Aaron got a hedgehog and she’s adorable. Her name is Clementine and all I ever want to do is play with her and cuddle with her and take pictures of her, so I figure I can share some of this joy with all of you while also talking a bit about owning a pet in college.
Clementine’s last owner was one of my coworkers, a fellow co-op at Pfizer and an animal lover. She mentioned to me over lunch that she was looking for a new home for her hedgehog, and I immediately thought of Aaron as both one of my best friends and as someone who had talked about how cute they were and how much he wanted one. Phone numbers were swapped. The rest is history.
Aaron had learned basically everything there is to know about hedgehogs in preparation for Clementine’s arrival. He’d bookmarked all of the info sites and has become a regular on the hedgie subreddit. He actually doesn’t talk about anything else. I mention this because if you’re thinking of getting a pet, you need to be informed. Too often, animals will be bought or adopted by people who don’t know how to care for them, and they will suffer in these homes. In addition, animals who are not well cared for will usually not bond with their owners as well and can be miserable, leading these owners to resent their purchase and not give the animals the love they deserve. Aaron mentioned at a party that he was getting a hedgehog, and one of our friends jumped on his case about proper care for pets. While it was annoying that–not knowing how much research he’d put into it–she chastised him for taking on such a responsibility in college and drilled him about caring for exotic animals (domestic hedgehogs are primarily African pygmies, so technically they’re exotic), she had a point. Not everyone who decides they want a pet knows what’s best for this pet.
I’ve heard horror stories of friends who would play bowling games with a gerbil in a ball, or who fed people’s mice to their neighbor’s snake, or otherwise abuse animals while they’re in college. It’s really sad to think of this happening to any animal, and it’s important to remember that while you’re in college, you’re living with large numbers of overgrown children who are all at very different stages of development and who may have never encountered pets before. People aren’t always animal lovers, people drink too much and do stupid things, people can be really irresponsible and mean. If you’re thinking about getting a pet, make sure that you can trust the people this pet will be around, people like your friends or your roommate’s friends or those guys down the street that come over for parties. Your priority when getting any animal should be the quality of life for that animal. If you can’t offer them safety and love, you have no business in adopting or buying them. College only lasts so many years–you can always get one afterwards.
So enough of the warnings, here’s a bit more info on this beauty! Clementine is a chocolate African Pygmy hedgehog, who’s almost a year old. She likes to run on her wheel at night and is actually the only hedgehog we’ve ever heard of who doesn’t poop all over you when you hold her (like seriously, usually they do. She’s special.) We took her to a grassy area on the edge of the Fens near Aaron’s apartment and let her run around. Clementine is quite the snuggler, and while she enjoyed wandering around and exploring, she kept trying to crawl back into Aaron’s lap (or under his legs or arms, whatever was touching the ground) which was adorable, like everything else that she does. It was a very fun afternoon, and I hope we can make it outside with her a few times before the weather changes for good!
She’s so derpy it’s wonderful.
Some of Aaron’s favorite sites for hedgehog info, for those of you who have now fallen in love with Clementine/want a hedgehog in your life/will be RESPONSIBLE PET OWNERS: