No matter where you choose to buy your new hedgehog, be it a pet store, animal shelter, rescue, or breeder, there are certain questions you MUST ask to select the best hedgehog. If the person you are buying your hedgehog from cannot answer these questions, there is always the chance that you will end up with a hedgehog with social or medical problems. However, always keep in mind that asking questions is part of the selection process for the best hedgehog. At the end of the day, a lot of great and lovable pets have been bought from otherwise questionable sources, so don’t despair if any of your sources fall short of expectations.
If you are buying from a breeder, the first question to ask is, “Are you USDA licensed?” All hedgehog breeders in the United States must be licensed by law. Anyone who breeds and is not licensed cannot be completely trustworthy when it comes to the claims they make.
The second question to ask yourself is: “Where did this hedgehog come from?” Usually pet stores will be honest and say they don’t know, or in many cases they will claim that the hedgehog is from a “local breeder.” This is rarely the case. Many pet stores buy from mass wholesalers who do not carefully breed for good hedgehog social traits. If the owner knows the history of the hedgehog, listen to important details like who the hedgehog’s parents were, the traits this hedgehog was raised for, or in the case of rescues, was this hedgehog removed from a neglectful or abusive home ?
The third question to ask yourself when selecting a new hedgehog is, “How old is this hedgehog?” Ideally, select a hedgehog that has had a full 6 weeks to nurse from its mother. Receiving proper nutrition during key formative periods is vital to ensuring that a hedgehog’s body develops in the best possible way. Also, always use common sense. If a hedgehog looks much younger than its owner says, trust your instincts.
Next, you’ll want to ask about the source’s sanitary guarantees. If the hedgehog becomes ill in a short period of time after purchase (6 months is an average), is there a replacement guarantee? A similar question is also “What if the hedgehog and I don’t exercise together?” Pet stores will have a posted return policy, make sure you are familiar with the details. Breeders often get the hedgehog back with reasonable advance warning, but most will not issue refunds.