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Old 07-15-2015, 04:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Talking Recent new hedgehog owner! (first timer, just have a few questions)

Hello! I signed up today, and may use this frequently as my pet is the center of my existence.

I have an adorable little hedgie whom I take great care of. Or at least, I like to think so. His name is Fiore. I pick him up everyday, and sit him on my lap. He used to huff, hiss or click a LOT when he was first brought home. He was six weeks the time I had bought him from a breeder near me (born on April 6). So he's around two and a half months since he's been here. I feel like he's improved a bit. He seems a little more relaxed (?) when I try picking him up from his cage, though he still huffs and if I place my hands wrong, he'll curl up. I just have to do it slowly so he doesn't freak out too much. He relaxes a lot faster now too, sniffs around, explores.

Unfortunately, I wish I could let him play around in my bedroom but it isn't exactly hedgieproof (it's not so much that it's too dangerous but he can easily get lost or hide somewhere like a tight space), that and I have carpet in my room and I am not allowed to take him outside my room. I just let him scurry around on my bed or lap and tend to be careful about him pooping or peeing on the sheets (peeing is what im more worried about). BUT, to make up for that, I finally taught him how to use his wheel. I used to just put him on it after he got used to me for a bit and push it to give him the idea. Fortunately he was a very fast learner, and uses that thing like a champ every night. I hear him furiously run on it every night. Thankfully I'm a sound sleeper so it doesn't bother me too much, and I always have a fan on. My room is appropriate temperature, and the fan is far away from his huge palace of a cage.

I clean the wheel everyday, and usually give him footbaths because of the poop. He seems to relax in water or so I think, though he's always seems to try escaping the sink. Is this normal? He poops in it too, usually it's solid and not green; occasionally it is green, tho he is very easy to pick up when he's just sitting on the water. Tends to look at me pensively while I wash his wheel in the bathtub.

My issue is that I've been trying to stop him from using the fleece bedding when he's sleeping. He burrows under it. Because he used to use an old beanie as a sack, the wooden hideout I had for him, a scarf I never wore, and a T-shirt. And another hideout/tunnel I got from Walmart. All these luxurious items he could use and yet he sleeps under the fleece. I tried to stuff in the scarf inside the wooden hideout to see if he'd sleep in it, and he did for two nights. But I think he's doing it again.

Another is that he always seems to run away from me or squirm around when I wanna just sit him on my lap, which can be frustrating. Because he doesn't know any better and gets too close to the edge of the bed, and he didn't learn the first time when he fell. Thankfully he wasn't hurt, just balled up and landed on his back if anything, and landed on carpet. He seems to want to get away ESPECIALLY after I give him a footbath. He squirms and then runs away when I try drying him off.

He also likes watermelon as treats. I bought mealies and tried to feed him a live one. He didn't want it. I crushed a mealie with a pair of tweezers (terrified of insects, including ants and butterflies) and tried to give that to him since some like dead ones better; still didn't pay mind to it. I bought those dried crickets from Walmart, and I put it in his dish wondering if he was just a self conscious eater. The next day it was still there. All he seems to eat is watermelon. Which is great because I don't have to deal with insects. Sometimes he's hesitant, and after me often holding it close to his face, he then USUALLY munches on it. Or sometimes he won't take it at all, and I just leave it in his dish and I could hear him eating it.

I think I'm giving him a sufficient amount of food. I used a snapped off Nightguard compact retainer to use as a food bowl and to control how much he eats. I believe owners must give 3-4 table spoons yeah? I usually fill the retainer up since it's rather small, smaller than a typical guinea pig foodbowl, but not TOO full.

Other than that, I've gotten used to holding him. I've tried dimming out the lights to just chill with him but he always seems to want to to get away and hide somewhere. On rare occasions he just kinda sits on my lap with his head curled in. I can see him shaking a bit though, so I'm not entirely sure if he's even relaxed. He's very fidgety. I've done the Tshirt thing and used an old undesirable tshirt. I might wash the scarf and sleep with that to produce my scent more.

A weird thing I've noticed is that usually he doesn't seem to come out of his hut even at evening time when it gets dark. He's still hiding somewhere, whether it's in a hut or underneath the fleece, and seems to only get more active like eat or use the wheel if I take him out. I don't know if I'm annoying him though. But usually I take him out at like, 830 or 9. Or even later, but I'm always home at night. If I go out I just leave a bowl of food and a clean wheel for him to use. There are times where I have caught him using the wheel or at his foodbowl. He seems to be REALLY self conscious and stops whatever he's doing, whether its eating or running, in his cage when the lights are on or if he sees me. Is that normal?

The thing is, though a part of me is slightly annoyed, I don't fully mind too much if he doesn't even like me. Something about housing an animal who needs a home is appealing to me. I use him because I have a variety of mental illnesses, like depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, things like that. It's kind of weird to say but the moment I have an episode I just think "Fiore won't have a home then, because my parents would most likely try to kill him or throw him out". I don't have a lot of friends or a supportive family system. I'm unemployed right now but definitely job hunting to support Fiore and myself. So even if he doesn't like me too much, as long as he's healthy, fed, getting exercise, that's enough for me.

However! Are there more bonding tactics you can use to make him bond better? Are there ways I can stop making him use the fleece as a sleep sack? And is overly self consciousness an issue or just natural?

Sorry for the tldr!
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Old 07-15-2015, 11:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Welcome I'll do my best to answer all of your questions. Here we go.
1. Is it normal for my hedgie to want to escape the sink? Yes, some hedgies like bath time, some hate it.
2. How do I stop him from sleeping under the bedding? Idk I hope someone that has had to deal with this can get back to u. If not, I think there are some threads on it.
3. How do I calm my hedgie down? Well, dimming the lights can help if he's nervous, but from your description it sounds like he is just an explorer. He could warm up to cuddling over time but for now that's just his personality.
4. Amount of food? I give Moki 2 tablespoons every night, but when hedgies are young you just give them whatever amount they will eat.
5. What time should he be coming out? I get my hedgie up around 8:30 - 9:00 too and he will usually go back to sleep for awhile after bonding time. Baby hedgies sleep alot so it's nothing to be worried about

Good luck with your new hedgie. I can tell u really care about him
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Old 07-15-2015, 11:12 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sjniazi View Post
Hello! I signed up today, and may use this frequently as my pet is the center of my existence.

I have an adorable little hedgie whom I take great care of. Or at least, I like to think so. His name is Fiore. I pick him up everyday, and sit him on my lap. He used to huff, hiss or click a LOT when he was first brought home. He was six weeks the time I had bought him from a breeder near me (born on April 6). So he's around two and a half months since he's been here. I feel like he's improved a bit. He seems a little more relaxed (?) when I try picking him up from his cage, though he still huffs and if I place my hands wrong, he'll curl up. I just have to do it slowly so he doesn't freak out too much. He relaxes a lot faster now too, sniffs around, explores.
That's completely normal. Huffing, curling, etc are all defensive behaviors. If something startles him or feels uncomfortable to him, that's how he's going to react. Don't let it deter you.

Quote:
Unfortunately, I wish I could let him play around in my bedroom but it isn't exactly hedgieproof (it's not so much that it's too dangerous but he can easily get lost or hide somewhere like a tight space), that and I have carpet in my room and I am not allowed to take him outside my room. I just let him scurry around on my bed or lap and tend to be careful about him pooping or peeing on the sheets (peeing is what im more worried about). BUT, to make up for that, I finally taught him how to use his wheel. I used to just put him on it after he got used to me for a bit and push it to give him the idea. Fortunately he was a very fast learner, and uses that thing like a champ every night.
Try making a little play pen for him. We use the foam floor tiles found in the baby section of most stores like Target or at stores like Buy Buy Baby or Babies R Us. We can use the tiles for the walls, as well. Of course, we use those because that's what we had laying around (we've used them for many things with the kids over the years). You can also purchase a small pet play pen and use coroplast, a plastic tarp, a canvas drop cloth, or even some fleece as a "floor" to protect his nails and your carpet.

Quote:
I hear him furiously run on it every night. Thankfully I'm a sound sleeper so it doesn't bother me too much, and I always have a fan on. My room is appropriate temperature, and the fan is far away from his huge palace of a cage.
A room being the appropriate temperature doesn't mean the cage is the appropriate temperature. Make sure you have a thermometer measuring the temperature inside the cage and a way to adjust the cage temperature as necessary.

Quote:
I clean the wheel everyday, and usually give him footbaths because of the poop. He seems to relax in water or so I think, though he's always seems to try escaping the sink. Is this normal? He poops in it too, usually it's solid and not green; occasionally it is green, tho he is very easy to pick up when he's just sitting on the water. Tends to look at me pensively while I wash his wheel in the bathtub.
Yup. Normal. Foot baths are known to encourage elimination, and most hedgies don't really like baths, so they do usually try to get out. The green poop is most likely caused by diet or stress. As long as it's occasional and doesn't persist, it's probably not an issue.

Quote:
My issue is that I've been trying to stop him from using the fleece bedding when he's sleeping. He burrows under it. Because he used to use an old beanie as a sack, the wooden hideout I had for him, a scarf I never wore, and a T-shirt. And another hideout/tunnel I got from Walmart. All these luxurious items he could use and yet he sleeps under the fleece. I tried to stuff in the scarf inside the wooden hideout to see if he'd sleep in it, and he did for two nights. But I think he's doing it again.
Sounds like your little guy is a liner diver. It's really not a problem; it's just something that annoys many owners. There are several topics here on the forums regarding solutions people have tried with varying degrees of success. Hedgies are funny little creatures in that they have their definite preferences -- none of which are guaranteed to be anything similar to any other hedgie's or to what we think they'll like.

I'd make sure he's not liner diving due to temperature in the cage or an issue with light bothering him, but as long as those aren't an issue and it's not creating more work for you by making a huge mess in the cage, I'd let him do his thing. You can also experiment with different hides, sacks, etc to see if he likes something different. Just make sure anything you put in his cage is free of loose threads or raw edges that can unravel, and make sure you freeze anything wood for 24 hours before introducing it since wood toys/hides, paper & wood bedding/litter, and even food can harbor mites.

Quote:
Another is that he always seems to run away from me or squirm around when I wanna just sit him on my lap, which can be frustrating. Because he doesn't know any better and gets too close to the edge of the bed, and he didn't learn the first time when he fell. Thankfully he wasn't hurt, just balled up and landed on his back if anything, and landed on carpet. He seems to want to get away ESPECIALLY after I give him a footbath. He squirms and then runs away when I try drying him off.
He's wanting to explore. That's normal. Some hedgies are cuddlers. Some are explorers. Some are a mix. That's why a play pen would come in really handy.

Our routine with Fitzgerald is a foot bath followed by cuddle time with me, then play & treat time (usually with a variety of tunnels and small toys in his play pen), then (if he's not already tired) more cuddle time with me or with my husband.

Quote:
He also likes watermelon as treats. I bought mealies and tried to feed him a live one. He didn't want it. I crushed a mealie with a pair of tweezers (terrified of insects, including ants and butterflies) and tried to give that to him since some like dead ones better; still didn't pay mind to it. I bought those dried crickets from Walmart, and I put it in his dish wondering if he was just a self conscious eater. The next day it was still there. All he seems to eat is watermelon. Which is great because I don't have to deal with insects. Sometimes he's hesitant, and after me often holding it close to his face, he then USUALLY munches on it. Or sometimes he won't take it at all, and I just leave it in his dish and I could hear him eating it.
Some hedgies are picky and never really get into the whole insect thing, even though it's theoretically natural for them. You can try rubbing some of the guts on his lips (yes, gross) or leaving a live or canned mealie in his food dish (so he realizes it's food), but if he's on a good high-quality kibble mix, it's okay to use treats other than insects. Just avoid any freeze-dried worms or bugs because they can easily cause an impaction, which can mean a huge vet bill or even death. Personally, I don't have an issue with mealies, but a live cricket will never brought into my house. Those things give me the heebie jeebies.

Quote:
I think I'm giving him a sufficient amount of food. I used a snapped off Nightguard compact retainer to use as a food bowl and to control how much he eats. I believe owners must give 3-4 table spoons yeah? I usually fill the retainer up since it's rather small, smaller than a typical guinea pig foodbowl, but not TOO full.
Shoot for an amount of kibble that is mostly eaten with just a bit leftover each night. It's best to offer a consistent amount or at least measure how much you're offering so you can tell exactly how much is eaten. I counted kibble for the first few days Fitzgerald was home and was on a single kibble, but now I weigh it out. I offer 16g (simply because we're working toward a mix of 4 kibbles, the number is easily divisible by 4, and 12g doesn't seem to be enough some nights), and he typically eats 10-13 grams depending on what treats were offered. (Mealworm night always results in less kibble.)

Quote:
Other than that, I've gotten used to holding him. I've tried dimming out the lights to just chill with him but he always seems to want to to get away and hide somewhere. On rare occasions he just kinda sits on my lap with his head curled in. I can see him shaking a bit though, so I'm not entirely sure if he's even relaxed. He's very fidgety. I've done the Tshirt thing and used an old undesirable tshirt. I might wash the scarf and sleep with that to produce my scent more.
Yes, it sounds like you have an explorer.

If his quills are down, he's probably pretty relaxed. I don't think the twitching and fidgeting is anything to be concerned about.

Quote:
A weird thing I've noticed is that usually he doesn't seem to come out of his hut even at evening time when it gets dark. He's still hiding somewhere, whether it's in a hut or underneath the fleece, and seems to only get more active like eat or use the wheel if I take him out. I don't know if I'm annoying him though. But usually I take him out at like, 830 or 9. Or even later, but I'm always home at night. If I go out I just leave a bowl of food and a clean wheel for him to use. There are times where I have caught him using the wheel or at his foodbowl. He seems to be REALLY self conscious and stops whatever he's doing, whether its eating or running, in his cage when the lights are on or if he sees me. Is that normal?
Yes, it's normal. He's still young, and he sleeps a lot. Fitzgerald's lamp turns off at 8pm when my husband and I are putting our kids to bed. That gives him a bit of time to wake up, eat, and eliminate while the main floor of the house (where he is) is dark and quiet before we take him out for bonding. Still, there are many nights when he just eats a bit and goes back to sleep before we get back downstairs or doesn't wake up on his own until 9:30 or so.

Side note: Make sure you're providing a consistent light/dark cycle of 12-14 hours of light each day. The best way to accomplish this is with a lamp on a timer. Fitzgerald's light turns on on and off at 8am and 8pm every day.

Quote:
The thing is, though a part of me is slightly annoyed, I don't fully mind too much if he doesn't even like me. Something about housing an animal who needs a home is appealing to me. I use him because I have a variety of mental illnesses, like depression, suicidal ideation, bipolar disorder, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, things like that. It's kind of weird to say but the moment I have an episode I just think "Fiore won't have a home then, because my parents would most likely try to kill him or throw him out". I don't have a lot of friends or a supportive family system. I'm unemployed right now but definitely job hunting to support Fiore and myself. So even if he doesn't like me too much, as long as he's healthy, fed, getting exercise, that's enough for me.
I get that. And I think that's why hedgehogs and other less traditional choices can still work as emotional support animals.

I'm in my late 30's with a husband and two kids. But the past couple of years have been hard. My pregnancy with my youngest son was very difficult, my husband deployed for a year when our youngest was 3 weeks old, then he came back and transitioned out of the military (a life we thought we'd be living for the next 15-25 years), we went through 4 months of his unemployment, my dog of 14 years passed away, we moved from Georgia to Chicago, and then my mom died.

It wasn't a factor when we chose to bring Fitzgerald into our home, but having him as helped me recover from the depression that gripped me after my mom's death. I don't think of him in the same terms you think of Fiore, but the added routine involved in caring for him, the network of "hedgie people" I've started to build, and the joy of watching him transition into our family have given me an additional, less stressful purpose.

Quote:
However! Are there more bonding tactics you can use to make him bond better? Are there ways I can stop making him use the fleece as a sleep sack? And is overly self consciousness an issue or just natural?

Sorry for the tldr!
Just be consistent and persistent! And good luck!
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Old 11-01-2018, 11:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Rather than go over the same questions already addressed, let me just say one thing:

Your outlook on hedgehog ownership is spot on. Your past (and current?) mental illness(es) really have little bearing here. Your hedgehog won't survive without you and truly needs you as an ally/advocate. Many people--including pet lovers--do not understand how to safely care for a hedgehog. It usually is an uphill battle enlightening family members (at least it has been for me).

So my point: you're doing great already. Use this forum as a resource and never fret about being too concerned when it comes to him. Ask away here. Usually people respond and respond quickly (I'd say I get a response 70-80% of the time and within 24 hours).

Oh, try curling up your shirt to cover him when he's on your lap. Knuckles (my son's hedgehog) seems to like that even when in exploring mode. I curl my shirt, and place my left arm around the outside so my arm is against his body and my hand cups him. He likes the dark, warmth, smell, pressure, and confined space. He also tends to favor different fabrics over others and will sometimes forego the curled shirt altogether to nudge his face into/under my arm. Try minor changes. I've noticed even the angle how I see matters and keep up the passion

Last edited by Taroon; 11-02-2018 at 12:01 AM.
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Old 11-02-2018, 12:03 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Oh, and, wow, one of my best friends lives about 30 minutes from your town (in Alexandria). Small world, eh?
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Old 11-03-2018, 12:17 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Please check the date on a thread before posting, this one is 3 years old.
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