Vocalizations and Noises

Jun 7, 2013 by

Vocalizations and Noises

Vocalizations

  • Hedgehogs use a wide range of sounds to communicate.
  • Listen carefully and observe your hedgehog’s behavior to clearly understand what your pet is trying to communicate.
  • Some hedgehog vocalizations can be described with more than one word.
  • Some sounds require little or no attention on your part. For example, the squeaking or chirping of new babies lets you know they have arrived, and, as long as mama isn’t stressed, you needn’t do anything.
  • Other sounds such as clicking or hissing should be a clear sign that your hedgehog is in defense mode and that you need to change how you are handling your pet.

Chirping (Squeaking)

  • Chirping, or squeaking, is often the first indication of new babies.
  • Leave your mother hedgehog alone if she is in her nesting box. If you hear this sound and your new mama does not have a nesting box, give her one right away. Be sure to disturb her as little as possible when she has newborn young.
  • Male hedgehogs breeding or trying to court females also make this sound.

Clicking (Kissing)

  • This soft clicking sounds similar to kissing.
  • Some hedgehogs do this when they are happy and content!

Clicking (Popping)

  • This louder clicking, or popping, may sound like a grunt or growl.
  • A hedgehog makes this aggressive sound when trying to defend itself. A scared or irritated hedgehog might make this sound.
  • Never intentionally provoke your hedgehog to make this sound.
  • It is best to avoid behavior that elicits this sound from your pet.  Touching a frightened hedgehog might make it more so.

Grunting

  • Grunting may be a sign of contentment.

Hissing

  • A hedgehog makes this aggressive sound when trying to defend itself. A scared or irritated hedgehog might make this sound.
  • It may sound like a chainsaw or a motorboat.

Huffing

  • Huffing is a sign of irritation, annoyance, or uncertainty.
  • Hedgehogs usually make this sound when they hear someone or something that is too close.
  • Your hedgehog might huff and puff, but it will not blow your house down!  Your pet is simply trying to tell you to back off and give it some space.

Puffing

  • Puffing is a sign of irritation, annoyance, uncertainty, displeasure or distrust.
  • Hedgehogs usually make this sound when they hear someone or something that is too close.
  • Your hedgehog might huff and puff, but it will not blow your house down!  Your pet is simply trying to tell you to back off and give it some space.

Purring

  • Purring is a sign of contentment.
  • You know your hedgehog is truly enjoying your company when you hear this sound.

Screaming

  • You never want to hear this sound because it indicates pain or extreme fear.
  • Fighting hedgehogs might scream.
  • Accidental injury, such as getting a leg caught, can also cause a hedgehog to make this sound.
  • Hedgehogs have been known to make this noise in their sleep for no apparent reason, as if they are having a hedgie nightmare.

Singing

  • This strange singing sound is part of the mating ritual.

Sneezing

  • Sneezing can mean displeasure and uncertainty when it accompanies a puffing sound.
  • This sound certainly can be a sign of illness, but some hedgehogs are simply trying to have a hedgehog “conversation” with you or are just checking things out.

Snorting

  • Snorting is a sign of displeasure, irritation, annoyance, or uncertainty.
  • This sound typically accompanies puffing.

Snuffling

  • Snuffling can normally be associated with a hedgehog that is happily exploring its surroundings.

Squealing

  • You may hear this sound when a fight is about to occur between two hedgehogs.

Wheezing

  • Certainly this sound can be a sign of illness, but some hedgehogs are simply trying to have a hedgehog “conversation” with you or are just checking things out.

Whistling

  • This is a sure sign of contentment!!
  • You know your hedgehog is truly enjoying your company when you hear this sound.

Noises

  • Hedgehogs are relatively quiet. They won’t disturb neighbors in an apartment.
  • They don’t bark or squawk and aren’t likely to make any more noise than a hamster running on its wheel and banging its water bottle.
  • You are likely to hear a hedgehog crunching on its food, but they don’t eat a lot so it shouldn’t last long!

Nighttime Activity

  • Hedgehogs are primarily active at night.
  • Hedgehogs have been known to rearrange cage furniture during the night.
  • They might bang on their water bottles.
  • They might engage in climbing and subsequently falling (which should be avoided through cage modifications).
  • Hedgehogs might also scratch at a Sterilite tub wall to escape.  Shelly Fowler, at Beach Bum Hedgehogs, advises that you can avoid this ritual by keeping a ventilated lid on the cage. Your pet will learn that escape is just not going to happen!

Wheeling

  • Hedgehogs will run on their wheels, which might cause some minimal noise.
  • Cut down wheeling noises by lubricating the spindle of a Comfort Wheel well with Vaseline or using a wheel with a bearing such as a Flying Saucer wheel.

The Last Word

  • Hedgehog Bottom, a wild hedgehog rescue in England, has this to say about one last hedgie noise:
  • Bottom Burps

    OK, let’s stop pussy footing around farting, passing wind, parping, whatever you want to call it. Hogs do that too. Again, careful with this one as it’s very similar to a hog with breathing difficulties so just have a quick look to make sure they’re OK.

Contributors:
Nicole Belval, formerly of Prickly Pair Hedgehogs; Shelly Fowler, Beach Bum Hedgehogs; Susan Crocker, Susan’s Hawkeye Hedgies

References:
Hedgehog Bottom Rescue (Creator). (2012). What the Heck is that Noise [Audio file]. Retrieved from http://www.hedgehog-rescue.org.uk/sounds/noises.php

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