A local friend of mine recently got a pet hedgehog as a birthday gift. And since having excessive amounts of free time during the day to do things like play with friends' hedgehogs, I cruised over to her house yesterday to check it out.
The animals have been around since ancient times when apparently hedgehogs were considered a source of food in Egypt. Luckily, my friend keeps her hedgehog as a companion rather than a meal so I had a chance to play with him a bit sans fork and knife. (More hedgehog factoids here.)
First impression - he's smaller than I'd expected, fitting neatly in one hand, and his spikes really are sharp if they get you at the right angle. While he does have some personality, he's not quite as spunky as a cat or dog. Put it somewhere in the duller hamster category. I passed on feeding him an earthworm, though I learned hedgehogs can also be fed cat food. Duly noted.
While this particular hedgehog doesn't have any toys, I wondered how he would do in one of those balls we gave to our gerbil back home. Clearly his spikes and overall roundness precluded any of those neat tubes and cage accoutrement available to other small rodents, but he does seem to enjoy climbing in and out of cups and my friend's shirt. Of course, the fact that he rolls up into a little ball with a cute nose barely sticking out is kind of awesome.
After about 10 minutes, I have to admit that the hedgehog's novelty wore off me a bit. Even the fact that he's hypo-allergenic couldn't persuade me to fall in love. He doesn't play catch or do too many tricks like dog, and it's hard to just sit and pet him like you could with a cat or rabbit. Besides, my nurturing level is still at the plant stage and while my tomatoes don't do tricks, they're much easier to eat.