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Old 04-04-2014, 04:42 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question noob questions re: quills, skin & nails

hello all,

so i've had my first hedgehog for 24 hours now and already i have embarrassingly noob questions...

is it common for quills to look this.... sparse(?) when a (young) hedgehog is scared?



he's 7.5 weeks old and his quills only look sparse when he raises them while huffing and/or balling up, but when i watch videos of other (generally older) hedgehogs huffing/balling up their quills appear to be full enough as to now expose bare skin. i assume that he's quilling as i can see new quills that are still coming in, but is this normal even when quilling?

when he's not huffing/balling up his quills look pretty full and normal...



on a kind of related note, when he is balled up and his skin is visible it's obvious that he has dry skin as he has flaking in some areas. i've also seen him scratching. i'd like to help him out with this, but having only had him for about 24hrs he is still very scared of me. i can't even reach for him without him completely balling up, so i can't imagine being able to give him a bath without him balling up and water getting where it shouldn't. plus he's already so scared, i'd hate to make it worse...

...but at the same time, i feel bad about his dry skin. :/ should i just wait it out and hope that in a few days he'll be calm enough to give him a bath?

and one last question (for now). a couple of nails on each of his hind legs are ridiculously long. so long that i would think it would interfere with walking, but he's ran on his wheel last night as if it didn't. still, it pains me to see them that long, especially when i see him scratching with them.... i'd like to cut them, but again he is so scared right now that it seems impossible to get to those toes and i don't want to traumatize him. :/

any advice...? opinions? i really appreciate the help.
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Old 04-04-2014, 02:47 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I recommend you holding him even when he is spiked up. It is normal for the quills to be sorta sparse when he is in a ball. Especially if they are a little over weight. I recommend just holding him until he comes out. It may be uncomfortable but sort of snuggle them against your stomach and he will hopefuly fell less threatened and come out. Hope I helped.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I agree with the above poster. Also, when we first got Sebastian one of the first things we did was to give her, him at the time, a bath. Within 48 hours of bringing her home she was a clean little hedgie.
Hold the hedgehog until they unball. Don't squeeze or anything, just hold him/her against you until their natural curiosity gets the best of them and they start looking around. Keep a large-ish piece of fleece or hot pad nearby so you can pick them up, but while holding, it is best to do it with bare hands (in my own opinion).
Maybe an inch or so of lukewarm water with oatmeal emollient in it will help with dry skin. I don't use soap on my hedgies, just oatmeal baths. It does the job. Once when we first got her I used a little olive oil in the water. It also does well, but i wouldn't use it regularly. More of an extra than a day to day thing.
Expect the hedgie to poop in the water, it's kinda gross, but a perfectly natural reaction.
I use a cup to get hedgies back quills wet and a toothbrush to brush the quills clean. The entire process takes about 2-3 minutes really. At least with my brood. They all hate the water so I try to be quick and thorough.
Common advice says after the bath you should snuggle with hedgie in a towel for 45 min to an hour until they are fully dry. My kids won't allow that either so I dry their feet, tummies, and back as much as I can get and keep them in a warm room (80-85 degrees F) for 2-3 hours until I'm sure they are fully dry.
Don't let hedgies grumpy attitude dissuade you from giving them the best care you can. Even my grumpiest boy will unball once he is in water if only to race to the side to try to escape the evil water monster. It's the perfect time to gently brush them down, clean their tiny feet and make sure they get some healing to their potentially dry skin.
They really won't hate you forever when it is all said and done. Gentle hands, soft voices and as quick as possible is my motto.

Last edited by gracefulchaos01; 04-04-2014 at 05:11 PM. Reason: edited for detail
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Also I would hold of on nail clipping (sorry, just thought about this) for a few days. for that you do need a comfortable hedgie.
Common advice indicates that the best time to clip is right after bathtime.
Personal experience for me actually indicates to clip nail right after I pull them out of the cage just when they are waking up. There is no struggle because they have no idea what is going on because they are still mostly asleep. At least the longest nails get clipped before they start to fuss about it.
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I've had my hedgie for 3 days now, and her quills look like that. I'm pretty sure it's normal. Remember, they still have some baby quills at this point. You might notice that a few of them come out when you hold him. That's normal too.

Even though your baby is grumpy, you have to hold him. I could hold my baby on the first day and she was pretty chill. Do you have a t-shirt in the cage? That will help him get used to your smell, and then he should be relatively easy to pick up. You can use a t-shirt to pick him up, but it's really important that he gets to know your smell.

Everything said about the baths is really good info. Oatmeal and olive oil are good for dry skin. Oatmeal will help him relax too. Also try some treats. That'll help him warm up to you.

As far as nails go though, I don't have any advice. My breeder clipped my baby's nails before I brought her home. Bottom line is, stick with it! You'll get stuck, but it'll pay off in the long run! Good luck!
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Old 04-04-2014, 08:56 PM   #6 (permalink)
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thanks everyone for the input, i really appreciate it.

i have been handling him thus far with a towel because while i can bear to hold him in his spikey little razor sharp ball bare handed, what i cant bear is his jumping while in that ball which repeatedly stabs me lol... there has, however, been slow improvement there, so i will keep aiming for bare hands.

i think i will try giving him a shallow bath tonight if i can get my hands on plain, non-instant oatmeal... not an easy thing here, sadly. i will hold off on the nail clipping for now.
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Old 04-04-2014, 10:07 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nighstar View Post
i have been handling him thus far with a towel because while i can bear to hold him in his spikey little razor sharp ball bare handed, what i cant bear is his jumping while in that ball which repeatedly stabs me lol... there has, however, been slow improvement there, so i will keep aiming for bare hands.
sorry for the double post, but i just want to update! this morning he let me hold him bare handed! several times! for a long time! sooooo happy. ;( i may be able to even get a nail or two soon if i try hard enough.

i'll definitely be trying a bath tonight if i can get my hands on oatmeal... thanks again.
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