Children and your Pet Hedgehog

Kids and hedgehogs

Photo by michelleness via Flickr

Bringing a pet hedgehog into a home where young kids are present is something that should be cause for concern for any responsible owner. However, hedgehogs do make great pets and children take delight in them. It will all depend on the children in question and how their parents educate them.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are small creatures and can easily be injured by rough handling. Undoubtedly there are very few children out there who would purposely harm any animal, but often kids don’t know their own strength so injuries caused by small hands are common.

That said, pet hedgehogs are not completely defenceless and they do have their quills to protect themselves. If child handles one roughly your hedgehog will use its quills to protect itself and then it is the child who is likely to get hurt rather than the hedgehog.

It is a good idea to wait until your child is about 9 or 10 before you bring a hedgehog into your home. Whatever the age of your children you will need to establish a few ground rules and know that they will be obeyed. It goes without saying that the rules are for your kids and not the hedgehog. Your hedgehog will go on behaving much as it has done for the past 15 million years or so and react by instinct alone. This is something you should also bear in mind if your child is injured by your hedgehog.

The most important thing your child needs to understand is that only you or another responsible adult are allowed to open the cage. Until your child is old enough, only you or another adult should pick the hedgehog up.  You should get your child to sit down and put the hedgehog in your child’s lap so that he or she can stroke and caress it gently. You should do this until the child is old enough to be able to gently pick up the hedgehog him or herself.

Young kids must know that they are not allowed to feed the hedgehog anything unless you have given your permission first. Your hedgehog shouldn’t be allowed to roam freely in your house either as small feet are just as capable of crushing the life out of one as large adult feet. When the hedgehog is out of its cage and roaming, children should make sure their small toys are not lying around and they shouldn’t give a hedgehog one of their toys to play with unless you have given your permission first.

Please do not leave any child unattended with your hedgehog until they are capable of actually taking care of it themselves. You obviously don’t want your hedgehog or child to get hurt and the only way to avoid this happening is with supervision and a few unbreakable rules.

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