African pygmy hedgehogs
African pygmy hedgehogs are solitary, wild animals that are nocturnal by nature. Despite their size and appearance, these animals have complex needs that can only truly be met in their natural environment.
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.
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 especially is an important source of enrichment for African pygmy hedgehogs - allowing them to carry out their natural foraging and hunting behaviour.
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.
Do African pygmy hedgehogs make good pets?
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.
The African pygmy hedgehog is a wild animal that - despite their small size - has a wide range of needs that must be met in order for the animal to be healthy and happy. Compared to companion animals, caring for African pygmy hedgehogs is very difficult and meeting their legal needs under the Animal Welfare Act is no easy task in a typical household. Therefore, we can't fairly recommend keeping African pygmy hedgehogs as pets.
Additionally, African pygmy hedgehogs are naturally nocturnal and so must be left alone during the daytime. Therefore, 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!
Plus, as these species are solitary by nature, if you were to house two together it's likely that they would fight.
What is an African pygmy hedgehog's natural environment?
African pygmy hedgehogs travel large distances in the wild and it's therefore not kind to keep these animals in small enclosures in captivity. Our team sadly see hedgehogs kept in small rodent cages, which is a completely unsuitable environment for this very active species.
African pygmy hedgehog rescues
Our inspectors have taken in African pygmy hedgehogs that were no longer wanted by their owners, or when owners have realised they cannot care for them properly. Sadly, we have attended properties where hedgehogs were being kept in completely unsuitable conditions; in enclosures which are far too small, where hedgehogs have been neglected or were being fed an inappropriate diet, resulting in serious health problems.
Our team has also been called to capture and collect stray African pygmy hedgehogs that have been deliberately abandoned - mostly likely after their owner realised that they couldn't look after them properly. Doing so (releasing an African pygmy hedgehog intentionally) is a punishable offence under the Animal Welfare Act.
Are African pygmy hedgehogs currently legal to own in the UK?
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.