Deciding to own a hedgehog was not simple task for us, we needed to be sure we had looked at the costs just to make sure we didn’t end up with an expensive pet we could ill afford. I sat down with my daughter and we worked out the different things we would need and how much they would cost.
So, how much do hedgehogs cost monthly? On average the monthly costs for keeping a hedgehog as a pet are around $33.44. This monthly cost can be broken down into $10.50 for food, $10 for disposable bedding costs, $1.28 for heating costs and $11.66 for veterinarian costs.
The feeding cost is based on feeding the hedgehog dry cat biscuits, mealworms, fruit, vegetables, cooked chicken and scrambled eggs. Some of these foods can last several months, so the cost has been broken down and approximated as a monthly cost.
The veterinarian cost is based on splitting the annual check up costs and the twice yearly nail clipping costs across twelve months. Some owners elect to clip their hedgehogs nails themselves with others also deciding on not undergoing the annual check up for their hedgehog.
The disposable bedding used in the calculation is the paper based pellets, the monthly costs for other types of bedding including reusable fabric based bedding and using wood shavings as bedding are discussed later in the monthly hedgehog bedding costs section.
Heating costs are based on using a heat mat pad which uses approximately 25 watts of electricity per hour and is run for 12 hours a day. Using alternative heating sources like ceramic heat emitters (CHE) more commonly known as heat lamps are discussed in the monthly hedgehog heating costs section.
Is a hedgehog high maintenance?
A hedgehog is not a high maintenance pet with the monthly ongoing costs being on average $33.44 including their feeding, heating, bedding and veterinarian costs. These monthly costs are lower than keeping a common pet like a cat or a dog.
Even though hedgehogs are considered exotic pets as they are somewhat unusual to what people commonly buy, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are high maintenance. They don’t have a special diet requiring expensive food and can instead eat dry cat biscuits, lean meats and certain fruits and vegetables. Even the insects they eat in moderation like mealworms are very cheap to buy and a box of mealworms can last several months, depending on how it’s looked after.
I’m going to look at the detailed maintenance costs for hedgehog based on the monthly costs for food, heating, bedding and veterinarian costs.
Monthly Hedgehog Feeding Costs
As hedgehogs aren’t large animals especially the hedgehogs kept as pets, their nutrition costs are must lower than other pets, especially cats and dogs. This makes hedgehogs a very cost effective pet to keep when it comes to feeding them.
Dry cat biscuits will make up the largest proportion of the hedgehogs monthly costs when it comes to feeding them. As these are the mainstay of their diet and a 3.5lb (1.5kg) bag of dry cat biscuits should easily last for 3 months.
As long as the dry cat biscuits are kept in dry conditions, their chances of being spoilt and going off are limited. Hedgehogs will quickly know when dry cat biscuits have gone moist or stale and might not eat them, leading to having to throw these biscuits away.
Hedgehogs might not eat all of the dry cat biscuits given to them, as it’s quite easy to get the biscuits contaminated with urine and poop. It’s quite easy to knock the biscuits out of the feeding bowl onto the floor, more so when they’ve come off their exercise wheel and are pumped up and boisterous.
Our hedgehog is quite voracious when he eats and a lot of the dry cat biscuit pieces end up on the bedding as he chomps away, breaking the hard biscuits into manageable pieces to eat. I’d estimate about 30% of the dry cat biscuits end up being wasted and need to be thrown away when the cage is cleaned twice weekly.
I’ve created a rough guide to the typical feeding costs for a hedgehog in table 1 below:
|Food Type||Product Cost||Yearly Cost||Monthly|
|Dry Cat Biscuits||$20.00||$80.00||$6.67|
|Fruit & Vegetables||N/A||$12.00||$1.00|
|Cooked Chicken Scrambled Eggs||N/A||$24.00||$2.00|
Fruit and vegetables are an important part of a hedgehogs diet, but they don’t need to eat large amounts of fruit or vegetables. We usually give our hedgehog any fruit or vegetables we’re eating that day. This is why I’ve omitted a product cost in the table above, as I don’t go out buying fruit and vegetables specifically for our hedgehog, instead I feed him a tiny piece of what fruit and vegetables we have for the family that he can safely eat.
I’ll cut a tiny piece of banana, apple, blueberries, strawberries to cooked broccoli and cooked spinach for our hedgehog to eat when he wakes up. Making sure any cooked broccoli or spinach had sufficiently cooled down before serving and doesn’t contain any oils, butters or seasoning.
Live mealworms can last several months, as long as they are kept in suitable conditions and you regularly add slices of food like potatoes for the mealworms to feed on. Keeping the temperature where mealworms are stored cool is vitally important as they could easily transform and turn into beetles, as mealworms are the larvae of mostly darkling beetles.
As many hedgehog owners will usually give their pet food they are cooking, foods that hedgehogs can eat safely, the monthly cost of doing this becomes negligible. We usually have cooked chicken about two to three times a month and cut a small piece out for our hedgehog. If we didn’t have a hedgehog, the amount of chicken we do give to our hedgehog would normally be thrown away.
The cooked chicken is given to our hedgehog over the course of a few days, as we can put it in the refrigerator to keep it fresh and edible. Without the cooked chicken becoming too dangerous for our hedgehog to eat, as sometimes cooked foods especially meats can pick up additional bacteria, making them potentially harmful to eat. But we ensure any cooked food we serve is only kept for the same time it would be kept if it was going to be for human consumption.
With scrambled eggs, I tend to cut a small piece off every time I have scrambled eggs, making sure I cook the eggs in the microwave without any butters, oils or seasoning. Allowing the scrambled eggs to be perfectly safe for our hedgehog to eat.
Monthly Hedgehog Heating Costs
During the colder months it’s important to keep pet hedgehogs warm as to avoid them going into hibernation, which can end up being fatal. As pet hedgehogs simply don’t have enough body fat for successful hibernation and end up starving to death.
Heating can come from heat mat pads to heat lamps (ceramic heat emitters) and both these generally use very small amounts of electricity, even though they can be on all the time, especially at night when it’s colder.
I’ve estimated the heating costs for a typical heat mat pad that uses 25 watts of power per hour with a ceramic heat emitter (CHE) which is a heat lamp using around 50 watts with some using 70 to 100 watts per hour.
Taking the electricity cost at around 14 cents per kilowatt hour (US) the following table gives us an indication of the running costs per hour, per month and per year. The yearly and monthly running costs are based on 12 hours use per day, as it’s assumed heating from the environment like central heating will keep the cage warm during the daytime.
|Heating Option||Power Used in KWs||Cost per hour||Cost per month||Cost per year|
|Heat Mat Pad (25 watts)||0.025||$0.0035||$1.28||$15.33|
|Heat Lamp (50 watts)||0.050||$0.007||$2.56||$30.66|
|Heat Lamp (70 watts)||0.070||$0.0098||$3.58||$42.92|
|Heat Lamp (100 watts)||0.1||$0.014||$5.11||$61.32|
The heating costs per month will be a lot lower when the seasons are warmer as the heating won’t come on in the cage, especially if it’s controlled by a thermostat. As the minimum temperature the heating would normally come on, will in all likelihood already exist within the environment the hedgehog cage is kept.
Even with this mind, the running costs for heating per month are still quite low especially for heat mat pads, which cost around $1.28 as shown in the calculation in the table above.
Monthly Hedgehog Bedding Costs
All hedgehogs need some form of bedding in their cages not only to make cages easier to clean by easily swapping out bedding or replacing with disposable bedding. But also because bedding protects the hedgehog from the cold cage floor and aids heat retention to some extent in the cage.
We don’t use disposable bedding like wood chips or paper based pellets, instead relying on the replacing fabric based bedding twice a week with newly cleaned fabric based bedding. So, whilst we only have a single purchase cost, at the time we bought the bedding, there is a continual cleaning cost involved using a washing machine, detergent and then a drier to dry out the bedding when it can’t be done outside due to the weather.
|Bedding Type||Single Cost||Monthly||Yearly|
|Fabric (separate wash)||$40.00||$4.32||$51.87|
|Fabric (shared wash)||$40.00||$0.86||$10.37|
The assumptions used for the calculations for the fabric bedding in the table above, consider the cost of each wash being $1.00 based on $0.20 for detergent, $0.03 for water, $0.49 for electricity for the washing machine and $0.28 in electricity for the dryer.
I’ve also shown bedding washed separately from any of the families clothes in the ‘Fabric (separate wash)’ row, as we tend to do this on hygienic grounds, as there can be considerable poop and urine stains in the bedding. We also do wash the heat mat pad cover and some other fabric based items we bought for our hedgehog at the same time as the bedding is washed.
You can opt to do a shared wash by washing the hedgehog’s fabric based items with the families wash and I have included this as ‘Fabric (shared wash) in the table. I’ve apportioned the cost as 20% of the overall cost of the wash when the items are washed separately from the family wash.
I’ve assumed for the paper pellet based disposable bedding and disposable wood shaving based bedding, a typical pack lasts for three months based on the size of the disposable bedding package. I’ve selected a larger size just to make sure it’s reflective of real world situations.
Monthly Hedgehog Veterinarian Costs
Hedgehogs can become ill or get afflicted by diseases and these will require medical attention from a suitably qualified veterinarian. If medication is required to treat an illness, this can be expensive especially if it’s ongoing medication like painkillers to relieve the pain of a terminal illness like a tumor or cancer.
We only use the service of the veterinarian for an annual checkup and a six monthly nail clipping session, as we’ve never enjoyed the thought of trimming our hedgehog nails ourselves. This isn’t too expensive as it’s only one the assistants in the practice doing this.
The yearly check up just to make sure our hedgehog is doing fine we believe is important and the cost for this at our vets is quite expensive. Which is understandable, as your paying for the opinions of a highly experienced animal doctor.
Veterinarian care can be substantially cheaper, but you need to make sure the specialist knows about exotic animals like hedgehogs as treating hedgehogs isn’t really in the same league as treating traditional pets like cats and dogs.
In the table below I’ve tried to break this cost down as a monthly figure by spreading the costs accrued over the year as monthly cost.
|Vet Service||Cost||Yearly Cost||Monthly Cost|
Some owners may feel like clipping their own hedgehogs nails saves on the veterinarian assistants costs and might also forgo the annual check up as they believe it’s not really needed. This is all personal choice and people need to decide what’s good for their hedgehog as well as what’s good for them.
How expensive is owning a hedgehog?
It is not expensive owning a hedgehog with the initial costs around $350 to buy a hedgehog and another $250 for a cage, exercise wheel, hiding house, heat mat pad, thermostat with thermometer, sleeping pouch, feeding bowl and drinking bowl. Bringing a total initial cost to $615, with an ongoing monthly cost of $33.44 for food, disposable bedding, heating and veterinarian costs.
The initial costs for buying a hedgehog and the associated items like a cage, exercise wheel to feeding and drinking bowls is expensive when compared to other small pets like hamsters. But hedgehogs are larger and need more space, so the cage required for a hedgehog needs to be larger and this comes at a premium price.
Heating equipment like thermostatically controlled heat mat pads and heat lamps (CHE) are required to protect the hedgehog from going into hibernation and this type of equipment might not necessarily be required for other smaller pets.
Hedgehogs will also eat more food as they are larger, so their monthly feeding costs are higher compared to other smaller pets. Dry cat biscuits are reasonably priced, and hedgehogs can normally get through a couple of pounds of these biscuits over a period of three months.
Hedgehog Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
I’ve decided to see if I can calculate the total cost of keeping a hedgehog over their lifetime. I’ve based this on the worst case scenario where a hedgehog only lives to 3 years of age and also looked at ages up to a rather optimistic age of 8 years old.
At 3 years old it’s fairly common the hedgehog may end up with cancers and tumors leading to a terminal prognosis as the only outcome. That being said, some hedgehogs do live longer as they avoid these terminal diseases and are generally well looked after by their owners.
To work out the total cost of ownership, firstly, I worked out the actual costs to buy the hedgehog (check out my article on the cost of buying a hedgehog for more details), get a cage and cage items, this outlay cost is shown in the table 5 below.
|Cage||$90||Amazon Basic Cage|
|Heat Mat Pad||$35||K & H Pet Products|
|Thermostat & Thermometer||$35||Inkbird Thermometer|
|Food/Drink Bowls||$15||Rosewood Ceramic Bowl|
|Igloo House||$30||Kaytee Igloo House|
|Wheel||440||Kaytee Comfort Wheel|
|Pouch||$20||Dochi Pet Snuggle Sack|
Next, I looked at how much per month this actual cost in purchasing the hedgehog and the items like the cage to running wheel would equate per month, depending on the hedgehogs age. This outlay cost is broken down into monthly costs and the longer the hedgehog lives, the lower this cost.
I’ve not considered what would happen when the hedgehog eventually dies as most owners sell the hedgehog items like the cage, running wheels to the igloo house and get some of their outlay back. Some owners may elect to buy another hedgehog, leading to only the cost of the hedgehog as the outlay cost.
The table below assumes the owner is using paper based pellet bedding.
As you can see, I looked at the average age hedgehogs tend to live till and then also at the ages from 4 to 8. With the ages above 5 being optimistic for most hedgehogs but you never know, hedgehogs can be surprising creatures.
I’ve also increased the veterinarian cost by 20% per year after the age of 5 just to make the calculation more reflective of old age and potential illnesses. This is still quite conservative as some illnesses especially terminal ones can be quite expensive as pain medication is not cheap, along with biopsies and surgery to remove tumors and cancers.
The table below assumes the owner is using wood based shavings as bedding.
I also looked at the costs if fabric based bedding is used instead of the disposable paper based pellets and the wood shavings. I’ve included a 10% increase in monthly costs from year 4 as fabric based bedding will undoubtedly wear out and need replacing.
As we use fabric based bedding, I can see from the table above our total cost of ownership monthly costs to keep our hedgehog are $43.45 up to the age of 3 years old. This isn’t too expensive especially considering the amount of joy we as a family get from keeping a hedgehog.
How much does a hedgehog cost yearly?
Hedgehogs cost from $333 to $401 a year which includes their food cost, heating, veterinarian costs and bedding costs. Using reusable fabric bedding brings the total cost to $333, whilst wood shaving based bedding increases the yearly cost to $361, with paper based disposable bedding pushing up the total yearly cost to $401.
The total yearly costs in the row ‘Yearly Cost (No outlay)’ using fabric based bedding are shown in table 9 below, with the yearly cost shown including the broken down monthly running cost of using fabric bedding (cleaning costs), food, heating and veterinarian costs against the age of the hedgehog. With the monthly veterinarian costs rising each year, as the hedgehog gets older.
The ‘Yearly Cost’ column also includes the running cost of the initial outlay spent on buying the hedgehog, the cage and the key items like exercise wheels, housing and heating. This cost has been broken down into a monthly figure, which falls as the hedgehog gets older.
|Total Montly Cost||$44.84||$41.00||$38.92||$40.06||$42.22||$45.29|
|Yearly Cost (No outlay)||$333.12||$338.30||$344.01||$378.24||$418.74||$466.65|
The total yearly costs using wood shaving based bedding are shown in table 10 below:
|Total Montly Cost||$47.19||$42.92||$40.36||$40.98||$42.56||$45.01|
|Yearly Cost (No outlay)||$361.32||$361.32||$361.32||$389.28||$422.88||$463.20|
The total yearly costs using disposable paper based bedding are shown in table 11 below:
|Total Montly Cost||$50.52||$46.25||$43.69||$44.31||$45.89||$48.34|
|Yearly Cost (No outlay)||$401.28||$401.28||$401.28||$429.24||$462.84||$503.16|
Hedgehogs living to to beyond the average of 3 years as a pets see their yearly costs decrease when the outlay costs are considered but their yearly costs when this is not considered do show an increase year on year. As the costs of medical care generally increases as hedgehogs can end up with illnesses that require the attention of a specialist like a veterinarian and the medicine isn’t cheap.
Why are hedgehogs so expensive?
Hedgehogs are expensive when compared to other comparable small pets like gerbils, hamsters to chinchillas. This is because hedgehogs generally come from specialist breeders and not from general pet stores and are considered exotic pets.
It’s difficult to find a general pet store where hedgehogs are sold, leaving the options to buying a hedgehog to either an independent pet store that specializes in exotic pets or dealing with a hedgehog breeder.
Good breeders will charge more for the hedgehogs they sell, as they are more likely to be licensed, depending on the jurisdiction and probably more considerate when it comes to breeding hedgehogs.
There will undoubtedly be cheaper breeders, but these could be unlicensed and operating illegally as well as having poor breeding practice, that put the hedgehog mothers under undue stress. There may also be a higher likelihood of genetic defects with any hedgehogs bought from cheap and cheerful breeders, potentially leading to a higher likelihood of serious diseases like diabetes, tumors and cancers.
It always make sense to carefully research where to buy a hedgehog from as choosing a renowned breeder with a good reputation might be more costly but will also mean in all likelihood the hedgehog is healthy.