There is current craze spreading social media in which pictures of pet African pygmy hedgehogs, photographed in domestic situations, are becoming increasingly popular and going viral. An Instagram account set up by the owners of a hedgehog named Biddy in Oregon has nearly 400,000 followers.
And, as always, what goes on in the US usually hops across the pond to us. Thanks to their cuteness and 'apparently' easy care nature, these adorable creatures are becoming hot pet property amongst us Brits too, with breeders building long waiting lists. Believe it or not about eight inches of African pygmy hedgehog will set you back around £200.
So what is it about this national treasure that is appealing to our nation of animal lovers? They're obviously cute as buttons, but, according to breeders and owners, they are also easier to care for than our usual choice of four-legged friends. 'A hedgehog can hang out all day while you are at work. You can come
home, hang out with it for a couple of hours or, you know, put it
away,' says Massachusetts-based hedgehog breeder Jennifer Crespo.
However, animal charities such as the RSPCA and Care for the Wild are finding that large numbers of abandoned hedgehogs are being handed in for care, many with missing quills or mite infestations. The Care for the Wild website states 'owning a pet hedgehog isn't a good idea as hedgehogs are grumpy by nature and do not like human contact. The term "exotic pet" basically means a wild animal that really should be left alone.'
Here at H2H we, too, believe these loveable creatures should be left to rustle amongst the undergrowth in the wild. Hedgehog numbers have been falling at an astonishing rate in urban areas during the past few years so instead of owning one as an unusual pet, why not create a hedgehog habitat in your garden* instead? Not only will your foliage benefit as they are keen predators of slugs and snails, but you'll also be helping to rebuild the dwindling population. Visit the RSPCA Hedgehogs in your garden page to find out how.
And, if you still feel the need to have your very own Mrs Tiggy-Winkle, perhaps you can cuddle one of these hedgehog cushions instead...
Evans Lichfield Hedgehogs cushion, £25, Cotswold Trading
Harry the Hedgehog cushion, £2.95, Sass & Belle
Hedgehog cushion, £12, Littlewoods.com
*Hedgehogs can shed the salmonella bacterium, which represents a health risk to young children and older people with weakened immune systems. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly if you come in contact with a wild hedgehog.
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