there, and how long do hedgehogs live is dependent on that species. The smaller ones usually have a lifespan of around 2-4 years.
While the larger species may live as long as 7 years. Those numbers tend to be on the higher side when the animals are in captivity, mostly because they have regular access to food and don’t need to worry about predators. Here are some other quick hedgehog facts:
- Captive hedgehogs often live to the age of 10 years old.
- Foxes, badgers, and birds of prey will attack and eat hedgehogs on the wild.
- Slug pellets put out by farmers are also a problem for hedgehogs.
- In the UK, hedgehogs are often hit by cars as the animals try to cross the street.
- If hedgehogs become trapped in places where there is water, they may drown or starve since they are unable to climb up sheer sides.
- Garbage cans are another place where they often become trapped.
- People who set fire to their leaf piles may inadvertently kill hedgehogs, as the animals like to make home in those areas.
Keeping Your Hedgehog Healthy
The ideal diet for a hedgehog is one that is protein rich and mostly free from fat. Your local pet shop should have hedgehog food, but if they don’t, low-fat, dry cat food can work as an alternative.
Make sure that he has fresh, clean water at all times, and that crickets mealworms, cooked meat, and fruit and veggies are part of his diet. A cozy hiding spot should be part of his cage space, and the room he is kept in should be around 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
Handling Your Hedgehog
When picking up your hedgehog, do so by scooping him up from the belly. This will help you steer clear of the quills. When holding him in your hand, make sure that your other hand is protecting and supporting his back.
He may be nervous and roll up in a ball at first, at which time you should remain calm and patient. In his own time, he will uncurl and stat to sniff and explore.
While the quills may look sharp, you are unlikely to be hurt by them, so there is no need to wear gloves. Your hands should be bare, so that he can get your scent and become increasingly comfortable in your hand.
The personality of each hedgehog tends to be a little different. None of them will actively seek you out, but how they react to being handled is different in each individual case.
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Grooming Your Hedgehog
Hedgehogs are naturally clean animals. Which means that all you really need to do is ensure that their cage is always clean and tidy.
There may be times when bedding or dirt gets stuck between his quills, at which point he will need a bath. Clean, dry towels should be on hand for when the bath is over. You can clean him in water (a couple of drops of cat shampoo are optional), using a toothbrush to get between the quills.
You only need about an inch or so of warm, not hot, water in the sink. Use the water to wet his back, and try to make sure that the water does not come in contact with his eyes, ears, or face.
When scrubbing with the toothbrush, move from front to back on his quills. You can use your hand to clean the fur on his belly. If you decide to drop some shampoo in the water, drain the sink and use clean water when rinsing him off, making sure he is out of the sink when you refill it.
When you are done with the bathing, place your hedgehog in a dry, clean towel and dry him off gently. He needs to be completely dry before going back into the cage. So have a second towel on hand, just in case the first one becomes too damp.
Caring for a Hedgehog’s Nails
One area that will need your attention are the toenails of your hedgehog. They can become very sharp, and need to be trimmed regularly.
You can use human nail clippers to trim your hedgehog’s toenails. Be as gentle as possible when grabbing his foot, and wait until he relaxes before you start clipping. It will become easier each time you do it.
Don’t take off too much of the nail. As doing so will cut into the quick and cause bleeding and discomfort. A styptic pencil is the best way to stop the bleeding if an accident happens, but flour or corn starch can also be used. This is something you will be doing regularly so you only need to trim a little piece of each toenail.