Ownership Considerations | Purchasing A Hedgehog | Purchasing A Hedgehog From Us | Our Policies | Deposits

Purchasing A Hedgehog

Where to Purchase and
What to Look For When You Buy

Where to Purchase

  • Hedgehogs can be found in limited pet stores, through brokers at flea markets or animal sales, or they can be purchased directly from breeders
  • When buying animals, I recommend that you check out the source.  Observe the health of the animals, the seller’s knowledge, and their reputation and experience. 
  • Compare buying hedgehogs to buying strawberries. 
    • It is possible to find great strawberries at your local super-store.  On the other hand, these strawberries are mass-produced, artificially ripened, and probably do not have the wonderful flavor as some of your other options.  The stock person may not be as knowledgeable as other vendors as to how they were produced, the quality, or other information. 
    • Another place to buy fruit is from a local fruit market or a roadside stand.  These markets can be more selective in the quality and freshness of their products.  This retailer tends to have more invested interest in you as a customer and is probably a little more educated in their product. 
    • Finally, you can go to a strawberry farm and pick your berries yourself.  Your tasty treat may be a little more difficult to obtain, will take more work but you will have a completely different product in the end.
  • Purchasing animals should not be a matter of convenience and lowest bottom dollar.  It may be well worth going out of your way to select a hedgie that is right for you. 
  • Many people have their first introductions to hedgehogs through a pet store.  I hesitate to label pet stores as “bad” without visiting the store and talking to the owner.  However, many pet stores do not have the same knowledge and experience you can get from a breeder.
  • I will not label all breeders as “good” simply because they are a breeder.  You may have to do a little work to find a suitable breeder in your area.  I firmly believe it may be well worth your time and energy to travel so that you might have a good buying experience, rather than to buy from a less suitable breeder or dealer simply because they are closer.
  • Here are some suggestions for locating a breeder:
  • We hope you choose to purchase from us!

What to Look for When You Buy

  • The person you are buying from should know the age and background of the hedgehogs.
  • You should have confidence that this person keeps his/her animals clean and well maintained.
  • Your new hedgehog should be eating a quality diet.
  • The salesperson should be able to easily demonstrate proper handling techniques and be able to physically show you the gender of your hedgehog.
  • You should be provided accurate information on how to properly care for and maintain your new pet.
  • The animals should be housed according to gender and never buy a female that has been housed with a male.
  • Females can breed as early as 8 weeks but should not be bred until they are much older.
  • Early breeding can cause complications for both mother and babies including cannibalization of babies.

Why are Hedgehogs Difficult to Find?

  • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates the sale of exotic animals.  All pet stores selling hedgehogs and all breeders who have three or more females are required to be USDA licensed.  Many pet stores and potential breeders simply do not want the hassle of becoming USDA licensed.
  • Breeding and selling hedgehogs is a lot of work.  Much time, effort and expense is necessary to care for the animals as well as to market and sell the babies.
  • Many people have commented to us “there must be a good market for hedgehog babies because there aren’t many around”.  We believe the opposite is true.  There aren’t many around because the market for them isn’t good.  Our average customer drives 2.5 hours to get to us.  If we relied on local customers we would have been out of business many years ago.  There simply isn’t a huge demand for exotic pets.
  • Raising hedgehogs is a prickly business!  They aren’t as easy to breed as many people think.  Breeders must educate themselves for success and they must be able to educate their customers.

Why are Hedgehogs Expensive?

  • The average pet hedgehog is much more expensive than the average pet guinea pig, hamster or rabbit.  Hedgehogs are exotic animals; exotic or rare animals of all kinds are typically more expensive than average pets or livestock.
  • Hedgehogs have unique care and handling requirements.  A good breeder or retailer will spend a considerable amount of time educating their customer about these requirements.  Part of the price of an animal is the time required to breed and sell that animal. 
  • Hedgehogs are relatively expensive to breed and sell.  Very few breeders or retailers are well to raise animals at a loss and so their expenses are reflected in the price of the animal.
  • Exotic animal breeders and retailers are required to have a USDA license.  This license requires additional time, effort, and expense on their part.  Again, those costs must be passed on in the price of the animal.
  • Our Becoming a Breeder guide goes into more detail about some of the risks and challenges breeders face.

Selection of Your New Hedgehog

  • It is best to select a hedgehog that is between 6-12 weeks old. Young hedgehogs usually adapt to a new environment more easily than older animals.  Older animals may still make good pets with extra precautions.
  • All hedgehogs should be easy to handle at the time of purchase.
  • Each hedgehog will have its own personality, and it is best to choose the hedgehog that is similar to what you are looking for in at pet.  However, the personality you see at the time of purchase will change and develop over time depending on how you handle your new pet.
  • Most hedgehogs will be a little nervous when they are fist handled by a strange person or when they first wake up, but they should calm down and relax within a minute or two.
  • The hedgehog should come out of a ball fairly quickly.
  • Huffing is OK because that is part of hedgehog nature and communication.
  • The hedgehog should not click, jump, or pop because that means it is trying to defend itself and it is trying to threaten you.
  • You should be able to physically examine your hedgehog to ensure good health.

Signs of Good Health

  • Check its eyes to make sure they are bold, clear, round, and bright.  The eyes should be wide open. The eyes should not be watery or sunken, dull, or have any discharge.
  • The hedgehog’s nose should be moist and clean.  It should not be dry, bubbly, or running.
  • Your hedgehog’s ears should be clean with no drainage, crustiness, or flaking on the outer part of the ear.
  • Check the skin to make sure there are no abrasions, lumps, bumps, excessive dryness, bare patches, or signs of mites. 
  • The underbelly fur should not be matted.
  • The hedgehog’s body should be filled out through the back and sides.
    • Some hedgehogs have a streamlined appearance, but their skin should not be loose and they should be filled out below the ribs.
    • Other hedgehogs are plumper but they should not be so fat that they cannot easily roll into a ball.
  • Breathing should be regular with no wheezing or signs of stress.  Do not confuse the normal hedgehog huffing for the rattle of a respiratory illness.
  • Notice the amount of food and water consumption from the previous night and has the hedgehog gained or lost a significant amount of weight.
  • The hedgehog’s bowl movements should be similar in color to the hedgehog’s food.  Green droppings or diarrhea are signs of illness and stress.
  • Your hedgehog should move freely without limping, wobbling, or dragging its feet.  A hedgehog’s normal gait will create a “pitter-patter” sound.

Rescuing an Animal in Poor Conditions

  • I encourage NOT buying an animal either from a breeder or a pet store as a “rescue” to remove it from terrible conditions. 
  • Purchasing the animal may improve that particular animal’s condition, but it will do nothing to prevent future animals from being housed or maintained in similar situations. 
  • Instead, kindly and respectfully point out the problem to the owner or manager and try to educate the person or store about proper hedgehog care.  Some instances of neglect are not from intent but from lack of information. 
  • Should the situation not improve it may be necessary to notify the proper authorities.  Hedgehog sales are governed by the USDA, which is obligated to investigate all complaints.  http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ac/acorg.html