Tobias is famous!

Briarpatch hedgehogs.

That’s him on in the top picture on the main page. His parents are Daisy and Jasper (found here).

Sent his breeder an email this morning with the picture I took with the rose and found out quite a bit more about him; she may use it on her site, so now I’m sending her the originals in case one of them is better suited.

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  • Comments (10)
  1. I want a pet hedgehog so badly!

    • Max Bell
    • September 3rd, 2010

    If you’re interested, I added a category dealie off to the right that will display everything I have so far on hedgehogs and Tobias. The rest of the stuff here is junk, anyway.

  2. I will check it out! I am hoping to maybe get a hedgehog in a year or two, but I need to do a lot of research before that point. And I need to talk to people who actually own them as pets, instead of just looking up scientific data.

  3. I have read through your hedgehog posts and learned a HELL OF A LOT. Thank you for the information–I have bookmarked it so I can come back and refresh myself. I appreciate you putting the info out there for people like me!

    • Max Bell
    • September 3rd, 2010

    Off the top of my head?

    Brian MacNamarra’s Hedgehog FAQ (http://www.faqs.org/faqs/hedgehog-faq/) is the gold standard for hedgehog info — it’s been around since before I got my first one, about twenty years ago.

    Hedgehogs aren’t necessarily legal everywhere — you can’t own them in California, for example, so be sure to check.

    Hedgehogs are sadly cancer prone, so when you do buy one, make sure you buy them from a hedgehog breeder (not a pet store, although it’s rare to find one that sells them these days, they can be hard to find). They can be expensive ($150-200 isn’t unusual) but it’s worth it. A good breeder will be registered with the IHA, Hedgehog Breeder’s Alliance, etc. (you probably noticed this on the briarpatch page). Seems kind of pricey, but in practice, breeders don’t actually make much from what’s a several month process and generally make their money selling pet food and so on.

    And like I point out everywhere? They SEEM really unfriendly at first. IGNORE THIS. You’ll get poked and maybe even bitten, but being poked you get used to and its not hard to get them familiar enough with you to stop biting. The key is just perseverance and spending regular time with the animal on a daily basis. Eventually they become as friendly as you might expect of a cat, and they’re quite playful. But initially you’ll probably feel like the animal really doesn’t like you, and you just have to push past that and spend time with them.

    They come around eventually.

  4. I will have to check on Georgia’s rules. I didn’t know they weren’t legal everywhere. And I will bookmark that FAQ as well.

    I had never seen them at pet stores anywhere, so I wasn’t even really thinking of that option. I went to the Briarpatch page and cooed at several of the ones listed there, and will probably come back to them or find another suitable breeder candidate. And it IS a little pricey, but the animal will hopefully give me joy for years and years, so it is a trade-off.

    I think the bigger issue will be getting me to STOP spending time with it. ^_^;

    Thank you again for all of the information! I will put it to good use when I am ready to get one.

    • Max Bell
    • September 3rd, 2010

    Yeah. If you follow the links off her page, I think the different sites eventually link to other breeders. Briarpatch is the only one still in Washington, I think, although there might be one other one in Tacoma now that I’ve thought about it.

    I usually downplay what great pets they make if the entirety of how someone responds to them is how cute they are. In the wild, hedgehogs have huge, personal territories — they’ll cover miles — but they aren’t social, even with each other. They breed and then split up again, and the mother raises them and chases them off as soon as they can fend for themselves.

    But they’re mammals and you can teach them to be social animals if you work at it. The down side to this is an animal that’s handled for a brief time and then left by itself in its home, never to be played with again.

    • Hopefully I can find a breeder here in the South. Washington is a VERY long way for me to go. ^_^;

      I agree, a good portion of my love is about how cute they are. But I am ready and willing to put up with their moods and issues. I can’t give it miles, but I can give it several square feet to call its own.

      Believe me, I will not neglect the animal. Like I said elsewhere, it will be a bigger problem for me to STOP interacting with it. It will probably get upset with me for being too lovey!

    • jane
    • September 4th, 2010

    I think you do wonderful things with your hedgies – patience and perseverence!

      • Max Bell
      • September 4th, 2010

      It’s all of a part; I try to be mindful of the fact that there wasn’t really any serious study of hedgehogs until they began to be bred in captivity. For example, the notion of life expectancy was initially established by MacNamara, the guy who wrote the hedgehog FAQ.

      Originally, it was thought that hedgehogs live around 5 years or so in the wild and would live to be around 10 in captivity since that permitted more ideal circumstances. Turns out this was speculation, though, not the product of actual observation. When somebody thought to actually study the matter, they discovered that they actually only live about a year or slightly more in the wild (the majority pass while hibernating; it’s just hard on them) whereas living 5-8 years or so in captivity is something that’s actually been observed.

      Something I’d been wondering about is if hedgehogs are subject to visual agnosia — a condition that prevents one from distinguishing the entirety of an object from it’s individual parts. The classic example is “The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat” by Oliver Sacks. In the title study, the guy was able to identify the individual fingers of a glove and tell that they connected, but he couldn’t explain what the object actually was. He finally guessed that it was a coin purse of some kind, intended to separate coins by size.

      When I first got Tobias, he seemed like he was okay with one hand, but not two. He’d very aggressively follow the first, popping until he was convinced it wasn’t aggressive, but wasn’t comfortable enough that I could actually move it without repeating the aggressive behavior. But if I tried to pet him with my other hand, the aggressive behavior would start anew as well, and continue until he’d forgotten one or the other. I tried making sure they were both visible with no effect, and it just took time before I could use both hands and not risk being bitten. Finally, he seemed to see me “as a whole being”.

      Until I started lying on my bed and putting him on my chest, which was and remains a good way to get bitten (he wants to anoint himself with the smell from my shirt, but these bites are the sharp, “digging” bites he’d use chewing on the rug or a couch cushion, i.e. not the “testing” bites he demonstrates when he’s chewing on my hands, which is a much more playful behavior). Were my hands “me” to him, but not my chest?

      After a lot of digging this morning, I found what I think is the answer. I’ve long known that hedgehog’s primary sense is smell, followed by hearing. I knew their eyesight was okay but not great. Turns out the former is much more limited than I’d been led to believe, though; in essence, they perceive silhouettes, black, white and browns. So I mostly look like a cream-colored blob to him; no trouble making out my arms, legs, paws and torso, but he’s mostly listening to me and more importantly, distinguishes me from, say, Sally the dog because we smell so different. So do my hands and my shirt. XD

      So I can either hose myself down with Frebreeze before I handle him (actually, that isn’t an option, can’t handle the stuff anymore) or keep working on this with verbal cues; so far, he recognizes his own name and “no biting”. The latter I worked out through trial and error; seems kind of counter-intuitive to slap a hedgehog, but I have two or three times — extremely gently, of course. “This hurts me more than it does you” probably never had such a literal meaning, but it’s enough to depress his spines slightly, so now he tenses up when I say “no biting”.

      Of course, the hypothesis needs some serious testing behind it to be certain of the results (I’m thinking I’ll anoint myself with some vanilla or garlic or something I can stand the next few times I handle him), but more importantly, I’ve never seen this written about ANYWHERE except the biology paper I read that explained the difference in sense perception. Closest thing I’ve seen were warnings that they’re sensitive to loud noises and that some are attracted to strong odors.

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