STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 2 (UPI) -- The Swedish Department for Animal Welfare and Health said an increasing number of Swedes are choosing African pygmy hedgehogs as pets.
Michael Diemer, the department's spokesman on issues related to pets and endangered species, told The Local.se officials have noted an increase in African pygmy hedgehog ownership amid an overall spike in popularity for exotic pets.
Diemer said it is not illegal to own the hedgehogs in Sweden, but officials are concerned many owners may not know how to properly care for the creatures.
"Pets like these need special environments, special food and specialist vets," he said. "We have noticed more people getting in touch with us over the past few years and now we are getting calls every week from people who are unsure how to care of these animals."
The pets sell for $285 to $430 in Sweden and subside on a diet of dry cat food and canned insects.
Heidi Permonen, a Swedish breeder of African pygmy hedgehogs, said the animals require less care than some more popular pets.
"I think that people are interested in African pygmy hedgehogs because they are not as demanding as cats and dogs, for example," she said. "You can cuddle them and they are very cute."