By Erica Radhakrishnan Hospital Administrator, BVS


In the United States, the month of November is synonymous with gratitude – a feeling of appreciation felt by a recipient of kindness and other forms of generosity.  Every day pets share the generosity of their spirit with us. They can teach us many important life lessons, if we simply take the time to reflect on their example. This is true even for uncommon pets like the African Pygmy hedgehog.

The Way You Treat Others Matter

While most American’s gravitate towards fur-covered creatures, the African Pygmy Hedgehog makes a delightful pet for families. Their unique physical qualities teach owners that the way you treat or handle others matter. Their bodies contain over 5,000 spines and when frightened, hedgehogs will curl into a ball making their spines stand up straight to protect their face and soft belly from harm. However, with patience and tender loving care, pet hedgehogs can learn to trust their owners  and be gently handled. This is true when building most relationships.

Listening To Others Makes all the Difference

In order to gain your hedgehog’s trust, you must first listen to their voice. Like all creatures, hedgehogs produce a variety of sounds.  Their most telling vocalization is a hiss.  Hedgehogs hiss as a warning to an approaching hand that they are unhappy and to proceed with caution. If ignored, they will make a clicking sound and pop their body. A popping hedgehog can cause a poke from the barbs on their spine reminding you to always listen to their voice before acting upon your will.

We all go through stages that warrant sensitivity

Young hedgehogs naturally experience a “shedding” period between the ages of  2 to 6 months.  During this time, their skin is extra sensitive and they may spend longer periods of time curled as a ball. They may also show a decrease in appetite during this stage of development.  While it is acceptable to hold a shedding hedgehog, it should be done with much care and sensitivity guarding against unintentional added discomfort.

Even the Prickliest of Being is Capable of Love

Providing a hedgehog with a healthy, commercial diet including insects and veggies, clean water, a warm, safe cage with a place to hide, patience, TLC, and regular veterinary checkups will create a strong and trusting bond. A hedgehog has a keen sense of smell and will become familiar with its owner’s scent and touch. Once acclimated and bonded, a hedgehog will provide years of love to its owner proving that even the prickliest of beings need and express love.

This November shower pets with some extra gratitude and pay a little closer attention to their behavior. They will not only teach you how to take better care of them, but how we can all take a better care of each other.  Happy Thanksgiving!