Basic Care of the Ground Hedgehog

One of the nicest and most curious exotic pets that have become fashionable in the last few years are hedgehogs. The species normally commercialized is the African Pygmy Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris x Atelerix algirus), which is actually a hybrid obtained by crossing two different species of African hedgehogs.

They are easy to keep in captivity and relatively intelligent animals that can become very docile.Hedgehogs are small insectivorous mammals. They are not rodents as some people believe, and therefore have a different behavior and diet. Their life expectancy is approximately 5 to 8 years old and they breed easily in captivity.

Where can I house my African hedgehog?


We can use a cage for hamsters or guinea pigs with minimum dimensions of 50 cm long. The disadvantage of the cage is the air currents that can cause our hedgehog to catch a cold, besides it is more difficult to achieve a stable temperature inside the cage.

Glass terrarium

A glass urn is the most suitable housing for an African ground hedgehog because the glass walls conserve the ambient temperature better.  The terrarium should have at least one grid in the upper area for proper ventilation and air renewal.

 Does the ground hedgehog need heat?

The ideal temperature range for a pygmy hedgehog goes from 24ºC in the coldest zone to 30ºC in the hottest zone. To create this thermal gradient, we will have to place a thermal blanket in a corner of the terrarium that occupies ⅓ of the surface of the cage or terrarium. In that warm area we will place the shelter so that our hedgehog can rest, hide and feel safe during resting hours. It is very important to pay special attention to the temperature in the winter months that it does not drop below 22 ºC or our hedgehog could catch a cold and get sick.

My hedgehog spends all day sleeping, is this normal?

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals and therefore it is completely normal for them to spend most of the day sleeping and it is at night when they come out to eat and walk around their cage or terrarium.

What does an African pygmy hedgehog eat?

As previously mentioned, hedgehogs are mainly insectivorous animals, although they can also eat some types of fruits and vegetables. The main base food should be a hedgehog food such as Vitakraft Premium Hedgehog Menu or a light cat food. In addition to the complete feed we should give daily a mixture of paste for insectivorous animals such as Beaphar breeding paste for insectivores.

Besides we can give him from time to time some chopped fruit (banana, grapes, apple, watermelon, pear, strawberries, raspberries) and vegetables (lamb’s lettuce, chard, spinach, broccoli, cucumber, turnip, radish)It is important to provide live insects or canned insects which will drive them crazy because they are their favorite treats by far. We can give them crickets, zophoba, grasshoppers, mealworms (tenebrio) and snails. The insects that we give them should not be captured because they can carry pesticides and other toxic substances, so it is better to buy them in specialized stores or use canned insects such as: Tetra ReptoDelica Grasshoppers Grasshoppers, or ZOOMED can o’worms, tenebrios.

Occasionally we can give him a whole quail egg (if we break the shell a little better) or a piece of boiled egg. Remember, it is always important to be well informed about which foods are good for our little friend, and which ones should be avoided. It is very important that fresh water is freely available on a daily basis, which can be provided in a bottle drinking fountain or in a drinking fountain with a reservoir tank.

Can we domesticate an African hedgehog?

Pygmy hedgehogs are normally calm animals and only when they are newly purchased they can be a bit skittish, rolling up into the classic ball shape with bristly spines. With a little daily attention our hedgehog will soon gain confidence and lose his fear of us and will even follow us around the room. Being relatively intelligent animals they will soon learn their name and it is very easy to teach them by rewarding them with small treats or treats.

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