Quirky, miniature and spiny: Students choose hedgehogs as pets

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Submitted by Ross Kirby

A lot of people have dogs and cats, [but having a hedgehog] is like going to the zoo every day,” Kirby said.

By Noor Qureishy, St. Paul Academy and Summit School, St. Paul, Minn.

Among the classic cat, dog, and fish lovers, only a few dare to adopt these quirky, miniature mammals, otherwise known as hedgehogs. Senior Katherine Jones and freshman Ross Kirby are two among these fearless owners, who battle hedgehog flu and clingy (also spiny!) pets, while bearing affection for their little counterparts.

Jones is known for her atypical pet, Spikeroni, a female African Pygmy hedgehog. Spikeroni has brown quills with white fur and doesn’t require much maintenance compared to most pets.

“[She] needs some space to run around, water, and food. Hedgehogs are allergy friendly, and some people in my family have allergies which is why we got her… They’re dust resistant, something like that,” Jones said.

Spikeroni also likes to roll up into a little ball of spikes spontaneously. “I don’t know any other domesticated creature that can do anything like that… it’s pretty adorable,” Jones said.

Jones has spent the last three years with Spikeroni, “She’s like a middle-aged hedgehog now,” she said with a laugh.

“When we first got her, she sniffed everything, kind of like a dog… I’ve tried to bathe her, she tried crawling up the walls of the sink, she’s kind of a grumpy little thing,” Jones said. Once, when Spikeroni looked sick, Jones took her to a small animals veterinarian.

“[Spikeroni had] flu for hedgehogs,” she said. “He [the vet] prescribed a children’s medication, and there was a big pink bottle of it in our refrigerator for weeks.”

Kirby also has a prickly companion named Stella. “[It was] my sister’s idea, she wanted a pet no one else had… A lot of people have dogs and cats, [having a hedgehog] is like going to the zoo every day,” he said. “[The hedgehog] is kind of like a hamster. [She] stays in her cage for the most part and runs through tubes and on a wheel.”

Kirby’s shared many fond memories with his hedgehog. “Once, Stella crawled up my pant leg, right below my knee, and couldn’t crawl down – [she] got scared, her quills got stuck because they wouldn’t go back in or smooth out,” he winces, recalling the memory. “I had a really, really, hard time getting her out.”

However, for Kirby, having a hedgehog as a pet isn’t all fun and games: “We can’t go to Petco and buy hedgehog food; we have to order it online,” Kirby said “We made a commitment and we have to follow it through.”

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