Last Updated on August 22, 2022.


What to Do If You are Bitten

    • Don’t Panic. Most are just tiny little “nips” that feel like pinches, and there is not much to be done other than figuring out why you were bitten and how to prevent it in the future.
    • Review our article “How to Encourage a Hedgehog to Release a Bite” to better prepare you should a bite occur.
    • Most hedgehog bites barely break the skin and simply washing your hands with soap is sufficient to prevent infection.
    •  Although it is rare, if the bite is more severe and breaks the skin you will want to wash the area directly with soap and water, treat with an antibiotic ointment and cover with an adhesive bandage.

    Time Out

    • The reason a hedgehog bites will determine if you should immediately return your hedgehog to their cage after a bite.
    • A normally friendly hedgehog that bites out of spontaneous bad behavior can be returned to their cage as a form of punishment.
    • One of the most important things you can do for a grouchy hedgehog is NOT put  them down after a bite.  This can be the response your hedgehog wants, and  therefore, putting the hedgehog down can be a positive reinforcement.
    • Instead, simply hold your hedgehog away from your hands (such as in the crook of your arm) so that your hedgie can relax, but not get their way.  

    Incurable Hedgehogs

    • Although incurable hedgehogs are rare, there is a possibility that hedgehogs just want to bite.
    • After all  prevention and behavior modifications have been tried, it may be necessary to do a “skin test”.  Here are the steps for this test:
    1. Wear a pair of previously used gloves so that your hands are covered.
    2. Expose your arm so that the hedgehog has an opportunity to smell your skin.
    3. Hedgehogs that attempt to bite or DO bite may simply have a personality flaw.
    • Most breeders will exchange a biting hedgehog if you have worked with the breeder and followed their suggestions.

    Bites and Infection

    • “Any skin injury is at risk of becoming infected. An infection can occur when bacteria from the environment gets into an open wound, such as a scratch, cut, scrape, or puncture wound”.
    • Based on the research for this article, a hedgehog bite from a healthy hedgehog on a healthy individual is at no more risk for infection than any other skin injury.
    • Signs to look for that may indicate a mild infection are swelling and redness.  This can typically be avoided with proper cleansing of the wound area.
    • Tetanus shots and/or boosters are recommended for all animal owners.
    • Immunocompromised individuals are more at risk for serious infections and should be watched  closely for symptoms beyond a mild infection.

Contributors:  Gail Smith, Melissa Ramos, Holly Payton

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