Forget hamsters and cats. Swedes cant stop thinking about African pygmie hedgehogs, according to the Agriculture Department, which notes an increasing interest in exotic pets. In recent years more and more unusual pets have been registered to Swedish homes. It is estimated that the number of insured pygmy hedgehogs has doubled in five years. Today there are about 170 African pygmy hedgehogs insured by Agria.

Heidi Purmonen, of Hasselby, has many pets, including African pygmie hedgehogs. She grew up on a farm and is now breeding pygmy hedgehogs. I think that many are interested in African pygmy hedgehogs because they are not as demanding as dogs and cats. Meanwhile, you can cuddle with them and they are very cute, she says. Owners also like that these hedgehogs don't have an odor, they can be housebroken, and they're fairly quiet but for a few clicks and grunts. Pet African pygmie hedgehogs can live up to 10 years of age, however the average life span is reported to be 4 to 6 years.

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Although they are small, they do need a large space their natural habitats are dry, grassy areas in semiarid or dry savannahs and they do require temperatures 72F. Purmonen recommends they be allowed loose in a safe, secure room. In fact, zoo rules require the animals have an area of 20 square meters (215 square feet) to move around in. They eat insects and the same dry food as cats.