Pet of the Day

April 27, 1998

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Murray, the Pet of the Day
Name: Murray
Age: One year old
Gender: Female
Kind: African Pygmy Hedgehog
Home: Charleston, South Carolina, USA
   Murray is a nine-month-old female brown and white agouti African Pygmy hedgehog who lives in Charleston, SC. A full-grown hedgehog, she weighs about one pound.

    Her favorite activities are climbing, eating mealworms, and exploring Charleston with her "parents," Heather & Chopper, in a denim-lined fleece hedgebag. She has been photographed by numerous tourists in the Charleston area and is even being courted by one of the local free weekly magazines to appear on the cover!

    My husband and I actually picked out the name Murray months before we actually found our eight-week-old hedgehog in the pet store... she is named after the dog on "Mad About You" and we assumed she was a boy until careful examination proved us wrong. 8-)

    Hedgehogs actually vary a lot in coloring, marking, and size. The International Hedgehog Fanciers Society has attempted to isolate different colors of hedgehogs for breeding and showing purposes -- Murray is a chocolate hedgehog by their color standard. She has cream-colored quills banded in the middle with dark brown, with a few of the quills being solid cream. Her skin under the quills is light gray, and she has almost no mask, although other colors of hedgehogs may have darker masks. She weighs just under a pound and is a little petite by hedgehog standards, but within the normal range.

    Hedgehogs make very good apartment pets, in my experience. Murray lives in a 20-gallon critter cage right now, but we'd really like to have a larger cage for her when space permits. She has a wheel in her cage and a pillowcase to sleep in, and we use aspen shavings for litter and bedding. Hedgehogs have no musk glands like ferrets, so she tends to smell like aspen most of the time. She eats Zoo Fare and Pretty Pets Hedgehog Food along with live mealworms, small amount of cooked chicken, corn, broccoli, and other treats depending on what my husband and I have for dinner.

    Since she lives in a small cage, we try to make sure she gets plenty of exercise. This usually means getting her out into her pet corral, where she plays with toilet paper tubes, catnip toys, and other miscellaneous stuff. Sometimes, we take her outside to the park, but we always watch her very, very carefully when she's outdoors -- she usually ambles around exploring in a relatively slow fashion, but she can move quickly when she feels like it. We have a small denim-lined bag that she climbs into and travels in around town (pattern available online at -- that's Jude Kovl's site). She's been everywhere -- to the library, bookstores, college newspaper staff meetings, office picnics, etc. She seems to like meeting new people and people are always fascinated by her.

    For more info about hedgehogs take a look at the Hedgehog FAQ. The hedgehog mailing list may be the best way for hedgehog owners to get information about care for their pet. For more info about Murray visit Murray's web page.

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