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Old 02-10-2020, 12:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Our hedgehog is suddenly acting differently

We got Hazel last week, she's 2 months old and she's super friendly ever since we first got her. She uncurled relatively fast when she was in my hand for the first time, and she was actively sniffing her surroundings in the car.

I say 'we' because we actually got her as a class pet. We have a large aquarium tank with a cardboard house, food bowl, and water bottle for her. we plan on getting her a wheel soon. Because she is our class pet, we keep her in class for weekdays and bring her home for weekends. She's only been to 2 houses out of the 10 of us.

Last week, she's been super friendly, and she would happily climb up our hands when we offer them. She likes to sleep on our hands or our shoulders.
Last weekend, all 10 of us had to go away, so we entrusted her to my sister. I've given her a thorough walkthrough on how we usually take care of Hazel.

Ever since we got back, Hazel's been acting differently. Her quills are tense, she wouldn't climb up our hands, and she flinches more. She still climbs up to our shoulders, but that's about it. She still eats her food from her bowl, but she instantly goes back to her little cave.

We're worried about her, should we take her to the vet? or is there something else we should do?
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Moving a hedgehog around to different places can stress them. They do better with the same place and handling. Also do you have a heat set up and light set up. They are very important.
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Old 02-10-2020, 07:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Moving a hedgehog around to different places can stress them. They do better with the same place and handling. Also do you have a heat set up and light set up. They are very important.
No, we do not have a heat set up. We assume we do not need it, as we live in a tropical country with 30C (86F) being the average temperature.
We figured moving our hedgehog could stress her out, but being a class pet, it can't be helped. We can't just leave her in our class for the whole weekend. Thankfully, most of our houses aren't far from school, about 5 minutes away by car.
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Old 02-10-2020, 08:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Even if you live in a warm country, it is still advisable to use a heat source. I would expect those who live in warm climates to have air conditioning; even though outside is 30c, the room Hazel is in is likely much, much cooler. Additionally, a heat set up will allow for more stable temperature range as it must be used with a thermostat, which will both turn on and turn off the heat lamp as required. Without a heat set up, you can experience sudden temperature fluctuations - which can trigger hibernation attempts.

I do have a few concerns regarding this entire situation. You say she goes to a new house every weekend, and that she lives in an aquarium - how big is this aqarium? The bare minimum floorspace for a hedgehog is 8 square feet. A 4ft x 2ft tank is going to be very, very heavy and practically impossible to lift and move so frequently - which makes me concerned that her enclosure isnt big enough. Tanks aren't the greatest choice for hedgehogs either, as they offer poor ventilation for an animal who is capable of making so much mess.

Moving her around so frequently isnt a great idea. Having a hedgehog as a class pet also isnt the best choice, as hedgehogs tend to be shyer and do not appreciate such sudden changes in their surroundings. Obviously whats done is done, but it would be best if one of the students could offer a permanent home to Hazel. IMO, the whole situation of constantly moving around isnt going to the fairest for her - it's not really fair to any animal.

As for her behaviour change; She's 2 months old, so she's likely quilling; at this stage her new quills will be coming in, and she will be more sensitive to touch. It's not uncommon for hedgehogs who are quilling to become reclusive, because their quills are irritating them during this process. Be more gently petting her, and overall try to avoid stroking her quills too much - handle her, let her sleep on your lap, but I wouldnt advise excessively touching her quills.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:08 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Even if you live in a warm country, it is still advisable to use a heat source. I would expect those who live in warm climates to have air conditioning; even though outside is 30c, the room Hazel is in is likely much, much cooler. Additionally, a heat set up will allow for more stable temperature range as it must be used with a thermostat, which will both turn on and turn off the heat lamp as required. Without a heat set up, you can experience sudden temperature fluctuations - which can trigger hibernation attempts.

I do have a few concerns regarding this entire situation. You say she goes to a new house every weekend, and that she lives in an aquarium - how big is this aqarium? The bare minimum floorspace for a hedgehog is 8 square feet. A 4ft x 2ft tank is going to be very, very heavy and practically impossible to lift and move so frequently - which makes me concerned that her enclosure isnt big enough. Tanks aren't the greatest choice for hedgehogs either, as they offer poor ventilation for an animal who is capable of making so much mess.

Moving her around so frequently isnt a great idea. Having a hedgehog as a class pet also isnt the best choice, as hedgehogs tend to be shyer and do not appreciate such sudden changes in their surroundings. Obviously whats done is done, but it would be best if one of the students could offer a permanent home to Hazel. IMO, the whole situation of constantly moving around isnt going to the fairest for her - it's not really fair to any animal.

As for her behaviour change; She's 2 months old, so she's likely quilling; at this stage her new quills will be coming in, and she will be more sensitive to touch. It's not uncommon for hedgehogs who are quilling to become reclusive, because their quills are irritating them during this process. Be more gently petting her, and overall try to avoid stroking her quills too much - handle her, let her sleep on your lap, but I wouldnt advise excessively touching her quills.
We will keep a heat set up in mind. I don't know if we can get it installed, since we are only students.
I can assure you that the tank we use is big enough for her. We do not use that tank to transport her from our class to someone's home, instead, we use a smaller box.
We know about quilling, though we haven't seen any of her quills fall off. What are other signs of hedgehogs quilling that we should pay attention to?
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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If she's not losing her quills yet, then she hasnt yet started quilling.

She really needs a heat set up, and it's not something that I would personally consider optional. Will your teacher not provide the heat set up for her? Do ensure you do adequate research on choosing the right heat set up before hand; only ceramic heat emitters (non-light emitting heat sources - red light is bad for hedgehogs!) are suitable, and they must be used in conjunction with a high quality thermostat. A thermostat is not the same as a thermometer, and we frequently see it confused as such.

if her behaviour change isnt due to quilling, it could be due to temperature (some hedgehogs can become withdrawn if the temp isnt warm enough), or it could be because of the frequent passing from one person to another. Many hedgehogs tend to bond to specific people; so passing them around so frequently can lead to trust issues, and them becoming upset. They are truly an awful choice for a classroom pet for these reasons.
It could also be due to the lighting in the room; many hedgehogs will not want to be out unless the room they are in is quite literally pitch black.

How big is her tank? One that would be truly appropriately sized for a hedgehog would have to be custom made; and 8 square foot is the bare minimum, ideally it would be larger than this.
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Old 02-12-2020, 02:25 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Just another question I’d like to add for curiosity’s sake. You said you use a smaller box to transport her to people’s homes. Now, do each one of you have a cage at your homes she stays in on the weekends?
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Old 02-19-2020, 07:39 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Just another question I’d like to add for curiosity’s sake. You said you use a smaller box to transport her to people’s homes. Now, do each one of you have a cage at your homes she stays in on the weekends?
An update on this:
She has calmed down. She has no problems eating or drinking, and she has been going on our hands these days.
Though, she only ever go on one person's hand on her own, but we're okay with that. The person she trusts the most usually is the one who brings her home on weekends.
That said, she never really tense up that much when she's on someone else's hand, rather she sniffs them, licks them, sleep on them, or i guess poop on them (she poops on our hands a lot)
Our classroom is never fully lit. Most of the time, our lights are off with a one (out of 😎 window curtains opened. We try our best to stay as quiet as possible as well.
We're unsure if we can get our teachers to pay for a heat set up. We might have to save together. I don't know if it is relevant, but her feet never feels cold when we hold her (in the first 2 days it did, but we turn off one of our ACs after, and put her cage in the area where the AC wouldn't directly hit her)
I will check exactly how big our tank is and reply back to you!
Just wanted to say thank you for taking your time on educating us. We understand that hedgehogs aren't the most suitable as a class pet, but we have her already so we'll just have to do our very best in supporting her with lots of care and love <3
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Old 02-19-2020, 08:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Just another question I’d like to add for curiosity’s sake. You said you use a smaller box to transport her to people’s homes. Now, do each one of you have a cage at your homes she stays in on the weekends?
I should also add that we have agreed that only 2 of us will bring her home on weekends, with one being the "main bringer", so hazel won't need to adapt to 9+ places. The main bringer has a cage of her own, the smaller box is just for transportation purposes.
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