Hedgehog or Groundhog: Which One Is a Better Pet?

When deciding to adopt a new pet, it’s important to carefully consider which animal is the best fit for your lifestyle.

Two popular options are hedgehogs and groundhogs, both of which have their own unique traits and characteristics.

In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between these two animals to help you determine which one might make a better pet for you.

Hedgehogs are small, spiny creatures that are native to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

They are often kept as pets due to their cute and quirky appearance, but they also require specific care and attention.

On the other hand, groundhogs are larger rodents that are native to North America.

While they may not be as commonly kept as pets, they are known for their burrowing abilities and are often seen in the wild.

In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of keeping hedgehogs and groundhogs as pets.

We’ll discuss their behavior, diet, and housing requirements, as well as any potential health concerns associated with each animal.

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of which pet might be the right fit for you and your family.

Hedgehogs and groundhogs are both common considerations when it comes to keeping a pet.

Though not quite as common as cats and dogs, they’re still considered domesticated animals that make great pets.

But if you can only keep one, which is the better pet? Let’s take a look.

Hedgehogs vs. Groundhogs

The first thing to remember is that neither of these lovely animals is inherently ‘better’ than the other. What makes them more suitable pets for someone may just be a deal breaker for someone else.

When picking one out as your furry friend, you must look over several things and decide whether you can handle hedgehogs or groundhogs (or both!) as pets.

Size & Care

The size and care required for each animal is the first thing to consider. Hedgehogs, for example, are small animals. They reach up to 8 inches in length and are relatively low maintenance as pets.

While you do have to pay attention to your hedgehog to ensure its needs are met, there aren’t a lot of needs, to begin with.

Hedgehogs need a good enclosure to live in that needs to be cleaned regularly and a proper diet of hedgehog food, insects, fruits, and vegetables.

From that perspective, hedgehogs aren’t very high maintenance since you can mostly leave them alone beyond providing for them, and they’ll get by just fine.

On the other hand, groundhogs are much larger. They can reach lengths of up to 2 feet, which can easily become too big if you don’t have much space in your home.

Groundhogs also have very specific habitat needs; they need outdoor enclosures to dig and burrow. If you live in an apartment, a groundhog will probably not be very happy with the environment they get.

They are also much more high maintenance in their diet and need a lot more care than hedgehogs.

If you live in a small space or are very busy, a hedgehog would probably be a better pet for you.

Behavior & Temperament

Hedgehogs are very solitary animals, so unlike many other pets, they don’t require a lot of interaction with their owners.

Hedgehogs don’t particularly like interaction, to begin with, and are less likely to seek out attention than most other pets.

Hedgehogs are also nocturnal creatures that are more active during the nighttime hours when you’re likely to be sleeping.

If you’re looking for a pet that is more open to interaction, a hedgehog may not be the best idea for you.

Groundhogs, however, may just be worse on that front. Groundhogs are also called woodchucks and wild animals that are rarely domesticated.

A part of this may be because groundhogs require outdoor space, but another part of it may be their complex social and territorial behaviors.

Removing an animal’s natural instincts is very difficult, even if you try to domesticate them. Similarly, groundhogs’ instincts and behaviors are generally not what you’d expect or want from a pet.

Legal Considerations

Before you pick out either of these animals as pets, make sure to look into the legal aspect. While they are considered domesticated in many states, others may not allow you to keep them as pets.

Hedgehogs and groundhogs are both considered to be rodents, and these are not always legal to keep as pets.

In some jurisdictions, there are bans on owning species as pets due to their wildlife status. Since groundhogs fall under this category in many places, having them as pets may not be legal.

While hedgehogs are more common as pets than groundhogs, some states still ban them as pets.

Being more common also means that hedgehogs, as well as vets who can handle them and their food, are a lot more available than groundhogs.

Before deciding, consider which animals are legal to keep as pets in your state.

Personal Preference & Lifestyle

Personal preference and lifestyle also play a major role in deciding whether a pet suits you. This is as much about your lifestyle as it is about the animal.

We went over hedgehogs’ temperament – they are not very interactive and prefer their personal space. They don’t need constant care, making them suitable pets for people who don’t have much time to spare.

They’re also safe to keep indoors without causing harm to you or the animal and are small in size. Therefore, a hedgehog can be a good option if you prefer a low-maintenance, less interactive pet.

However, some people want more interaction with their pets and are willing to dedicate more time and effort to their needs.

While groundhogs are not usually recommended due to the need for more extensive care, if you have the outdoor space and the time to cater to them, they can also be kept as pets and be quite happy with their arrangement.

However, to ensure that the animal is safe and happy and is getting all their needs met, research the caretaking process before you adopt one.

Since these animals will be relying on you for their survival and well-being, always be sure you can fulfill your responsibilities before you take on any.


Most domestic animals live a longer life. Cats can live up to 18 years, while dogs can live up to 13.

In comparison, both hedgehogs and groundhogs have shorter lifespans in captivity.

For hedgehogs, a maximum of 8 years is possible if they receive excellent care, but the average is somewhere between 4 and 6 years.

Groundhogs generally live up to 6 years, but in some cases, they can live up to 14 years if they receive excellent care.

On that end, groundhogs may be better pets since you wouldn’t have to watch them pass, but it’s important to keep in mind that they are also more high-maintenance.

Only adopt a groundhog if you’re sure you could provide for them throughout their life.

Feeding & Diet

Hedgehogs are insectivores, which means they feed largely on insects. Insects are very high-protein, which is important for a hedgehog’s growth and development.

Without enough protein, they may suffer from stunted growth and may not be very healthy.

Caring for a Hedgehog or Groundhog

Caring for a Hedgehog

If you are considering a hedgehog as a pet, there are a few things you need to know about their care. Hedgehogs are active animals that require a lot of space to run around and explore.

They also like to climb, dig, swim, and jog on ramps, structures, and cardboard tubes inside their enclosure.

Therefore, you need to provide them a spacious cage with plenty of toys and hiding places.

Hedgehogs are also sensitive to temperature changes and require a warm environment to stay active and healthy.

The ideal temperature range for hedgehogs is between 75°F and 85°F. You can use a thermometer to monitor the temperature inside the cage and adjust it accordingly.

If the temperature goes outside this range, the hedgehog may enter a state of torpor where it becomes less active, negatively impacting the animal’s immune function.

It is also essential to provide your hedgehog with a healthy diet. Hedgehogs are insectivores and require a diet high in protein and low in fat.

You can feed them a combination of dry cat food, mealworms, crickets, and other insects.

However, avoid feeding them fruits, vegetables, and dairy products as they can cause digestive problems.

Caring for a Groundhog

Groundhogs are wild animals that are not suitable as pets. They are active during the day and hibernate during the winter months.

Therefore, they require a lot of space to explore and burrow. If you want to keep a groundhog as a pet, you need to provide them a spacious garden or outdoor enclosure with plenty of hiding places and tunnels.

Groundhogs are also sensitive to temperature changes and require a warm and dry environment to stay healthy.

They can suffer from respiratory problems if exposed to cold and damp weather.

Therefore, you need to provide them with a warm and dry shelter, such as a wooden box or a pile of hay.

Groundhogs are herbivores and require a diet high in fiber and low in fat. You can feed them a combination of fresh vegetables, fruits, hay, and pellets.

However, avoid feeding them high-calorie foods, such as nuts and seeds, as they can cause obesity and other health problems.

When handling a groundhog, it is essential to wear gloves and use a towel to avoid getting scratched or bitten.

Groundhogs can carry diseases, such as rabies and tularemia, that can be transmitted to humans.

Therefore, it is essential to keep them vaccinated and to avoid contact with wild groundhogs.


After considering the characteristics, differences, and care requirements of hedgehogs and groundhogs, we believe that hedgehogs make better pets for most people.

While groundhogs are fascinating animals, they are not suitable for most households due to their size, diet, and hibernation needs.

Hedgehogs, on the other hand, are small, cute, and relatively easy to care for. They are also legal to keep as pets in many states and countries.

Here are some of the reasons why we think hedgehogs are better pets than groundhogs:

  • Hedgehogs are smaller and easier to handle than groundhogs.
  • Hedgehogs are less likely to bite or scratch than groundhogs.
  • Hedgehogs are more active and playful than groundhogs.
  • Hedgehogs are less demanding in terms of space, diet, and temperature than groundhogs.
  • Hedgehogs are less likely to carry diseases that can infect humans than groundhogs.

Of course, owning a hedgehog is not without its challenges. Hedgehogs require a specialized diet, a clean living environment, and daily interaction with their owners to stay healthy and happy.

They also have sharp quills that can be painful if mishandled.

Overall, if you are looking for a unique and rewarding pet that is relatively easy to care for, a hedgehog may be the right choice for you.

Just be sure to do your research, find a reputable breeder or rescue organization, and provide your hedgehog with the love and attention it deserves.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can hedgehogs and groundhogs live together?

No, hedgehogs and groundhogs cannot live together. They are two different species with different needs and behaviors. Introducing them to each other can result in injury or even death.

What are the differences between hedgehogs and groundhogs?

Hedgehogs are small, nocturnal animals with spines on their back. They are native to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Groundhogs, on the other hand, are large rodents that live in North America. They are also known as woodchucks or whistle pigs. While both animals have “hog” in their name, they are not related.

What kind of habitat do hedgehogs need?

Hedgehogs need a warm, dry, and secure place to sleep during the day. They also need a large, enclosed area to roam around at night.

This can include a cage or a playpen. Hedgehogs are solitary animals and prefer to live alone.

Are groundhogs’ legal pets?

In most states, it is illegal to keep a groundhog as a pet. Groundhogs are considered wild animals and require special permits to own.

It is important to check with your local wildlife agency before considering a groundhog as a pet.

What are the pros and cons of owning a hedgehog as a pet?

Pros: Hedgehogs are cute, unique, and relatively low-maintenance pets. They are also quiet and do not require a lot of space.

Hedgehogs can bond with their owners and enjoy being handled.

Cons: Hedgehogs can be expensive to purchase and require a special diet. They also have spines that can be painful if mishandled.

Hedgehogs are also nocturnal, which means they are most active at night.

Are hedgehogs or groundhogs easier to care for as pets?

Hedgehogs are generally easier to care for than groundhogs. They are smaller and require less space. Hedgehogs also have a more predictable diet and are easier to handle.

Groundhogs, on the other hand, are larger and require more space and a more specialized diet. They are also more difficult to handle due to their size and strength.

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