This depends entirely on the kid, in question. A child who has learned to be gentle and respectful of animals may do perfectly well with a hedgehog. A child who is rough or unkind to animals most likely will not be able to handle a hedgehog, due to the hedgehog's desire and ability to protect themselves. Of course, with any pet, it is the adults' responsibility to make sure that they are taken care of properly, and treated with respect.
Many other pets will be respectful of hedgehog safety. Most dogs, cats, and other similar sized pets will quickly learn that hedgehogs must be treated carefully, after recieving their first poke in the nose or paw from being too curious. At no time should a hedgehog be left with ANY other species of pets without close and constant supervision.
It is recommended to get your hedgehog from a quality breeder. You can search the internet for hedgehog breeders, or join a variety of hedgehog mailing lists, forums, etc. to assist you in finding a respected breeder. If there is not a breeder locally, within driving distance, some breeders will ship the Hedgehog to you via an air craft carrier. This typically runs a minium of $200 - $400 to cover the cost of their VET checkup certificate (which is required by the airlines for ANY pet traveling on their air planes). Usually the fee includes an airline approved pet crate, along with time and effort involved for the breeder to deal with the airlines. The cost of your hedgie will be totally seperate and in addition to the cost of shipping fees.
It is not recommended to purchase a hedgehog from a pet store. Pet stores tend to purchase from breeders that are breeding strickly for QUANTITY and not QUALITY. It is not uncommon for in-breeding to occur (due to lack of employee knowledge to recognize the difference in sexes). Pet store hedgies have a higher track record of developing a neurological disease called WHS (Wobbly Head Syndrome) because the "unethical" breeders don't retire their hedgies with proven WHS in its lineage. Another problem with pet store hedgies tends to be bad temperments and personalities, because the babies were not socialized when they were still with their mother. Most often, many pet store hedgies end up with mites due to unsanitary conditions. Spending a little more money to purchase your hedgie from a reputable breeder could save you money on Vet bills in the long run, and help assure that you will purchase a healthy and well socialized pet.
Hedgies (male or female) are not social animals, and prefer living by themselves.
Below is a picture of a MALE and a FEMALE, to help you determine which sex you are buying. As far as preference, there really is no personality differences between the two. But here is what you need to consider. NEVER house a male and female together in the same cage. NEVER allow the male and female to have "play time" together......YES......it can happen just that fast! NEVER house 2 males together, because males are very territorial and often fight to the death. The only possibility of housing more than one hedgie together, is typically IF you can acquire female siblings whom have grown up in the same litter together. Even then, there is no guarantee they will get along, as adults.
Below are the latest updates I have found. It is YOUR responsiblity to make sure Hedgies ARE allowed where you live. I highly advise you to check into this, BEFORE you purchase a Hedgie. If you are aware of other restrictions not listed below, please contact me, so I can update this information.
Alaska - If you are shipping into Alaska, you need to call the state vet and ask about the local requirements.
Arizona - Only legal if you can meet very strict requirements and obtain a permit (I heard it's impossible to get).
California - Hedgehogs are not legal at all.
Georgia - Illegal to posses, but licensed breeding is allowed if the hedgehogs are sold out of state.
Hawaii - Hedgehogs are not legal at all.
Kansas - Hedgehogs are not legal in the city of Lawrence.
Kentucky - If you are shipping into Kentucky, you need to call the state vet and ask about the local requirements.
Maine - Maine requires both an importation and a possession permit. Contact the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife listed below for more information.
Montana - In early 2005 there was a ban on importing hedgehogs into this state. The are supposed to be reclassified and to be imported again sometime in early summer 2005. If you are importing a hedgehog to Montana, your vet needs to call the MT state vet and get a permit number. If this is not done, the shipper and shippee will receive a warning for the first violation and a large fine for any subsequent violations.
Nebraska - Permit required for Omaha and Douglas County.
New Jersey - Legal with Permit. If you buy a hedgehog from someone in NJ, you need to get a 20 day permit from the seller, who will also provide an application for a permanent permit. The permit cost is $10 a year, no matter the number of hedgies. For an application, go to: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/pdf/xotic_hobby.pdf
New York - Legal in all counties EXCEPT the 5 boroughs of NYC; Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens, Staten Island, and Manhattan.
Pennsylvania - Hedgehogs are not legal at all.
Virginia - Legal in all counties EXECPT Fairfax.
Wyoming - Permit needed (must call Fish &Game to check if this is still true)Canada - Illegal in Windsor, Ontario and Langley, British Columbia. Alberta may require a permit.
THOSE AMAZING QUILLS!
Of all of the features of your pet hedgehog, probably none stands out more than than the quills. When you really stop to think about it, they really are quite remarkable. They are the main means of defense that a hedgehog has against predators, but they serve some other rather useful purposes as well.
Although scientifically described as being modified hairs, each of the roughly 7000 quills on a hedgehog's back is far more complex than any hair possibly could be. Rather than being solid inside, each is filled throughout with complex network of air chambers. Not only does this make them very lightweight and strong, but it also helps to prevent buckling and breakage.
At the base, the quill narrows to a thin stem where it enters the skin and is firmly anchored in the muscle tissue by a small, ball-shaped follicle. At the opposite end, the quill narrows to a needle-like point and is bent slightly back to provide maximum defense should a predator be interested in having hedgehog for lunch! When attacked, it is the contraction of the two large muscles that run down either side of the hedgehogs body that cause the quills to be raised in defense. When those two muscles are contracted, (much like pulling the draw strings on a purse) they pull against the ball-like base of the quill, drawing it into an upright position. Since the muscles pull different quills in different directions, they tend to crisscross one another, forming a near impenetrable barrier.
They are, however, not only there for defensive purposes. Hedgehogs are noted for being skilled climbers but, like cats, are not very good at getting themselves back down again! When they do come across a drop that they cannot climb down, they will simply roll into a ball and drop, allowing the spines to cushion the fall. To prevent the quills from being damaged or lost, the thin stem just above the skin flexes upon impact. Although we do not recommend you try this at home, wild hedgehogs have been seen dropping from heights of up to 20 feet with no apparent signs of injury!
In their native environments, hedgehogs are noted snake killers and, once again, the quills come in quite handy for this as well. After having first grasped the snake with its teeth, they will drive their forehead quills into the snake, thereby killing it.
So, the next time you hold a hedgehog in your hand, take a closer look. The amazing design and beauty of these unique animals makes something as insignificant as a single quill something to marvel at!