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African pygmy hedgehog

African Dwarf Hedgehog
Instead of a foreword
I will tell you a story as old as the world. Surely many will recognize themselves in it …
The most common mistake made by homo sapiens is to humanize animals and endow them with all sorts of virtues for their outward appearances. But even more we are mistaken in bringing the dearest creature from the wild into the house (not knowing anything about him) and we think that we will be mutually in love and happy. When I was little, my friends gave me a hedgehog caught in the forest for my birthday. This male or female was unknown, but he was immediately christened Hedgehog and solemnly brought into the house.

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On the very first night, Yozhka showed his essence in all its glory. He peeled off the wallpaper, tried to “dig up” the wooden floor of his grandmother’s house and “marked” in all corners. He stomped like a herd of rabid mammoths (of course, at night), emitted the aromas of a barracks and a station restroom at the same time and a couple of days later this hell was expelled from the house under my roar and lies of adults that “the hedgehog escaped into the forest, with him there are little children. ”

African pygmy hedgehog

африканские ежики
африканские ежики

Everyone loves hedgehogs, but they are afraid (and rightly so) to get a copy of the cartoon prickly charm at home. Therefore, today we will tell you about the miracle hedgehog, which is a pleasure to contain. It does not stomp, almost does not smell, does not show aggression to humans and, by the way, lives much longer than most small caged pets (for example, decorative rodents, and the hedgehog is a representative of the insectivore order): about 5-8 years. Fashion for dwarf hedgehogs is just beginning to gain momentum, but, of course, this charming pet has a great future. Perhaps you will order your first hedgehog in Moscow or abroad, but several years will pass, and hedgehogs can be seen in a good pet store or seen at the exhibition …

African pygmy hedgehog is not found in the wild. This is a species artificially bred by humans! Fashion for hedgehogs came to Russia from the USA and Canada, but even the most inquisitive and understanding in genetics and biology hedgehogs did not give an exact answer in online publications: who exactly, in which city, in which year and in what way he brought out the first African hedgehogs. One of the links indicates that the ancestors of the hero of our story were Algerian and white-bellied hedgehogs: animals with a very similar genome, exterior, ecology and lifestyle. These hedgehogs differ only in the size of the “mask” on the face, the shape of the ears and a slight difference in size. Through both intraspecific and interspecific crossbreeding of Algerians and white-bellied animals, man managed to obtain many bright and beautiful morphs (colors) of the African pygmy hedgehog. However, we will return to morphs …

In order not to mislead readers, we start with warning information

Warning information
African pygmy hedgehog 1. A good hedgehog is like a good car – it cannot be cheap! The price of hedgehogs varies depending on the rarity of the color. If you want to have a healthy, beautiful and affectionate pet, get ready to fork out and say a solid no to bird markets, resellers and questionable ads on the Internet. The proverb that the avaricious pays twice is also true for hedgehogs: dreaming of a free cheese in a mousetrap, you risk buying an old or sick animal from dishonest people, then splurge on a veterinarian and become disappointed in your dreams and hopes.

2. Now in our country there are very few good nurseries of dwarf African hedgehogs. Therefore, you may have to choose a pet, guided by photos on the Internet and look for an opportunity (train conductor, intercity bus driver, etc.), or go to another city on your own for a little cutter.

3. Hedgehogs need preventive treatment from ecto- and endoparasites.

4. Despite the simplicity of care and the good-natured nature of the pet, the African pygmy hedgehog is not a “baby” animal. When purchasing a hedgehog for a child, remember your personal responsibility for the one you tamed. Perhaps some actions for caring for the animal will be unbearable for a little man (detection of symptoms of diseases, visits to a veterinarian, breeding, caring for a pregnant or lactating female, feeding the hedgehog with insects, etc.).

African pygmy hedgehog

5. When purchasing a prickly pet, find out in advance whether there is a veterinarian in your city who has experience with exotic animals. Many methods of treatment and some drugs used for dogs and cats are contraindicated and even deadly for hedgehogs! For more detailed information and lists of all “possible” and “impossible”, we recommend that you contact the VKontakte group (see the list of references at the end of the article).

6. Hedgehogs do NOT eat grain feed like rodents and birds. You will have to buy cat food of a super-premium class, fresh meat (fillet), vegetables, fruits and feed insects all year round. Cat food is basic in the hedgehog’s diet, but you can’t do without treats, supplements, and vitamins.

If this information does not scare you – congratulations! Perhaps it is you who will become the first breeder of an African pygmy hedgehog in your city. But even taking a pet “for the soul”, you will enjoy it by watching his habits, admiring his beauty and talking with like-minded people on the Internet.

African Dwarf Hedgehog Content
A cage for a dwarf hedgehog should be spacious – the bigger the better. As a filler, use purchased sawdust or wood filler for rodents. You can not use cedar sawdust, sawdust resinous tree species and any bedding materials containing essential oils – they are toxic to hedgehogs!

African pygmy hedgehog

In a cage for a hedgehog there should be shelters, a “toilet” corner, feeders, drinking bowls and, of course, a running wheel. The diameter of the wheel for the hedgehog is at least 28 cm. The hedgehog needs to run in the wheel: it leads a nocturnal lifestyle, needs to move a lot and needs outdoor games that cannot be replaced with walks around the room. The wheel must be solid, solid (plastic) and in no case have a cellular or lattice structure in order to avoid injuries of the paws. It is also contraindicated to keep hedgehogs in a cage with a trellised floor! All hedgehogs (both African and others) are adapted to walk on a flat surface.

When purchasing a cage for a hedgehog, remember that hedgehogs are great climbers, so a cage or open-top terrarium is not suitable for you: your pet will certainly make an attempt to escape. Do not buy a cage with a large distance between the rods (as for ferrets or rabbits): a small hedgehog may “leak” through the grate or become stuck.

The cage (or terrarium) must have good ventilation. Avoid drafts, merciless direct sunlight (a hedgehog should be able to hide from them). The optimum temperature in the room should be 20-25 ° C, overheating is extremely dangerous for the health of the hedgehog.

Cage cleaning should be done frequently. If a hedgehog has chosen a certain angle for his toilet, which is not always the case, but it happens, clean it every day, and 1-2 times a week carry out a thorough cleaning in a cage with a washing pan and rubbing the rods. The feeder and drinker must always be clean!

If the hedgehog does not drink, this phenomenon has two reasons:
1) he is sick and you urgently need to run to the veterinarian;

2) he is used to drinking from a bowl and is not accustomed to drinking. Call your breeder and ask him if the pet can use the drinker and in what conditions it was kept before. It’s possible to “retrain” the hedgehog, but it’s difficult – and this concerns not only habits, but also the diet. Cases are described on the Internet when a pet brought to a new home does not want to eat or drink not only from stress, but also due to the slightest changes in feeding and maintenance.

An African pygmy hedgehog does not fall into hibernation. His “summer” lifestyle should not be very different from the “winter” one: in no case do not break, do not impoverish, and do not dramatically change his food and temperature conditions. Hedgehogs do not need additional lighting and ultraviolet radiation, however, in crisis situations (frost or heat hit, the batteries were turned off, etc.), the hedgehog will need artificial sources of light and heat, or, conversely, cooling. In no case put a cage or terrarium near the radiator or fan so that the animal does not overheat or, conversely, does not catch a cold. It is quite difficult to make injections, save from dehydration, heat stroke or treat the hedgehog with antibiotics at home (especially if you do not have the appropriate experience).

Myths, legends and facts about hedgehogs
African pygmy hedgehog
Myth One:
“My hedgehog drinks milk from a saucer”
Stop. Leave it to writers and animators. Adult African pygmy hedgehog categorically does not tolerate lactose. Try to feed him “like in a cartoon”, and in the mild case you will get rid of diarrhea, and in the worst case – gastrointestinal diseases and even death. Dairy products (except for mother’s milk in the suckling period) are a contraindication for a hedgehog.

Myth Two:
“The hedgehog loves apples and mushrooms. He carries them on his needles and stockpiles. ”
Again, fiery greetings to children’s writers and artists of the USSR. Giving fruits to hedgehogs is possible and necessary: ​​it is a source of vitamins, plant fiber and a deliciously delicious treat. But about any mushrooms or dried fruits (some storytellers have brought their work to complete insanity and claim that the hedgehog supposedly dries fruits and mushrooms strung on needles, or drags them into a mink and dries there) can not be considered. We will tell you about what you can and cannot feed a domestic pygmy African hedgehog in the Feeding section.

And yet – in no case do not string different objects on the hedgehog’s needles. Hedgehog needles are not a turtle shell. They really serve the hedgehog for self-defense, but are not its privilege or the rarest species trait. Porcupine (rodent) and echidna (marsupial) and other animals have needles. The needle is a keratinized epidermis – the same as hair or nails, only a slightly different structure. Inside the needle, the needles are hollow, contain transverse septa and are constantly updated (not in the form of intensive molting, but constantly, throughout the year, 1-2 needles at a time).

The needles of a hedgehog in no way cancel the presence of a coat (the hedgehog is “whole” fur; thin, delicate, short hairs are also found between the needles). Now imagine if a certain alien creature that imprisoned you in a cage for experiments would attach different objects to the locks of your hair and shake them. The hedgehog feels about the same way, over whose needles little children and especially “smart” adults scoff and amuse.

Back to our cartoon hedgehogs … Indeed, in the wild you can find a hedgehog with leaves pinned to needles. Most likely, they accidentally hit him on the back when he was lying on the ground or curled up (by the way, special muscles are responsible for the ability to curl around the hedgehog). Apparently, this touching touch of a hedgehog with leaves has generated so many literary misconceptions.

But there is one interesting fact that cannot be dismissed: a lot of eyewitness accounts constantly finding hedgehogs with … cigarette butts on their backs (in light of the latest anti-nicotine programs and laws: forgive me the Ministry of Health). Why do hedgehogs carry this muck? There are two versions:

1) the hedgehog just lives in the forest, where there are too many summer residents and mushroom pickers who do not want to clean their garbage;
2) hedgehogs specifically seek out cigarette butts and wallow in them using tobacco and other flavors, resins and other harmful “chemistry” as antiparasitic drugs. In any case, it is impossible to do this with a home hedgehog. To avoid skin parasites and helminths, take a hedgehog from a good nursery, and then, after a couple of months, be sure to take him to a veterinarian for examination. It is not necessary to poison small tender crumbs with all sorts of “killer” drugs, but if the hedgehog is already an adult, he may need prevention, but what kind of doctor your breeder or the breeder from whom you buy the hedgehog will tell.

Myth Three:
“To eat a hedgehog, a fox shoves it into a stream, after which it turns around” (source: the same).
Perhaps in the wild there have been such cases. However, the predator will hardly use such a dubious and laborious process of hunting for a running small meatball (compare their proportions), unless very very starving. And again – for God’s sake, do not “try to repeat” this at home. There are many touching videos on the Internet with a hedgehog bathing in the bath (while forces allow him to stay on the water, experiencing great stress). Indeed, in the wild, hedgehogs develop good speed when moving (up to 3 m / s), and also jump and swim perfectly, but does this pet need this sadism? Not a single pet (with rare exceptions) needs to be bathed for fun: it independently takes care of its skin and coat. A hedgehog should be washed only if it fell out in the mud or got into something sticky, etc. Hedgehogs not only lick their wool, but also clean the needles with the help of sharp claws on their paws.

Some Internet sources say that hedgehogs prefer dry (sand) baths rather than water procedures. For these purposes, a special bathing sand from a pet store and containers (bathing) for chinchillas or degus is suitable.

Myth Four:
“The hedgehog must stomp, rustle, puff and snort”
Again – hello to the cartoons.

Probably, from the point of view of animals, we are also stomping, puffing and yelling. However, in the wild, every living organism tries to make as little noise as possible: fleeing from predators or vice versa, imperceptibly creeping up to prey. Calmness and silence in your apartment directly depends on whether you keep the hedgehog correctly: whether the cage is well-selected, whether the pet is feeling fine, and whether it is full of energy in the wheel. Once again we recall the proverb: the avaricious pays twice. Good, expensive, ordered or bought in the right place, the running wheel does not rattle or creak.

Myth Five:
“Hedgehog will catch all mice and rats”
Perhaps this is true for an ordinary hedgehog living in our latitudes (however, this judgment is also a myth: hedgehogs rarely eat rodents). The African pygmy hedgehog is much smaller, so it will not replace your cat and mouse.

Feeding an African pygmy hedgehog
African pygmy hedgehog

The main food of the African pygmy hedgehog is super premium cat food. In its composition, in no case should there be starch-containing products (corn, potatoes, etc.), as well as any dyes and substitutes. The first 3, and preferably 5 components should be meat (chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, as well as fruits and vegetables). In addition to the main meal, you can give additional goodies.

What you can give hedgehogs additionally:
Lean meat (chicken, turkey, lamb, duck, etc.) cooked or steamed without salt and spices. Basically, all types of fish are safe, but can affect the smell of feces and urine.

Hedgehog fish is cooked or steamed without bones, salt and spices.
Fruits: apples, bananas, melon, pitted cherries, cranberries, papaya, pear, peach, apricot, pumpkin, raspberries, Jerusalem artichoke, strawberries, watermelon, blueberries, blueberries, kiwi.
Vegetables: asparagus, broccoli, carrots, cucumber, green beans, peppers, peas, spinach, zucchini.
Hard-boiled or scrambled eggs without salt, sauces and spices. A quail egg can be given raw. Baby food without dyes or preservatives. Insects: zofobasy, crickets, grasshoppers, cockroaches.

You can not give hedgehogs:
Milk and any products containing milk – as we already wrote, hedgehogs do not tolerate lactose and eating such products can cause indigestion.
Pineapple – harmful due to the increased acidity of this fruit, which can cause irritation in the oral cavity. Dried fruits – may get stuck, stick to the larynx.
Grapes – dangerous for most small pets. May cause malfunction of internal organs. Raisins are just as dangerous as grapes, and in addition to this, it can get stuck in the teeth or stick to the sky, which causes tooth diseases and inflammation in the mouth.
Tea tree oil – can cause death even from a very small dose of a substance eaten or even sniffed by a hedgehog.
Avocado is toxic, there are cases of poisoning with this product.
Nuts and seeds – can stick to the sky, get stuck in the teeth and damage your eyes as the hedgehog tries to remove them from the shell.
Any citrus fruits.
Onion garlic.
Fast food, chips, etc. Chocolate.
Products containing dyes, food additives and chemical preservatives are harmful to hedgehogs for the same reason as humans. Only on dwarf hedgehogs are all the consequences of eating such food more acute and faster than in humans.