As of today, I have had my hedgehog for a month.
Henry was a little bit of an impulse decision, after the boy had casually mentioned getting a hedgehog. I’ve been craving a pet since I moved away from home freshman year, leaving me two – now three – dogs behind. So I ran with the suggestion, and after forcing him to promise he’d help take care of the hedgehog, I found a breeder and put a deposit down on a boy, born Dec. 6.
I spent hours reading forums about hedgehog care and behavior before I picked him up, so I was prepared for him to be grumpy and anti-social. I hoped, of course, that he’d be snuggly and friendly, but I knew there was a (big) possibility that he wouldn’t be.
The car ride home from the breeder was difficult – Henry doesn’t particularly like the car, and I was scared even to hold him at first. The night before I picked him up I had worried constantly: What if I dropped him? What if he didn’t like me? What if I didn’t like him? (I worry about everything.)
One of my friends watched Henry while I set up his home, and by the time I sat down to hang out with him, it was obvious how friendly and curious he was. He ran all over his blanket and back and forth through the tube we had bought for him. He crawled up our arms and over our legs, and he sniffed at everything.
I brought him home from the breeder at six weeks old, and he’s ten weeks old now. It doesn’t seem like much, but he’s grown a lot since then – to the point where I already need to find him a bigger igloo to sleep under. The boy says he knows he’s getting bigger because his poop is bigger.
Because he’s growing and getting older though, he has started quilling. Quilling is the hedgehog equivalent of teething, and it usually starts around eight weeks – right around Henry’s age. Essentially, he’s losing his baby quills, and new ones are coming in. It’s uncomfortable (would you want spines growing out of your back?), and because of it, he’s been pretty grumpy. He balls up when we go to pick him up, and it seems like he’s always furrowing his brow at us, hiding his face. He especially doesn’t like it when you touch his quills, which, of course, the boy insists on doing. Once he’s stopped quilling, he’ll be friendlier again, but until then, I’m just trying not to get pricked.
I’m obsessed with him though. When someone asks about him, I whip out my phone and show them my background: a picture of Henry after his first bath. It doesn’t stop there though. I have 127 pictures of him on my phone, not including videos, and I want everyone to see them all. After flipping through the endless pictures of him drinking, eating and playing, I’ll turn to videos, so you can see him take his first bath, rock back and forth in his tube and get his head stuck in paper towel rolls.