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...

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...

Basic Handling

May 24, 2013 by

Introduction Hedgehogs are wonderful little creatures that have unique habits and personalities. Their response to you will depend on how you handle them and how you respond to their needs. You will need to learn to respond to your hedgehog’s subtle way of communicating and adapt to their prickly protectiveness. Our human nature is to want to reach out and touch or pet our prickly friends or to hold them close and cuddle them. As naturally shy animals, hedgehogs will require you to earn their trust before they accept your handling.  Once a hedgehog is comfortable with you, they will appreciate your affection. Holding A Hedgehog We have found it almost necessary to “retrain our brain” and think of hedgehog handling as different from all other small pet handling. When we pick up other small pets, puppies, or kittens, we want to hold them close and pet them to help them feel safe, secure, and to help them relax. Hedgehogs, on the other hand, seem to respond very well to sitting on completely flat hands out away from our body. When we hold them close, their senses are almost “overloaded” making it difficult for them to relax.  Petting is very scary for hedgehogs when they don’t know who or what is touching them. Try to keep in mind that we, as humans, don’t want anyone or anything scary touching us, and hedgehogs are no...