How To Encourage A Hedgehog To Release A Bite...

Oct 11, 2013 by

Keep in mind hedgehogs are natural hunters.  Their instinct is to hold on until what they have in their mouth is still.  Do not attempt to shake off your hedgehog (or other small critters). Hedgehog enthusiasts tend to disagree on what is the best method to stop a bite.  What one person might consider safe and effective another person might view as cruel. Regardless of your behavior modification preference, should your hedgehog actually latch on to your skin, pulling away might encourage your hedgehog to grip tighter. One method of getting a hedgehog to release a bite is to simply scream like the dickens when you get bit.  This startle technique lets the biter know that a negative reaction happens when they bite.  It is also a good healthy way for the one being bitten to relieve their stress! Another safe and simple way to encourage your hedgehog to release a bite is to gently cover both nostrils.  The hedgehog will release its bite so it can take a breath. Blowing in the hedgehog’s face works sometimes, but many breeders recommend not doing this because it could cause the hedgehog to clamp down tighter. Others have found that a splash of water or a quick dash under running water will shock the hedgehog into releasing.  Of course you will need to ensure that your hedgehog is properly dry before retuning it to its cage....

Introduction To Biting Articles

Jun 24, 2013 by

Introduction  Most hedgehogs do not bite. Any animal with teeth has the potential to bite, so hedgehog owners must understand the potential of getting bit is always present. Hedgehogs aren’t like dogs, where the bite is usually an intentionally mean or aggressive act. Their main line of defense is to ball up and use their spines for protection, rather than to bite. Hedgehogs do investigate the world around them with their nose, eyes, and mouth.  Quite literally, your pig probably doesn’t even realize she’s hurting you. Also keep in mind that hedgehogs are *hard-wired* to put new/odd/unusual things in their mouths, chew on it and then anoint with it.  So in a way, it’s a compliment your hedgie is biting you, because she finds you interesting. The good news is that hedgehogs’ mouths are designed to crush bugs and not fingers! Their tiny teeth and elongated jaw make it difficult to get in a good chomp when compared to the average cranky hamster. One need not be fearful of a hedgehog bite, but we do want to make you aware that it can happen and when it happens, what to do and how to understand your hedgehog’s biting. Proper understanding of hedgehog behavior will help decrease the risk and/or frequency of biting. How Bad Does it Hurt? Hedgehogs have fairly small teeth designed to crunch insects. They do not have the typical rodent incisors...

Quilling

Jun 5, 2013 by

The Process of Quilling There are times when a hedgehog will shed large numbers of quills and replace shed ones with new ones.  This process is called quilling.  The quilling process is different than the replacement of spines that are lost individually.  Quilling is a gradual and natural process that happens over time rather than an over-night occurrence.  It can be better compared to teething in human babies. Quilling occurs over an extended period of time rather than shedding like a snake that typically occurs overnight or in a short period of time. Quills that are shed naturally have a root or bulb at the end (like human hair) but spines that are shed due to a skin condition or mites tend to have a flaky or soft tip on the end of the spine. The first major quilling or heaviest quilling occurrence is often distinguished by the loss of small fine quills and the growth of new quills.  New quills can most easily be seen on a relaxed hedgehog looking down the spine and over the rump.  They will be thicker new quills beginning to poke through the skin surface.   Quilling is often equated with the “Terrible Twos” or “Adolescents”. New quill points will break through the skin fairly quickly after spines are lost so there are no bald spots or large areas of visible thinning in the hedgehog’s spine coat. Each...

Signs Of Affection Or Lack Thereof

May 27, 2013 by

Some hedgehogs do not display outward signs of affection, while others can be quite affectionate towards their owners. Hedgehogs do not typically come when called, or actively seek out human interaction. They are NOT like cats and dogs, which have drastically different personalities and forms of affection. You may be sadly disappointed if you are looking for an attention-seeking and affection-giving pet. Your hedgehog may not even greet you or seem happy when you wake it up to take it out of its cage. The average hedgehog is content to do its own thing and may not show any outward sign that it even cares about your existence unless you have a treat in hand. Despite their somewhat solitary nature, they can become very affectionate with their owners and will even enjoying watching TV with you or just snuggling in your...

Huffing, Puffing & Popping

May 27, 2013 by

Understanding Huffing, Puffing, and Popping When you first pick up your hedgehog, it may have its spines erect, and it may make some defensive noises. Huffing and puffing is a way for a hedgehog to say, “I’m big and bad”. It is a sign that your hedgehog is threatened and scared, nervous, or possibly unhappy. When a hedgehog huffs and puffs, it is trying to intimidate whatever is making it feel defensive. Big Scaredy Cats Hedgehogs are usually shy when introduced to something new. They are often born like scared cats and need to learn that they are safe. So, it is quite natural for the hedgehog to be scared or nervous; the huffing and puffing noises are an attempt to scare you away. Hedgehogs still have many of their wild instincts – including a fear of potential predators (and this includes humans!) due to the fact that they have a limited defense system and poor eyesight. Until your hedgehog knows who you are and that you have good intentions, it is simply trying to communicate its uncertainty with you. When you take your hedgehog from its home and move it to a new environment, it has to relearn that it is safe in the new surroundings. Bed Heads Keep in mind that your hedgehog may have woken up and therefore be uncertain of its surroundings. Daytime for us is actually the middle of...

Defensiveness & Aggression

May 27, 2013 by

Aggression Hedgehogs are not naturally offensive or aggressive to either perceived or real danger; instead, they are instinctively very defensive, because their primary concern in life is survival! They do not attack when they feel threatened, but would rather hide. Hedgehogs are shy and can easily feel threatened when confronted with something new, different, or startling in their environment. Unlike a dog that is likely to protect itself by fighting off danger, a hedgehog is likely to simply try to hide until danger goes away. Moreover, hedgehogs were first introduced into the pet trade in the early 1990’s and have not been domesticated as long as other pets.1, 2 Most breeders try to continually breed for increasingly friendly hedgehogs. Defense Mechanisms Hedgehogs that are mildly threatened or startled will simply lower their visor or the spines on their forehead to protect their eyes. The most obvious hedgehog defense is to curl up in a ball and use its spines to protect its head and vulnerable underbelly. Huffing or puffing is the hedgehogs’ way to appear more threatening than they really are, and to ward off potential harm. Hedgehogs can click or pop as a way to poke human hands or any other critters that aren’t intimidated by the huffing and puffing. Hedgehogs that feel threatened may use their visor or forehead spines to ram or lunge into something in order to poke the offender....

Balling Up

May 27, 2013 by

First Line of Defense When a hedgehog senses danger, or is uncertain about something in its environment, its first line of defense is to ball up.  This classic hedgehog trait is made possible by the orbicularis muscle, which runs along the edge of its body. In order to ball up, a hedgehog tightens this muscle, which acts like a drawstring.  This enables the hedgehog to hide its head, belly, feet, and legs in a prickly coat of erect spines. A balled-up hedgehog may also snuffle, huffle, snort, or pop in order to seem scarier and more menacing to potential dangers. An obese hedgehog may not be able to roll into a tight ball. This is a sure sign that the hedgehog needs a change in its diet, supervised with veterinary care. Hedgehogs that are sick, injured, cold, or lethargic may not be able to unroll, or they may not be able to ball up.  These hedgehogs need immediate veterinary attention. Shock Absorber Hedgehogs will also ball themselves up when they are falling, to cushion the impact of their fall.  Their tuck and roll characteristic is similar to that of paratrooper, and gives them a sense of fearlessness when falling. Even though the quills act as a natural shock absorber, the hedgehog can still be injured from its fall.  The quills can actually puncture inwards and injure the hedgehog, so it is always better to...

Grouchy Hedgehogs

May 27, 2013 by

Are Hedgehogs Truly Grouchy or Are They Simply Misunderstood? Understanding Hedgehog Behavior “I’d rather be alone.” One of the biggest misconceptions about the hedgehog is that this naturally shy animal is “grumpy” or “grouchy”. The reality is hedgehogs are simply fearful of changes in their environment (i.e.: Being handled by a new person). “I heard that!” Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, but heightened senses of hearing, motion detection, and even emotion detection. This makes them very sensitive to changes in their environment, and changes in your approach and mood.  The way in which hedgehogs are approached and handled can determine their reaction. “Trust takes time.” You must to prove yourself trustworthy before a hedgehog can completely relax and enjoy being in your company. To do this, you must be persistent, patient, and relaxed. If your pet senses you are scared to handle it, then it will most likely react defensively. “Take a step back, please.” When hedgehogs are nervous or scared they will ball up, becoming a handful of prickly quills. This natural defensive mechanism is not a sign of aggression. They are simply protecting themselves from the unknown. “I don’t feel so good.” Hedgehogs with health issues may be less responsive to handling due to pain or discomfort, and may prefer to be left alone. Quilling is an example of a normal process that can be very uncomfortable for a hedgehog and can impact...

Burrowing

May 27, 2013 by

Natural Instinct Hedgehogs sleep during the day in any dark place that they can find. In the wild, they may hide from other animals in vacated burrows, under rocks, or in thick vegetation.  They typically dig their own shallow burrow under some form of cover. They enter and exit their burrows headfirst, so the burrows or hiding places must be large enough for the hedgehog to turn around. Cage Activity In captivity, hedgehogs enjoy burrowing, and if a hedgehog escapes, it will hide in any dark, quiet place it can find. Ideally, the hedgehog’s cage is large enough to provide an igloo or other object in which they can hide.  This not only provides hedgehogs with environmental enrichment, but with a better sense of security as well. The Lixit® igloo and a sleeping bag together provide a great place for a hedgehog to burrow in its cage. Escaped Hedgehog When a hedgehog escapes, it will almost always look for a place to burrow and hide. Some of these places may include:  in shoes, behind appliances, under furniture, or under clothes.  Usually hedgehogs will first travel around the outer edges of the room, looking for a place to hide. Handling Challenges Many hedgehogs will try to burrow into their human friend to find a warm, cozy place to sleep. Almost all hedgehogs will root and wiggle their way into the crook of your arm to find...

Activity Levels Of Pet Hedgehogs

May 27, 2013 by

 Nocturnal, Crepuscular, and Diurnal Defined Animal activity is defined as nocturnal (nighttime), crepuscular (twilight – early morning and late evening), or diurnal (daytime). Hedgehogs are typically described as nocturnal or crepuscular. Most pet hedgehogs sleep during the day, only coming out for an occasional snack or drink. Our article ‘Are Hedgehogs Nocturnal, Crepuscular, or Diurnal?’ describes this topic in great detail, with many sources and opinions provided. Hedgehog Activity at Millermeade Farms Almost all hedgehog activity at our place, occurs when we turn off the lights for the night. We feed all our animals in the morning. Many hedgehogs come out to greet us and have snacks, but all quickly return to their slumber. Throughout the day, hedgehogs may get up to have a drink or a bite to eat, or use the litter pan, but for the most part there is very little daytime activity. On cage-cleaning days, weaning days, and days that we rotate our breeding animals, there is quite a bit of activity. Hedgehogs love to explore their clean cage and then usually go right back to sleep. Are Hedgehogs Lazy? You may think your hedgehog just sleeps all the time, but most likely they are active when you are not. Customers frequently ask questions about and comment on their hedgehog’s lack of daytime activity or their “laziness”, and wonder if this is normal hedgehog behavior. Our former ‘Critter Connection’ website answered...

Explore Mode

May 27, 2013 by

In the wild, hedgehogs are always exploring their surroundings for food and shelter. Pet hedgehogs are shy and tend to take some time to uncurl and explore their surroundings. Sudden movements and noises tend to startle them and make them curl into a ball. When your hedgehog uncurls, it will most likely begin to explore and start checking out its surroundings. Some hedgehogs are brave explorers and will immediately uncurl and start walking on your hands. Others will start out by sniffing and duck their head at the slightest of noises. Hedgehogs will not jump, but they will walk right off your hands. As your hedgehog walks off one hand, move the other hand in front of it so it has a new walking platform. Hedgehogs are not “fast” when compared to other animals; but when a hedgehog starts moving in your hands, it will certainly seem to be quite speedy. As your hedgehog gains confidence exploring your hands it will gain confidence in you. There are times when you will want to cuddle with your hedgehog and it will want to explore. Breeders strongly recommend that you allow your hedgehog to burn off some of its energy so that when it is good and ready, there is a good chance, it will come up to you and find a place to snuggle. Primary Author:  Gail Dick, Millermeade Farm’s Critter...

Cuddly Cactuses

May 27, 2013 by

Introduction Hedgehogs are often described as “cute and cuddly” and “cactus mammals”. They are certainly not soft and fluffy like a puppy, kitty, or your favorite teddy bear. Many wonder: Can they snuggle into the crook of your arm and fall asleep? Absolutely! Can they fall asleep on your chest while you enjoy a movie reclining in your favorite chair? Certainly! Do they ever “melt” in the palm of your hand as you scratch their favorite spot? Definitely! Will you get pricked during the bonding process?  Definitely, but it is worth the effort. Once they are bonded can you pet them without getting pricked?  Without a doubt. Smooth Quills or Prickly Quills In spite of how prickly a hedgehog might seem, nearly any hedgehog can be handled with bare hands. When a hedgehog is completely comfortable and relaxed, it can put its spines down, laying them completely flat. A relaxed hedgehog is very easy to handle and may let you pick it up, rub its belly, and scratch its back all without a single poke or prickle. When a hedgehog is NOT relaxed and comfortable, it becomes a prickly little cactus and certainly not cuddly by any stretch of definition. Just to confuse matters a little more, some hedgehogs that are relaxed simply do not like to cuddle as much as others and some will not cuddle at all. Some hedgehogs are more active...

When & How Much to Handle Your Hedgehog...

May 25, 2013 by

Handling Frequency Pet hedgies do best if handled every day, even if it is for just a short amount of time. We recommend handling your hedgehog for at least half an hour a day.  The easiest way to accomplish this task is 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. Some hedgehog owners suggest that you wait for a few days to handle your new hedgehog, so that it has a chance to get accustomed to it’s cage.  This is not a bad idea, but it is not always necessary in many cases.  We believe that if your hedgehog is not showing signs of stress it is ok to handle it from the beginning.  This allows the bonding process to start immediately with your new pet. Even with consistent handling they may take a long time to become accustomed to their new owners and environment. Like most pets, the more time you spend with your hedgehog the better socialized and friendly it will become. Time of Day You will find that your hedgehog will be more receptive to handling or play at different times of the day. Some hedgehogs might be more active in the morning; others might be more active in the evening.  Hedgehogs that want to run and play are likely to become frustrated if you try to restrain them in your hands. We typically handle our hedgehogs in...

Waking Up Your Hedgehog

May 25, 2013 by

Time of Day Hedgehogs are, by nature, nocturnal, but that does not necessarily mean that they should not be awakened for bonding or playtime during the day. Some hedgehog owners have found that their hedgehogs have a particular time when they wake up in a better mood than other times. One hedgehog owner described how her hedgehog was grouchy when woken up at 10 AM, fine at 11 AM, but grouchy when awakened at noon.  An hour difference in playtime routine made a big difference for her hedgehog.  Even hedgehogs might like schedules! You might need to handle your hedgehog at different times of the day to determine if your hedgehog has a handling time preference. Handling times might also be affected by feeding times.  For instance, if your hedgehog is regularly fed at 7 PM it might not want to play at 6:30 PM, when it is anticipating dinner. Hedgehogs Waking Up on Their Own Some hedgehog owners have spent quite a long time waiting on their hedgehog to wake up on their own, so as not to disturb their sleep. Unless you are waiting in the dark you might be waiting to no avail for your hedgehog to wake.  Being nocturnal, hedgehogs are not necessarily on a time schedule depending on the hour of the day, but rather the amount of light at that particular hour. To encourage your hedgehog to come...

Picking Up Your Hedgehog

May 25, 2013 by

Hand Washing It is always a good idea to practice proper hand washing techniques before and after handling your hedgehog. Proper hand washing can help to protect your hedgehog from potentially dangerous bacteria or other substances on your hands. Hand washing protects you from having your hedgehog take a sample bite of you!  It is only critter nature to want a sample if your hands smell like food or something tasty. An unscented or lightly scented antibacterial soap is best.  Some scented soap such as fruit varieties might smell appetizing to your hedgehog. Avoid alcohol based hand sanitizers as the hedgehog may lick your hand. Speed When picking up your hedgehog, many prefer the “JUST DO IT” method. The more confidence you have with your hedgehog, the more secure the hedgehog will feel with you. It is important to move steadily and confidently.  Certainly picking up a hedgehog doesn’t hurt nearly as bad as getting a shot, but the spines are sharp and they are going to prick you to some degree.  How you handle your hedgehog will determine how much they prick you. Compare picking up a hedgehog to a nurse giving you a shot.  You don’t want her to ram the needle into you, but at the same time, you don’t want it to be drawn out and extremely slow.  Steady and confident are characteristics you want in a nurse and a...

Uncurling

May 25, 2013 by

The Key to Uncurling The key to getting your hedgehog to uncurl is getting it to relax. When hedgehogs are scared or nervous their primary form of defense, or protection, is to ball up and “hide”. Most hedgehogs won’t uncurl until they feel it is safe for them to come out of their ball to explore. Keep in mind that your hedgehog can’t see anything around it, so it relies on its other senses to determine if it is safe to uncurl. We, at Millermeade Farms, and Shelly, at Beach Bum Hedgehogs, have found that when baby hedgehogs are handled gently and in ways that cause them to feel secure, they are less likely to have serious problems as they grow older. Friendly hedgehogs can become nervous with nervous owners/handlers. When someone is nervous, the hedgehog immediately picks up on the nervousness and becomes nervous, scared, and defensive as well. It is an excellent idea to use gloves, a sleeping bag, or a hedgehog hat to assist you in picking up your hedgehog if you are nervous. Where and How to Hold Your Hedgehog Simply holding the hedgehog on your hands out flat in front of you, away from your body, helps the hedgehog feel more comfortable and more apt to start to uncurl, than if you hold the hedgehog in cupped hands or close to your body. One can think about how a...

My Hedgehog Hates Me!

May 25, 2013 by

Perceived Signs Your Hedgehog Hates You Snuffles and raises its quills when picked up Is grumpy Runs and hides when lights turn on Runs away when owner tries to hold it Hates to be touched Is startled at every little sound or movement Wrong!  Your Hedgehog Does NOT Hate You The three most common reasons for less than friendly behavior include: Your hedgehog has “bed-head”.  (See below) Your hedgehog is afraid. Your hedgehog is uncomfortable due to quilling. By understanding your hedgehog’s behavior you can handle your hedgehog in ways that make your hedgehog more comfortable. Your hedgehog needs to be comfortable before it can relax. Hedgehog “Bed-Head” Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures this means that they typically sleep during daylight hours and are active at night. Therefore, we need to wake up our hedgehogs in order to play with them. Some hedgehogs wake up in a great mood while others need some time. Hedgehogs, like humans with “bed-head”, need some time without a lot of stimulation, such as touch. Touching a hedgehog with “bed-head” increases the hedgehog’s irritation thus causing it to huff and puff more instead of relaxing. The best ways to wake up a hedgehog with “bed-head” is to simply hold it in flat hands or sit it down on a pillow or other soft place and allow it to become active on its own. See the article, Waking Up Your Hedgehog for more information about...

Behavior Changes & Adjusting to New Homes...

May 25, 2013 by

Behavior Changes It is common for a hedgehog to exhibit changes in its behavior between the time it is purchased and the time the hedgehog is settled into its new home. These changes can occur for many reasons. By understanding these reasons, you can help your hedgehog transition smoothly into your home. With patience and proper handling, you and your new hedgehog will be the best of friends. New Surroundings Keep in mind that your hedgehog is leaving familiar surroundings. It is leaving its cage mates and home and entering into a strange new world. A change in environment and its associated affects is often called “shipping stress”. All animals react differently to changes. This is proven by the fact that differences in stress levels between animals are noted at the time of weaning. Handling Techniques Handling hedgehogs is prickly business. A hedgehog owner’s confidence can range from having no fear of getting pricked, to being very scared of his or her new pet. Remember that hedgehogs have great emotion detection. If you are nervous, your hedgehog is likely to be nervous. Proper handling is something that is learned and perfected with practice. Read and review the tips outlined in our other guides to make sure that you are doing what is best to encourage a good response from your pet. Quilling The quilling process is likely to have started or will soon start...

Using Gloves When Handling Your Hedgehog...

May 24, 2013 by

Necessity Quite a few hedgehog books and owners recommend the use of rubber or leather gloves when handling hedgehogs, but gloves are NOT a necessary part of hedgie handling. The rationale behind using gloves is so that you will be more comfortable handling your pet and that the spines will not poke you. We teach all of our customers how to handle our hedgie babies without gloves.  The hedgehog can get more comfortable with your movements and you won’t be as fearful of its movements. However, using gloves to learn how to pick up your hedgie is better than not handling your hedgehog at all, or not having the confidence to pick up your hedgehog properly. Type We suggest using cotton gardening gloves with rubber coated palms and fingers or very thin leather gloves. Thick leather gloves are stiffer, harder to maneuver, and more difficult to take off. Many hedgehogs do find leather tasty and may nip at the gloves, but simply leaving the gloves in your hedgehog’s cage overnight should remedy this situation. It is a good idea to sleep with your gloves under your pillow or tuck them into your shirt so that they are completely permeated with your smell.  That way the hedgie will associate the gloves with you. Technique Use the same method to pick up your hedgehog with gloves as you would without gloves. Let the hedgehog uncurl in...

Petting Your Hedgehog

May 24, 2013 by

Petting Basics Even though hedgehogs are “pets” they may not automatically enjoy being petted.  You must first earn your hedgehog’s trust so that it can relax and enjoy your touch, rather than fear your touch as potential harm. It is o.k. to begin to attempt to pet your hedgehog once your hedgehog is relaxed and exploring in your hands. When you notice your hedgehog pulling its “visor” down over its eyes, that is a signal to you that it isn’t quite comfortable with you yet or it doesn’t like what you are doing. When your hedgehog huffs or puffs, just relax and give your hedgehog time to relax.  Don’t attempt to continue to pet it. You are actually TEACHING the hedgehog to huff and puff in your hands if you continue to pet the hedgehog when it isn’t ready for you to  pet it. Give it more time just to explore in your hands so that it gets more comfortable with you. Always pet your hedgehog while it is in your hand. Never reach into the cage to pet your hedgehog unless your hedgehog is completely comfortable with you. Technique Most people know to pet a hedgehog from front to back just as you would with any other animal. I have found that hedgehogs respond much more quickly to petting if done so that it can see your hand, smell your hand, and know...

Page 1 of 212