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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just give this story a look before you or anyone you know buys a hedgehog on a whim from your "friendly" neighborhood pet store.

September 2007

I had been dying to a pet to keep in my dorm room. I was lonely, with not many friends on campus, and I thought getting a pet would solve my problems. While browsing a Facebook group, I saw some pictures of a hedgehog. I started looking them up, read a book (looked at the pictures) about them in the library, and browsed C&Q lightly. That weekend, I was home and thought, "Oh, I could get a hedgehog this weekend and bring it back to school for Monday."

I ended up going to the pet shop and looked at three hogs. They all were housed together. Two males and a female. They had no igloo and their wheel was one of those mesh yellow ones that is just a deathtrap waiting to happen. The girl picked one up with THICK leather gloves. It started clicking like crazy. I knew I was going to be getting a more aggressive hedge because I couldn't be bothered to wait for an available breeder. Finally, she pulled out the smallest and it hissed but eventually unrolled when I held it. Obviously, I was totally in love and had to buy it. I bought a cage with only 2.5 square feet total. Plastic bowls. All of the rookie mistakes you hear about, I made. I did, however, manage to remember the right food and bedding, so it wasn't a total disaster.

When I got the hedgehog home. I realized I had bought the female. It never even entered my mind that she could have been pregnant. Thankfully she wasn't, but she had been nipped at a lot which was evident by some small wounds. From the moment she got to my house she was huffy constantly. She bit me all the time, even at the cleanest of hands. She stayed rolled up and hissy whenever anyone was around. In general, she had the temperament of a neglected adult. It was extremely distressing.

October 2007

A month later I contacted the pet store to ask about her lineage because I was concerned about WHS. They told me they could not release that information. I told them I simply wanted to contact their distributor to see the likelihood that WHS was in her bloodline. I wasn't out to cause trouble, I just wanted to know. They sent me a series of aggressive messages telling me I had no right to know where my animal came from. To this day I have no idea if my lovely Truffles is from a bad bloodline. I also know it is ridiculous that I even tried to find out. Pet stores are like that, I just didn't know.

2007-2008

Now, for a year and a half Truffles made no improvement with her attitude. She have never had a health problem, eats like a pig, maintains a healthy weight, never tried to hibernate. Really, she has caused me no trouble in nearly two years. Except no matter what I did I couldn't get her to lose that bratty behavior. When I switched her to liners, thinking she might be nicer, she actually started to bite more. I tried all kinds of things during this time and I was getting very upset that she was so aggressive every night. The sad thing was that I was in the Netherlands for a short time, and I got to work with wild European hedgehogs while volunteering. I had more success socializing a wild animal over four weeks than I did with my own pet in a year.

You have to know, I have read every thread on this forum and on C&H. I really tried to make up for the rushed way I got into owning a hedgehog. So much could have gone wrong for me during this whole experience, I'm fortunate that it didn't. Looking back on all of this, it's crazy how many wrong/bad turns her health could have taken due to my not knowing how to properly care for her. Can you imagine if she had been pregnant? What if she had some medical problem I didn't even know how to recognize. And the thing is, I paid just as much as I would have from my local breeder. Also, as of today, it has been two weeks since Truffles huffed at me. From September 2007 to February 2009 she had the worst temperament, the kind I only read about for rehomes or rescues. Keep in mind, I was doing everything possible to better her standard of living the entire time.

I know this was lengthy, but I can't stress enough that while it may be tempting to just rush out and buy a hedgehog because they are new and exotic (and freaking adorable); don't do it. Spend some time and do the research, get a home/cage set up ahead of time. Buy an adequate method of heating your hog. Buy from a registered breeder who can walk you through the process and help you if you have questions. While I have had an extreme amount of luck (and three times as much patience), you may not. Each hedgehog is an individual and it is possible to get nice hedgies from pet stores and grumpy ones from breeders.

What you can control is buying from someone who can tell you your hedgehog's lineage, being well informed, and being sure that a hedgehog is the right pet for you for the next 4-8 years, not just this week.

Edit: I realize some people's only option is a pet store. I'm not saying "shame on you." I'm just sharing my experience so that if someone does have the choice of going to a breeder, maybe they will choose that instead of rushing into a pet store hog.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I thought it would be good to add Ana's story (with her permission of course) about Eva.
As it stands right now, Eva has gained about 100g and is being carefully watched in case she does go into labor.

Amy, I just read your story about the pet store thing... While my experience wasn't nearly as bad, it is the reason for all this concern about pregnancy. I too bought our hedgie from a pet store, where she was (of-freakin'-course) housed with at least 1, if not 2 males. (There were 2 in with her, one of which was too clicky and poppy for anyone to pick up and check.) They didn't use gloves, but that's still not saying much... Soon as we got her back home (from Plano, TX to Memphis, TN), we ended up having to take her to the vet because of a big lump on her cheek - turned out it was a big scab from where she had been attacked by another hedgie. :(

It really is sad that, even the (supposedly) most reputable stores, still don't always take care of their animals the way they should. :cry:

I would like to know the lineage of my little girl as well, especially if she ends up actually being pregnant... Considering how they blew me off when I emailed their staff about her injuries, I highly doubt they'd be willing to give me background info though. If she does have babies - or, worse yet, complications from them - you can be assured I will be contacting the pet store, the USDA, even the local news stations down there if I have to. :x

At the time, I had done some research on and off for a while, but hadn't yet checked out any forums - just static pages... My bf and I had been talking about getting a hedgie for a while. (He was actually looking for one for me at the same time as I was looking for one for him. :lol: )

I couldn't find any breeders near us though and, since we were in TX for a week, I decided to look around there...

Knowing what I know now, I hate that I ever supported a pet store... would I have done differently? Yes, I would have found a breeder and just made the drive. Do I regret buying her? Only in that I regret supporting a store like that...

While I, and most of my friends/family, know better than to support pet stores, it hasn't always stopped us from "rescuing" animals from poor conditions because we feel for that particular animal, forgetting that it only helps these stores to continue operating the way they do... Sad, but true... I'm glad we got Eva, because she needed a good home that would take care of her (and her babies, should she be pregnant). I will never support another store like that again though... as I've vowed not to even look at animals in pet stores from here on out. Luckily, we buy most of our food from a pet supply store that doesn't sell any actual pets. (Sadly, I do have to go to petsmart for mealies though. :| )
Thank you again to Ana.
 

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Anytime!

I do want to urge people to avoid pet stores... and not just females from pet stores. This is the response I got when I emailed them about the scab on Eva's face...

Annie-

Thanks for the feedback. I'm sorry the injury wasn't noticed before you took her home. We hope your new little critter heals quickly.

I can assure you our animals welfare is extremely important to us. We are a USDA inspected facility and received high praise on our last surprise visit (Particularly cleanliness and size of our enclosures). Thanks again for the feedback, we are constantly re-evaluating our animal housing and will review our hedgehogs again.

Sincerely,

Chip Beitel
Owner - Plano Pets
972-527-PUPS (7877)
www.planopets.net
That's it, "we're sorry, but we have a great reputation..." :roll: I felt so blown off...

They had 3 hedgies in a little glass aquarium with "Great first time pet!" scrawled across the front... no wheel, and all being fed "pretty pets hedgehog food." :roll:
 

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I was thinking about this thread today as well as something I read on the Plano Pets website, and it made me think of an absolutely gut wrenching scenario... and just another thing I would worry about when it comes to pet stores...

Their website says:
Do you have small animal babies?

We are always looking for locally bred pets. We support other hobbiests like us that share our love for these interesting creatures. If you have or are expecting babies, please contact our staff.
Now, imagine... They're housing all their hedgehogs together, so the chances that someone takes home a pregnant female is much higher than it ever should be... Say that person's hedgehog IS pregnant and does have babies - then the pet store offers to buy the babies to save this person the trouble of finding homes for them... Not only would they be promoting an endless, vicious circle of inbreeding - but they'd also basically be using their clientele (and very hazardously so) to foster these animals and take on the stress and expense of having a litter.

Mind you, I'm not saying that this is actually happening with them or any other pet store (talk about extreme negligence and reckless endangerment of these animals!) and I doubt we'll ever have any way of really knowing if it is or isn't... and maybe, if it is, it isn't to the store's knowledge... Who knows... but it's certainly something that could happen in theory. While I would expect that even most hobby breeders out there would be more cautious than to sell to a pet store, especially if they knew the conditions in which these animals would be living, you never can really know...

Basically, I'm just saying that if a pet store is keeping mixed sexes together AND doesn't want to give background information, you have no idea how much inbreeding could be in that hedgehog's background - or if the hedgehog was even bred by someone with any experience whatsoever vs. some random person that happened to buy a pregnant female and then just happened to have an accidental litter that lived.

:cry:
 

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I did purchase Sugar for a pet store. One that sells types of exotic pets, fish, etc. She was about 10 wks old when I got her. It just so happened I was looking for a breeder on the internet when I came across a guys name and number, etc. I called him and he seemed quite surprised at how I got his number. I told him what I had done. He asked if I was a pet shop owner. He then told me that he does not sell to individuals but only sells to shops. I asked him a little bit about his hedgies but not too much because I was not sure what to ask! Anyway, he told me where he sells his hedgies to and I went there to take a look. There were 3 of them. 1 albino and 2 salt/pepper types. The lady that sold it to me has 2 hedgies of her own and gave me a lot of info about them. She gave me a book about African hedgehogs and a "just big enough" cage and comfort wheel as well. Now, this was 6 weeks ago and so far so good. She has outgrown her cage and wheel and I have since replaced with a flying saucer and made a C & C cage. She uses liners and absolutely loves her new cage of 3 days.
I guess my point is that there are good hedge hogs out there at shops and would hate to think of my little Sugar being left there.
 

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I dont think anyone is saying the animal is lesser because it came from a pet shop. But the more that people patronize them for pets, the more pets they are going to try to sell...this is usually bad for the animals because the owners/employees are usually not very knowlegdeable about the animals that they sell.. That is the main reason i dont go to a pet shop to buy animals, i dont want to further facilitate them mistreating more animals.
 

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I'll have to add cloud's story to this :)

i bought cloud in August of '08 from a petstore called roy's aquarium. there was a male and a female housed together and the only reason we didnt get the female was because she bit my boyfriend-at-the-time, so we picked out the male instead. I did this to save a few bucks instead of buying from a breeder. little did i know what i was getting myself into.

as far as temperment goes Cloud is the sweetest boy. he never balls up, never huffs, is very explorative and tolerates being held. he will only bite in times of extreme distress, which are very rare.

Health wise however cloud is a mess. I bought the poor boy for $75 and so far have spent over $500 in vet bills. Cloud was missing one of his large front teeth. Cloud came with horrible horrible mites (sarcoptic mange) that would just not go away. we are still battling them 6 months later. Cloud also came with ringworm, and passed it onto me. Cloud had 3 large ingrown quill cysts on his sides which only popped after an intense round of antibiotics. after this last vet visit the vet discovered that his right hind leg lymph node is severly inflamed. the left hind leg and right front leg lymph nodes are also swollen but not as noticable. Cloud is now on more antibiotcs for that.
so currently Cloud is on topical ivermectin for the mites, 2 shampoos for the ringworm, 1 topical lotion for the ring worm, i probiotc for the lymph nodes and 1 antibiotic for the lymph nodes. I have to change his liners every day to insure the mites will stay away.

I went back to the pet store after the first vet visit and after 10 minutes of arguing with the owner in front of customers he refunded me the money for Cloud and told me to never come back (this is after he asked for cloud back and i said "no, you'll just kill him", lol)


Although Cloud is eating into my savings horribly and i'll be living off of ramen pretty soon i wouldnt give him up for the world. although he has so many health problems i got very very lucky temperment wise :) buy from a breeder... always!
 

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I got my first hedgies bella and eddy from breeders but a couple of days ago I went into my local pet store to get mealworms and I saw that the lady had a small albine hedgie is a 10 gallon fish tank with bark bedding like you would use for a lizzard or somthing so i went over to check on iher she was balled up and freezing also realy dirty..I told the lady thast i was not leaving her under her care and she could sell her cheap to me or I would call the aspca well she gave in and now I have 6-7 month old anna but is is so under weight i spent $400 on the emergency vet and will spend more im shure Oh and i called the aspca anyways they are waching her every move now! Please buy from a breeder unless you think you have the time and lots of money to SAVE one from a pet store.
 

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zoologist said:
as much as you think you saved that poor hedgehog you just made it worse for other hedgehogs. By buying that one she will see that there is a market for them and there is a demand. she will get more hedgehogs to ease the demand, and then those ones will be stuck in the crummy tank :(
Did you not read the part where I reported her to the aspca she did not have a licence to sell exotics and was fined and being watched. So not only did I SAVE her but I saved Others from Being in her care. this forum has no room for your rude remarks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Aleshea- Please do not be so rude yourself. While you may have done a good thing, most of the time buying with the intention to "save" an animal does not pan out as you might hope. Zoologist made that comment because you didn't mention the fine the pet store incurred because of your call. Your first post sounded as if you bought the animal then made a phone call. It never said anyone took any action. SO-
this forum has no room for your rude remarks.
 

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SORRY zoologist :cry: I just care a great deal about animals! I dont mean to be rude I get defencive sometimes! I am just glad the pet shop got what it deserved.
 

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Be polite folks.

Although it is very difficult to walk away from a hedgehog in need, buying them is never a good idea as it creates an opening for another and the store is more likely to bring in another because that one sold. Even being sick it sold and if one person bought a sick one, there will be another person that will feel sorry and buy a sick one too.

Although it is difficult to walk away, it is best to leave the hedgehog there and phone the SPCA.
 

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Im not tring to be rude but She would have been dead before they got there and then I would have not had any proof atleast this way I had prof a purchase and pics also the vet did a statment for me on her condition so that helped the aspca to get her on trouble. Dont get me wrong I am not saying this is always a good idea to do and if I thought she would be ok I would have left her then called.. also I knew I had the time and Money to help Her get better but please dont just go out and and think you can save one too becasue I got lucky! Not all will :cry:
 

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I know how hard it is just to walk away from an animal in need. Honestly , I probably would not have been able to do it myself. My heart just breaks , and i figure if I don't get it , someone who knows about the animal and will know what to do to care for it someone that doesn't know anything might take it and it might not be cared for .
 

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i agree with nancy. I had a friend who just last weekend walked into a pet store and almost bought a hedgehog. The only reason she didn't was because no one came to ask her if she wanted help with anything. She told me about the hedgehog so i went to take a look at it.

They had the hedgehog cage next to the cold water fish tank, and the inside of the cage was much below 70*F just from feel (it had a chilled wall next to it, it was cold to the touch).
The hedgehog did not have hidey hole so the hedgehog stacked all of it's shavings on one corner of it's cage and and burrowed out a hole for itself. The hedgehog was being fed a chinchilla food (not sure of what it was) and was provided water from a water bottle (which is fine). The hedgehog had a 6 inch wire wheel for a hamster and from the look of the hog it was severely underweight. The sides of the hedgehog were ) ( as opposed to | | or ( ). If that wasn't enough the bottom of the age had wire above a plastic bottom so that they could just take the tray out to change the shavings.

When i asked to see the hedgehog they reached in with big leather gloves and wanted me to put them on as well since he was a poppy little ball of spikes. I said no to the gloves and put him in my hand. As soon as he hit my hands he ran up to my chest and snuggled into my shirt. The staff was shocked that he unballed in my hands and that i wasn't screaming in terror at the spikes. He did pee on me, but i wasn't to angry with him, i just got a towel and wrapped him in it. I put him and the towel on the table and he snuffed around in it profusely as if he had never had something like this to play with before. He was the cutest little albino i had ever seen, and i was about to storm out of the store with him cussing at them for how he was treated, but i couldn't afford to take care of him or provide him with a good home. I talked to the staff and they thought it was to be fed like a hamster and that they didn't touch it. I bought a comfort wheel (only one in the store that was safe) and a small bag of cat food and an igloo and forced the staff to place it in his cage and informed them to give it to whoever bought the hedgie. I also told them to keep a towel in there for him and provide a solid bottom for his cage. After about an hour and a half in there, and a very embarrassed girlfriend i finally left after being asked to leave the premises multiple times.

When i got home i called the SPCA to go take a look at the store. I asked them to call me and let me know what happened with the hedgehog, but i have not heard back from them. I went to the store yesterday and the hedgehog was gone but the price tag was still there.

[i wish i could have taken the hedgehog, he was obviously relatively young and malnourished, and it looked as if he was beginning to develop FLD as his stomach was slightly yellow. If i had the room or the money to pay the vet bill i would have, but alas i can only afford one hedgie as a university student, and i have to budget specifically for him. I certainly hope someone didn't buy the hedgie from them as i believe with the price tag still being upt hat they may try to sell more.]

I am going to check the store again in a few weeks to see if they are going to continue trying to sell hedgehogs and if i see another one in that condition again i will be going with the SPCA to check it out if i have to.
 

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Aleshea i didn't take any offense to your comment and frankly it wasn't directed completely at you :) i think you did a WONDERFUL thing by saving your new hedgehog's life. I feel i did the same for Cloud even though i didnt realize at the time how much trouble he was really in. with that being said...

even though the lady was not allowed to be selling hedgehogs and you got her in trouble for that (way to go!) it still shows the breeder that there is a market for them. furthermore it shows the breeder that there is a market even if the hedgehogs are sick! Really messed up but true. Thats why you should always buy your animals from a breeder. as much as i'd love to save every single turtle out there that has shell rot and poor conditions (happens quite often) i just have to walk away so that they dont keep breeding them. Once again, not directed at you, just in general.
 

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Not all pet stores are bad, just like not all breeders are good.

The key is to do your research and support good breeders as well as good pet stores through carefully choosing who you do business with. Unfortunately, there are so many backyard breeders and pet mills out there who don't give a **** about the well being of hedgehogs and other animals, and they're the ones usually supply pet stores - hence, many hedgehogs in pet stores are in poor health.:evil:

Please do your research and educate yourself so that you can distinguish the good from the bad.

Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. ;)
 

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Wow. From reading these horror stories I am glad that I got so lucky with my pet shop experience. I wanted to buy from a breeder but there were none in my province and my parents were not quite willing to drive into another province for a hedgehog. So, pet store it was. I was looking at two different hedgehogs at two different pet stores. The first one I looked at was an adorable girl--already a month old at least--who was housed with another female hedgie. The manager there was SO knowledgeable and nice and she stayed with me while I tried to get used to the hedgehogs in general and the girl in particular. She had tamed down wilder hedgehogs before with great success and obviously knew her way around them. I was thinking about getting the girl except for the fact that she was shy and didn't really want to be picked up. This may be due to the fact that she was kept in one of the wall cages--you know where the mice and hamsters etc are kept?--and was really only handled by the manager. I went to another pet store and this time, the hedgies were kept in a glass aquarium thing, but with an open top. There were three hedgies in there and two of them were SOOO unfriendly and just balls of spikes. The third one however was really cute and sweet and easy to pick up. We played with him and he was friendly and active. We came back a couple more times to play with him and then, with the intent to purchase him. When we got there however, he was gone. There was a new boy in his place, younger, and so adorable. He was even friendlier than the last one and was curious. He loved the crook of my arm right away and I fell in LOVE! So what else could I do but get him? He has been with me for two months now--it doesn't seem that long!--and is still such a sweetheart. He adjusted well and is in perfect health.

I know that was long, but the point I was trying to make is that even though breeders should be a first choice, not all pet stores are bad. I guess it depends on the pet store and the people which should definitely be taken into consideration before purchasing a buddy from the store. To find out about the quality of care at the pet store, I looked around at the other animal cages too. They were fairly clean and, animals who were taken out were friendly and well behaved--most of them anyway :p. I think it is extremely important to get to know an animal and the pet store first BEFORE purchasing, but if everything seems okay, then buying from a pet store is not necessarily bad.
Sorry it was so long! haha
 

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Wow, after reading all of the stories on this topic I feel extremely lucky that my pet shop experience was not like this. I bought my lovely Coraline from a locally owned pet shop, the owners young daughter often times plays with the animals there and socializes with them. I wanted my hedgie for a long time. I tried contacting the closest breeder in my area and I never got contacted back. So the day the hedge hogs arrived to the shop I was there. I fell in love with Coraline from the moment I picked her up, she seemed healthy, showed no signs of any troubles walking, in general she was a sweet heart. The pet shop owner also gave me some papers that listed the name of the breeder, where they were located, when the hedge hogs were born, and a number of other information that was needed.
I could not be happier with my hedge hog, I love her, and so does my family. She is shy of course, but she is a friendly girl.
 
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