Hedgehogs: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual, by Sharon Vanderlip
This book, strangely enough, shows itself to be speaking of rather two minds when it comes to hedgehogs. It appears as if the honesty of the author on the one hand and the desire of the author to encourage people to have hedgehogs as pets on the other hand are in conflict here, and that is unfortunate. On the one hand, hedgehogs are being sold as being hardy animals, but on the other hand the book details the fussiness they have with their diets to avoid obesity, the harm that can come to hedgehog babies by being cannibalized by overstressed young mothers, or the fact that hedgehogs routinely get cancer above three years of age, none of which mark the species as hardy. And that is not even taking into consideration the narrow temperature range between 75 and 85 degrees that is best for the hedgehog, and not too humid. The obscurity of hedgehogs as pets and the resulting lack of supplies that are created with them in mind makes them an exotic and somewhat fussy pet to get that requires a fair amount of care. But hedgehogs are cute, and this book does provide plenty of photos that show hedgehogs in all their adorable nature. And for many people, with all their hassles, the cuteness will be enough.
This book is about 100 pages long and is divided into several unnumbered chapters, each of them with several sections. We begin with an introduction that discusses what a hedgehog is, some characteristics of the African Pygmy Hedgehog, which is what this book is about, the place of a hedgehog in nature, classification of the animal, their mysterious natural “history” and their bright future as pets. After that comes a look at what needs to be known before one buys hedgehogs as a pet, including selecting a vet and understanding their prickly nature. After this comes a brief discussion of understanding the behavior of hedgehogs, including body language and vocalizations. Accommodations for hedgehogs, including the importance of an exercise wheel, is then discussed. This is followed by a look at how to take care of a hedgehog when one takes one home. Feeding hedgehogs, an important matter when there are few good hedgehog dining options, is then followed by a discussion of the health concerns of hedgehogs as well as how to breed hedgehogs, something which can happen easily and accidentally or happen skillfully, and which requires careful logistical planning. The book ends with a discussion of the hedgehog connoisseur as well as some information and an index.