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Old 05-24-2010, 08:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

Hello all, I would just like first to introduce myself. My name is Mike and I was very lucky to be able to pick up a gorgeous boy hedgehog this past Wednesday (2 months old).

Since then I am pretty sure I have made the normal mistakes of a new owned, and possibly then some. The day I brought him home he was of course scared and confused. I put him in his cage and set him up nicely. I help him for perhaps 5 minutes that day and put him back in his cage to hopefully keep him from freaking out too much. The second day I tried holding him twice, the first time which worked great, he even let me hold him in a ball for a little bit. Then that night when I tried to hold him the second time, I let my girlfriend try and he freaked out jumping back into my hands.

Here is where my "problem" started. Saturday I didn't get home until close to 11 at night (crazy day) and before coming home I played with my old dog at my parents house (forgot to wash my hands). When I cam home and try to handle him he puffed into a huge spike ball ( i assume now it was from the smell of my dog) and he wouldn't let me hold him or do much with him. So I left him alone until Sunday.

Now on sunday I do believe my brain fell out and I did my best possible to be a "bad" owner. I tried handling him when I woke up and need to get a shirt to help me pick him up (he was having none of that). I eventually moved him to the bathtub so I could clean his cage which I did just fine. However each time I tried to pick him up to put him back in his cage he would puff up snort and do his best to scare me off, until I got the shirt and got him in his cage that way. Well then I took the stupidity a step further and filled his little bathtub I got him to try and get some of the poop off his feet. So I gave him a bit of a "mock" bath (no soap just water/tooth brush) which I thought went quite well. He didn't puff up snort at me or try to prick me, just kinda did laps (didn't use the bathroom either) until we were done and I was able to towel him off and put him back in his cage. After which I gave him some mealworms in hopes of buying some love.

Now later that day, I tried to pick him up in the night to try and just hold him. He was more "aggressive" that time with the puffing and snorting. When I was able to pick him up and he uncurled in my hand he went and bit my finger. The first time not so hard ( I work with my hands somewhat so they are kind of tough) the second time though I could tell he really tried to chop down to do some damage. At which point I put him back in his cage.

This morning I went to replace a t-shirt I had had in his cage for a bed, just a folded up t-shirt with a box over it he could hide in. Originally he would sleep in the box, since I have replaced the bedding in his cage he burrows UNDER the tshirt and hideout (I did double the amount of bedding that was in the cage when I cleaned it so perhaps that is why he "burrows" now? ).ANYWAYS, when I went to replace the shirt I put my hand near him, I didn't touch him but I was close with my palm open (trying to show him I meant no harm like you would for a dog) and he went to bit my fingers twice, just as hard as he could, this time I backed it up with a stern "NO" at which he stopped and went to the other side of the cage and I was then able to put in a new shirt, and put his hideout on it, which he is currently hiding under the T-shirt and hideout.

SO I guess what I am asking is have I alienated my hedgie by handling him too much and giving him a bath? He just recently did the biting yesterday. Since he did that yesterday aside from giving him a new shirt to sleep on/under I have not messed with him. I wasn't planning on picking him up today because I'm afraid I'm going to make him that much more afraid of me/hate me. What should I do with him at the point? Wait a day or so and then start handling him with a blanket or shirt until he uncoils ?

BTW: He does still take mealworms out of my hands, if I offer one to him he will come up and take it from me, then run back and hide (So i think not all is lost? I hope )


I hope I didn't ramble on too much, thank you everyone for all of your help ! !
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

Hmm... You've got quite a scared little hedgie there.

If you've got quiet time in the evening such as reading a book or watching television (nothing loud, ie a war movie, my hedgehog hates explosion noises or yelling.) take him out in the shirt he's curled up in. A), he'll be more comfortable, and B) it's safer for you and him by having a mostly teeth and quill proof barrier between the two of you. Also, if he decides to ball up, there's no danger of you dropping him which will really, really, hurt your hedgie.
Then, just set him in your lap and watch tv or read your book etc. Resist the urge to bother him. If you can do this for a few nights, I'm sure he'll come around.

Also, don't put your hands in his face. He will bite you. My Basil does. And it hurts!

Basil was a ball of spikes for three weeks before he came around and he's a snuggle bunny now. He loves sleeping next to my dad when we watch tv in the evenings. Again for the tv, if you're in the mood for something scary or loud, best leave him be.

Don't give up hope! Just take it super slow.
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:47 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

Welcome to HHC

Sounds like you may have pushed things a little too quick a little too soon with your hedgie so my advice would be to just step back, take a deep breath and start over.

There's a lot of great advice about socializing hedgehogs, so just read up on it in the behaviour forum. The "search" function works wonders, and you'll find a lot of your questions have already been answered 100 times over.

As for the biting, sounds like your hedgehog is either biting you out of fear, or out of you smelling nummy.

Always wash your hands with a non-heavily scented soap before handling the hedgehog.

Hand-feeding mealworms isn't always recommended, as they may try to bite your fingers if the mealworm scent remains on your fingers, and often they can even confuse your fingers as part of the mealworm.

You've obviously scared the little one, but the best thing you can do now is stop beating yourself up over it, throw all previous expectations out of the window and take it SLOW. Your hedgehog will tell you what kind of pace your bonding will move at, and the best thing you can do is listen.


Best of luck
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

Welcome to HHC and congrats on your little guy!

#1 Dont let his grumpiness discourage you! He is very young and scared; the hissing and puffing is perfectly normal; my little man is 6 months old and still does that to me when I pick him up.

Putting your t-shirt with him is a great idea! Another thing I did every night was sit in my room on my bed and hold him in a blanket in my lap. For the first few nights he was tightly curled in a ball, but I would rub circles in the middle of his back and he would slowly start to uncurl and look around a bit. It takes awhile for them to gain trust. Just be consistent and don't let his behavior scare you away; otherwise he will keep doing it in order to keep you away.

With the biting, Little Foot did that once the first night I got him. I put my hand out for him to sniff and he latched on to my finger. Hedgies are attracted to odd smells so always make sure you watch your hands with unscented soap and don't eat while holding them. I'm sure he will grow out of it as you bond and he gets older.

Good luck! If you have any other concerns or questions we are here for you!
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:52 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

Thank you everyone for your replies. I will be doing my very best to go as slow as I can this time and be very patient. I left him be yesterday when he finally did come out I tried giving him a raspberry, he didn't ball up or puff up, just smelled the berry and went back to running on his wheel. So I guess there is hope if I just go slow. Tonight I will try getting him in his tshirt so we can sit around and watch cosmos which I think will be great for bonding time, no loud noises! Thanks again everyone for your help, thank you as well for the welcome. I hope me and Twixx enjoy our stay here.
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Old 05-25-2010, 08:23 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

My suggestion. You need to start over and go for a slower rebonding experience.

If he was mine I would continue to hold him daily and I'd likely hold him for at least 1 hr if he will settle down. If he will snuggle and sleep on you, you can increase the time. During the time he is with you, sit and watch a quiet television, read, play on the computer, etc. Hold him in a blanket on your lap or chest, minimize touching, and talk to him quietly. This type of interaction will let him get used to your scent, your sound and help him to understand that you aren't going to hurt him. He should start to learn that being with you isn't that scary, and start to settle down. Do keep in mind that it can take a long time for some hedgehogs to settle. New homes can be very frightening. Be patient and understand he is scared and act accordingly.

If he is getting extremely upset and acts like he is going to bite, back off. Talk to him in a friendly quiet voice, reassuring him that everything is ok.

If he bites, do not put him back in his cage. Try to avoid bites by keeping your fingers away from his mouth. Should he bite, keep him out for a while longer. He has likely learned that if he bites you go away, which is what he wants right now.
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Old 05-25-2010, 10:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kalandra
My suggestion. You need to start over and go for a slower rebonding experience.

If he was mine I would continue to hold him daily and I'd likely hold him for at least 1 hr if he will settle down. If he will snuggle and sleep on you, you can increase the time. During the time he is with you, sit and watch a quiet television, read, play on the computer, etc. Hold him in a blanket on your lap or chest, minimize touching, and talk to him quietly. This type of interaction will let him get used to your scent, your sound and help him to understand that you aren't going to hurt him. He should start to learn that being with you isn't that scary, and start to settle down. Do keep in mind that it can take a long time for some hedgehogs to settle. New homes can be very frightening. Be patient and understand he is scared and act accordingly.

If he is getting extremely upset and acts like he is going to bite, back off. Talk to him in a friendly quiet voice, reassuring him that everything is ok.

If he bites, do not put him back in his cage. Try to avoid bites by keeping your fingers away from his mouth. Should he bite, keep him out for a while longer. He has likely learned that if he bites you go away, which is what he wants right now.
Thank you very much for the advice, I will be doing just that tonight. I was thinking of sitting him in my lap in a t-shirt while I watch cosmos. When I held him the first few times he would crawl everywhere trying to get away. If he does that should I just roll the shirt over him and put him back in my lap ? Thank you very much for all of the help everyone !
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Old 05-25-2010, 10:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

Cover him with a blanket or with your shirt. I've found that with many that are trying to get away are often just trying to hide. The blanket will provide him with a sense of security and it will likely help settle him down too.

Although there are thosethat are just very active hedgehogs will prefer to explore. In those cases I will try to cover them with a blanket and let them crawl around on me. If he wants out from under the blanket, well that is fine too. If they try to crawl off, I often will put them back on my lap, or just prevent them from getting off of me. Moving around on you is good, it means he is secure enough to uncurl and explore.

If he is overly active and you feel he is adjusting, create a play area for him that he cannot get out and sit inside with him. Let him move around you. I like doing this and offering treats when they come to me.

If he is exploring and you are having good interactions with you, you can also offer him mealworms or some other treat that he loves. A mealworm can go a long way to promote trust.
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Old 05-25-2010, 10:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

thank you I will try that tonight. What would be a good time to try handling him? When im home around 5, or closer to 9/10 when he usually gets up?
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Old 05-25-2010, 11:19 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Hey, new hedgehog owned (possible problems)

I typically pick the later hours as it is often closer to the time when they are likely to wake up anyway. Earlier and you may find that your hedgehog just wants to sleep. Whatever hour you pick, be consistent. I feel that hedgehogs do really well on a schedule. They learn what to expect and when to expect it.

I wake mine at 8pm and interact with them until 10pm (which is their feeding time). Mine typically will sleep on me for the first hour and then may or may not start to move around for more interaction. Although I tend to end up with snuggly quill kids that are happy to snuggle almost the entire 2 hrs.
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