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METAIRIE, La. (WGNO) – Why on earth would anyone want a pet that looks like a miniature porcupine?

Dr. Gregory Rich, the director of West Esplanade Veterinary Clinic and Bird Hospital in Metairie, says hedgehogs are cute—and their quills don’t hurt!

He says he “bred these guys for six years, so I saw how much fun, and how unique they can be.”

Officially, they’re called African Pygmy Hedgehogs, and as their name implies, they’re so small they can be kept in a Tupperware box, tucked inside little blankets that look like potholders.

Dr. Rich says hedgehogs like to hide, but they’re clean animals that won’t bark at the neighbors, and don’t have to be taken for walks on a leash.

Owners can feed them low-fat cat food or special hedgehog food, but that’s not all they’ll eat.  Dr. Rich says he fed his hedgehogs “bell peppers, oranges, apples, plums, scrambled eggs, carrots.. any kind of vegetable, because in Africa they`re eating what`s on the ground.”

Usually hedgehogs are only active at night, and don’t like to be disturbed during the day.

When they get frightened or annoyed, they curl into a ball, hiding their soft bodies under a circle of their menacing-looking quills.

But Kelly Williams, a breeder who owns “Kelly’s Quills” in Slidell, says hedgehogs are loveable pets.  She recommends them for young children, and for anyone living in a small home because hedgehogs take up so little room.

Kelly says hedgehogs have personalities, like cats and dogs, and she encourages her customers to choose a hedgehog in the same way they would choose a cat or a dog.

And how many hedgehogs does Kelly keep as her own pets?   86—and counting.

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