No matter where you choose to buy your new hedgehog, whether a pet store, animal shelter, rescue, or breeder, there are certain questions you MUST ask in order to select the best hedgehog. If the person you are buying your hedgehog from is not able to answer these questions, there is always a possibility you may end up with a hedgehog with social or medical problems. However, always keep in mind that asking questions is part of the process of selecting the best hedgie. At the end of the day many excellent, lovable pets have been bought from otherwise questionable sources, so do not despair if any of your sources do not live up to expectations.
If you are buying from a breeder the first question you should ask is, “Are you USDA licensed?” All hedgehog breeders in the United States are required to be licensed by law. Anyone who breeds and is not licensed cannot be completely trusted when it comes to the claims they make.
The second question you must ask is, “Where did this hedgehog come from?” Typically pet stores will either be honest and say they do not know, or in many cases they will claim the hedgehog come from a “local breeder.” This is seldom the case. Many pet stores purchase from mass wholesalers who do not carefully breed for good hedgehog social traits. If the owner does know the hedgehog’s history, listen for important details like who the hedgehog’s parents were, traits this hedgehog was bred for, or in the case of rescues – was this hedgehog removed from a neglectful or abusive home?
The third question you should ask when selecting a new hedgehog is, “How old is this hedgehog?” Ideally you want to select a hedgehog that has had a full 6 weeks to nurse with his or her mother. Receiving proper nutrition during key formative periods is vital to making sure a hedgie’s body develops to be the best it can. In addition, always use common sense. If a hedgie looks a lot younger than the owner is claiming, trust your instincts.
Next, you will want to ask about the source’s health guarantees. If the hedgehog becomes ill within a short period of time after purchase (6 months is average) is there a replacement guarantee? A similar question to also ask is “What happens if the hedgehog and I do not work out together?” Pet stores will have a posted return policy,make sure you are familiar with the details. Breeders will frequently take the hedgehog back with reasonable advance warning, but most will not issue refunds.