African Pygmy Hedgehogs or Four-toed hedgehogs are unique, nocturnal mammals related to shrews and moles. As of December 5, 2015, African Pygmy Hedgehogs have been removed from the restricted wildlife list in Arizona, and can be legally kept as pets. Legal restrictions vary from state; be sure to check with your local laws before pursuing ownership.
Hedgehogs unfortunately are highly prone to cancer, especially as they age, with one study reporting over two-thirds of hedgehogs over the age of 3 having cancer. Cancer has been reported in many areas of the body, but is commonly found in the mouth, skin, and female reproductive system. Tumors are often malignant and can carry a poor prognosis, especially without treatment. Early identification will allow for optimal treatments to be implemented and improve long-term prognosis.
Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (WHS) is a degenerative neurologic condition that can occur in African Pygmy Hedgehogs (aka Four-toed hedgehogs). The cause is unknown, but is believed to be genetic.
Like all pets, hedgehogs can carry bacteria and viruses that can make people sick. Recently a number of cases of Salmonella Typhimurium in people have been linked to exposure to pet hedgehogs. This is a bacteria that hedgehogs can carry in their intestines without showing any signs of illness. Symptoms in people include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. Severe cases require hospitalization and can be fatal. Risks of illness are higher in children under the age of 5, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons. If you feel ill, contact your physician and inform them you have a pet hedgehog.