Meet the hedgehog living in a flat of Edinburgh third years

He’s the perfect student pet

We’ve all been there – after another glimpse of a cute dog in the Meadows, that familiar feeling bubbles up inside. An urge for a pet. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a furry companion to cuddle on cold nights? To sit on your lap while you pull an all-nighter on that essay?

Soon, though, reality sets in. Your estate agents are strict, dog food costs too much, and in all honesty, if you can’t manage to drag yourself to the gym once a week, how are you meant to commit to taking a small animal out for a walk every day?

But whilst a dog is definitely too high-maintenance, what about a more niche pet – a hedgehog, for example?

small, yet perfectly formed

small, yet perfectly formed

One Edinburgh 3rd year is the proud owner of Alby, a 15-week old African pygmy hedgehog – and insists he’s the perfect student pet.

Before you ask, no, she didn’t just pick him up off the Meadows after a night out – little Alby was purchased from a special hedgehog breeder online. He adheres to a gourmet diet of cat food and children’s fruit puree, with the occasional mealworm and piece of torn-up chicken as a treat.

open up love

open up love

Aside from being small and adorable, he’s actually not as prickly as you might think – only when he gets angry does he become too spiky to hold. Plus, angry isn’t really his style – if he’s rudely woken up before his normal time (which for a nocturnal animal is after 10pm) by annoying flatmates who want something to play with, his tactic is usually to crawl up someone’s sleeve and fall back asleep in their nice warm armpit.

someone wants to go back to bed

someone wants to go back to bed

Can you think of a more low-maintenance pet than one that sleeps all day, yet wakes up just in time to pose for Instagram photos at pre-drinks?

a natural poser

a natural poser

Hedgehogs still need their TLC though – daily cleaning-up of poo, and enough attention to make sure they don't become anti-social, as well as a nice warm room temperature of 22-27 degrees. So maybe don't jump on the bandwagon if you're a sadist who refuses to turn the heating on until mid-January, or you'll end up with an unhappy pet on your hands.

as unhappy as Alby was during this bath

as unhappy as Alby was during this bath

To look his best, Alby needs grooming too – which is a novel experience, as he has to be bathed in the sink and scrubbed with a toothbrush. Even the grumpiest cynic would have to admit that the most menial animal-care activities such as cutting your pet’s toenails somehow seem cuter when said toenails are so tiny…

scrub-a-dub-dub

scrub-a-dub-dub

Alby lives in a luxurious cage, complete with his own wheel, that is also luckily quite easy to hide should any nosy estate agents come poking around the flat for an ‘inspection’. Simply throw a blanket over it, arrange some flowers on top, and voilà – a stylish bedside table. Nobody will ever know that there’s a peaceful baby hedgehog asleep underneath.

Convinced yet?

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University of Edinburgh