Ashley Ganey, owner of Eternal Hedgehogs in Oxford, considers herself a hedgehog enthusiast.
As a little girl, Ganey always wanted her own hedgehog after having one as a classroom pet in sixth-grade. She was fascinated by them and learned that not only do they make great pets, but that many need to be rescued and cared for.
After adopting her first hedgehog for her son in 2011, Ganey said she became inspired to help others learn about the joys of caring for these prickly pets.
She set up shop that year and has been bringing adorable hedgehogs, along with products for their care, to the community ever since.
“They’re starting to get more popular but a lot of people still don’t know about them,” Ganey said. “We got our first one for our son as a pet back when he was three and it kind of grew from there. We started out as a small breeder but, as they grew in popularity, we got quite a few more. Now we’re one of the largest breeders in Michigan.”
Through her business, Eternal Hedgehogs, Ganey breeds and rescues hedgehogs– which she affectionately refers to as ‘hedgies.’
One of the most rewarding parts of the business for Ganey is accepting hedgehogs that have been rescued and surrendered by owners who can no longer care for them and then pairing them with the perfect forever family.
“As far as the adoptions go, it’s always nice to be able to give back and to take ones in that don’t have a family or maybe aren’t being treated right… and to be able to rehome them and find a great place for them to go,” Ganey said.
She currently cares for around 65 hedgehogs out of her home in Oxford.
Caring for so many hedgehogs is no easy feat, so Ganey said she counts on the help of her husband, Mike, and their children, Hunter, 10, Levi, 8, Gauge, 6 and Kade, 2. They also have a one-year-old son named Ryker.
Together, the family cares for each hedgehog and socializes them before they are adopted out.
According to Ganey, Eternal Hedgehogs takes pride in their hedgehog’s breeding lineage and also offers a one-year guarantee with every adoption against genetic defects including Wobbly Hedgehog Syndrome, a neurological disease which causes paralysis in African hedgehogs.
They are also licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
A big part of Ganey’s mission also includes educating people on proper hedgehog care.
Hedgehogs are relatively easy pets to look after, said Ganey, but they still require lots of time and attention. They must also be consistently kept in temperatures above 75 degrees to prevent them from hibernating, using the help of a space heater or lamp.
As nocturnal creatures, Ganey added that hedgehogs are also the perfect companion for people who are away from their homes throughout the day.
“Education is one huge thing that we love bringing to the community,” she said. “A lot of people are really misinformed and the internet has a lot of false information about hedgehogs, so a lot of people wind up doing the wrong thing when they’re just trying to do the right thing. It’s nice to be able to tell people about their nutrition and their specific needs as exotic animals.”
As part of that mission, Ganey said Eternal Hedgehogs offers lifetime support to people who adopt their hedgehogs.
“We’ll get on (Facebook) and ask people if they have questions, we’ll try and do a video chat, phone calls… Whatever it takes to extend the life of our hedgehog,” she added.
When it comes to the care of these exotic pets, Eternal Hedgehogs is a one-stop-shop.
Eternal Hedgehogs offers a variety of different supplies for hedgehogs, including sleep sacks, hedgehog shampoos and oils. It also offers grooming and boarding services.
For more information on Eternal Hedgehogs, visit www.eternalhedgehogs.com.