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Old 11-09-2018, 12:09 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Wondering about surprising a friend...

Soooooo I'm thinking about surprising a friend of mine with a pet hedgehog, either around Christmas time or a bit after. Now before anybody Jumps Out of the Shadows to Dramatically Challenge My Narrow Perspective, let me say a few things:
  1. My query isn't "I'm doing it; how should I do it?" It's "what do I need to know to determine whether I should do it?"
  2. My friend is not a child. They are an intelligent, compassionate adult, with a steady job in which they are thriving. They also know how much care needs to go into owning any kind of pet. There is no doubt in my mind that they would be a good hog parent, provided the external circumstances allow it. <- this is mainly what I want to ask about.
  3. I also know that they love hedgehogs. I'm not about to get anybody an animal that they are indifferent to.
  4. I am not allowing the circumstances to get such that there is not enough money to cover everything. If I'm not 100% sure I can make it happen in that area, I will not follow through with this.
  5. There is at least one breeder in their area. I would love to say who it is in order to get some more opinions, but I don't want to reveal anything publicly on the off chance that my friend reads these forums too. If you want to know who it is, PM me and I'll tell you.
    5a. The breeder is open and honest about not having that many hogs available, and having a wait list. I won't rush anything; I have no problem with the surprise being "your name is on the wait list and everything you need is paid for" instead of "hey now you have this animal you didn't ask for that you have to take care of or rehome." In fact, I would prefer the former. That gives them time to adjust and adapt and possibly cancel if it doesn't work out.
  6. There is at least one exotic pet clinic in their area, in a central enough location in the city. No idea what their prices are though.

With all that in mind, here is my Incomplete List of Things I Need to Find Out About My Friend:
  • Does their landlord allow pets? (ABSOLUTELY a deal breaker, just in case that doesn't go without saying)
  • If so, do they have any other pets?
  • How long/how often are they home?
  • How long are they planning to remain in their city? (I don't want it to be a hassle if they have to move somewhere where hedgehogs are illegal.)
  • How much would it affect them if some costly emergency came up? (talking about vet bills of course, but I could frame it more generally. I could also factor in some padding in the initial budget on my end - again, without which I am not following through with this.)

And here is my Incomplete List of Things I Need to Find Out From Others:
  • Are there good hedgehog foods available in their city? (This is something I could ask the breeder about, but I don't want to approach them until I have a better grasp on my friend's situation. Just so I don't waste anybody's time.)
  • What is the necessary budget, both for initial purchase and sustained monthly costs? (also a question for the breeder; see above.)
  • Are there sitters in their city? (This may be something I need to find out myself; their city is big enough, and seemingly accommodates hedgehogs well enough, that I imagine there should be at least a few, but again - I don't want to post the location publicly on the off chance that my friend reads this.)

If any of you could help complete those lists, that would be immensely appreciated.

Last edited by Vogon; 11-09-2018 at 12:11 PM. Reason: adding one point
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Old 11-09-2018, 12:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Just because I can't find the edit button right now, I'd like to add: I know most surprise pets don't work out well. But there must be some out there that do, and I imagine they do because better care and patience is taken, and the risk associated with it is fully understood. So that's the approach I'm trying to take.

If the circumstances are not exactly right for this, I will not do it.
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Old 11-09-2018, 12:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Personally I don't think anyone should ever be given a surprise pet. If you want to get one for your friend then I would openly talk to them about it and make sure they want a pet and are ready for the commitment.
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:35 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Aside from hedgehogs being expensive, they are a lot of work. I have 2 and when I get home from my teaching job, I'm exhausted but I can't just sit down and rest. I have to clean their cages, wheels, change their water, make their dinner, and then pull them out separately for bonding time. During bonding time, I may need to bathe them, trim their nails, give them medicine (one has a problem with his ears right now and the other is getting antibiotics for a cold), weigh them, and I have to inspect their hands, feet, and genitals. All of this takes over 2 hours. When my hedgehog was really sick with a cold, I had to syringe feed him and wake up every 2 hours in the night to do so. I thought he was going to die and I was so stressed and sad that I could barely function at work. So yeah, aside from finances, consider the emotional and time burdens that you would be placing on your friend without them asking. A hedgehog isn't like a hamster or a mouse; they are exotic pets and require much more specialized care.
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Old 11-09-2018, 01:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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As for your budget question, I've spent almost $1000 since getting my 2 hedgies. Cages, customized fleece liners, food and water dishes, ceramic heat emitters, thermometers, tunnels, wheels, hides, snuggle sacks, and then the food itself. Right now I have purchased 4 different foods because I was trying to find the healthiest option that they will eat (one had very healthy ingredients but the bits were too hard). Also vet visits (both got preventative mite treatments). My eldest boy has been to the vet once and my younger boy has been 4 times. We have to go again tomorrow. I had no problems with my first boy, so I got a 2nd one and I've had nothing but problems with him unfortunately.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:55 PM   #6 (permalink)
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So I have a very personal view on this. My own hedge was a gift pet. Yes I enjoyed looking at them online and even thought about getting one. But on my own terms with much much more preparation would have been best. My own girl is now a bit over 4, quite old. And I've had her about 4 years. In that time she has had 2 surgeries. One being an emergency hysterectomy costing me over $1200 from diagnosis to recovery. Day to day she's not too much work or money. I honestly only kept her because rehoming a hedgehog to a responsible adult who can complete the day to day care can be impossible. I know 2 young people who rehomed theirs and I couldn't bear the thought of this little girl not getting the care she deserves. (They seem popular with college kids in my city, but not actually cared for). Going on a vacation would be impossible if I hadn't taught my mom the basics. However when she watches my girl, there is no outside the cage time. Dogs and cats, of which I have one of each. Can both be problematic, in that they can attack or feel threatened by a hog. Mine don't care. But they stress my hog out, so I must lock them away for her to have free time. My children also constantly annoy her simply by existing and making noise. I dont have them touch her much because of salmonella. Please think twice. This is a HUGE responsibility.
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Last edited by Sandwich's Mommy; 11-14-2018 at 10:58 PM.
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Old 11-15-2018, 02:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
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You cant get sallmonella from pygmy hedgehogs. Wild ones maybe, but not your own pet.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:13 PM   #8 (permalink)
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You can get salmonella from African pygmy hedgehogs. There are verified cases. They carry it in their feces, and while it is rare to contract it when practicing proper handwashing, it is possible. Please reference many sources as well as our own admins, senior members and verified breeders. It is not recommended that those who are immune compromised or unsupervised children handle hedgehogs.
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Old 11-15-2018, 11:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Let's remember to keep the thread on topic please.



As for the issue at hand, it ranges from bothersome to downright rude to surprise someone with a pet. The exception of course being a parent surprising their child with a pet that they child had been wanting. My first hedgehog was a gift from a friend, but she was a gift that was discussed at length beforehand. And the offer was only made once I had made the decision to actually pursue getting a hedgehog.


So I'll agree with what others have said. If this is something you want to do, take the surprise out and discuss this with your friend. You may discover that this is actually the worst possible time for them to take on this type of responsibility, but they'll likely appreciate that you were willing. Or maybe this is the best time. You won't know until you ask.
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Old 11-16-2018, 01:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I just reread your post and did want answer some questions you posed about cost. Because hedgehogs are a prickly customer and often wont unroll at a vet, many vets use what is called an induction tank. This is a mild anesthesia which allows the vet to safely examine the hog and complete other tasks, like blood work, xrays, ultrasounds ect, which might otherwise stress the hog out or they wont cooperate with. At my vets office this is $100 USD, because it is usually used at each visit because my girl is very uncooperative with strangers, I always assume my vet bill will be at minimum $100, additional items like a problem visit, blood work ect can cost a lot more. As I said above 1 of her surgeries cost $1200 from visit 1 until recovery. Not to mention 4 weeks of syringe feeding food and 4 different medications every 6 hours.

I also noticed you had a list of things you said you didn't actually know about your friend, if you feel comfortable enough to gift them an animal but do not even know if they already have pets or what their general living situation is. You may want to surprise them by presenting the idea of you purchasing the hog and all the care. My hog was a gift was from someone I was living with, so some of the responsibilities could fall on them in theory.
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