My hedgehog hates me! What can I do about it?


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This is quite a common complaint by new hedgehog owners. Several of my friends have claimed that their hedgehog is very grumpy, angry, and behaving with them, not in a nice manner. It is also more common if you have adopted an exotic breed like the African pygmy hedgehog.

My hedgehog hates me

My hedgehog hates me, what to do? Listen, your hedgehog does not hate you. He is likely just scared of a big ”animal” like you. He is also perturbed by the new environment with a lot of lights, disturbing sounds, and different smells. It is better to give him time to adapt to the new environment and takes things slow till then. You can also use tricks to bond with him like making your scent natural to him and treating him with confidence.

Why do hedgehogs behave grumpy, angry?

Hedgehogs are prey animals[1], and so they are fearful of everything that moves, not just you. They neither like to be patted nor like to be played with until you’ve bonded with them. They just don’t like to be jerked around or to be played with an almost stranger. Won’t you?

from imageflip

Sometimes you may get lucky and get a good hedgehog who is quite comfortable with opening up but most of the time that’s not the case. Training can help but up to an extent. So what you can do is just do not bother them if they don’t like it.

We have also added a lot of tricks you can apply to tame your hedgehog to make them behave with you in a much better way.

How to make a hedgehog like you (Hedgehog taming guide)

1. Although it’s been quite neglected, a very common problem with these types of hedgehogs is their sourcing. A lot of them are bought from unreliable breeders who keep them in awful conditions, and such situations make their behavior quite bad in the early stages of their life. So, make sure to adopt your hedgehog from a reputable breeder who treats their hedgehogs respectfully.[2]

2. You must have read in several guides that you should give time to your hedgehog and stop bonding with them until they want you to. That should be read with a pinch of salt. We would suggest you start the bonding process immediately. Do not delay the bonding as it could result in other complications.

3. Hedgehogs love to explore surrounding so we would suggest you to expose them to new things, new smells, and sounds. Pleasant exposure to pleasurable things is key to the bonding.

4. Several people fear their quills and therefore wear gloves. We do not recommend that at all. Do not wear gloves while handling your hedgehog as this will prevent them from understanding your sensation and might trigger a bad scenario when they feel you in a bad mood.

Via reddit user/zoelongstocking/

5. Always show confidence while handling your hedgehog. Like us, hedgehogs do not like to be patted by unconfident humans.

6. Avoid weirdly touching their spines and always handle them properly. Do not touch their faces as hedgehog rarely like that. Think of how you would feel if some stranger starts to touch your face absurdly?

7. Hedgehogs are nocturnal.[3] They do not like to be awake all the time, so it is better to handle them late in the night or early in the morning. Sometimes they can wake up in the middle of the day, but most likely they will not be in a good mood to play with. So handle them at times where they are also comfortable.

8. Sometimes we do not get time to play with our pets so we might delay handling them for weeks. This is not recommended with hedgehogs. You must pet your hedgehog and play with them at least within 2 to 3 days. Consistency is key. If you are consistent your bonding would be much better and the hedgehog would be less grumpy the next time you handle him.

9. Provide them with a proper cage with good ventilation and a lot of areas to play with. Now some cages which are cheap and easily available are quite small for hedgehogs. They do not get the room to play and explore. They like to go from one place to another in search of things. If you stop their playtime and their exploration time, they may get sick. They are also likely to get a bad mood due to less exercise. You can choose a case like this one with a sufficient area.

Via Reddit user/Euqah/

10. Now one more trick is to make pleasurable things smell like you. So, what you can do is try to provide vegetables directly with your hands and even insects. So, when they are eating something, they will also smell your hand. This type of behavior modification helps in bonding quite well.

11. Also, an important thing to note is to not give up. There are times when you are doing everything and the hedgehog is still grumpy and angry. It takes time to bond with them as it also depends from hedgehog to hedgehog. Each one of them is not like the other and the bonding time could increase or decrease based on individual characteristics.

Courtesy Reddit user/nkeefe/

12. As said in the previous trick, you should give them time to adjust. They are in a new environment, and they have never seen an environment like yours ever before, so be patient with them. Don’t try to hurry the bonding.

13. Understand that hedgehogs have up to weak eyesight and the only things that they could clearly understand are smells and sounds. So provide them with a good environment where the smell they associate with you is positive, and there is not much noise. You can keep them in a separate room where all these possibilities are there.

14. Always pick them up using the scoop up motion so that they do not feel abruptly picked up. They should clearly see your hands while they are getting lifted up into the sky. This helps in building up trust, and they will not be likely to hiss or bite at you while you are doing so.

15. As said before, try to keep them in a room with low lights. Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals, and they do not like to go outside during the day and are only active during the night, they do not like heavy lighting in their place and might get irritated due to it.

16. Try to provide them with places to build burrows and hiding places so that they can feel comfortable while sleeping and playing in their cage. The cage should also have ample space to make several borrows and resting places. If they feel safe and get good sleep, they will likely to be happy with you.

17. One more reason is that they might be in the molding season when they lose their quills, and that might be changing their mood. This could be the reason why they are grumpy and angry all the time. This only happens in the early first year of a newborn baby and likely not to happen in the future years.

18. Breeding females and males can also get angry in the breeding season due to hormonal changes. So understand that they are going through changes in their body as you are trying to breed them.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

My hedgehog is hissing at me. What to do?

Hissing implies that they don’t want you to be near them. They are likely scared, and hissing is their way to alarm you just like other animals. Their disquiet might come from several noises and different kinds of smells that they have never felt before. You can try to keep them in a quiet and lowlight room so they can get comfortable. Once they get comfortable with the new environment, they can play with you.

My hedgehog bit me. Please help!

Hedgehog might sometime bite at you. This usually occurs when you are clipping their nails. They could bite you both in a defensive way and due to curiosity. What you can do is to blow or puff against their face lightly, and they are not likely to do it again. Make sure to not pull hard when they have bitten you, it might lead to tooth damage in the hedgehog.

Hedgehog is pooping, peeing everywhere, including my hand. What to do?

I have written a detailed post on it. You can see it here.

 

Conclusion

Hedgehogs are tiny creatures, and they get scared easily. So a new hedgehog is likely to take his time while bonding with you. Do take all the precautions while bonding with your hedgy and provide him with a suitable environment to make him more comfortable. This is the way you can surely make a better life for both of you—best of luck.

Do share this post to help out other hedgehog owners. It only takes 5 seconds. Also if you have any more questions, make a comment below or use our contact us page.

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Rahul C Pareek

I love all animals. I think they deserve to live on this planet as much as we do. I personally own several pets including the tiny rabbit, a hedgehog, and a small cat. I would love to share my experiences with others.

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