Defensiveness & Aggression

May 27, 2013 by

Defensiveness & Aggression

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.  This behavior may hurt but is not typically harmful to humans.  This action is more unusual than normal.
  • Hedgehogs can bite, but biting is usually attributed to other reasons (see the Biting Articles for more details).

Primary Author:  Gail Dick, Millermeade Farm’s Critter Connection

Contributor: Jamie Hand

References:
1 Ratliff, Evan. (March 2011). Taming the Wild. National Geographic. Retrieved February 10, 2012 from http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/03/taming-wild-animals/ratliff-text
2 Domestication. (2012). Retrieved February 10, 2012 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Domestication

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