Hedgehog Care: The Essential Guide To Ownership & Care Of Your Pet, by Kate H. Pellham
Although I am someone who has had few pets over the course of my life, I do have a fondness in thinking about odd and quirky pets, and the hedgehog is certainly an example of a strange sort of pet that would likely be fascinating to have and that would have a schedule even more nocturnal than my own. One of the strange quirks about the advice in this book is that the author recommends that a hedgehog be kept in a quiet room that nonetheless has people in it during the day but is not a room that people are in at night when hedgehogs are at their most active, since there are apparently no quiet hedgehog wheels where the little animals can get their exercise and somehow hedgehogs benefit from being around people even when they are simply sleeping near human beings and thus getting used to their presence and appreciating them around as safe beings. By and large, hedgies appear to be somewhat fussy and temperamental animals who cannot be transported easily and who have a narrow temperature range and rather strict food and exercise requirements.
This book is about 150 pages long and is divided into five chapters. After a disclaimer, a rather odd beginning for a book like this one, the book begins with a chapter that introduces hedgehogs as animals, as pets, their behavior and various other concerns as well as how one can buy them and what age one would want them to be (1). This is followed by a discussion of cages and supplies, with a note that guinea pig cages are the right size but that other cages would have to be modified based on the size of hedgehogs (2), as well as various other items one would want in a cage like liner, bedding, night bulbs, exercise wheels, a hide box, and so on. This is followed by a discussion of feeding and handling, including socializing one’s hedgehog, dealing with food and nutrition, weekly and monthly tasks, daily play and exercise, and toys (3). After that the author talks about health and wellness for hedgehogs including hibernation and aestivation, parasites and fungus, quilling, dry skin, gastro-intestinal issues, and other potential issues that might end up in trips to the vet (4). Finally, the author closes with a chapter on breeding and showing hedgehogs (5), as well as additional resources and the difficulties of raising hoglets.
In light of what this book has to say about the general fussiness of hedgehogs as pets and the fact that few pet stores have supplies that are specifically focused on them as animals, it is remarkable that books exists which encourage elementary school age children to prepare for the task of owning and taking care of hedgies. Given the fact that one has to watch out for purchasing pregnant juvenile hedgehogs and worrying about not putting males in cages with other hedgehogs and in finding the right kind of cage and wheel for hedgehogs and making sure they eat enough protein but not too much fat so as to avoid being overweight and sick, hedgehogs are animals that require a lot of very delicate and very precise care in choosing their kibbles and in making sure they have enough area to run around in but not anything that will injure them or allow them to make a bid for freedom. This is a bit too much for a young person to deal with, I would think, and probably more than most adults would want to handle in a small animal of dubious legality in many areas.