Articles on basic care and considerations for new or prospective owners.
Articles pertaining to health, nutrition, and veterinary care.
Articles and pictures about hedgehog breeding, growth, and development.
Articles for people who already own a hedgehog or want to know more than just the basics.
Learn more about hedgehog colors!
Wondering where to buy a hedgehog? Start here!
Where to purchase hedgehog supplies and collectibles.
Meet the hedgehogs of Hedgehog Valley!
Meet the other critters that call
or have called Hedgehog Valley
Hedgehogs in the Classroom
Quite often, teachers ask whether hedgehogs make good classroom pets. I can say with confidence, YES! Hedgehogs can make great classroom pets as long as precautions are taken to make sure that appropriate care and attention are given to the hedgehog.
I firmly believe that learning to interact with animals is an important way to help children learn to respect others and to respect themselves. Hedgehogs are well suited to this role because there are so many ways that children can relate to hedgehogs. Hedgehogs are very cute and an inquisitive, friendly hedgehog is very hard to resist!
Hedgehogs are great for teaching kids about anger management. Many kids can relate to the feeling of wishing you could roll up into a ball and keep the world from bothering you. Hedgehogs are almost never aggressive and if upset, will curl into that ball and let you know that they need you to give them space.
Even a shy hedgehog can teach children lessons. Learning to speak gently, move slowly, and earn the trust of a shy hedgehog is a process that teaches children volumes about interacting with people and building trusting relationships.
Hedgehogs are also useful for teaching about science. Environmental studies, food chains, geography, literature (there are lots of children's books about hedgehogs), art... you name it! One of my favorite art projects that my children and I did with hedgehogs was letting the hedgehog walk through a thin layer of nontoxic paint, then letting hedgie walk on a piece of paper. We repeated this with several colors and it became an adorable collage of tiny, precious footprints!
If you are interested in having a hedgehog as your classroom pet and would like to help your class learn more about hedgehogs, I am able to set up classroom visits via skype or facetime so that the kids can ask an expert! Please contact me if you are interested in setting this up for your classroom.
While hedgehogs can be a fantastic classroom pet, they are not the right animal for every classrooms. If hedgehog is simply put in a cage and left in the corner, it won't be happy and the kids won't get involved with it. If the students see that the teacher is enthusiastic about the hedgie, the kids will catch the enthusiasm. It is also important that the kids be able to treat a classroom pet with respect. Sadly, at least one hedgehog has been rescued from a group of kids who decided to use it as a croquet ball during a teacher's brief absence from the room. This is NOT what we want to see happen!
If the teacher
personally accept responsibility for the hedgehog as the teacher's own
pet, taking it home on weekends and holidays, if not at the
end of the day, students will be more likely to be responsible and
caring with the hedgehog. If students are allowed to take the hedgehog home
for weekends or holidays,
make sure that the parents are willing and cooperative, and that they
fully understand the care requirements. The last thing you want is to
lose your hedgehog because the parents made the child keep it in the
unheated garage over winter vacation. A care sheet listing with the basics of hedgehog care can be found here.
As a final consideration, teach the children to wash their hands and/or use antibacterial gel before and after handling the hedgehog. Chances are the hedgehog isn't harboring any dread disease, and neither are the children, but it never hurts to exercise caution and to establish lifelong good habits.
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