African pygmy hedgehogs

African pygmy hedgehogs are solitary, wild animals that are nocturnal - so they're active in the night. They have complex needs that can only be met in their natural environment, so they don't make suitable pets.

Where do African pygmy hedgehogs come from?

The wild African pygmy hedgehog's natural habitat is the steppes, savanna and grassy areas of West, Central and East Africa. African pygmy hedgehogs travel large distances in the wild, and it's therefore not kind to keep them in small enclosures in captivity.

Our team sadly sees hedgehogs kept in small rodent cages, which is a completely unsuitable environment for this very active species.

What do African pygmy hedgehogs eat?

African pygmy hedgehogs are natural omnivores in the wild, mostly eating small invertebrates like spiders and insects, as well as plants, small vertebrates and bird eggs. Live insect food is an especially important source of enrichment for African pygmy hedgehogs, as it allows them to carry out their natural foraging and hunting behaviour.

Do African pygmy hedgehogs make good pets, and is it legal to own one?

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African pygmy hedgehogs (also known as the white-bellied or four-toed hedgehog) are growing in popularity, and are sometimes wrongly portrayed and misunderstood as making suitable domesticated pets.

Unfortunately, it's currently legal to own an African pygmy hedgehog as a pet. However, under the Animal Welfare Act, owners must be able to meet the animal's full welfare needs, which includes allowing the animal full opportunity to display normal behaviour. 

Here's why we can't fairly recommend keeping African pygmy hedgehogs as pets:

  • The African pygmy hedgehog is a wild animal, and compared to companion animals, caring for them is very difficult. Meeting their legal needs under the Animal Welfare Act is no easy task in a typical household.
  • African pygmy hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal and so must be left alone during the daytime. That means you'll only be able to interact with them during the night while they're awake. Of course, this means they'll also keep you up in the late hours!
  • African pygmy hedgehogs are solitary by nature and if you were to house two together, it's likely that they would fight.

Sadly, many hedgehogs that are kept as pets are fed a diet too high in fat, which can cause obesity and other health problems. As standard vet insurance won't cover the costs, caring for an African pygmy hedgehog can also prove very difficult and costly.

If you're looking for information on caring for the African pygmy hedgehog's European cousin, have a read of our advice on keeping garden hedgehogs safe and happy.

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