By Kelly Sosik-Hamor
It has been said that hedgehogs are a good pet for people with allergies, and for the most part this is true. Very few people have hedgehog allergies, and a good portion of those people who think they do, are actually allergic to the bedding being used and not the actual hedgehog.
Most people with mild allergies to cats, dogs, rabbits, and other furry animals do well with hedgehogs. If you have severe animal allergies, then a hedgehog might not be the pet for you.
The best way to tell if you will have allergy related problems is to visit a breeder and spend at least an hour holding and playing with different hedgehogs. Be sure to notify the breeder of your allergies to animals and/ or to pine or aspen. If the breeder owns other animals (as many of us do), ask about the possibility of meeting somewhere local or, if weather permits, outside on the their porch. Wait at least 24 hours after the visit to see if you have any reaction. If you have a severe reaction, then a hedgehog is not for you. If you have a minor reaction, then you should consider a 2nd visit to see if you will react again (and if the reaction is worse). If you choose to try this, be sure to bring any allergy medication and inhalers with you.
Because of the hedgehog’s sharp quills, minor skin reactions are not uncommon. Pine, aspen, saliva, or waste on the tips of the quills can be pushed through the first layer or two of your skin, resulting in a red bumpy rash. Most of the time, washing your hands and arms after contact is enough to get rid of it. Other times it may take 10-30 mins before it disappears. Some people do get hives or large red welts from contact with a hedgehog. This is less common, but should be taken seriously if it occurs.