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African pygmy hedgehogs

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

a close-up of an african pygmy hedgehog outside

Their natural habitat

The wild African pygmy hedgehog's natural habitat is the dry, grassy plains of West, Central and East Africa. African pygmy hedgehogs travel large distances in the wild. They need space to roam, sadly they're often kept in small cages which are unsuitable for this very active species


In the wild, African pygmy hedgehogs are natural omnivores eating spiders and insects, plants and bird eggs. 

African pygmy hedgehogs under the Animal Welfare Act

African pygmy hedgehogs (also known as the white-bellied or four-toed hedgehog) are growing in popularity but this doesn't mean they make good 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. This means providing the animal with every opportunity to display normal behaviour such as foraging for live insects.

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 other domestic pets, caring for them is very difficult.
  • 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. 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. Standard vet insurance won't cover the costs, caring for an African pygmy hedgehog can also prove expensive.

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

Find out more