Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets for Kids?

Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets for Kids?

For several years my oldest daughter was intent on having a pet hedgehog. She learned about them from books at the library and watching educational programs about the cutest baby animals. Unfortunately though at the time hedgehogs were not permitted in Arizona. Owning a pet hedgehog is legal in Canada and most of the United States but it wasn’t until the end of 2015 that Arizona was added to the list of states allowing hedgehogs as pets. Our daughter couldn’t wait to use the allowance and all monetary holiday gifts she had been saving to purchase her own baby hedgehog. Over two years later she is still just as excited about her pet hedgehog, Skittles, and they share a remarkable bond. The most asked question when anyone finds out we have a pet hedgehog is, “do hedgehogs make good pets for kids?” Please note this post is intended to help you decide if a hedgehog is a good pet for your child, not to serve as a purchasing guide. 

Do hedgehogs make good pets for kids? We think so!

I recently found an essay in my daughter‘s backpack she had written at school during for a writing assignment. Her “What It’s Like to Have a Pet Hedgehog” essay contributed most of the information in this post so you can have a real perspective from a child with a pet hedgehog. When Skittles the hedgehog was new to our home we did oversee all activities and responsibilities. Now that Skittles has been in our home for a couple of years, our daughter fully takes care of her pet hedgehog by herself.

Skittles the hedgehog is funny and playful hedgehog living in Arizona with her nine year old owner.

Before purchasing or adopting a pet hedgehog, make sure your state allows them.

Cost

The African pygmy hedgehog is the most common domesticated hedgehog. Hedgehogs can be purchased for varying prices depending on where you live. Overall hedgehogs are relatively inexpensive to maintain as pets. Just like having a hamster as a pet for kids, most of the cost will be upfront in purchasing the hedgehog and living arrangement. Hedgehogs typically cost $150-$300 and the ongoing costs include bedding and food. Veterinary care is not a big factor unless you need to seek assistance in caring for your hedgehog. Cages can be simple one level structures or more complex. Common cages are big plastic tubs and this is where our hedgehog lived when we first brought her into our home. Last year we upgraded her home to a multilevel wire cage. Avoid metal cages with metal bottoms because hedgehogs prefer to be warm.

My daughter and her pet hedgehog share a special bond. See if hedgehogs make good pets for kids.

Supply List

  • ventilated cage
  • cage liner, we use fleece!
  • sleeping area 
  • wood or paper shavings are suggested but our hedgehog has been happy nesting in fleece
  • plastic running wheel 
  • food and water dishes
  • food
  • treats

Skittles the hedgehog has shown us hedgehogs make good pets for kids.

Care

Hedgehogs are nocturnal pets so they are not most active during the day. It is important you take the time to bond with your pet hedgehog. My daughter’s pet hedgehog is very snuggly with her but does not act the same if someone else is holding her. Hedgehog quills are very sharp and dangerous if they fall out on the floor (yes, I’ve stepped on one!). The quills are up and sharp when our hedgehog is not comfortable but relaxed when she’s content.

Our daughter has an incredible bond with her pet hedgehog and we think hedgehogs make good pets for kids.

Food & Water

Our hedgehog eats cat food daily and enjoys an occasional mealworm treat. Hedgehogs are prone to obesity so it’s important they are not overfed without the opportunity to exercise. We leave a small bowl of food in our hedgehog’s cage with an automatic water bottle. 

Do hedgehogs make good pets for kids? We vote yes based on our experience with Skittles the hedgehog.

Exercise

Being nocturnal, most of our hedgehog’s exercise happens at night. She runs in an exercise wheel for hours every night. That also means her wheel needs to be cleaned everyday. We have two wheels to alternate between cleaning.

Read this to help decide if hedgehogs make good pets for kids.

Clean Environment

Hedgehogs are messy and need their cage cleaned often. It’s easy to spot clean daily then do a deep clean weekly. A friend recently messaged me reminding of the dangers of owning a hedgehog. She’s right, hedgehogs can transmit salmonella so it’s vitally important anyone in contact with your pet hedgehog washes their hands. Keeping the hedgehog cage clean is important for the hedgehog and owner too.

Skittles the hedgehog has quite the personality and has shown us hedgehogs make great pets for kids.

Interaction

Hedgehogs are solitary in the wild and do not need hedgehog companions in captivity. Like all animals, they have their own personalities and can be quite different. Hedgehogs typically do not bite but their quills are very sharp potentially making it a challenging pet for a young child. A poke from hedgehog quills is not extremely dangerous but may cause some tears. My daughter was seven years old when baby Skittles the hedgehog became her pet and we haven’t had any challenges.

Find out if hedgehogs make good pets for kids!

Life Expectancy

I’ve read varying information on the life expectancy of a pet African Pygmy hedgehog but it seems to be a range of two to six years and some sites reference pet hedgehogs living up to eight years.

Reward

When choosing a pet, it’s important to consider the value the pet will add to your household.  There is always that added layer of parental responsibility if the child is not able to fully care for the pet on their own. Be sure you are ready to be a pet owner just as much as your child.

  • Hedgehogs are playful and can learn trained behaviors.
  • Once tame, they enjoy being held and played with.
  • They are great companions and can help with self-esteem.
  • Caring for a pet is a great way to teach responsibility.

Pros and Cons

Especially when choosing a pet for a child, the pros must outweigh the cons.

Pros

  • Hedgehogs can be tamed, and become quite loving and social.
  • They love to play, and they are fun to watch.
  • Hedgehogs are fairly low maintenance, yet rewarding.
  • They are relatively inexpensive.
  • Hedgehogs teach children responsibility.
  • They don’t take up a lot of space.
  • Hedgehogs are nocturnal presenting the opportunity for your child to have a companion in their room at night if they get lonely.

Cons

  • Hedgehogs are prickly and have sharp quills. This could be problematic for young pet owners.
  • They require daily interaction to be comfortable with their pet owners.
  • Hedgehogs carry human disease risk like salmonella.
  • Heat and cold extremes influence behavior so it’s important to maintain a consistently warm environment.

Do hedgehogs make good pets for kids? We vote yes but remember every hedgehog and kid is different so each pet experience will be unique.

See these tips for buying a pet hedgehog if you’re ready to take the next step. Learn more about my daughter’s pet hedgehog Skittles by following their fun together on Instagram.

Read Do Hamsters Make Good Pets for Kids? if you’re considering a pet hamster for your child!

Do hedgehogs make good pets for kids? Every pet and owner relationship has it's pros and cons. Read what we've learned by our child having a pet hedgehog.

27 thoughts on “Do Hedgehogs Make Good Pets for Kids?”

  1. Nope. We have a friend that had one in college. She loved him and he lived a good long while. It worked out great for her, but this could never, ever be an option for me or my kids. I just can’t. But to be fair, I am not the kind of mom that will allow hamsters or gerbils or farrests either. I’m strictly a dog or cat mom.

    Reply
    • Ha, I feel that way about snakes! Over the past years we’ve had some interesting pets but currently have one dog, two cats, a hedgehog and turtle. The hedgehog is definitely the easiest of the group!

      Reply
  2. Oh my gosh. They are so adorable! A friend of mine has one that she takes with her on the road (she travels around pulling a trailer and teaching art classes most of the year and wanted companionship). She says it’s the perfect choice. I used to think they were super high maintenance but you and my friend have convinced me. Hmmm. I might just have to get one.

    Reply
  3. I don’t know if I’d want one for a pet but they sure are adorable. From your report it seems like that make very good pets for someone who is willing to take the time and make the effort to take care of them. Just like any other pet!

    Reply
  4. This was very helpful! I am sharing this with my daughter who always wanted a hedgehog. They do not really sound more expensive than any pet once the initial outlay to buy one is done. Thank you – truly I enjoyed this a lot!

    Reply
  5. Honestly, never thought of a hedgehog as a pet. Now, My Little One had mentioned how she’d like one… or was that a sloth? JAHA Si, she’s a special one she is. Gracias for the post, will be forwarding it on to her. BB2U

    Reply
  6. My daughter recently finished a week of taking care of animals including a hedgehog and that was the first I had heard of them as pets. They are so cute and i wish I had a wheel to run on for exercise.

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  7. I’ve never had a pet hedgehog before and it sounds like it’s a nice pet for the kids and it’s not as demanding as having a dog that you need to walk everyday and all that. Definitely something that parents should consider.

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  8. Oh my gosh, these are the cutest pictures. If I showed my daughter, she’d want a hedgehog. Maybe we’ll try one out down the line.

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  9. I’ve never considered buying a hedgehog for my daughter. I’ve honestly never thought that they would be good as pets. This post sheds so much light and changes that. My daughter loves animals so I bet she would love one.

    Reply
  10. I think hedgehogs are so cute! But I’m not sure I could ever have one as a pet, I am so used to seeing them out on the lawn waddling about it seems strange to me to have one as a pet.

    Reply
  11. Hedgehogs are so adorable and I think they make awesome pets! I definitely recommend pets as a teacher because it teaches a child to be responsible. This is really great!

    Reply
  12. Aww so cute. I wonder if they are allowed where we live, I’ll have to check. I’d think they make a very interesting pet.

    Reply
  13. I don’t even know where to start but I will start off by saying these are definitely one of the cutest pets you can own. They are absolutely adorable and to be honest I would love to have one, I just don’t have the time to care for one at the moment. I learnt a few things from this post, I hope you continue to take cute pictures of Skittles.

    Reply
  14. We don’t have pets though we love animals. Of course a hedgehog is not your run of the mill pet and keeping him must be a challenging task. I can see your daughter is really pleased with him.

    Reply
  15. Wow! This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a hedge hog being a pet. I’ve learned a lot about them from this post that I never knew. I actually thought hedge hogs had quills like porcupines, shows what little I knew.

    Reply

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