Cute and prickly: Hedgehogs finding homes as pets

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GARDNER, Mass. (AP) — A growing number of American homes are now also home to Africa pygmy hedgehogs, despite laws in at least six states banning or restricting ownership.

Breeders say the trend is partly fueled by the fact that hedgehogs require less maintenance than dogs and cats, and they emit little odor, unlike rodents and rabbits.

Hedgehogs are solitary animals, making them ideal for people with a busy lifestyle.

Hedgehogs' acceptance as household pets is helped by the fact that their curious, sweet faces are featured in children's books, literature and movies.

Still, critics of exotic pet ownership say hedgehogs sometimes carry salmonella that represent a risk to children or older people with a weakened immune system. Washing hands after handling the animals or their foods reduces the risk.

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