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Hedgehogs increasingly popular as pets

Jennifer Crespo breeds hedgehogs, like the baby below, at Crespo’s Crazy Critters, run out of her home in Gardner.
Jennifer Crespo breeds hedgehogs, like the baby below, at Crespo’s Crazy Critters, run out of her home in Gardner.Photos by Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

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Not since Sonic the Hedgehog became a home video game star in the early ’90s have the prickly little creatures been so popular.

A plump hedgehog adorns the April cover of National Geographic. Biddy, a 3-year-old African Pygmy hedgehog from Oregon, has more than 311,000 followers on Instagram. And, perhaps most telling: the long waiting lists to adopt a hedgehog.

“In the past year I’ve had a waiting list of about 400,” said Jill Warnick, the dean of Massachusetts hedgehog breeders, who charges $300 apiece for hedgehog babies. “And that’s interesting, because even during the economic downturn, sales, adoptions, requests all remained steady. But now they’re not just steady, they’re increasing.”

Local breeders estimate they’ve sold about 2,000 hedgehogs — or “hedgies,” as enthusiasts call them — over the past two years, due in part to social media, where thousands of smitten owners post snapshots of the so-called exotic pets.

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