The domestication of the African Pygmy hedgehogs began in the early 80's and has been popularized ever since by their breeders.They are a hybrid of the four-toed hedgehog and the Algerian hedgehog. African Pygmy hedgehogs are 4 - 9 inches in length and their life span is around 4 - 6 years. Though they prefer their natural habitat, they can be easily tamed. They should be adopted or bought from a regular hedgehog breeder who has some experience in handling them. To make them familiar with human handling, it is always better to get a young hedgehog. A list of prerequisites to keep the African Pygmy hedgehog as pet is as follows.
African Pygmy hedgehogs require very little space. They can be kept in a cage measuring around 3 - 5 square feet with a solid floor space and should have some wood shavings as their bedding. The cage should be big enough to accommodate a shallow litter box, a wheel for exercising, some space for food and water and a small tunnel-like area to make them feel secure. Hedgehogs prefer a solitary and warm atmosphere around them so make sure that the temperature within their cage is around 75°F. Being nocturnal creatures, they are active during the night. The cage should be cleaned and disinfected regularly to avoid skin infections and other problems.
Hedgehogs are insectivores; they mainly feed on worms, bugs, insects, snails, frogs, etc. and also fruits and nuts at times. Domesticated hedgehogs can be given dry cat food that are low in fat. Commercial hedgehog food and prepared insectivore diet can also be fed. They consume food that equals to 1/3 of their body weight every night. Clean, freshwater should be made available for their drinking. African Pygmy hedgehogs tend to grow obese, so care should be taken to feed them low fat food. They should also be exposed to exercise on a daily basis.
African Pygmy hedgehogs can be prone to major illnesses like cancer, wobbly hedgehog syndrome (which is a neurological degenerative disease) and minor illnesses like allergies, digestive disorders like diarrhea and vomiting, respiratory illnesses, tooth and gum diseases, etc. In case of any of these, a veterinary doctor should be consulted and the hedgehog should be treated accordingly. They can also show signs of depression and stress if not provided with a comfortable atmosphere. At such times they appear inactive and refuse to eat or drink. They should also be taken to the veterinarian for annual checkups.
The African Pygmy hedgehog should be handled with utmost care and tamed gently. Initially, they might not agree to be cuddled or held. They curl into a ball and uncurl once they know that you intend no harm.
If you are looking for a loyal companion in your pet, you could find one in the African Pygmy hedgehog. An African Pygmy hedgehog can make a great pet just as any other domesticated animal with little care, love and pampering.