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Old 03-28-2012, 07:37 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Beligerent Hedgie

Hey so sorry I haven't posted in a while.

First off just let me say I understand they aren't all going to be sunshine and rainbows but this is more for his sake than me wanting the perfect pet.
So at the beginning of February I rescued 2 hedgies, a male and a female albino from a woman who was going to have them destroyed. My first concerns with them were health issues but as they've settled, I'm having some behavioural problems with the male.

Nymeria, the female, is fine. She lets me pick her up and although she was nervous at first will now let me hold her and scratch her chin. Ghost, the male, is a little terror. He hisses, and huffs and puffs at me when I even enter the room and he's awake. If I have any skin near him he will bit me. Hard. I don't use any lotions or anything on my skin so I don't think it's because I smell nice. I was worried he thought I was being threatening and was biting as a kind of warning, so I just left my hands down to my sides and he still wandered over and bit me haha. He even bit my shoe once I thought perhaps maybe it was just that he wasn't used to being handled and was scared, but he has actually gotten worse the longer I have had him.

Aside from the biting, my main worry is how anxious he gets when I handle him. He hisses and huffs and spikes and snaps at me, but worst of all I can feel his little heart pounding when I hold him. He will actually flail to try and get away. I wouldn't care too much and just accept that he's like that but I need to be able to handle him to clip his nails, sort his ears and remove poop boots etc. I've handled him the exact same way pretty much as the female and she's lovely.

Is there anything else I can do, aside from blowing in his face etc that can help him relax around me? He has fallen asleep on me a few times wrapped in his blanket but the second he remembers where he is he goes mental again.

Thanks for all the help and sorry my post is so long
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

I don't really have any advice, but i feel the need to post and tell you I LOVE the names!

I hope you get Ghost to calm down for you. Are you putting a worn shirt in his cage to help him adjust to your smell?
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Old 03-28-2012, 08:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hahaha thanks, gotta love A Song of Ice and Fire for inspiration! yeah I've put in the t shirt! I take him out every day as well but he's just so angry!! Luckily I don't really mind being chewed too much. At least they don't break the skin! Hopefully he'll get over it. He's SUCH a drama queen.. Poor little guy! I wish he'd chat to Nymeria and realise that I'm not that bad
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Old 03-28-2012, 10:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

Have you taken him to the vet yet? He may have some health problems or pain that makes him aggressive. Notice anything unusual like odd poop, blood, vomit, anything out of the ordinary?
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:32 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

Yeah I took him to the vet when I first got him, he was given the all clear! He just wasn't being fed good food so I changed that. Nothing else has changed in the meanwhile so I dunno :/
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Old 03-29-2012, 10:09 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

Everything you describe tells me you have a very scared/defensive boy that needs a lot of patience and understanding. Do not force yourself on him. When he begins to flail, understand that he is scared, back off. If you are trying to hold him in your hands, trying to stroke his quills, or doing something to him at that time, stop. Give him a little time and space, and try again. Iím not saying put him back in his cage, but to just respect that he is scared.

Why are you blowing in his face?

He needs time to figure out that he is safe; that what you are trying to do with him isnít going to hurt him. This takes time, and it can take a LOT of time. Iíve had rescues that took over 6 months before we really got to see their face. I have one now that I took in around the same time as you. He is EXTREMELY defensive. I was happy when it only took him 45 minutes to decide to uncurl. That was 45 minutes of him sitting on my lap, under a fleece blanket, with me trying to not move, talk, or otherwise disturb him. At least he isnít like some others who NEVER uncurled when a human was about and thankfully he hasnít tried to bite yet.

Recommendation:
Hold him in a snuggle bag, or place him on your chest with a blanket over you and him. Donít touch him. Allow him to uncurl and start to explore. If he will sleep while on you, BRILLIANT! This is an excellent sign. Even if he gets defensive when he wakes up, he is at least comfortable enough with humans that he will relax enough to sleep. Once you feel he is starting to settle, put your hand under the blanket with him. DONíT touch him initially. Let him just get used to it being closer to him. Once he starts to seem more comfortable, trying laying your hand on him. Donít pet him.

Offer mealworms! Only give him mealworms when he is out with you. He will quickly associate these tasty treats with you.
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

Yeah I guess it will just take time. I haven't actually blown in his face at all. I don't like the idea but it was suggested a few times as an effort to stop biting. Thanks for the tips, I guess it's just a waiting game. Hopefully he'll calm down. Thanks for the advice though, I was worried that there was something I was missing. So good to hear your story too Guess I shall just carry on tipping away. It's just hard when I need to do things like sort out his nails and ears and I can't do it at the moment because he's so anxious.
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Old 03-29-2012, 09:07 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

I see blowing in the face and other methods suggested for stopping biting, but I had a hedgehog who if you tried those things it just made him bite harder. And it made him even madder. With him, the good old, avoid being bitten was the best option, but once he got you, I just let him bite and tried to not react. It worked, he actually looked up at me confused once.

I do hope you finally manage to make progress with your boy. Grouchy, defensive hedgehogs have a special place in my heart. I've taken in a few and have managed to get them to turn around. Its is a long road and one which can be very frustrating sometimes.

You did mention you changed his diet. Have you noticed any quill loss yet? I've had a couple who had poor diets before and once switched they went through a quilling as they grew in healthier quills. It can cause a step back in progress for a bit like it does with a baby going through quilling.
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

I'm glad I found this thread. i'm having a similar issue with Wesley. He is doing almost the exact same this, minus the flailing. He just curls in a tight ball and keeps hissing for what seems like forever. Is it better to hold them multiple times a day or only once a day? What if they wont take mealies from you?
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Old 03-30-2012, 12:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Beligerent Hedgie

I'm glad I found this thread. i'm having a similar issue with Wesley. He is doing almost the exact same this, minus the flailing. He just curls in a tight ball and keeps hissing for what seems like forever. Is it better to hold them multiple times a day or only once a day? What if they wont take mealies from you?
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