All About the African Pygmy Hedgehog: A Fascinating Exotic Pet

African pygmy hedgehog

The African Pygmy Hedgehog has gained popularity as an exotic pet, known for its small size and charming demeanor. In This article covers everything you need to know about these fascinating animals, from their history and origin to their dietary needs and legal considerations.

History and Origin

The African Pygmy Hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris) is a small, nocturnal mammal native to Africa. Its history and origin can be traced back to the continent of Africa, particularly in central and eastern Africa, including countries such as Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. This species small mammals is an Erinaceidae family member, including all hedgehogs and moon rats. The African Pygmy Hedgehog is a relatively recent species in evolution, having emerged around 15 to 20 million years ago.

The African Pygmy Hedgehog is characterized by its small size, typically measuring 5 to 8 inches (13 to 20 cm) in length and weighing 7 to 18 ounces (200 to 500 grams). Its body is covered with spines and modified hairs, providing unique protection against predators. These spines are interspersed with soft fur on their underside, face, and legs.

The natural habitat of the African Pygmy Hedgehog consists of grasslands, savannas, and forest edges, where they can find food and shelter. They are solitary animals, only coming together for breeding purposes. Their diet plan mainly consists of insects, and birds but they also consume small vertebrates, eggs, fruits, and vegetables.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs have become increasingly popular as exotic pets in recent years due to their small size, unique appearance, serious nature and relatively low-maintenance care requirements. However, it is essential to remember that they are wild animals, not domesticated, so their care and husbandry should be taken seriously to ensure their well-being. If considering keeping an African Pygmy Hedgehog as a pet, it is crucial to research its specific needs and requirements and to ensure you can provide a suitable environment for them to thrive.

Physical Characteristics

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are small animals weighing between 300 and 700 grams, weighing 5 to 12 inches in body length. They have a head with a pointed snout, short legs, and a small tail. Their most distinguishing feature is their spines, or quills covering their back and sides. These quills, made of keratin, are a defense mechanism used to protect the hedgehog from predators.

The hedgehog’s underbelly is covered in soft, white-bellied fur. They have four toes on each foot, naming them a four-toed hedgehog. Their skin is loose, allowing them to curl into a tight-ball when threatened, with their quills acting as a protective shield.

Colors and Patterns

African Pygmy Hedgehogs exhibit various colors and patterns, with their quills ranging from white, grey, and brown to more unique shades like cinnamon and apricot. Their fur color can also vary, including shades of white, cream, and grey.

Habitat and Enclosures

In their natural environment, African Pygmy Hedgehogs are solitary animals, active at night. They tend to require a warm, secure enclosure in captivity, with a temperature range of 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, to avoid extreme heat or cold. The en-closure should be large enough for the hedgehog to move around freely, with hiding spaces and bedding for burrowing. A secure lid is essential, as these animals are known to be escape artists.

pygmy hedgehog

Diet and Nutrition

A well balanced diet and proper nutrition are essential and important for the health and well-being of your African Pygmy Hedgehog. As insectivores, most hedgehogs their primary diet in the wild consists of pure insects, but they also consume small amounts of fruits, vegetables, and animal protein. Here’s a guide on what to feed your pet hedgehog and how to provide them with a balanced diet.

  1. Insect-based protein: Insects are the main source of protein for African Pygmy Hedgehogs. You can feed them live or dried insects such as mealworms, crickets, and waxworms. However, it’s important to vary the type of insects you provide to ensure a balanced diet. You can also include high-quality, low-fat, and low-fiber cat food as a supplementary source of protein.
  2. Fruits and vegetables: Fresh fruits & vegetables should comprise a small portion of your hedgehog’s diet. Safe options include apples, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peas, carrots, and leafy greens. Avoid feeding them citrus fruits, grapes, and raisins, as these can be harmful. Be sure to chop the fruits and vegetables into small pieces for easy consumption.
  3. Animal protein: You can occasionally provide your hedgehog with few amounts of cooked, lean meats such as chicken, turkey, or beef. Avoid processed or seasoned meats, as they may contain harmful additives.
  4. Commercial hedgehog food: While commercial hedgehog food is available, it’s essential to research the ingredients and ensure that it is a high-quality, nutritionally balanced option. Many commercial foods may contain fillers, so looking for brands with high-quality protein sources and minimal fillers is important.
  5. Water: Clean, fresh and drinkable water should always be available to your hedgehog. Make sure to clean and refill their water dish daily.
  6. Supplements: Some hedgehogs may benefit from supplements, such as calcium or vitamins, to support their overall health. Consult with your veterinarian before adding supplements to your hedgehog’s diet.

Feeding guidelines:

  • Adult hedgehogs should be fed once daily, preferably in the evening when they are most active.
  • Monitor your hedgehog’s weight and adjust the portion sizes to prevent obesity.
  • Remove any kind of uneaten food within 24 hours to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth.

It’s important to contact with your veterinarian for specific dietary recommendations tailored to your hedgehog’s unique needs. Regular check-ups will also help ensure your pet remains healthy and happy.

Handling and Bonding

Building trust with your African Pygmy Hedgehog is essential for a healthy pet-owner relationship. Handle them gently and frequently to form a strong bond. Always approach them from the side, allowing them to smell you before picking them up. Be patient, as it might take time for them to become comfortable with handling.

Hygiene and Grooming

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are generally clean animals but may require occasional baths to remove dirt and debris from their quills. Use a soft toothbrush to clean their quills gently, and trim their nails as needed. Be aware of “self-anointing” behavior where the pet hedgehogs hedge

hog produces frothy saliva and spreads it over its quills, a normal grooming behavior of snakes.

Exercise and Enrichment

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are active animals and require regular exercise to maintain good health. Please provide them with a solid-surface exercise wheel to prevent injuries. Enrichment is crucial for their well-being, so include toys, tunnels, and hiding spots in their enclosure to encourage exploration and mental stimulation.

Health and Wellness

Routine veterinary check-ups are vital for the health of your African Pygmy Hedgehog. Common health concerns include obesity, dental issues, respiratory infections, and mite infestations. Monitor their weight and behavior, and seek veterinary care if you notice any changes.

Breeding and Reproduction Breeding African Pygmy Hedgehogs should only be done by experienced breed, and responsible breeders. The breeding season typically occurs from October to March, with females giving birth to litters of one to seven babies, known as hoglets, after a gestation period of 35 days.

African hedgehog

Legal Consideration

Before adopting an African Pygmy Hedgehog, research local laws and regulations regarding exotic pets. In some jurisdictions, owning a hedgehog may be illegal or require a special permit. Always abide by the law and consider the long-term commitment required when adopting an exotic pet.


African Pygmy Hedgehogs are fascinating and unique pets that require specialized care and attention. By understanding their needs and providing a suitable environment, diet, and enrichment, you can ensure a long, healthy, and happy life for your hedgehog companion.


What do you need to know about African Pygmy Hedgehogs?

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are small, nocturnal mammals native to Africa. They require a warm, secure enclosure, a diet rich in insects and rodents, and regular handling to form a bond with their owner. They have unique health and care requirements, so research is essential before adopting one as a pet.

Are African Hedgehogs friendly?

With proper socialization and handling, African Hedgehog can become friendly and bond with their owners. Patience and consistent interaction are key to developing trust with your hedgehog.

How long do central Africa pygmy Hedgehogs live?

African Pygmy Hedgehogs have an average lifespan of 4 to 6 years in captivity, with proper care and attention.

How smart are African Pygmy Hedgehogs?

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are intelligent animals, capable of learning and adapting to their environment. The young hedgehog must be trained to use a litter box and may learn to recognize their owner’s voice or scent.

What are African/Algerian hedgehog famous for?

African Hedgehogs are famous for their unique, spiny appearance and their ability to consume live insects. They are native to various regions, including North and East Africa, where they are essential in controlling insect populations. Hedgehogs have also become popular in the pet trade, with people keeping them as exotic and low-maintenance pets.


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