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Old 12-02-2010, 04:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

Hello fellow hedgie owners!

So three weeks ago I purchased my first hedgehog. She is an albino female and her name is Cashew. She is about nine months old, and I was very excited to get her. I did my research before hand, so I knew that they would take a while to warm up to me. However, my hedgehog is well... Not that friendly at all. Or so it seems.

If I change her water and put her dish back into her cage while she is awake, she will attack the dish for numerous minutes, vigorously bitting and hitting it with her nose. At first I thought it was because she wanted to play, but every time I put my hand near the cage she bites at her cage in the same way. We have a special little scoop to take out her poo and if we attempt to scoop while she is also awake, she will then proceed to attack the spoon as well. I don't know what to do! It's been almost a month and I interact with her every day, but she has tried to bite my fingers, so when I take her out of her cage, I have to handle her with gloves. She's bitten them as well. She does not curl into a ball when I pick her up, she just wants to be put down. She sleeps sprawled out so I thought she was comfortable. Are all hedgehogs like this? The lady I bought her from handled her often and she never said anything about her biting at things all the time. I also recently let her run around in a space on the floor and she bit a pencil just because it was near her. Is she scared or does she want to play or is she just vicious?

My mom and I attempted to give her a bath, and she seemed to love the water, but I couldn't hang onto her enough to dry her off at all. She just doesn't seem to enjoy being handled by her or I, but after all it has been just 3 weeks.


We've gotten her a big cage with a very nice wheel and house, she is all set. Am I doing something wrong?? Help!!

Ps.. Can I trim her nails with anything other than something bought at the pet store? Since she hates to be handled I haven't been able to cut them and they are getting fairly long and I feel terrible I have cudicle nippers and regular nail clippers.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

Oh and.. I waited the full three weeks before I handled her at all. We put her in a quiet room, with a heating blanket, and I left a sweater of mine right outside the cage where she sleeps. Our house is very quiet on a daily basis so I doubt it was that big of a transition from her "quiet room" to where she is now.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

I'm sure more experienced hedgie parents will answer, but you didn't handle her for 3 weeks?

You'll basically have to start the socialization process all over again.

You can take her out once or twice a day, put her in a hedgie bag or cuddle her up in fleece and keep her head covered. Let her get used to you and your smell. My Nara likes no lights on at all in the room and quiet, then she runs and explores all over.

It may take several months to get her to relax.

Just my 2 cents.

Good luck and take it slow.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

The lady I bought her from said to not even pick her up at all until around that time. But I put my hands on the cage, talked to her all the time while she was awake handled her dishes and stuff.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:32 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

The lady you got her from was wrong. Usually it is recommended to leave them be for a day or two but not longer than that. It's good that you were talking to her and being near the cage in that time. Since it sounds like you've just started the actual picking her up and handling her directly I would say that she needs a lot more time. Some are just biters though and you will have to find a way to deal with that if it is the case. It might be a good idea to get her to a vet for a check up. I think I've read on here that when they are biting everything like that they are having pain in their mouth (someone correct me if I'm horribly mistaken).
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:37 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

I hope not. She isn't constantly biting, she'll sniff it, and then bite. I've noticed she's biting the cage a lot less recently, so I hope that's good. Same with the pencil, she sniffed it first, tried a bite and decided she didn't like it.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:49 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

That sounds like she is biting just to explore and not to be aggressive but it is hard to tell without actually seeing it. Try not to use gloves when you are handling her. Use a t-shirt or a blanket or a piece of fleece to pull her out of the cage and just try to keep your fingers away from her mouth. Do you have any toys set out for her for play time or in her cage? She might be bored.
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Old 12-02-2010, 05:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

I agree it sounds like a bit of a socialization issue from being left for so long. That's ok. Many people have resuces who were never held and have since come around.

My suggestions - try to establish a regular schedule for taking her out each night. Bonding snuggle sacks are helpful. When taking her out try not to use gloves. Rather than gloves, try to use a fleece towel. It can still protect your hands but without the odd scent. This is especially good if it's a fabric piece that stays in her cage with her.

How much food is your hedgie getting? Hedgies should be free fed with food remaining in the dish each morning. My hedgie nips when she's hungry (she's lazy and wants the food to come to her, not to go to the food). If she's smelling before biting, it suggests maybe a hunger issue. Also what type of food is it?

Possibly a way to deal with the biting is to give her one thing that she's 'allowed' to bite. I've read that in the wild hedgies like to attach snakes. Possibly a soft rubber snake, braided fleece, a clean dish towel, or one of those long cat toys.
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Old 12-02-2010, 06:20 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

Some hedgehogs can be territorial about their cages, which might be a part of her biting factor, especially since she was left alone for three weeks. So when you're touching her food dishes or even trying to get at her, she's kind of saying "back off, this is my territory". You just have to push through it. As for biting the gloves, if they are leather, then she's probably reacting to the smell. Hogs have bad eye sight, so much of their world involves smell and even taste. They will also chew and 'anoint' with things, especially new smells, this is a process in which they will chew and bite at something, creating a foam in their mouth, and then they'll contort their body and spread the foam on their quills. It might be what she was doing with the pencil.

Patience is a biggie when it comes to hedgehogs, like its been said the three weeks was sadly a tad too long for her to be left untouched, they do fall out of habit of being handled, and at this moment she doesn't know you're "safe" to her (of course not your fault, fault of her previous owner for telling you this). If she was fine with her previous owner then with some work and patience, she'll come around again. Just keep handling her at least 10 to 20 minutes a night. Instead of gloves you can try using a towel or small blanket, and when you have her out with you, have a place for her to hide in, such as sitting with her on your lap with a blanket over her. She'll come out once she feels comfortable, might take several days before it happens, but sooner or later it will.
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Old 12-02-2010, 06:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: New hedgehog.. Not what I was expecting!

Thanks! That's great, I'm going to try the towel thing tonight. Also a major issue is the nail clipping!! I have cuticle nippers (ladies you'll know what those are) and regular nail clippers. Can I use either of those things?? I feel bad, theyre getting pretty long
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