Pygmy Spotlight: Hedgehogs

In the past decade, hedgehogs have become a popular pet across North America. The breed kept as pets appears to be mix of species, but they are originally native to the African continent. The term “African pygmy hedgehog” is merely a descriptive term coined by breeders. They are relatively high-maintenance pets and do not appear to crave human interaction, but their size and cuteness make them popular pets in America.

 

Hedgehogs are very compact animals. Reaching a size of between five to eight inches in length, they can live between three and eight years (six is the most typical). They need and enjoy exercise, so owners should invest in an open-sided, solid surface wheel within their enclosure. If you have the means, allowing your hedgehog to run freely in your home is optimal—wild hedgehogs travel great distances each day, so they require a lot of space to run around. They do not like to be cuddled, but will allow for gentle handling.

 

However, in 2017, the RSPCA provided a statement saying these animals are a considerable commitment and require large, temperature-controlled enclosures to mimic their natural environment. They require ample space for digging, foraging, and exercise, and it is therefore difficult for recreational pet owners to meet the animal’s needs. Though they have grown in popularity, they are still illegal to keep as pets in some states.

 

Hedgehogs need an enclosure of between 75 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is very difficult to maintain in most parts of the world. If the temperature increases to above 86 degrees, the animal can suffer from heat stroke. However, a temperature lower than 75 degrees can induce torpor, a form of hibernation. Moreover, hedgehogs are nocturnal by nature, meaning owners may grow bored of their tiny friends very quickly. They are messy and require daily cage cleanings. Put simply, if you are thinking about investing in a hedgehog as a pet, ensure you have the capacity to care for these finicky little animals—they are a lot of work and, if you don’t have the time or resources to invest, can die very easily.

 

 

Pygmy Spotlight: Falabella (Miniature Horses)

Popular pets, miniature horses are generally less than 34-38 inches from head to tail. Miniature horses fit a height-based definition of a pony, but they retain horse characteristics and are therefore considered to be “horses” by their respective registries. Bred to be friendly and to interact with people, miniature horses are fantastic family pets. The most popular miniature horse breed, the Falabella, is one of the most popular companion horses in the world.

 

The Falabella miniature horse is one of the smallest breeds in the world—they are rarely more than 32 inches tall. They are believed to have descended from South American horses, who, in turn, are the ancestral stock of Andalusian and Iberian bloodlines brought from Europe by the Spanish. The Falabella was originally developed in Argentina from local horses of Criollo stock. Their breeding began in 1868, and additional bloodlines—such as the Welsh Pony, Shetland pony, and other small Thoroughbreds—were introduced in further generations. By inbreeding, breeders were able to maintain a consistently small size.

 

The first Falabella breed registry was established in the 1940, and, twenty years later, the first horses were imported to the United States. These intelligent, easily trainable creatures became trendy pets in the mid-1990s and into the 2000s. They have a sweet personality and enjoy spending time with people of all ages. They also easily adapt to situations and environments very easily.

 

Miniature horses, though small and friendly, still retain natural horse behavior. This includes a natural fight or flight instinct. Therefore, they must be treated like a horse even if their primary purpose is as a companion animal. They require pasture to both graze and run. One acre of accessible roaming area is sufficient for a miniature horse, but if you intend to stable it at night, this acreage can be cut in half. These horses require room to roam, and their spaces should be securely fenced. They can live to be 45 years of age, so do your research before investing in one of these companions.

 

Pygmy Spotlight: Goats

Pygmy goats have charming personalities and make excellent companion pets for both humans and other animals. Though any goat breed will make an excellent pet, smaller breeds are most popular—they require the least amount of space, resources, and—of course—they’re adorable. Pygmy goats are one of the most popular breeds. An adult will grow to be between 16 and 23 inches at the withers, often weighing between 40 and 80 pounds. These goats breed year-round, meaning that kids are nearly always available for purchase and adoption.

 

The pygmy goat’s lineage is fairly straightforward; the breed was developed from the West African dwarf goat, which is commonly found in the Cameroon Valley. They were taken to Europe by the British during the colonial era, and a few hundred were then sent to the United States to use in zoos and as research animals. In the 1960s, pygmy goats were acquired by private breeders, quickly gaining popularity as pets for their size, personalities, friendliness, and hardiness.

 

As with most animals, there are a few downsides to keeping a pygmy goat as a pet. Goats in general can be very messy, and they are often picky eaters. Goat parents should be prepared to spend more money on food than one might with a standard cat or dog. Additionally, if they are not properly exercised or not allowed space to run and climb, they can be destructive. However, effectively handling your pet’s time and allowing them to run in the backyard is an easy and effective way to deter bad behavior.

 

When properly raised, a pygmy goat will spend its days lounging around, entertaining you and your family, and charming everyone in its path. These are perfect pets for people with larger homes, open spaces, and farms—in addition to making the perfect human companion, these little goats are great friends for other farm animals.

Pick a Pygmy Pet: Pigs!

Pygmy Pigs, also known as teacup pigs, miniature pigs, dwarf pigs, and micro pigs, have become America’s top trendy pet. The term itself refers to a small breed of domestic pig, such as the Pot-bellied pig of Vietnam or the Göttingen minipigs of Germany. These tiny creatures have small, perked-back ears, a potbelly, a chubby figure, a rounded head, a shorter snout, and tiny legs.

Their breeding history is slightly foggy, but we know that pygmy pigs began showing up in the mid-1970s; labs across North America and Europe bred them for use in medical research within the fields of toxicology, pharmacology, pulmonology, cardiology, aging, and as a source for organs for organ transplantation. Pigs are very useful in studying human disease, and—due to their high intelligence—are very easy to manage in a laboratory setting. Though your pygmy pets might have seemed destined to become close companions, they were originally bred for research purposes.

However, these tiny pigs don’t stay small forever. Most breeds of teacup pigs grow up to be between 75 and 200lbs—around the size of a medium/large dog. Though this is significantly smaller than adult farm pigs, which can weigh up to 1,100 pounds, a 200-pound pet is not what most people expect when they purchase a pygmy animal. Moreover, teacup pigs have a long lifespan—they outlive dogs, and they often outlive cats. Their lifespans are often around 15-20 years. If you adopt a pygmy pig, you’re in it for the long haul.

As a result, laws vary on the legality of keeping pigs as house pets. If no such laws exist, your pink little friend may be considered, exclusively, as livestock. If this is the case, be sure to double-check your sources; some towns and cities have ordinances disallowing farm animals within city limits. Pigs are intelligent, adorable, and rewarding pets—just be sure to understand the repercussions in your choice of companion.