African pygmy hedgehogs live solitary lives in the wild and for this reason have no need for the company of other hogs. They are also territorial. Males should never be kept in the same enclosure as they will fight, sometimes to the death.
A male and female pair kept together will continuously mate and are then likely to eat the babies, and apart from the obviously horrible aspect of this cycle there will be a very negative impact on the female's health; they should therefore only be placed together for short periods for the purpose of mating.
No mixed sex 'play time', mating can happen very quickly it is a popular opinion that being around the male may also trigger ovulation; if this happens repeatedly with no pregnancy then the female may be at increased risk of developing cancers of the reproductive system.
Females can sometimes be kept successfully together, particularly if they have been raised together or are mother and daughter; however, there is still a risk of fighting and injury. Females kept together will need plenty of space and two of everything (food bowls, wheels etc); the situation will need to be carefully monitored.
Hedgehogs are essentially nocturnal, sleeping in the day and very active at night. In the wild they would run for miles foraging, and for this reason it is very important that they are provided with a 12” exercise wheel and space to run around. Pygmy hedgehogs are also more active in subdued lighting, and for this reason it is beneficial to dim the lights for handling or if taken out of their enclosure for exercise in a playpen. Hedgehogs out during the day may be sleepy and/or grumpy.
No one fully knows if its due to a dislike for a certain smell, taste or love for a certain smell or taste but any new and strong tasting/smelling items/food will have your little one turning its head, foaming at the mouth and proceeding to spit and using its tongue lather itself up.
Its cute, funny and interesting to see. Although gross to some people most hedgehog people love to see their hoggy enjoying itself.
At first you wonder....is my hog okay? is it having a funny turn? because it starts with the upper lip rising and a stretch of the body.
Most young baby hogs will chew anything (fingers, carpet, clothing) to anoint over it, once used to the smell, taste ect they will stop. As long as the item isn't toxic then it's perfectly fine for your hedgehog to anoint.
Owners should not use gloves as hedgehogs recognise their owners by smell. If they roll into a ball a blanket to scoop them up, well-handled hedgehogs will hopefully uncurl quite quickly. It is best to approach the hog from the front and to scoop it up from underneath. Confident handling will help the hog to feel secure. Many hogs love a vigorous back massage, even the grumpiest ones. Holding the hedgehog close and softly talking to it will reassure the hedgehog. A balled hedgehog is more likely to uncurl on skin to skin contact with a human it is familiar with.
As the owner it's your job to ensure you handle your hog often to help him/her become more friendly.
Pygmy hedgehogs are pretty quiet pets but they do make a variety of noises. They are easily startled; they are prey animals and have poor eyesight. Sudden movements or loud noises are likely to get a reaction. If they are unsure/a bit scared they will make hissing and heavy breathing 'huffing' noises. These are generally accompanied by body language: quills may be elevated; forehead quills are likely to be lowered over the eyes. Hedgehogs who do not want to be handled may hiss and 'pop', jumping and twitching in order to spike, the forehead quills can also be used to ram.
If the hedgehog is very angry or feels extremely threatened then the noise level escalates and the hedgehog may make an 'angry purring', or may even make loud sounds that could be described as barking or coughing. When it gets to this stage the hedgehog may be in a ball, vibrating and bouncing. This is pretty intimidating!
Hedgehogs are more likely to use their quills to repel than aggressively bite, which involves latching on and refusing to let go. This doesn’t happen very often, although they may nip at fingers when they do not wish to co-operate with handling. Young hogs may nip at your hands in an exploratory way, basically to see what happens. Hand reared hedgehogs often bite, presumably through over confidence with humans/not learning social skills from their mother.
Residue on hands that the hog likes the smell of may result in the hedgehog chewing fingers and use the scent to anoint, which is basically when they taste or smell something that they like and they decide to perfume themselves with it by taking the substance into their mouth, foaming at the mouth, and then contorting into all sorts of weird shapes in order to spread the foam on their backs. They like the smell of smokers' fingers! It is a good idea to wash hands before handling. Also, avoid feeding treats with bare hands as this can lead to accidental biting. Use a spoon or some tongs.
Hedgehogs have small teeth. They are not rodents and do not need to gnaw things to wear their teeth down (so they are also less destructive than rodents). Bites are not severe. In the event of biting owners should talk to it in a stern tone of voice and blow a puff of air into its face (they don't like this and will hopefully let go). Never put a hog back into its vivarium after it bites, this can serve to reinforce the behaviour.