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Understanding Hedgehog Behavior

Since your hedgehog cannot talk, he will communicate his likes and dislikes to you through his body language and a few quiet vocalizations.
Here is a list of some things he or she is trying to say:

SOUNDS

  • Soft Purring and Whistling:
    This is a sign of pure contentment.
  • Puffing:
    Displeasure, uncertainty
  • Snorting or "Sneezing":
    Usually accompanies puffing and means the same thing
  • Hissing and Clicking:
    This means "get away from me, Iím scared or tired of you".
  • Snuffling:
    Happily checking things out†
  • Chirping:
    Usually done by males while breeding and by nursing hoglets (babies)
  • Screaming:
    Physical pain, fear and sometime anger
  • Sounds Heard During Sleep: Believe it or not, some hedgehogs actually snore! Like dogs and cats, they also appear to dream and will sniff, snort and chirp quietly all the while.

BODY LANGUAGE

  • Rolled up ball:
    Fearful
  • Spines Erect:
    All Over: displeasure or fear
    On Forehead Only: Cautious, uncertain
    Spines Laying Flat All Over: Everything is fine. He feels comfortable and safe.
  • Self - Anointing:
    If your hedgehog smells something he likes or if he simply comes across a smell that he is unfamiliar with, such as leather, perfume, etc., he will foam at the mouth and will then deposit this foamy saliva on his back and shoulders. In an effort to cover as much of their backs as possible with this foam, many hedgehogs will contort their bodies in such a way that they will sometimes fall over. Many hedgehogs become so engrossed with this activity that they become totally oblivious to anything going on around them! No one is really certain why hedgehogs perform this unusual behaviour (more often seen in males than females) but there is no shortage of theories.†
    One possible explanation is that they are trying to remember a particular smell by mixing it with the saliva and then depositing it on the spines. Another is that the foam acts as a repellant or toxin to a hedgehog's enemies. Whatever the reason, though, self-annointing is a normal occurrence and is no cause for alarm.†
    Circling:
    To be perfectly honest, we donít understand this behavior either, but it surely is good exercise! Circling should not, however, be mistaken for pacing - common in animals that are confined in too small an area - since hedgehogs in the wild frequently run circles as well. (Perhaps they know about the Olympics.) Not only do they run in circles, but they often run in figure-eights as well!
  • Awake time: Your hedgehog is crepuscular. This means that, like a cat, they will be awake most often around dawn and dusk, while sleeping during the day and for part of the night. You should NOT change your hedgehog's natural activity schedule - it is extremely stressful to force them to stay awake during the daytime and not at all fair to them.
    The best time to handle your hedgehog is during the evening & early part of the night, when they would naturally be waking up. Even in the evening, you may have to wake them up to take them out - this is normal and your hedgehog will adjust to that, especially if you keep to a regular schedule. You should not wake your hedgehog up during the day and expect them to be active or want to play & explore. IF your hedgehog does not seem stressed and is okay sleeping on you during the day, you may take them out for cuddles, but ensure that they are still getting their beauty sleep!

The End

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