MESA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Hedgehogs are now legal as pets in Arizona. And there's one place in the East Valley where they're now on sale.
The first shipment of hedgehogs has arrived at Predators Reptile Center in Mesa, since the creatures became legal as pets nearly two weeks ago in Arizona. The store, near Baseline and Dobson, says the more you handle hedgehogs, the better they'll behave.
"Just like anything, if you don't handle it, you're probably going to get a couple spikes in your fingers, you know, if you ignore the animal, but you know, time and effort, absolutely. They're going to be a great pet," said Christian Kaleta, owner of Predators Reptile Center.
Experts say hedgehogs may interact well with certain breeds of cats and dogs. They recommend you gently introduce your pets first, to see how they react.
So how should hedgehogs be housed?
"They're kept fairly similar to a hamster. We use aspen bedding, specifically on them. And then a small hamster or a rabbit cage. You can also use a small glass aquarium, like a 20 gallon aquarium. Things that you really want to make sure you have: either a water bowl or a water bottle. Obviously their food, their bedding, a little hide spot. And a wheel is very important. They like to exercise," Kaleta said.
Predators Reptile Center says hedgehogs primarily eat hedgehog food.
"It's just a kibble. It kind of looks like dog or cat food ... they're insectivores, so there's high protein basin in their food," he said.
Hedgehogs are said to have a lifespan of three- to seven-years. The CDC recommends you wash your hands after holding them, as they can carry salmonella bacteria.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department made hedgehogs legal as pets this month, saying the kind that are sold in pet stores these days cannot survive on their own in the wild, so they don't pose a risk to native species.
There is a waiting list for hedgehogs at Predators Reptile Center. The pets are sold for $249.99.
Predators Reptile Center