Hedgehogs soar in popularity as pets - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Hedgehogs soar in popularity as pets

Posted: Updated:

They are tiny animals with cute faces. They're covered in quills. They roll into prickly balls when they are scared. The ideal pet?

Hedgehogs are steadily growing in popularity across the United States, despite laws in at least six states banning or restricting them as pets.

Breeders say the trend is partly fueled by the fact that hedgehogs require less maintenance than dogs and cats, and because they emit little odor - in sharp contrast with rodents and rabbits. They are largely hypoallergenic and are solitary, making them ideal for those with a busy lifestyle.

"A hedgehog can hang out all day while you are at work, you can come home, hang out with it for a couple of hours or . you know, put it away," said Massachusetts-based hedgehog breeder Jennifer Crespo.

Crespo's 4-year-old son, Wyatt, sat on the sofa in their home recently, his arm wrapped around the neck of a German shepherd named Ares while an African pygmy hedgehog named Jambalaya clambered across his legs.

The attraction to the animals may have started with a video game - "Sonic" is a blue hedgehog who runs at supersonic speeds and curls into a ball to attack its enemies - but it has grown through people sharing pictures of their pets on social media and elsewhere online.

An Instagram account set up by the owners of a hedgehog named Biddy in Oregon has nearly 370,000 followers, while National Geographic Magazine put a hedgehog on the cover of its April edition to illustrate a trend of people owning exotic animals.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which requires anyone breeding at least three hedgehogs to get a license, says it has no data on hedgehog ownership.

But Jill Warnick, a breeder in Brookline, Massachusetts, said demand for hedgehogs has grown so much over the years that potential pet owners have to fill out an application form and then wait for their turn to buy the weaned offspring.

"When I first started I might have a waiting list of five people," Warnick said, as hedgehogs slept in hiding spots installed in their cages. "Well, 19 years later, I have a waiting list of 500 people."

Breeders typically begin holding hedgehog offspring in their hands for a short time each day beginning a few days after their birth, in an effort to get them accustomed to humans. That helps make pet hedgehogs bond with their owners, said Warnick, who has sold about 350 hedgehogs.

The animals are banned in six states and Washington, D.C., for reasons ranging from being nonnative species to concerns that they could set up a wild population.

In North Carolina, there are many breeders with websites advertising hedgehogs for sale. One, based out of Wake Forest, priced hedgehogs at $175.

Hedgehogs can also shed the salmonella bacterium, which represents a health risk to young children and older people with weakened immune systems.

Pet owners can minimize that risk by washing their hands immediately after handling hedgehogs, cleaning their cages or feeding them, said Sarah McCormack, a veterinarian at Fresh Pond Animal Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press.

  • Accident causing lane closures on Interstate 81-North

    UPDATE: Interstate 81 lane reopens after Botetourt Crash

    UPDATE: Interstate 81 lane reopens after Botetourt Crash

    Friday, July 25 2014 8:49 AM EDT2014-07-25 12:49:42 GMT
    Two lanes are still closed but traffic is now passing on the right shoulder.
    Two lanes are still closed but traffic is now passing on the right shoulder.
  • UPDATE: Crash on Interstate 81 in Montgomery Co.

    UPDATE: Crash on Interstate 81 in Montgomery Co.

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:09 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:09:04 GMT
    All lanes on I-81 southbound are closed due to a tractor trailer crash near mile marker 120
    All lanes on I-81 southbound are closed due to a tractor trailer crash near mile marker 120
  • Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Floydfest attracts people from all walks of life

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 11:26 PM EDT2014-07-24 03:26:58 GMT
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."
    FloydFest 13 kicked off on Wednesday. Thousands of people from different walks of life will attend various events. Some come to the music festival to escape the monotony of everyday living."

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Woman impales herself on cemetery fence; says she was running from attacker

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 2:53 PM EDT2014-07-23 18:53:18 GMT
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
    A woman claims she was running from an attacker and tried to jump a five foot fence when she became impaled. Firefighters had to use power saws and a grinding saw to cut her free, all while she was conscious. After 30 minutes she was transported to an area hospital for surgery to remove the spike sticking out of her thigh. It happened at Vine Cemetery in Hazleton. She said the nearest gate was locked. Witnesses backed...
  • 2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    2 charged with first-degree murder in beating death of UNC professor, cancer researcher

    Friday, July 25 2014 9:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 13:00:14 GMT
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
Powered by WorldNow

WSLS 10, P.O. Box 10
Roanoke, VA 24022-0010

Telephone: 540.981.9110
Fax: 540.343.3157
Email: news@wsls.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.