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Can we keep hedgehogs as pets?

12th October 2018

Scrolling through Instagram or Twitter, it doesn’t take long to come across a video of a hedgehog wrapped up in blankets munching on a tasty treat or being carefully rocked to sleep. It is enough to make anyone fall immediately in love, but is it really possible to keep them as pets?

The answer can often be found through a simple case of mistaken identity.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs, are a non-native species of miniature hedgehog which are sometimes kept as pets in the UK and around the world. Since their domestication in the 1980’s, the popularity of these semi-arid dwellers has taken off by storm. In fact, their increasing presence on social media has often led to concerns that new pet owners are quickly jumping onto the latest craze.

So where does this leave our native wildlife?

With the worrying decline of Western-European Hedgehogs in recent years, we have begun to once again open up our garden spaces to our prickly friends, often leading to fantastic results. However, it can be all too easy to get attached. Should we bring these critters into our homes?

The answer is a resounding no!

It is important to remember that hedgehogs are wild animals, which belong within their own complex ecosystem where they can be given the opportunity to thrive. From time to time we may run into a hedgehog that looks underweight or physically injured. For those that may need an extra helping hand, there are hundreds of already dedicated hedgehog carers across the nation who will nurse and care for injured adults or abandoned young.

On the run! A wild hedgehog can roam an average distance of 2 km in a single night!

What you can do to help

Fortunately, there is still plenty that you can do. Here at Hedgehog Street, we are full of ideas:

1) Kit out your garden with some hog-friendly features

Accessorising your garden doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Its all about making those small adjustments so that wildlife has a home to flourish.

Hedgehog Champion, Ron, definitely has the right idea.

2) Give a hog a home!

And you guessed it, we don’t mean indoors. You can construct your own or buy one ready made.

Hedgehog Champion, Claire, knows pulling out all the stops for her visitors.

3) Hedgehog Highway to success

Hedgehogs need to be able to roam from site to site to forage for food, but our gardens often get in the way. These small passageways can help our hogs pass freely.

A simple 13cm by 13cm hole can make all the difference, without letting your pets wonder too.

4) Map it out

We are putting together the biggest hedgehog map ever, and we need your help. By logging your sightings on our map, we can better understand the distribution of hedgehogs in the UK so that we can start to piece together the reasons for their decline.

5) We are the champions

Most importantly, you don’t need to be an expert to be a Champion. Just be willing to help us spread the word! Start the conversation with your friends and family and let them know what they too can do to help.

Talking hedgehogs at Countryfile Live, August 2018

By Milly Ferguson