The Truth About Hedgehogs As Pets

Hedgehogs: They're cute as a button. They're tribbles with attitude. They're notoriously difficult to get right when you paint them blue and put shoes on them, apparently. With their penchant for rolling into a ball and their porcupine-but-not-being-a-jerk-about-it hairdo, the hedgehog is astonishingly difficult not to look at in wonder while contemplating nature's infinite variety. 

And as in most cases of Mother Nature's splendor, it is man's place to ask "can I dress that up in li'l outfits and name it something like 'Bandit?'" Here then, for the curious reader, is the unfortunate truth of owning a hedgehog as a pet.

The problems with pet hedgehogs: prickly business

Look, yes, hedgehogs are decidedly cutie patooties, but that doesn't make them good pets. Even the most common domesticated variety, the African pygmy hedgehog, isn't going to live up to the expectations of animal companionship you might have in your head: they're naturally solitary creatures, and nocturnal to boot, making a spine-covered Ash-and-Pikachu dynamic unlikely. According to the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, the lovable balls of splinters aren't likely to interact with one another, let alone humans, except when they're getting down to the business of making more hedgehogs. 

That doesn't mean that you should just stick them in a tank alone and expect them to live their best lives, though. Despite looking like overweight 90s haircuts with legs, hedgehogs are known to go for swims, climbs, and miles-long runs at night, making a used fish tank with a water bottle a less than ideal environment for them. 

Further hedgehog problems

And if you want to get good and paranoid, there's also the fact that, per HowStuffWorks, hedgehogs are capable of carrying everything from foot and mouth disease to salmonella, making them the sweetest looking biological weapons you ever did see. Combine that with the fact that they're actually illegal to own in Pennsylvania, Hawaii, California, Georgia, Arizona, and Maine, and maybe you should consider just getting a hamster instead.

We're kidding. Hamsters are nightmares too. But that's a whole different story.