Hedgehogs and porcupines as pets

The native South African hedgehog (also called the Cape hedgehog) is an endangered species and is protected. It is illegal to keep a Cape hedgehog as a pet.Hedgehog

While individuals may rehabilitate injured or otherwise at-risk South African hedgehogs in their homes, they must release them to wildlife authorities upon rehabilitation.  Generally, such hedgehogs are reintroduced into the wild in protected areas away from the hazards of cars, which are a major cause of hedgehog deaths.  Also, unlike other African hedgehogs that cannot hibernate, the cape hedgehog can and does hibernate and so rehabilitation efforts may include keeping a hedgehog that is too small to hibernate, over winter, for example.

Except that it is illegal, hedgehogs also do not make good pets due to the following reasons:

  1. If you find somewhere to buy them from, the law is almost definitely being broken already.
  2. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so you will seldom see them.
  3. They are also wide-ranging territorially – a hedgehog’s territory is generally about 10 acres (although not exclusively) and they walk roughly 2 to 3 kms nightly as they browse.
  4. They are very prone to ticks and fleas, and cannot be treated with any of the readily available commercial mixes.
  5. They are also often injured in urban situations – by dogs, lawnmowers, edge-trimmers, falling into swimming pools etc.
  6. They have difficult feeding requirements – bread & milk is not a recommended diet. They need a large variety of insects and grubs, as well as various plants that they would eat in the wild.
  7. They have absolutely no interest in people, or any desire to become friendly with human

While porcupines and hedgehogs share the same ‘prickly’ exterior, they are two completely different species.Porcupine

Porcupines are also more aggressive about using their prickly exteriors for protection. Instead of spines, these animals are covered with long, hollow quills. The quills lie flat when dormant, but will raise into a protective posture when threatened. If a predator gets too close, the quills will dislodge off the porcupine and stick into the offending animal.

Porcupine quills have very sharp tips and are covered in barbs to make them painful and difficult to remove from an animal’s skin. After an encounter, the porcupine simply grows new quills.

Besides being threatened by the quill trade, porcupines are also, according to a 2004 report by Cape for the Wild, one of the 54 000 animals killed by trophy hunters in South Africa annually.

The porcupine has been listed as a protected species due to the trade in their meat and quills.

They are also not a good choice as a pet, due to the reasons below:

  1. You could end up with quills in your body if the porcupine feels threatened.
  2. Porcupines will most likely chew through most of your wooden furniture to satisfy their need for salt (sodium)
  3. They are nocturnal animals and will most probably not satisfy your need for interaction

To assist in the protection of these special animals Junk Mail will not be advertising these animals as pets. Should you notice any suspicious adverts, please contact our Pet Care department: Junk Mail Pet Care.

Saskia Meintjes

Hyperactive, extremely realistic and addicted to reading can best describe me. Life is all about the good memories and sitting around will not create them.

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