Nose & Smelling

May 27, 2013 by

Keen Sense of Smell Hedgehogs have a keen sense of smell that is very useful to them in search of food and detecting danger. Their nose is warm and moist and a curious hedgehog will have their snout in the air sniffing, in order to gather information from it’s environment. At the slightest threat of danger (usually detected by noise or movement) they will duck their head for protection. Smell Related to Bonding Placing a T-Shirt that you’ve slept in, over your hedgehog’s cage, is one of the simplest ways for you to bond.  The hedgehog will associate your smell as part of it’s environment. Another way to incorporate your smell with your hedgehog, is to sleep with your hedgehog’s sleeping bag. Again, the hedgehog will associate your smell with a comfortable place. Some people take fleece and cut it into two-inch squares and tuck those fabric squares into their clothing. Many hedgehogs have been known to carry around these little squares like security blankets. Holding your hedgehog and allowing it to snuggle into your arm or fall asleep on you is an excellent form of bonding. Your hedgehog will appreciate your warm body and the comfortable place to snuggle. Your goal is for your hedgehog to associate your scent with comfort or something that is pleasant. For instance when our kids come into the house and smell chocolate chip cookies they immediately think...

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...

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...

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...

Treats Purpose & Guidelines

May 24, 2013 by

Purpose of Treats Providing treats to your pet hedgehog is both beneficial to you and your pet. We enjoy offering the treats and watching our pets benefit from our efforts. Variety One of the primary reasons for feeding treats to your pet is to provide a variety in their diet. The Hedgehog Diet Overview describes why variety is beneficial to your hedgehog. Different tastes and textures of foods provide enrichment as well as a source of nutrients that may be missing from its staple diet. Environmental Enrichment “Hiding” or scattering dry food treats encourages the hedgehog to forage as it would in its natural environment. Dry treats are preferred over moist treats, which will spoil if undiscovered, when hiding or scattering food. Stimulating hedgehog activity encourages exercise, which is beneficial to your hedgehog’s overall health. Bonding The giver of treats is always more welcome than empty hand. A happy hedgehog is more social and will look forward to handling and interaction. Tempting Taste Buds Hedgehogs can suddenly stop eating due to illness, depression, or stress. By knowing their favorite treats or foods, you can often tempt a hedgehog into eating when they aren’t inclined to eat their regular food. Having a list of foods they like and don’t like will not only help you, but also your hedgehog sitter if you should happen to leave your hedgehog in another person’s care. Knowing your hedgehogs...

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...

Bonding With Your Hedgehog

May 24, 2013 by

Introduction Bonding with your hedgehog helps to create an attachment between you and your pet. The more the attachment develops between you and your hedgehog, the more you will grow to love and enjoy your pet. Some hedgehogs will bond to their owners for life (HHC). Bonding does require effort, persistence, and an understanding of hedgehogs. The well-bonded hedgehog completely trusts its owner, its spines will stay flat and it is likely to tolerate being petted, scratched, and will be easy to handle Many hedgehogs don’t like to be petted by just anyone until they are completely comfortable with their environment.  This is especially important when a hedgehog goes to a new home. Hedgehogs have poor eyesight, so using its other senses will increase bonding effectiveness. Time Commitment As stated above, bonding does take effort and persistence, and may require a great deal of time.  Some hedgehogs will bond rather quickly, but other hedgehogs may take up to a YEAR to fully bond. Over time your hedgehog will become accustomed to your smell, feel, and will appreciate the warmth of your body. One of the best ways to bond with your hedgehog is to simply let it sit on your lap and get to know you while you watch a movie, talk on the phone, or work on a computer. Once your hedgehog uncurls it is likely to explore your lap, use you as...

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...

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