Domesticated hedgehog

Summary

The most common species of domesticated hedgehog is the four-toed hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris). The Algerian hedgehog (Atelerix algirus) is a separate species of hedgehog.

The domesticated hedgehog kept as a pet is typically the African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris).[1] Other species kept as pets include the long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus auritus)[2] and the Indian long-eared hedgehog (Hemiechinus collaris).[3]

Roman domesticated hedgehogEdit

The Romans domesticated a relative of the Algerian hedgehog in the 4th century BCE, to use for meat and quills as well as pets.[4]

The Romans also used the quill-covered hedgehog skins to clean their shawls, making them important to commerce, which resulted in the Roman senate regulating the trade in hedgehog skins.[5] The quills were used in the training of other animals, such as keeping a calf from suckling after it had been weaned.[6]

Hedgehog quills remained in use for card paper and dissection pins long after the Romans had ceased to actively breed and raise hedgehogs.

Modern domesticationEdit

 
A pet hedgehog

In the early 1980s, after a hiatus of about 1600 years, hedgehog domestication again became popular. Some U.S. states, however, ban them, or require a license to own one.[7]

Since domestication restarted, several new colors of hedgehogs have been cultivated or become common, including albino and pinto hedgehogs. "Pinto" is a color pattern, rather than a color: A total lack of color on the quills and skin beneath, in distinct patches.

Currently, the species most common among domestic hedgehogs are African, from warm climates (above 22 °C, 72 °F). They do not hibernate in the wild, and if one of these African hedgehogs begins hibernation in response to lowered body temperature, the result can be its death. The process is easily reversed by warming, if caught within a few days of onset.[citation needed]

LegalityEdit

Because a hedgehog is commonly kept in a cage or similar enclosure, it is allowed in some residences where cats and dogs are not allowed.

It is illegal to own a hedgehog as a pet in some jurisdictions in North America, and a license is needed to legally breed them. These restrictions may have been enacted due to the ability of some hedgehog species to carry foot and mouth disease, a highly contagious disease of cloven-hooved animals. No such restrictions exist in most European countries.

The European hedgehog is a protected species in all countries that have signed the Berne Convention; this includes all member states of the Council of Europe, as well as the European Union and a small number of other states. In these countries, the European hedgehog may not be captured or kept as a pet.

Legal status internationallyEdit

  • Austria: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs (African Pygmy hedgehogs) may legally be kept as pets.
  • Australia: All hedgehogs are classified as exotic pets that are illegal to import.[8]
  • Canada:
    • In Quebec – European hedgehogs are illegal. Four-toed hedgehogs are legal.
    • In Ontario – European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Denmark: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Finland: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Germany: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. They may be removed from their habitat if injured or sick, but only for the purposes of restoring their health. If, for some reason, they cannot be released back into the wild (due to neurological conditions or permanent damage to limbs, for example) keeping them is still illegal and they must be put to sleep by a qualified vet.[why?] Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Italy: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Latvia: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Netherlands: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Poland: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • Spain: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs are illegal and considered an exotic invasive species.
  • Sweden: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • United Kingdom: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets. Four-toed hedgehogs may legally be kept as pets.
  • United States:
  • Singapore: Hedgehogs of all kinds are illegal, along with other exotic pets such as iguanas, tarantulas, scorpions, and snakes.[13]
  • Turkey: European hedgehogs are protected and cannot be kept as pets, and four-toed hedgehogs may also not legally be kept as pets.

EnclosuresEdit

 
A domesticated baby hedgehog

In the wild, a hedgehog will cover many miles each night.[14] A hedgehog with insufficient range may show signs of depression, such as excessive sleeping, refusal to eat, repetitious behaviour, and self-mutilation. Hedgehogs require a fair amount of exercise to avoid liver problems due to excess weight. Therefore, a domesticated hedgehog must have access to a running wheel. Running wheels must be selected carefully to avoid foot injury.[15]

FoodEdit

In the wild, a hedgehog is opportunistic and will eat many things, but the majority of the diet comprises insects. As insectivores, hedgehogs need a diet that is high in protein and low in fat. They also require chitin, which comes from the exoskeleton of insects; fiber in the diet may be a substitute for the chitin component. There are prepared foods specifically for pet hedgehogs and insectivores, including foods made from insect components. Also available are alimentary powders to sprinkle on other food which provide chitin and other nutrients.

Pet hedgehogs may eat such table foods as cooked, lean chicken, turkey, beef or pork. They will often eat small amounts of vegetables and fruit. Hedgehogs are lactose-intolerant and will have stomach problems after consuming most dairy products, though occasional plain low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese seem to be well tolerated.[16]

AllergiesEdit

Hedgehogs produce very little danger to their owners and handlers.[17] It is possible to be allergic to items surrounding the hedgehog, such as the hedgehog's food or bedding, but it is rare that a person would be allergic to the hedgehog itself.

After handling hedgehogs, some have claimed that pink dots on their hands is an allergic reaction.[18] This is more likely caused by small pricks from the hedgehog's spines. If a hedgehog is not clean, the pricks can become infected. The infection is from contaminants on the hedgehog or on the surface of the hands, not from an allergic reaction to the hedgehog. As is true with most animal handling, one should wash their hands after handling a hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are commonly allergic to wood oils. Wood bedding should be avoided, specifically cedar. The oil found in cedar can cause severe upper respiratory problems. Aspen however is widely accepted as a safe substitute.

DiseasesEdit

Hedgehogs can easily become obese; if they can no longer roll completely into a ball, it is a clear sign of obesity. Conversely, hedgehogs often stop eating under situations of stress such as when adjusting to a new home.

Hedgehogs are prone to many diseases, including cancer, which spreads quickly in hedgehogs, and wobbly hedgehog syndrome (WHS), a neurological problem. Some symptoms of WHS resemble those of multiple sclerosis (MS) in humans, therefore the condition the animal experiences can be compared with what MS patients experience. A possible cause of WHS is a genetic flaw allowing a virus to attack the hedgehog's nervous system.[19]

The nose can display a variety of symptoms of a troubled hedgehog, especially respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia. In many cases, the form of pneumonia that affects hedgehogs is bacterial in nature. If acted upon quickly, antibiotics can have a very positive effect. Signs to watch for include bubbles, excessive dripping, or constant sneezing.[20]

Hedgehogs usually react to stress with temporary digestive disorders that include vomiting and green feces.[21]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The African pygmy hedgehog : Hybrid or not?". HedgehogsOfAsgard.com. c. 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2021.
  2. ^ "An array of hedgehogs". The Times. London, UK. 10 June 2014. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Basic hedgehog care". Exotic Nutrition. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  4. ^ Guinness World Records 2015. Guinness World Records. 16 September 2014. ISBN 9781908843821.
  5. ^ Brehm, Alfred Edmund (1895). The Animals of the World. A.N. Marquis & Company. p. 294. Brehm's life of animals, a complete natural history for popular home instruction, and for the use of schools.
  6. ^ Wood, John George (1898). Animate Creation. S. Hess. p. 356. Popular edition of Our Living World, a natural history.
  7. ^ Barbato, Lauren. "Hedgehogs = Best pets ever?". Bustle. Retrieved 22 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Keeping exotic (non-native) animals". Environment.gov.au. Wildlife trade and conservation in Australia. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  9. ^ Hedgpeth, Dana (23 January 2019). "Welcome, hedgehogs". The Washington Post. The increasingly popular pet is now legal in Fairfax County homes.
  10. ^ "The hedgehog underground railroad". City Paper. Archived from the original on 27 April 2006. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  11. ^ "Hedgehogs". Department of Fish and Game. dfg.ca.gov. Non-game: Nuisance and exotic animals. State of California. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Article 161" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Health Code. Retrieved 23 June 2016.
  13. ^ "Keeping of illegal wildlife as pets". Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore.
  14. ^ "Hedgehogs and wheels". Faqs.org. Hedgehog FAQ. 10 April 2012. section 5.6. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  15. ^ "Best hedgehog wheel". Heavenly Hedgies. 21 May 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  16. ^ "What can hedgehogs not eat?". Hedgehog. 7 April 2019. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Reasons to own a hedgehog". Hedgies.com. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Advice and information on African pygmy hedgehog". www.rspca.org.uk. RSPCA. Retrieved 14 June 2020.
  19. ^ Sasai, Noriaki; Toriyama, Michinori; Kondo, Toru (2019). "Hedgehog Signal and Genetic Disorders". Frontiers in Genetics. 10. doi:10.3389/fgene.2019.01103. ISSN 1664-8021. PMC 6856222. PMID 31781166.
  20. ^ Ochiai, H.; Tamukai, K.; Akabane, Y.; Oba, M.; Omatsu, T.; Okumura, A.; Mizutani, T.; Madarame, H. (9 June 2020). "An African pygmy hedgehog adenovirus 1 (AhAdV-1) outbreak in an African pygmy hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) colony in Japan". Veterinary and Animal Science. 9: 100083. doi:10.1016/j.vas.2019.100083. PMC 7386706. PMID 32734101.
  21. ^ "Health information". Hedgies.com. Retrieved 9 July 2012.


External linksEdit

  • "Care". Pet-Hedgehog.org. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015.
  • "Hedgehog headquarters". hedgehogheadquarters.com.
  • "Hoping for a hedgehog? 10 things to know before bringing one home". vetstreet.com.
  • "How to bathe your pet hedgehog". HedgehogsAsPets.com.