Miniature hedgehogs are becoming a new trendy European accessory. In Britain, African pigmy hedgehogs are a new mandatory accessory of wealthy women. New prickly pets are replacing toy dogs in their owners’ purses. Cute pets won the hearts of many wealthy people, especially the wives of successful soccer players and socialites. These little creatures grow to only 5 inches long and are much easier to care for than dogs. The hedgehogs come in various colors that range from chocolate to albino and salt and pepper to apricot.
“They are cute, they love being handled and they will sit quite happily in a handbag. What’s more they are also inexpensive to keep, feeding on cat-food,” said Steve Birchall, owner of Cheshire Waterlife that breeds hedgehogs. “And they’re obviously popular as we’ve seen customers travel the length and breadth of the country to get here and buy one.”
Animal lovers criticize the new fad and are upset that the hedgehogs that sell for nearly $400 are presented as a fashionable accessory. Leanne Plumtree, north regional press officer for the RSPCA, said “Pygmy hedgehogs are undoubtedly very cute but animals aren’t accessories and promoting them as such is irresponsible.” “These are exotic animals whose needs are very difficult to meet in a household situation and where that’s the case, the RSPCA does not believe they should be kept.” Nonetheless, experts say that the sales of the tiny hedgehogs increase as Christmas and New Year holidays are approaching.
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