Feature

United Kingdom: Cuddly and cute, but wild

&ldquo;Yet again,&rdquo; people are rushing to make pets out of adorable but entirely unsuitable animals, said Hugh Warwick in <em>Daily Telegraph.</em>

Hugh WarwickDaily Telegraph

Did we learn nothing from the debacle of the potbellied pig? asked naturalist Hugh Warwick. “Yet again,” people are rushing to make pets out of adorable but entirely unsuitable animals. This time, it’s the African pygmy hedgehog. As the author of a book called A Prickly Affair: My Life With Hedgehogs, I’m the first to concede that hedgehogs are cute. But anyone who truly cares about the animals won’t try to tame them.

The Americans have already gone down that road, to disastrous effect. For a while in the U.S., hedgehogs were the “next big thing.” As with all pet crazes, breeding hedgehogs became something of a pyramid scheme: Dealers started “to breed breeding pairs to sell on to other people who wanted to join the racket.” All that inbreeding caused an epidemic of “the fatal condition Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome (no, I am not joking).” The craze then collapsed, and now many unwanted, sick hedgehogs are languishing at a hedgehog rescue center in Colorado.

“So please, think again before getting sucked into the next fad-pet craze.” Hedgehogs are wild animals. Don’t treat them “like accessories.”

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