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Old 05-03-2012, 12:03 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Lizzie's introductory thread

Hello forumers,

We (Glitter and Yex) have recently had a hedgehog come into our lives! Her name is Lizzie; we acquired her from a respectable breeder in Tacoma, Washington and she is currently living in Yex's bedroom in Olympia, Washington. A few initial questions:

*Lizzie seems to spend most of her time in her igloo, bundled up in the shirt we provided to accept our scents. She has been eating her food, using the litterbox, and has used the wheel, but we have yet to see her do so! Any time we check on her she is bundled up in that shirt. Is this normal?

*Lizzie becomes incredibly frightened when we try to take her out of the cage: quills up, balled up, makes hissing noises if you go near her. Once we manage to pick her up and get her into hands (a prickly task), she very quickly calms down. Petting helps a great deal. Is this normal? We've only had her since Sunday, so could she just be adjusting, or should she have stopped doing that by now?

*When she calms down and becomes more comfortable, she tends to try to burrow into the crooks of our arms. Is she trying to escape or just being playful?

*Also, when calm she tends to lick at us a lot and sometimes tug on fabric (shirts, et cetera). It doesn't seem like she's capable of actually tearing the fabric. We've read conflicting things online (including on this forum); it would seem that on one level this is good, as she is accepting our smell, but others have written that it can lead to biting. How hard can a hedgehog bite? Is there concern here or is it a good sign? She seems to lick only when she's calmed down so we've been interpreting it as positive but is this foolish?

*Also, on a slightly different note, what's the deal with wire wheels? Some sources seem to indicate that they are dangerous, but as far as we can remember the breeder had wire wheels. She has one right now, but if it is dangerous we would not hesitate to replace it.

Thanks,
-Glitter and Yex

Edit: another thing we forgot - our cat. How soon should we introduce them? We want give Lizzie a chance to adjust before adding any additional stress, but we also want their relationship to become normalized as quickly as possible so we can stop locking Dorothy (the cat) out of the bedroom.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:15 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lizzie's introductory thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlitterandYex
Hello forumers,

We (Glitter and Yex) have recently had a hedgehog come into our lives! Her name is Lizzie; we acquired her from a respectable breeder in Tacoma, Washington and she is currently living in Yex's bedroom in Olympia, Washington. A few initial questions:

*Lizzie seems to spend most of her time in her igloo, bundled up in the shirt we provided to accept our scents. She has been eating her food, using the litterbox, and has used the wheel, but we have yet to see her do so! Any time we check on her she is bundled up in that shirt. Is this normal?

*Lizzie becomes incredibly frightened when we try to take her out of the cage: quills up, balled up, makes hissing noises if you go near her. Once we manage to pick her up and get her into hands (a prickly task), she very quickly calms down. Petting helps a great deal. Is this normal? We've only had her since Sunday, so could she just be adjusting, or should she have stopped doing that by now?

*When she calms down and becomes more comfortable, she tends to try to burrow into the crooks of our arms. Is she trying to escape or just being playful?

*Also, when calm she tends to lick at us a lot and sometimes tug on fabric (shirts, et cetera). It doesn't seem like she's capable of actually tearing the fabric. We've read conflicting things online (including on this forum); it would seem that on one level this is good, as she is accepting our smell, but others have written that it can lead to biting. How hard can a hedgehog bite? Is there concern here or is it a good sign? She seems to lick only when she's calmed down so we've been interpreting it as positive but is this foolish?

*Also, on a slightly different note, what's the deal with wire wheels? Some sources seem to indicate that they are dangerous, but as far as we can remember the breeder had wire wheels. She has one right now, but if it is dangerous we would not hesitate to replace it.

Thanks,
-Glitter and Yex
Welcome! Out of curiosity, which breeder was it? We're in Port Orchard and got Archimedes from a Tacoma breeder, who's now also mentoring us for breeding - thus my curiosity!

As to the questions:

1. Yes. Totally normal. Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so most of the time she'll be active when you're not awake. Babies also sleep as much as 22-23 hours a day.

2. Also completely normal. Plenty of hedgehogs will have that reaction when you first reach in to get them. She's still getting used to you, and she might also be a little extra grumpy from quilling. Use a piece of fleece or a small blanket to pick her up if the quills bother you. Over time she'll probably get used to it, especially if you get into the habit of bringing her out of her cage around the same time every day. Even if she continues to huff and prickle up initially, it's a great sign that she's relaxing so quickly afterward.

3. She most likely feels secure there. Usually burrowing into the bend of the arm is considered cuddly behavior. Trying to escape would be squirming and fidgeting and not holding still. So, yes, it's a good thing, and normal.

4. Hedgehogs will lick if something tastes or smells good. Anything on your hands will a scent, including having used scented soap, lotions, or even if your hands are sweaty, can cause them to lick - and if they like the flavor, they might take a nip after licking once or twice. Licking is cute, but it shouldn't be encouraged. Bites that happen after licking aren't an aggressive kind, so they're not going to be very hard - however, hedgehogs can latch on pretty good, and even if they let go right away, they're capable of breaking the skin a little. Best to just avoid it - take your hand away if she tries to lick you, use unscented soap, and wash your hands shortly before handling her so she won't smell food or sweat on them. As for the fabric, some hedgehogs seem to have a thing for fabric - they'll try to tug it and rearrange it as part of burrowing type behavior. They also might use fabric to anoint with.

5. Wire wheels can seriously injure a hedgehog. Their feet are very delicate, and they aren't designed the same way as the feet of rodents. That doesn't mean injury is guaranteed, but there's a high chance. Only wheels with a flat running surface should be used for hedgehogs. A bucket wheel is ideal, and can be built for around $15 with some basic DIY skills. The Comfort Wheel and the Flying Saucer Wheel are the ones that are available in stores that are considered safe for hedgehogs.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:31 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lizzie's introductory thread

Thanks for the insight. The wire wheel has been removed, and a replacement will be procured soon.

In regards to her spending the daylight in the igloo, during the time between these posts, the room was dark, and Lizzie was observed out and about.

Also, the breeder in Tacoma is a woman by the name of Kim.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lizzie's introductory thread

Hi, I think I met you when you picked her up! Hope you're enjoying Lizzie.
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:37 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lizzie's introductory thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlitterandYex
Thanks for the insight. The wire wheel has been removed, and a replacement will be procured soon.

In regards to her spending the daylight in the igloo, during the time between these posts, the room was dark, and Lizzie was observed out and about.

Also, the breeder in Tacoma is a woman by the name of Kim.
That's her! And she uses Comfort Wheels, not wire ones, just to clarify that point. If you got your baby yesterday or on Sunday, you most likely met my boyfriend as well (edit: he just posted right before me, haha). The two of us are being mentored by Kim, who's amazing. :] What color is the paint on your baby's quills, by the way?
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Old 05-03-2012, 12:45 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lizzie's introductory thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by moxieberry
What color is the paint on your baby's quills, by the way?
Yellow.

Also, in case you didn't notice, we added another question to the original post:

Quote:
another thing we forgot - our cat. How soon should we introduce them? We want give Lizzie a chance to adjust before adding any additional stress, but we also want their relationship to become normalized as quickly as possible so we can stop locking Dorothy (the cat) out of the bedroom.
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Old 05-03-2012, 01:11 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Lizzie's introductory thread

I remember her! She has two sisters and a brother - orange, purple, and blue. Orange is the most adventurous, very friendly but more interested in exploring than staying in my hands. Blue is a huffy little boy, much like my Archimedes was. Purple is kind of shy and more of a cuddler - she spent a few hours hidden inside the leg of my boyfriend's pants, just above his shoe. Yellow is sort of a mix of her sisters, and fairly cuddly - very much a sweetheart. Can't wait for pics of her as she gets settled in with you!

As for the cat thing, I would wait a little while to introduce them directly. Cats are predators, and just the smell of a predator nearby can make a hedgehog nervous. You'll want to be sure the cage is cat-proof, and if you use a CHE or a space heater to heat the cage, you should figure out some way to make sure it can't get knocked over by the cat. It's fine to introduce them to each other once Lizzie seems to be settling in well, but you should keep her in your hands to start with. Definitely don't leave the two of them together unsupervised. Dogs and cats can learn to give a hedgehog a respectful distance after getting pricked a few times, but a friendly domestic hedgehog won't have the instinct to ball up for protection as much as a wild one would - so be cautious, especially in the beginning. I also know of hedgehogs that do fine wandering the floor with cats sniffing and poking at them, so it's a matter of the personality of both animals. If your cage is already cat-proof, and your cat can't put a paw inside it to harass Lizzie, it will be fine to have the cat in the room again. Lizzie will most likely be anxious from sensing/smelling the cat nearby, but she'll get used to it. It's probably best to give her a little while to get used to that smell and the sense of the cat in the area, before you try to introduce them face to face.
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