It may come as a surprise but in Africa, hedgehogs are actually a pest. You can usually find them rooting around trash cans, in unsanitary kitchens and at dumps around Africa. Not the most cuddly thought, but the truth is that most of the first hedgehogs that entered America were caught by young African boys who were given maybe a penny for every hedgehog they caught around the local dump. Then slowly they made there way more and more into the US and marked up to $800-$2000 to be sold as a rare and exclusive pet.
Meanwhile the trends and popularity of the hedgehog have risen tenfold in the last 5-10 years, making it possible for more hedgehog backyard breeders to profit. And in doing so hedgehog prices have gone down, but hedgehog health issues have risen. So if you are interested in buying a hedgehog, please make sure the hedgehog breeder you are buying from is either, one: USDA certified. Or two: has pedigrees. A hedgehog pedigree isn’t like a thorough bred horse having a pedigree, it does not have pedigrees for certain colors. Although prices will vary on the rarity of the colors. Which will be a whole other blog post. Pedigrees make sure that you can trace a hedgehogs lineage back at least 3 generations before you can breed them, and keep incest down. Incest leads to complications and health issues, the main key point being Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome which can be compared to Parkinson’s disease and is almost always %100 fatal.
In short, please make sure you look around for decent breeders before committing to buying a hedgehog! I’m currently a hobby breeder, which means I do not yet have my USDA license yet, but I do have pedigrees and only work with other breeders who do have pedigrees. There are some breeders who don’t care if they have pedigrees for their hedgehogs, or some that truly don’t believe in the pedigree system and find it a waste of time. Their argument is that the hedgehog pedigree system has not been around long enough to justify making a pedigree, and therefore putting the hedgehogs health at risk. While the pedigree system has just begun in the last 10 years, it is a crucial part to maintaining vigilance against disease.
While there is no absolute way to know right off hand sometimes if a breeder is USDA licensed or if they have pedigrees, but most times a USDA breeder will have a USDA badge with their license number on their home page on their website. Beware of pet-stores and those who refuse to show you a pedigree or do not have the option to buy a pedigree. Though you do not need a pedigree unless you are intending to breed the hedgehog.
I will admit that my first hedgehog was bought from a backyard breeder of sorts, I didn’t really know too much about the hedgehog community yet and was way too excited about getting a hedgehog to think about formalities. I hadn’t decided on becoming a breeder yet either. And here’s the thing, this breeder was on the way to becoming USDA certified, which is awesome….but she does not currently believe in pedigrees and therefore does not have them. Which I don’t understand, its a small part of your time to maybe keep your “herd” (also know as your hedgehog breeders) healthy.
There is a couple different sites that show you breeders per state in the US, chances are if they put the effort into being on these sites that they may be a good option to check out. These two sites are what most people go by and I can personally vouch for most of these breeder in Indiana or Kentucky.
Of course there is breeder to breeder talk and gossip as every breeder knows, but the main goal is that their hogs are healthy. USDA breeders can also be mills, even if they have a pedigree. So if you can talk to a few breeders and find out a little bit on how they operate. Most times if someone has over 100 hedgehogs, its a mill. If its a larger operation and they legitimately have help, then the health risks are minimized leaving room to have over a 100 hedgehogs and still not raise health concerns. Most larger to medium sized hedgehog breeders will have 20-70 hedgehogs.
I hope this has given you some insight into the hedgehog breeding world and will help guide you on your hedgehoggery journey. If you have any questions or complaints please feel free to message me. I’m an open book 🙂 and I am Happy-Heart Hedgies on those breeder lists.