Acquired: Pet store
Posted Jun 19, 2016
I begged my parents for a hedgehog for two years before I got Spike. To prove my seriousness I poured over books on the topic, I think I knew more about hedgehogs than most at that point. My favorite thing about an animal is their personality. You can have the most beautiful pet, but I count personality above all. Sometimes the ragged odd looking ones turn out to be the best surprises. (Spike was a perfect specimen however, white belly and salt and pepper top.)This is why, when I was 14 and my parents took me to the exotic pet store to look for a hedgehog, I settled on Spike. There were 5 baby hedgies available, all so cute, all babies. The pet store employee picked up Spike, holding him ever so gently. She explained that he was so sweet, so naturally this is where he decided to bite her as hard as he could (no worries, they can't really heart you). It was then that I decided Spike was for me. He obviously appreciated irony as well.
Spike was very smart; I had him litter trained (plant saucer with cat litter in it in the corner of his large cage) in under a week. My little buddy, like all hedgehogs, required LOTS of handling in order to become socialized. If you don't have the time to devote to a pet, a hedgehog is NOT for you! Regardless of how many times my mom would try to play with him or clean his cage, or friends wanting to pet him, he really only ever liked me. He would lay on his back in my hand as I got warm soapy water in the sink, closing his eyes serenely as I bathed him and trimmed his nails VERY carefully. He loved this. Go figure. He would lay on my stomach as I sat about watching a movie, arms and legs spread out and eyes closed peacefully, sometimes drooling in his sleep, only to immediately curl up into a ball and jump and hiss the day away as soon as anyone else entered the room. I feel like no one really knew Spike but me, and I am perfectly okay with that. I love that a pet such as Spike, who really didn't feel the need to beg, or follow, or even be nice to the hand that fed him, chose to love me. It made me feel special.
The only negative thing, and things like this are always negative, are that these types of hedgehogs can be susceptible to tumors. After six years with an amazing animal, Spike developed a tumor behind his eye and had to be put down. It was a heartbreaking decision, but I learned in that moment to think less about my own sadness and more about another's suffering. I miss Spike to this day. If you want a pet you will never forget, and you have the time and a large enough area to devote, a hedgehog won't let you down. I don't think they would be a good idea for young children though. They can not be put on tables, as they will walk off and can hurt themselves badly. They are meant to be on the ground or burrowing.
Photo curtesy of:
By Alma from gl, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3078430