Note: Prices ranges are similar in USD and CAD. If you are planning on importing your hedgehog across the border, the ranges will vary depending on the exchange rate.
So you’ve been doing a bunch of research on pet hedgehogs, and you’re ready to make the leap and get a little friend of your very own. Where exactly can you buy one?
The online hedgehog community is heavily pro-breeder, but is this the right choice for you? To help make this decision a little less overwhelming, here are some pros and cons to each of the avenues you could take to purchase your hedgehog.
Private breeders are usually people who are super passionate about hedgehogs and want to do their part to maintain a strong population. In the United States, you can be a hobby breeder if your herd is no larger than 3 intact (not spayed) females. But once your herd grows larger than that, you must be have a USDA license to be able to run your business. Here in Canada, licensing may depend on the province the business is in. Be sure the review the Animal Care Act for that province to ensure you are buying from a licensed breeder.
A big pro to getting a hedgehog from a breeder is that the family lineages of their breeding lines have been pedigreed over several generations. This allows them to avoid inbreeding and carrying over serious genetic diseases such as Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS). For this reason, many breeders will even have a lifetime guarantee against WHS.
The biggest complaint I hear about breeders is the investment; you pay quality prices for quality animals.
Sometimes I like to “window shop” on hedgehog breeder’s websites to look at cute baby hedgehog pictures. I love looking at the different colours these guys come in! I have found prices ranging from about $150 to $250, depending on the colour. Black and albino hedgies tend to have a higher selling price. Some breeders are willing to send their hedgehogs to their fur-ever home anywhere in their country at the new owners expense. If your desired breeder isn’t in your area, you could be paying upwards of $150 to get the new addition to your family sent to you by airmail.
To ensure your chosen breeder is reputable, contact the business and ask questions about how they raise their hedgehogs and a few hedgehog care questions. A knowledgeable breeder should be able to give you detailed answers about how they ensure the highest quality of their hoglets.
Buying animals from pet stores has become more controversial over the past decade and a half or so, and this controversy definitely extends to small animals as well as dogs and cats.
The biggest complaint about pet stores is that the store acts as a middleman between the customer and the breeder, so the customer has no idea where the animals are coming from. This leaves room for non-reputable or irresponsible breeders to sell their animals without the knowledge of the consumer.
Big chain pet stores have fought this reputation by making statements saying that they only deal with high quality breeders. However Taylor Nicole Dean, a popular pet-tuber, discusses her experiences working for a big chain pet store and states that even though animals were never sold sick, not all animals came into the store in the best of shape.
“Over the near two years I worked there (referring to “Petshmo”) we continuously received animals in awful condition”
Taylor Nicole Dean
Aside from the source of the animals, hedgehogs are exotic pets and therefore can be waiting in the store for long periods of time before getting adopted to their fur-ever home. I’ve seen hedgehogs as old as 2 years old in a pet store. At that point they are considered geriatric by veterinarian standards and I would consider them rescues. An older hedgehog would most likely take longer to bond with a new owner, is susceptible to more veterinary work being needed and is less likely to be adopted at a pet store where many customers are looking for younger animals.
So why buy from a pet store? Pet stores offer a physical location to buy your fur-baby if a breeder isn’t in your area. This gives you a chance to interact with the animal a little and to see how well the animal interacts with you. They also usually charge less than a specific hedgehog breeder would, and all of your hedgehog supplies can be purchased in the same store. Although they don’t offer a lifetime guarantee against WHS, most stores offer a 30 day refund policy if your new pet should happen to pass away within that time frame.
A rescue is a hedgehog that was previously owned and needs to be rehomed. Some big cities have small animal rescue shelters. Rescue hedgehogs could also be found on sites like Kijiji or through some breeders.
Much like buying a hedgehog from a pet store, the history of the animal (including age) could be unknown. Rescues will be older animals, so bonding will take a longer amount of time and more vet visits could be warranted.
So why buy a rescue hedgehog? For starters, you would be giving a little hedgies in need of love a second start in life. All hedgies need love, and rescue shelters in general aren’t the first place people look for exotic pets. If you know you are a patient person, you may be just what these little guys need!
They are also cheaper to buy than hedgehogs from a breeder or pet store; the price can range from $50 to $80 depending on your area. The hedgehog community on social media is well populated with owners of rescue hogs as well as with original owners, and the relationship between owner and hedgie looks to be just as fulfilling and happy.
There is no right or wrong way to buy your hedgehog. The best you can do is to research multiple sources available to you and make a decision that is right for you. Passionate pet owners have passionate opinions on this matter, but the final decision is ultimately yours to make.
How We Bought Our First and Second Hedgehog
I’ve wanted a hedgehog for years before my husband finally agreed to add a pet to our family. The only breeder I found in our area was not active anymore, so we started to look around at some pet stores. When we found our little guy at a big chain pet store, a 6-week-old dark brown baby, we bought all our supplies at the store and brought him home that night. He was the sweetest little thing! Not shy at all! He dove right into his food (we named his Ghrelin) and fell asleep out in the open in my hand.
Within 3 days I came home from work to find him unresponsive. I called around to every vet clinic that accepted exotic animals and funny enough the only clinic that was available to accept a hedgehog on an emergency was right next to the pet store where we originally bought our hedgehog! The vet informed me that little Ghrelin had indeed passed, and that given the information I gave them it sounded like it was most likely due to a congenital condition there from birth.
When I told them we had bought it from the pet store next door, they personally went to the store to speak with the manager. They did this as I was waiting in the consultation room, so I have no idea what was said. After all was said and done, they gave me a full refund in the form of a gift certificate no questions asked (except for proof of purchase of course).
The store offered to replace the hedgehog, but I was too heartbroken at that time. It may have only been 3 days but Ghrelin burrowed in to my heart and I loved him.
After a few months, we decided to try again. I found a smaller local pet store that sells hedgehogs. This particular pet store didn’t manage a stock of hedgehogs. The owner informed me that a personal friend of theirs breeds hedgehogs, but doesn’t deal with the general public. They had an arrangement where they could get a hedgehog directly from their breeder friend when there was interest in the store.
Being a little mistrusting at this time I asked if I could see the hedgehogs before purchasing them, but I could not as the breeder did not want visitors on their property. The owner assured me that the animals were all high quality and that his customers have raved about how well their hedgehogs have worked out.
We paid the shop and about a month and a half later we brought Nestor home. Nestor snuggled up close to our hearts in no time and he remains to be a wonderful addition to our family!
Knowing what I know now, I could tell that Ghrelin was either too young (and therefore we were lied to about his age) or too underweight to be sold. Nestor was easily double his size, and he was only a week older when we got him!
I think that the arrangement the smaller local pet store had for their animals was a fair and humane way for a pet store to sell hedgehogs. The animals aren’t taken from place to place before getting adopted out, and was also not subjected to the stress of potential owners handling them and poking at them during the day.
Now that I have experience as a hedgehog owner, I’m going to look into rescuing an older hedgie if I am ever looking for one again. If there are any pet store managers reading this, please don’t keep exotic animals in store!
What’s your story? Where did you buy your hedgie from? If you don’t have one yet, where are you thinking of getting one? Let us know in the comments section below!