The Hedgehog: A Prickly Ball of Cuteness

Grace C., Opinion

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Hedgehogs are exotic pets that are very cute and sociable. They readily lend themselves to just about anyone’s
lifestyle and schedule. They have a quiet, gentle, disposition that makes them a delight to own — even if they are
somewhat nocturnal (much like house cats), so that nearly everyone can find a time of day in which to enjoy them. Each
has a distinct personality and will bond to their owner. They are quite intelligent, fun to play with, and are easily
entertained. They love to play with tunnels, mazes and hedgehog wheels. Even something as simple as a toilet paper
tube will make a gimagesood toy as they love to stick their heads in them and run about the floor. Despite their somewhat
solitary nature, they can become very affectionate with their owners and will even enjoying watching TV with you or
just snuggling in your lap.
There are roughly 15 species of hedgehog in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hedgehogs have also been introduced
into New Zealand. The hedgehog was named because of its peculiar foraging methods. These animals root through
hedges and other undergrowth in search of the small creatures that make up the bulk of their diet—insects, worms,
centipedes, snails, mice, frogs, and snakes. As a hedgehog picks its way through the hedges, it emits pig-like grunts,
relying upon its senses of hearing and smell because its eyesight is weak. Some people consider hedgehogs useful pets
because they prey on these common garden pests. Hedgehogs will hibernate in cold climates. In deserts, they sleep
through heat and drought in a similar process called aestivation. They remain active all year in more temperate locations.
They have adorable little raccoon-like faces, set with little black, beady eyes and small pointy noses that seem
to twitch constantly while checking out the different scents in a room. Depending on the color variation you choose,
their little white faces may or may not have a mask. Although not related to the porcupine, they are sometimes mistaken
for them because of the quills that cover their backs. Similarities stop there, however, since the hedgehog quills are not
barbed or nearly as sharp and remain attached to their bodies. On the other hand, their little white stomachs are
extremely soft and are covered with short, white hair. When frightened, they can roll up into a tight ball and look very
much like a sea urchin! They have a short, stubby tail, but this is rarely seen since they keep it tucked up close to their
bodies.
If need be, hedgehogs are quiet and easy to travel with. Most people aren’t even aware that a hedgehog is
nearby. Many hotels that restrict other animals such as cats and dogs will allow hedgehogs, believe it or not. Since they
are not rodents, they have no body odor, but it is still important to clean the litter box daily to eliminate all smells. Some
people are not comfortable with a loose pet, so a cage with a minimum floor area of 4 square feet will keep it happy and
secure.
They live much longer than rodents, too. With the proper care and diet, a hedgehog’s average life span is 4-6
years, however, some can live to be 8 years old. Your little pet should be kept indoors at a normal room temperature (72
to 80oF) and it should be fed a high-quality dry cat food. Another plus for a pet hedgehog, is that they do not require
immunization shots and are very disease-resistant, so you can see why many people consider hedgehogs to be the perfect
pet.
If you are in the market for a very low-maintenance pet that won’t bark (although when happy, some will emit a
quiet purr), won’t climb the curtains or chew and claw on furniture, nor ask to be taken out for a walk, then a hedgehog
might be your perfect pet. As with any pet, all your little hedgehog wants is to be fed, watered, appreciated, and loved
unconditioimages-1nally.

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The Hedgehog: A Prickly Ball of Cuteness