The Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv


I recently finished reading The Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, and it occurred to me that some of the people who visit my website might also be interested in the topic of “Nature Deficit Disorder” in children. I reviewed the book on my GoodReads account, and thought that I would paste the review here as well.

The book raises a lot of interesting questions, and is fodder for much discussion about the future of many things – schooling, urbanization, litigation, and how children interact and view the outdoors. There’s a lot to be said about this book, and I invite commentary below.

If people would like, I would be happy to post more of my reviews of books on ecology, animal care, and the ways animals and human interact with one another in the future. There are a lot of books out there, many of them good, and I’d be happy to steer my readers towards the ones most pertinent to their own lives and the lives of their animals – whether rescued or not.

Without further ado, here’s the review:

I stand right on the edge of being the generation talked about in this book. I am young enough that I can remember a time without a computer in the house, where I wasn’t hooked up to the internet the way I am now. I can remember a time before wireless phones, caller ID, cell phones, and all of that. I’m old enough to be a bit concerned when I see kids spending all of their time in social gatherings on tablets, but also young enough that I’m sure I was That Kid only on a cellphone rather than a tablet. It’s an interesting conundrum.

All of that being said, as I read this book I understood the problem that Richard Louv is diagnosing when he talks about Nature-Deficit Disorder. I’ve talked to people only a little bit younger than me about nature and been mildly horrified when they’ve expressed not only zero interest in the environment, but also zero concern about it or desire to do anything to improve it. The notion of stewardship over local ecology is one that came to me naturally, something ingrained in me growing up gardening alongside my mom and exploring the forest behind our house before it got developed to be turned into another suburban community. I still feel the loss of that forest, where although I was terrified I climbed fallen trees. I still feel a draw to it, even though it’s gone. It’s part of why I live out in the middle of nowhere now, to be reconnected to the land. Hell, it’s part of why I want to call Montana my home once more.

Richard Louv makes a lot of bold claims in the book about the benefits that being in nature instill in children (and people in general.) He claims that being in nature helps restore focus to children with ADHD (to a decent extent, although acknowledges continued medication is likely needed), that it offers up a kind of secular spiritual experience, helps children develop confidence, curiosity, and a sense of place nothing else quite replaces. I can track how being in nature helped me develop, and I can say that learning about it is something that I’m still passionate about today. I can also note how relationships with animals and a closer attachment to nature has helped me with mental health problems of my own, and others I know. Maybe there’s something there to it? Yet it’s difficult to test.

All in all, this book is an interesting one that also paints a road forward towards a better relationship with nature. The book postulates an optimistic vision of the future – nature centric experiential learning in schools, less laws prohibiting natural play, green urbanization, and more sustainable living practices. I would like to see this come to fruition, though it would require a drastic paradigm shift in our current culture not only here in the West but in the world in general. Still, it is possible. We just need enough people to try.

This book gave me a lot of ideas for how to build my own little rescue and how I talk to kids and what experiences I can offer them when they come to my meet and greets. I can say that just last week, handing a child a disarticulated rat skeleton to play wish, I saw her work with it with a sense of wonder that was truly unique. To think she was trusted with something so delicate, and that she could manipulate it and see how it worked… it was something cool, and something I hope to bring to others more often.

So, yes, if you’re the parent of young children or someone who works with them often – give this book a try, or at least a flip through. It might give you more ideas about how to interact with them and new ways to expose them to the natural world on their own level.

Also, keep telling them to go play outside and encourage their unstructured play. Someday, maybe they start and they won’t want to stop.


So, You’ve Found an Injured Raptor…


On Sunday I received an unexpected e-mail.

A concerned couple had witnessed a raptor, what appeared to be a young hawk, in the middle of the street in front of their house at 4AM. By 8AM he still hadn’t moved, so the wife went out to investigate. She managed to get close enough to stroke the hawk’s back, and found the bird to not be bothered in the least by the attention. Something was wrong. So, they herded the hawk to the neighbor’s yard and quickly e-mailed our rescue. We sprung into action.

The hawk in question was disoriented and small, male Cooper’s Hawks can be as small as American Robins. We were able to gather him up without much difficulty and get him to the nearby Phoenix Wildlife Center that will see to it he gets the treatment he needs. As we were answering questions it occurred to me – not everyone might know how to approach an injured raptor, nor why it’s often better to take the bird to the rehabber yourself rather than waiting for them to send somebody out.

Is the raptor actually injured?

There are multiple ways that raptors showcase injuries. One of them, and perhaps the easiest to observe, is a wingdroop. One wing will be held lower than the other and the bird will often be reluctant to extend it fully. This is usually indicative of a bruise, sprain, or even sometimes a break.

Secondly, head racheting is a big clue. This is characterized by rapid motions of the head in a short period of time. This level of disorientation is indicative of a head injury, likely from a collision with a window or car. The bird we were handling yesterday showed signs of both of these things and was also in his full colors. There was no risk of this being a fledgling bird.

How Do You Pick Up a Raptor?

You’ll need three things: a pair of thick, leather gloves (think electrician’s gloves), a beach towel, and a secure box or dog kennel.

Wear the gloves, and leave the door to the kennel open. Approach the bird slowly, with your body bent over to lower your profile. Hold the towel behind the bird and in one smooth motion wrap the towel around the bird, securing the wings to his body. You will want to hold him with your hands against his sides, keeping the wings closed, and low enough that his beak will be unable to strike you. Wrapped up in a little “burrito” like this he cannot foot you.

Move the bird to the kennel and deposit him therein. Shut the door. You now have yourself a very offended and disheveled raptor.

Why transport the bird yourself? Isn’t that the rehab facility’s job?

Well, the thing about rescues and rehabs is that they’re non-profits run primarily by volunteers. These are places that are often chronically underpaid and understaffed – in many cases they are literally being run out of a person’s house as ours is. If you’re able to transport the bird to them, you are saving them time as well as money.

People who transport injured animals like this are the unsung heroes of the rehabilitation world. As willing as we are to drive to pick up surrendered hedgehogs, for instance, it’s always better when they can be dropped off with us. Those hours saved by drop-offs are hours we can put into other animals, and into educating the public and doing more good.

All of that having been said – if you aren’t comfortable handling the bird yourself, please call someone qualified to do so. If you’re within an hour’s drive of Woodstock, feel free to call me.

Here in Maryland the two dedicated Raptor Rescues that can help are:

Owl Moon Raptor Center in Boyd’s, MD ( (301) 353-8947 )

Phoenix Wildlife Center in Phoenix, MD. ( (410) 628-9736 )

Many other wildlife rescues in MD will also take in raptors and are qualified to care for them, but these two mainly specialize in birds of prey so many will end up in those places regardless.

Do you like what we do? Ensure we’re able to continue doing it. Otherworld Exotics is a non-profit exotic animal rescue affiliated with the Hedgehog Welfare Society. Every dollar we get goes towards veterinary fees, food for the animals, and medicine and other supplies that ensures they live long healthy lives. If you can, donate to us at or @OtherworldExotics on Venmo in this climate even $1 can help ensure we can continue helping animals for many years to come.

Bishop’s Story


Saturday morning I received a text from someone looking to rehome their hedgehog. This is not an unusual occurrence for me. On average I get two or three hedgehogs a month these days, although recently that number has increased during the quarantine. The level of people looking to adopt has also increased, but we’ve tightened our own restrictions due to COVID-19 as well. The last thing we want is for the animals we adopt out to end up in shelters when things return to normal. We want to make sure the animals go to the right homes.


What separated this case from the usual ones we receive was twofold: 

1) I was being contacted from a number with a Pennsylvania area code. 

2) After talking to the person, the hedgehog was in pretty grim condition and needed some medical attention ASAP. 


The hedgehogs that we receive most often come from cases of mild neglect. They haven’t been handled in months, sometimes years, and require a bit of time to readjust to the attention that a devoted home might offer them. Sometimes they’re a bit skittish, sometimes they need a bit of a clean up or a nail trim. Truly grim situations? Those are rare. Nevertheless, they do occur, and this situation was definitely one.


First, though… Why is a Pennsylvania case something that requires immediate action?


Pennsylvania is one of the small number of states where hedgehogs are illegal. It’s illegal not only to own hedgehogs in the state, but also to transport them through the state. While hopefully at some point the ban will be lifted, in the interim, it is one of the most dangerous places in the United States to own a hedgehog. I’ve heard stories of SWAT teams being sent to confiscate and euthanize hedgehogs from homes, and the fine that one would incur for housing a hedgehog in the state is over $10,000. (Some sources say you can be fined up to $40,000 for possessing a hedgehog in the state – I have been unable to get in touch with the Game Commission to verify that at this time.) Why this is the case is a topic for another post. Suffice to say, it’s important to members of the HWS to act whenever we hear of a hedgehog in need of a home in Pennsylvania, as the ending most of them face there is not a very positive one.


Calling the people who had this hedgehog in Pennsylvania, we learned her story. 


She was 9 months old, and had been kept in truly grim conditions. The rescuer, for he and his girlfriend had gotten the hedgehog from someone else, had not been handled in a very long time. She was in a cage that not only stank of cigarette smoke but was also stained yellow from nicotine and urine. Large cockroaches had infested the cage and the carrier, and the hedgehog herself had been stained as yellow as the cage she was in. In addition to all of this she had human hair wrapped around her back legs to the point that it was impacting her ability to move. Being in Pennsylvania, a vet visit was out of the question as vets are bound by law to seize and euthanize illegal animals. Could we take her?


We set up a time and place on Sunday to take the hedgehog in.

Unfortunately, the hedgehog ended up being in the condition that was earlier described. She had hair wrapped around her back legs, a significant amount around her left leg, a lesser amount around her right. The left foot had scabbed over with a mixture of scabbing and necrotic flesh. She was reluctant to put weight upon it when moving, actively holding it against her body until forced to move by something like running water. 


We got out some tools when we got home, and set about fixing the problem. 


The hair, to a degree, could be trapped with a mixture of scissors, dental tools, and tweezers. The skin could be peeled away here and there, scabbing flaking off, to break the grip the hair had around her ankle. We worked for well over an hour, my husband wearing thick winter gloves due to her biting so much, me working as quickly as I could. Unfortunately, the wound had existed for so long, that muscle and skin had grown around the hair itself. I was uncomfortable digging that deeply into the hedgehog’s body without anesthetic.

You can see her after our treatment in two videos here.

We needed a vet.


 Thankfully, our vet had seen a similar case that we had brought in a year ago. Leg injuries of this sort are distressingly common with hedgehogs, as well as other small animals. As expected, they asked for permission to amputate if the foot was in too dire condition, and I granted the permission. Too often, that is the ending for these sorts of cases. Luckily, our vet does everything to ensure the limb can be saved before rushing to that conclusion.


The hedgehog was brought in on Tuesday, and put under General Anaesthesia for the operation. They were able to remove the hair from around both of the legs, as well as bandage the worse of the two. Unfortunately, she was very intent on getting the bandage off, and a bottle of No Chew was included to try and discourage the continued biting and attacking of the bandage. Also needed was a pain killer and disinfectant – the other medications that were necessary, we already had at home.



This situation – this surgery – is not a terribly uncommon one among not only our rescue and the hedgehog community in general, but also among other small animal rescues and owners. The surgery cost, likewise, is not a terrifically unexpected one. While the following bill doesn’t solely contain the surgery cost, but also a certification of health for a hedgehog that is going to be an Emotional Support Animal, as the markdown shows the bulk of the cost is still that of the surgery and medication for Zelda (now called “Bishop”).


These costs are not uncommon, nor are the maladies that afflict hedgehogs. Between Bishop’s surgery and recovery, Lareto’s medication, and Billy Butcher’s recovery costs we have been hit hard this season. The money that we normally would have gained from presentations at libraries and schools, likewise, will no longer be coming in due to the virus cancelling all such events for the foreseeable future. 

If you can, every little bit goes a long way towards ensuring that we can continue to rescue these animals and give them the treatment and eventual homes that they desire. This particular case wiped us out of everything that we had made from adoptions so far this year as well as the donations that we received to aid in Butcher’s care and others.

We are accepting donations primarily through PayPal at the following address:


I’ll be posting more about her recovery (as well as Billy Butcher’s) in the coming week.


Eastern Coast Hedgehog Show 2019 (Or, Charlie Appreciation Post)


There is no better time to be a hedgehog enthusiast than early May. Why, you may ask? Because that is when the annual HedgieCon is held. HedgieCon is the annual gathering of hedgehog breeders, rescuers, owners, and lover. Every other year it switches coasts with 2019 being the East Coast Hedgehog Show, 2020 will see it on the West Coast again. I’ve yet to attend a West Coast show, but maybe next year I will? I hear it’s an even bigger show than the Eastern one, given how Colorado has the first hedgehog rescuer still residing there, and some of the bigger breeders.

While HedgieCon is considered a Hedgehog Show, and does indeed allow you a chance to show your hedgehog to see how it measures up to the Standard it is far more than one might expect. The actual competition is friendly, and full of laughter. Unlike dogs hedgehogs can’t exactly be trained to sit still for the judging – all too often a hedgehog will huff and puff or run in an attempt to meet the others around it. At our second show our hedgehog Starlord actually tried to crawl into the Judge’s hands. Such is the nature of a hedgehog show.

This year there was Bingo for various silly prizes, craftmaking, hats for the hedgehogs to wear, a poster contest, silent auctions, and of course the classic Hedgehog Olympic Games and Hedgehog Bowling. The last two involve:

Hedgehogs in a playpen with a variety of toys. Points are awarded for each interaction with the toys. The winner takes home a trophy full of mealworms.


Hedgehogs in hamster balls (hopefully) running into paper towel and toilet paper tubes individually marked. Points are awarded for how many are knocked down (and the markings upon them.) One year this included a hedgehog running out of the room and down the hall in his hamster ball.

As you can probably tell, HedgieCon is a blast. It’s a bit like a big party between friends, as many people return year after year. The show was in Richmond this year, and we were so happy to be able to visit a city we love with people we love once more.

I want to sincerely thank everyone who we saw there, and especially Kellie for allowing me to show Ginny in the show. While I’m sad she didn’t place, it was still a pleasure to get to know her.

Now, speaking of Kellie, I want to take the time to share the biggest highlight of HedgieCon with you all. At HedgieCon I met a wonderful hedgehog named Charlie. Charlie, while described as grumpy in the e-mail I quote below, was nothing but sweet to me and my husband. I adored the time I got to spend with him. Charlie is a prime example of why hedgehog rescuing matters, and the changes it can produce in an animal’s life.

I asked Katelynn to share Charlie’s story with us. So, please enjoy and admire this beautiful old man. I hope his story moves you as it did me.



‘Hi Hilary, 

Here is a little bit of Charlie’s story and how he became the grump he is now. 
It all started about three years ago when Kellie found a post about a little hedgie in need of a home. Kellie contacted his previous owner and the mission to save him began.
Kellie and Jeff went to pick up this grumpy ball of quills. When they arrived, the lady met them on the back porch and you could immediately tell that there was a situation happening here. Not to go into too much graphic detail, I will say that it was a hoarding situation. There were so many cats that all you could smell from the outside, was litter boxes. 
They instantly took one year old Charlie. Once they got him home and gave him a bath, they knew something was wrong with him. They took him to the vet. After some tests, they quickly discovered that it was their worst fear come to life. Charlie was fighting for his life. 
Turns out Charlie had a terrible infection that made him lose all of the quills on his hind end. Kellie had to clean him by hand every single day for a month. In this process, she lost her thumb nail and his quills never grew back. 
Spring forward three years. Charlie is now an old man hedgehog that has fathered many beautiful litters of babies. All with the best temperament and coloring. 
Thank you for reading.

Focus On Grumpy Hedgehogs: Marty & Kurt


One of the most common concerns that we encounter when it comes to hedgehogs and hedgehogs care is the belief ‘my hedgehog hates me.’ It is prevalent to the point that if you type in the words ‘my hedgehog’ on Google or a similar search engine that is often one of the top results that comes up, or it will even autocomplete the sentence to say that. The concern is one people to come to us with, surrender hedgehogs over, or explain as they surrender hedgehogs. Sometimes it’s explained in nicer language:

  • My hedgehog is shy.
  • He’s a bit skittish.
  • He doesn’t like to be handled.
  • He can be a bit grumpy.

It all amounts to the same thing, the eternal question. Why does my hedgehog hate me?

First, it’s important to acknowledge that your hedgehog does not in fact hate you. The negative reactions that you get from your hedgehog are likely the result of one or two causes either singularly or in combination with each other. So let’s break it down with two of our current adoptables, and learn what causes these behaviors and how we can possibly alter them.

Marty McFly

fat angry starlord

Marty McFly is a hedgehog that was surrendered to us due to his behavior. In spite of his owners having had him for a year, he had never quite warmed up to them. When we received him it was easy to see just how bad his behavior had gotten. In spite of having been involved with hedgehogs for close to a decade now, we found him nearly impossible to handle. Spiky, hissing, huffing, and popping he was quite a wonder to behold.

Some hedgehogs get the way they do due to not being handled enough. Some persist even when being handled often, as Marty certainly did. We forced him to unball via a tickling technique we’ve developed – there will be a post on that later – and set about trimming nails, bathing, and generally cleaning. It was when looking at his ears that we discovered part of the reason for his pain.

Blood stained the white fur beneath his ear, and clogged his ear canal. It was while removing the bulk of the old blood with a q-tip that it became apparent that this was no new wound or puncture. The scent of infection and necrotic flesh was difficult to miss. Something was very obviously wrong, and had been wrong long enough to have expanded to the area behind his ear as well. The injury had not been easy to find due to his general huffiness. An aggressive hedgehog is not the easiest animal to examine, treat, or otherwise medicate.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth taking care of, though.

A trip to the vet was enough to diagnose him with an ulcerated abscess in his ear. He was put under sedation, the abscess cleaned, and the bulk of it loosely sutured to aid in its healing. We were given instructions on how to clean it, as well as painkillers. Did that help him overcome his grumpiness? Was the general aggressive personality due entirely to the pain he was in?

Well, partially.

His skittishness has gone down as the wound has healed and he is easier to handle than he was before. He no longer is so reactive that another hedgehog huffing is enough to set him off as well. It’s obvious in retrospect that pain was the cause of some of his grumpiness. As the pain grew, his own attitude continued to turn more negative. Now that the pain is gone, the abscess healed, the blood-flow stopped – he has begun to come out of his shell.

Every night we catch him on the wheel, now. A few nights ago he even came to his food bowl as we filled it, and ate while we stood there. He is still a standoffish hedgehog, and likely will be for a while yet. Nonetheless, the first step has been made towards his full recovery and rehabilitation.

Given time, patience, and attention he is likely to become an affectionate, even cuddly, hedgehog.


Kurt Wagner (formerly Sonic)


Kurt Wagner (formerly Sonic) is a very young hedgehog. Born in December, his family did their best to socialize him but has seen little success. Kurt remains a very skittish hedgehog, one that we rarely even see emerge from his igloo to eat at night, let alone get on the wheel. He is wary of new people, and has little confidence about his own ability to interact well with others.

If he isn’t hurt, does this just mean he hates people?

No, not at all.

While breeding can account for some of the social issues and high anxiety that Kurt experiences, it is by no means the only explanation for the way that he is. His family did their best to socialize him, but they might have expected a bit too much from a new hedgehog. When you get a hedgehog from the breeder, you have to keep in mind that this is often their very first time being away from their mother, and their siblings. This is their first time in a car, their first time one on one with a stranger. It’s easy to overwhelm a new hedgehog, and I think that might be what he’s going through.

The way we’re moving forward with Kurt is initially giving him the space he needs. We won’t socialize him for long periods, and when socializing him take care to set him back in the cage only when he has uncurled and has his quills down. Putting a hedgehog back when they are beginning to warm up like this might seem counterintuitive, but it serves to reinforce the idea that this calm behavior is what is being sought – they’re being rewarded for being calm and social, rather than scared and aggressive.

Another tactic is allowing him to gain confidence by letting him explore his environment. Allowing him to wander, self-anoint, and get comfortable lets him be calmer about his environment. Knowing what is around him helps the hedgehog feel more at home, the same way when you’re house hunting you want to explore the whole house… even if you won’t end up spending much time in the attic. In these instances we put him away after he’s done self-anointing, thus allowing him to feel protected after he’s covered himself in whatever scent/texture/flavor he best enjoys.


So. Injury? Oversocialization or undersocialization? Your hedgehog doesn’t hate you, he simply requires a bit more attention and patience to figure out what the source of his discomfort is. It can be remedied – it might just take a while and some detective work.


Is a Hedgehog Right For You?


So, you want to get a hedgehog.

Our very first hedgehog, Púca.

In the past few years hedgehogs have become a very popular pet. The internet is rife with videos of them doing everything from floating happily in a sink to enjoying tummy rubs from their owner. There are even photos of them camping, kayaking, and cheering the viewer on in hopes that they make the most of their day. Hedgehogs, in short, have become a bit of a fad. How accurate are the best known depictions of their behavior, though? How high is the likelihood of getting a pet that will happily don a shark-hoodie and delicately accept a slice of apple from your baby spoon?

The first thing I ask a potential adopter is whether or not they have had experience with hedgehogs before. The vast majority of people who adopt from me have not, although many have had some exotic animal experience in the past. Whether rat, rabbit, or reptile the experience of owning a non-traditional pet does indeed help understand the complexities of dealing with a hedgehog. Hedgehogs are not nearly as difficult as some people assume they would be – for instance, unlike sugar gliders the cat food that comprises the bulk of their diet is easy to come by – but they do require a slightly different skill set than most animals do. None of this is to say that you need exotic animal experience prior to owning a hedgehog. It is just something that would make the transition easier.

The second thing I ask a potential adopter is whether or not they have a sense of humor. Hedgehogs, you see, require just that: a good sense of humor. You have to be able to laugh through the difficult times of owning such an animal and not take too seriously the huffs, puffs, and prickles that they offer you. You have to be able to laugh when they become little more than a potato with toothpicks sticking out of it in your hand. Patience is also a virtue, of course, but a sense of humor will serve you better and longer when the bonding process stretches from days, to weeks, to potential months. I doubt many will face the uphill climb of two years that it took for me to find the sweetness inherent within my second hedgehog Sebastian, but it still is a possibility. Hedgehogs can be difficult, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth the time and effort.

The third thing required for owning a hedgehog is time. Time not in the sense that the hedgehog will dominate your every waking moment as a husky or a crow might, but rather in the sense that you must devote a certain amount of time to the hedgehog in order to socialize it successfully. Like most exotics, the hedgehogs sociability is based upon the amount of time you spend handling them confidently. The more used to your scent, touch, and voice that they are the calmer they will be around you and others. The less time you spend with them, the more their natural skittishness will overtake their curiosity. This is especially true of rescue hedgehogs who likely already have a history of minor neglect.

Before deciding upon getting a hedgehog it is vital that you consider the time and effort that the creature will require. Is this a pet that you will enjoy, even if it huffs and hisses at you for the first week or month? Is this a pet you are confident enough to handle, and amused enough to not feel threatened by? Finally, are you going to put in the hour or so a day that they require to become well socialized? It is worth noting that socialization can be as simple as holding the animal in its snuggle sack while you are occupied with other things, but devoted time for play and enrichment is by no means a bad idea.

Consider the above, and if it all still sounds delightful to you, then continue with the research and potentially go to meet some of these silly animals.


Hedgehog Storytime at AACPL


On Friday 22nd Otherworld Exotics made an appearance at Odenton Regional Library, part of the Anne Arundel County Public Libraries here in Maryland. Jen, our librarian friend, invited us to join her for an event called Hedgehog Storytime. We will be doing this event again, and it will be advertised here on the website as well as on Twitter and Facebook. We will advertise every event we do here and through our Twitter, so keep your eyes peeled.

Let us know if you plan on being at an event – if you can’t make it, we can always schedule a date for you to come and meet the hedgehogs (and other animals) another time.

Hedgehog Storytime was a fantastic event. In addition to the usual storytime, we added an educational element after the reading finished. We explained basic hedgehog facts including the number of species, what they eat, how long they live, etc. – and followed this discussion with a chance for the children and adults present to actually touch three different hedgehogs. This period was a mixture of petting hedgehogs, answering questions, and in general chatting with the kids. They were particularly enamored with Pimento, who we described as being ‘the spiciest hedgehog.’ He was indeed the most skittish of the bunch we brought (Pimento, Pan, Khaleesi – along with Jen’s hedgehog Kibibi) but the children nonetheless loved him. He is going to be a great ambassador, and we can’t wait to experience future event with him.

This event attracted over 140 participants across two sessions.

We’re planning two more Hedgehog Storytimes with Jen this year, and are in tentative talks with the library for our Spooky Animal Storytime including our rats around fall.

Watch this space for updates! We hope to see you at future events.

What is an African (Pygmy) Hedgehog?


One of the first things I tend to hear when people handle my hedgehogs is an exclamation of surprise at their size. Most people assume that African Hedgehogs should be as large as their European counterparts – some even think that they are their European counterparts and don’t realize the sheer abundance of hedgehog species in the world. Currently, there are believed to be seventeen different species of hedgehog in the world, with only three to my knowledge that are fairly common in the pet trade. That number can easily be reduced to two nowadays, with two of those species having been interbred enough in the United States to qualify as one species.

Long-Eared Hedgehogs (specifically the Egyptian Hedgehogs) are popular in the pet trade in Europe but have so far failed to take a hold in the US. They are smaller than African Hedgehogs generally, and easily distinguishable from them due to their enormous ears, pointier face, and fluffier underbellies. Their temperaments tend to be a bit more wild as well, as they’ve spent less time being kept as pets and bred for such purposes.

Attempts were made to import them to the United States in the 90s, but failed. Egyptian Hedgehogs carried an illness that quickly decimated the breeders herds and resulted in an import ban for a number of years. Attempts have not been made since to establish them in the United States, breeders focusing instead on the Lesser Hedgehog Tenrec and the Greater Hedgehog Tenrec, of which more will be written in a future post.

The African Hedgehog, commonly referred to as the African Pygmy Hedgehog, is what you will find being bred and sold in the United States. These hedgehogs are a crossbreed between the Algerian Hedgehog and the Four-Toed (also called White-Bellied) hedgehog. The two were previously viewed as separate species, but as the years went on the distinguishing marks became more and more difficult to discern so now they are all classed under the African Pygmy Hedgehog title.

African Pygmy Hedgehogs are technically just African Hedgehogs. They aren’t diminished in size from an earlier, larger population. They are just the size they need to be. I prefer calling them African Hedgehogs for that reason, but the term African Pygmy Hedgehog (APH or Pog) has caught on in most exotic animal circles.

African Hedgehogs are small in size, their weights generally ranging from 250g to 600g, with the odd outlier topping 1,000g. They tend to be a pleasant round shape, like most hedgehogs , with a fluffy white underbelly and four toes on each dainty paw. I have heard them described as potatoes with toothpicks stuck in their back. This is not an inaccurate description.

All hedgehogs are insectivores, and require a particular breakdown of fat, crude protein, and carbohydrates in their diet. This nutritional breakdown is generally achieved by feeding hedgehogs a base diet of cat food with occasional crickets, mealworms, superworms, or waxworms (which lack the chitinous shell) as supplemental food. Depending upon the hedgehog you can occasionally give them fruit, veggie, or baby food as a sometimes treat. Too often with sugary foods and teeth problems will develop.

They are vigorous animals and require a wheel in their cage so that they can spend the night running as they would in the wild foraging for food. They can run the equivalent of a human running 3 marathons in a single night, and their maximum speed is 5mph. Quite impressive for something so small! They are curious, solitary, generally benevolent creatures in spite of their stereotyping as grumpy animals. With the right care they can become a loving pet for the five to seven years of their life.

Which leads us to the next section – Is a Hedgehog the Right Pet For You?

A New Beginning


Otherworld Exotics began as a breeder of African Pygmy Hedgehogs. But, over time we discovered that there were many hedgehog breeders, but there were no good sources for people to learn about, surrender, or have the support needed when adopting an exotic animal. So, we registered with the Hedgehog Welfare Society and became Maryland’s only hedgehog rescue. In addition to rescuing animals, we have begun developing education programs to allow people to learn more about other exotics, and other native creatures.

While we no longer breed, we do offer surrendered hedgehogs up for adoption. We offer to adopt them out with full cage setups, to make the adoption as easy as possible. This website, while advertising our adoptable animals, will also serve as a center for information regarding the animals we work with, their care, and natural history. We hope to help others learn to appreciate not only hedgehogs, but the other animals we encounter on a regular basis.

We are available to go to schools, nature centers, libraries, and ever birthday parties. We are happy to have people over to interact with our animals as well. The prices for such encounters can be found on our website here. Of course, you can also email us at to set up dates to visit or discuss us coming to your event.

The website will be updated once a week on Thursdays, but we are always available via e-mail and text to answer any queries.

Upcoming Litters


We’re going to be trying for two litters in August, and a third in September.

I’ll update this space with information on how it’s going, and sending e-mails out to those who are interested once the hoglets are three weeks old for reservations to be made.