Scottish breeder of pygmy hedgehogs ‘struggles with demand’

African pygmy hedgehogs are becoming popular pets.

African pygmy hedgehogs are becoming popular pets.

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Hedgehogs are best known as shy, nocturnal creatures which snuffle around garden at night.

But the Scottish Society for the Protection of Animals (SSPCA) said that one breed of the wild creature is becoming increasingly popular as a pet.

Louise Muir, from Dundee, who has been breeding African pygmy hedgehogs for the past four years, said yesterday that she is struggling to keep up with demand for the prickly pets.

Pygmy hedgehogs, which are about 10cm smaller than Britain’s native hedgehog, are proving a hit with animal lovers across Scotland.

Despite breeding between ten and 15 litters a year Ms Muir has at least 100 potential owners on a waiting list for the next arrivals.

Ms Muir, 29, whose business is called Shift Hedgehogs, said: “Originally, I never knew you could keep them as pets but after I did more research I started up the business.

Since then, Ms Muir has raised more than 100 hedgehogs and sold them to clients all over the UK.

She said: “They’ve become more popular by word of mouth. There was a boy down in a small village in Dumfries who got one. Soon after, I had three people from the same village getting in contact.”

Ms Muir said a lot of myths about hedgehogs aren’t true.

She said: “A lot of people seem to think they are full of fleas, but not indoor ones. They can be a bit huffy when woken up but they can also be affectionate if they’re handled by humans early. You can stroke them and a lot of people are quite surprised at how soft they are. They wander about and they can be quite comical to watch.”

But just like any pet, Ms Muir stressed that hedgehogs require a lot of commitment — even more so than similar sized creatures such as hamsters and guinea pigs.

She added: “You need to have a vivarium that is at least 3ft long, and the need a heat lamp because these hedgehogs are used to warmer weather.

“They’re good pets, but not for everyone.”

Chief Superintendent Mike Flynn, of the SSPCA, added: “Pygmy hedgehogs can legally be kept as pets in the UK and they are becoming increasingly popular.

“However, some people may not realise the specialist care they need.

“Anyone considering taking on a pygmy hedgehog should do their research and consider whether they have the time or the resources to commit to caring for one of these animals for life.”

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