The hedgehog is another sacred animal in the Avesta. The ancient Zoroastrians believed that Ahura Mazda created the hedgehog to combat infestations of ants. In ancient Iran, people kept hedgehogs as pets because the hedgehog ate ants, spiders, and other insects.
When the Arabs invaded Iran in the 7th century AD, the Zoroastrians of Sistan (an area in the southeast of Iran) agreed to surrender to them only if their pet hedgehogs would not be killed.
The Avesta mentions 5 species of the hedgehog. The ancient Zoroastrians thought hedgehogs were relatives of the dog. However, hedgehogs are not dogs. They are insectivores because they eat insects. There are 14 species of hedgehog in the world today. The genus P. micropus is native to Iran and India. It is smaller than other hedgehog species, and it is perfect for keeping as a pet. Hedgehogs are quiet and don't have any body odor. So some people in the United States keep them as pets.
This Elamite toy from 4000 BC shows a hedgehog on a cart.