Senses: Motion & Emotion Detection
- Hedgehogs are very good at detecting motion around them, even when they are rolled into a ball or cannot see.
- Hedgehogs will often perceive movement as danger unless they are completely relaxed with their surroundings.
- A sleeping hedgehog (or a hedgehog trying to go to sleep) may display it’s annoyance of movement, even if it knows the cause of the movement.
- For instance, if you are in the dark you can sense movement even if you cannot see what is moving. A good example is a haunted house – you are naturally afraid when something moves close to you until you can distinguish between the unknown and a friend.
- Hedgehogs will raise their quills when they sense movement to protect themselves. They are naturally defensive until they are convinced they are safe.
- It is human nature to want to reach out and touch a hedgehog when it is sleeping or curled into a ball in it’s cage. What we might consider touching, a hedgehog considers a poke, and it will almost always raise it’s quills with a huff and puff, resulting in a prick to the poking finger.
- Proper handling can help prevent the automatic fear when being picked up.
Motion Detection Related to Handling
- First and foremost when you are attempting to pick up your hedgehog – just do it. Don’t reach in and have “false-starts” in picking it up. Your movement around the hedgehog will cause it to huff and puff in protection.
- Pay close attention when petting your hedgehog. Always start your petting motion from the tip of the nose and move toward the tail.
- Take care not to approach from the side or behind.
- Hold your hedgehog in flat hands. When your hands are cupped the hedgehog can sense something around it rather than sitting on a flat surface.
- Hedgehogs, like other animals, are able to sense the fear, nervousness, or confidence of the humans handling them.
- Hedgehogs have a tendency to act more nervous if they sense you are nervous and will relax more quickly if you are calm.
Author: Gail Dick, Millermeade Farm’s Critter Connection
Contributor: Susan Crocker, Susan’s Hawkeye Hedgies