hedgehogs in our house

We have hedgehogs living in our house. Before I go any further, let me explain that we are not talking about the endangered European hedgehogs that are the size of American ground hogs—our hedgehogs are African pygmy hedgehogs that are bred in captivity as pets. They are usually the size of your hand, covered in tiny bendable spines (not quills, like porcupines) with shiny obsidian eyes and nose. Their underbellies are soft. Hedgehogs are notoriously solitary in nature, although you can teach them to be somewhat social. And they do roll into a tight ball when frightened or threatened.

So we have hedgehogs in our house and when I say in our house, I mean literally in the house, between the first floor ceiling and the second story floor. Someone (that would be me) had conceived of the bright idea to make the knee-wall closet in my son’s bedroom a space for hedgehogs. It was hedgehog heaven, with tunnels, carpet, soft places to sleep. And because we had two males, I thought that it would provide enough room for the two of them to avoid each other.

Conversation at breakfast:
Son: Cogs is chasing Ferdie.
Mother: Well, do they seem like they’re hurting each other?
Son: Ferdie is squeaking.
Mother: Perhaps they have to work out a dominant/submissive thing like dogs. (Like I would know.)
Son: No one is bleeding.
Mother: Then don’t worry about it.

Two weeks later:
Son: I can’t find the hedgehogs.
Mother: What do you mean, you can’t find the hedgehogs?
Son: They aren’t in their space.
Mother: Where did they go?
Son: I don’t know.
Daughter (from the living room): Hey, there’s a hedgehog in here!

So, at this point, we knew that Cogs was able to squeeze through tiny spaces next to the heating conduit and waltz down the stairs, although I prefer to think that he just rolled in a ball and went for it. But we still didn’t know about Ferdie…until my son found the hole in the wall. There was literally no way to retrieve the hedgehogs after that. Even when they came for food and water, they moved too fast for us to get to them before they went back into the hole.

Fast forward one month. My partner and I were admiring her office that we had repainted and set up.
Partner: Baby hedgehog!
Me: Huh?

It seems that the breeder had been incorrect on Ferdie’s sex and he was a she and that chasing was actually hedgehog foreplay. So now we had two adult hedgehogs between the ceiling and floor and possibly up to 3 more baby hedgehogs. In actuality, only one more baby appeared in the downstairs bathroom, and thank goodness we were able to catch Ferdie (the hedgehogs can reproduce at a rate approaching rabbits), but we have misplaced Cogs again. We knew he was scheming when we caught him doing some sort of free climb across the ceiling of his cage heading towards the opening in the middle. On the bright side, we have no bugs in the house. Handy little insectivores.

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