African Pygmy hedgehogs do not originate in this country and, as such, have different requirements from our own European Hedgehog Whilst it is against the law to keep a European Hedgehog as a pet (unless it is in a centre and unreleasable), it is legal to keep an African Pygmy hedgehog as long as it has been bred in this country.
There have been articles in the paper recently that make them sound totally adorable and making them into the latest MUST HAVE.
Well, firstly hedgehogs do not make good pets in the same way as cats and dogs etc. do.
They need to be kept very warm all the time so these people who are carrying them in handbags will lose them pretty quickly. What a cruel thing to do to any animal!
They will need a special diet which will include live food - which also has to be fed and cared for.
Not all these hedgehogs are being bred kindly, it is more a kind of farming for money.
A gentleman rang me recently having just become the owner of an African Pygmy and he wanted to know of a good vet who would understand it and be able to check it over and give him advice. OK, this little hog has probably fallen on its feet with a caring owner BUT the gentleman rang me again, very upset as he had come home and found lots of blood in the cage. When he opened the sleeping accommodation, the hedgehog was there with two babies. He did not know what to do, his vet appointment was a couple of days away and he was not now going to be able to take her anyway. I advised him the best I could and pointed him to what I thought looked like a good web site. I have not heard how he has got on. Now you could look at it that he has got 3 hedgehogs for his money (if they survived) but in all honesty what kind of breeder would sell a pregnant animal and the likelihood is that she was made pregnant by a sibling or other family member as she was just out of babyhood?
Another worry is that people might find baby European hedgehogs and pick them up thinking they have found something valuable. If not looked after correctly they will die and the whole action is illegal anyway.
The next problem is, what happens when these irresponsible MUST HAVE owners tire of their hedgehogs when they find their handbags full of poo (and they do a lot) or they get fed up with feeding and cleaning meal worms or other live food? Will they simply put them out in the gardens or woods where they will die? If some do survive we could have some kind of evolutionary problem like red and grey squirrels. African Pygmy hedgehogs can suffer from something called Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome and it is debilitating and they die from it. Do we really want this disease to pass to the European Hedgehog when they are already in trouble?
PLEASE, BEFORE LAUNCHING INTO BUYING AN AFRICAN PYGMY HEDGEHOG, THINK VERY CAREFULLY ABOUT IT. IN THIS COUNTRY IT CAN NEVER LIVE OUTDOORS, YOU WILL NEED TO KEEP IT WARM EVEN IN SUMMER, IT NEEDS THE CARE FROM AN EXOTICS VET (dearer than small animal vets), YOU WILL HAVE TO KEEP LIVE FOOD AND, PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL, THEY ARE BEING BRED AS A BUSINESS FOR MONEY AND THIS SHOULD BE STOPPED ----SORRY!
For some really good, detailed advice I suggest you refer to the web site on this link. I think it tells you everything you need to know but bear in mind a lot of the foods may not be available in this country.
A good Exotics Vet is Lance Jepson. He cannot be everywhere but if you look on his web site you can see if he practices in your area.
REMEMBER, IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD THE VET, DON'T HAVE THE PET!
I am picking up a lot of your questions through my Analytics report on keyword searches. I do write answers in my FAQs pages but, to save searching around I am going to kind of lump them together here.
QUESTIONS I HAVE FOUND
Mites and Ringworm...Ringworm can be caught by you, mites and ringworm can be spread to pets. You need the Vet for the medication.
Pygmy with a broken leg... Shouldn't happen but accidents do take place. TAKE IT TO THE VET! they will give it pain relief and set the leg and it will cost big time.
Lungworm .. indicated by smokers cough, green poo, blood in poo. MUST get medication from the Vet. It is strong and needs to be administered in correct dosage. African Pygmies should not get internal parasites as they come from the wild food so please check your source of live food.
Prickle loss ... Baby hogs moult their fine prickles as they grow their adult ones and all hedgehogs moult their prickles in the way we moult hair. They should not moult so badly as to leave bald patches and you don't want to see crusty skin either. You need the Vet to diagnose whether it is mite (which one) or ringworm.
How long is a pregnancy? .. Guessing here but European hog is around 28 days.
Someone has found blood in the cage and wonders if the hog has eaten its babies.
If the hog was known to be pregnant, then it is very likely but it could just be a cut paw from standing on a prickle
Someone else has found her hog with bleeding feet
This might be something as small as a paper cut or standing on a prickle BUT I had a terrible thing happen and I would never want to see it again. One of my hogs ate its paws off and had to be put down. I think it may have got a prickle in it, nibbled it then got a taste for its own blood. Nothing would stop it. I could well imagine a frustrated hog could do this so be very careful
Why do hedgehogs die if they lose their fleas? Sorry, this is an old wives tale and I have only had one in 10 years with fleas
There are still other questions and answers on FAQs but I felt these are the ones most relevant to the Pygmies and their owners. Do remember that hedgehogs go down hill fast and, while you are searching the internet for advice, you should really be going to your Vet. (S)he should have the answers and the medication. Always take a poo sample (the hedgehog's of course!)