Behavior and Socialization

Hedgehogs can be very different from one to the next, the one you get could have a different personality than one you had before or than the hedgehogs you see pictures of online.  Some can be very friendly or want to cuddle right away, some take a while to warm up, some would prefer to be left to explore around, and others never fully warm up to people.

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SCHEDULE-  Hedgehogs are nocturnal, they sleep during the day and become active at night.  Getting a hedgehog out during the day will result in a grumpy hedgehog, unless you plan to just let him sleep in your lap under a blanket.  The best times to interact are evening and night, or early morning.

BONDING-  Hedgehogs need human interaction to stay socialized and they require at least 30-60 minutes of handling daily.  Please keep this in mind when considering having a hedgehog.  The great thing about bonding time is that it can be as simple as letting them sleep in a blanket, hoodie, or homemade cuddle bag, on your lap as you watch tv, use the computer, or do homework.

A helpful trick to facilitate bonding is put something that smells like you in the cage for the hedgehog to sleep in.  This could be wearing a t-shirt to bed for a few nights and adding it to the cage, or sleeping with some of the fleece in your bed.  They will begin to associate your scent with safety.

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Popping, Hissing, Angry-Ball-of-Spikes-  Almost all hedgehogs have grumpy moments, especially when they are just woken up.  Some hedgehogs however seem to be always just an angry hissing ball of fury.  This is common for hedgies that have been neglected or not properly cared for.  Another reason why daily handling is important. This is the only defense mechanism nature gave them.  Most likely it means she is either very fearful or confused, or she is letting you know that she just wants to be left alone.

If your hedgehog is like this more often than not, the most important things are time and patience.  Keep working on handling and bonding daily, despite your hedgehogs protests. If you leave her alone when she starts popping and hissing, she gets the message that it works to scare you off and will continue to do it.  Just let her lay under a blanket on your lap.  For a little while, try to keep the room dim, talk softly and calmly, and try not to make sudden startling movements.  Keep a blanket, t-shirt, or snuggle bag in the cage and then use that to handle your hedgehog out of the cage too.

BITING- Hedgehogs have mouths and teeth, so yes, they can bite.  In general, if a hedgehog bites it means two things.  Either you smell interesting or tasty and he wanted to try you out, or he is agitated or scared and wants to be left alone.  If your hedgehog bites often, the obvious solution is to keep your fingers out of his face.  Try to determine why: do you have lotion or food on your hands? Is he scared or agitated from being bothered?

Most hedgehogs will only bite on a rare occasion, but sometimes a hedgehog will become more ‘bitey’.  This can be common with ones that have been neglected and not handled enough.  If a hedgehog bites frequently, it’s important not to give him what he wants most: putting him down and leaving him alone.  He will learn that biting will get him left alone.  Try hard not to over react when it happens.  Blow a puff of air in his nose when he bites to startle him into stopping.  Don’t feed him from your hand, and make sure your hands don’t have scented lotions, soaps, or food on them.