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Old 12-27-2010, 08:43 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default First Time Owner - Needs Reassurance

I just got my first hedgie on friday. I understand that when you first get them, their scared and need to learn to trust you but I need some reassurance. I've only been pulling her out at night, until she's use to me, because thats when she seems to be at her happiest (Obviously, because she's nocturnal). I usually wait for her to come out of her hide at night before I grab her, versus me pulling her out of her house. She usually comes out around 7pm to hop on her wheel and thats usually when I take her out play. When I reach in to grab her, she balls, huffs and pops. Once I have her out, I offer her some treats to coax her out of the ball. She comes out after a little while and then seems perfectly happy. She jumps here and there but for the most part seems very friendly towards me considering I just got her. After about 45 minutes, I put her back in her cage and once in there, I reached in to see if she'd let me pet her (which she allows when I hold her). She balls, huffs and pops.

My question is, will she become use to my hands reaching in her cage to grab and touch her? Or will she always be huffy in there?

Thanks!
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Old 12-27-2010, 09:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Time Owner - Needs Reassurance

Hi there,

first, I think it's great that you are here looking for information on your new pet. That's the way to go.

I'll answer with my own experiences.

Col. Mustard came home to me when she was 1 year old, before that she was a kid's pet. When she came home she was huffy and poppy too, wouldn't like us petting her but very soon, after maybe 2 weeks she was a completely changed hog and would feel very comfortable near us. It took a couple of months for her to let us pet her whenever we want though, and I gotta say that sometimes she just gets up on the wrong side of her igloo and doesn't want us touching her too much -- it's rare, but it happens.

She's been with us now for 5 months only and is completely tame... we can pet her face, ears, paws, give her medicine and cut her nails without any struggle, but it took A LOT of patience.

Pete has been here for a little over 2 weeks and on the first week she was here, I did feel very hopeless at times... I'd talk to her while she was on her cage and she would hiss. We would take her out and she would pop and click and jump at every tiny movement or noise. Today, after 2 weeks and again a lot of patience, she is still very huffy but will sleep on our laps (and even splat!) and allow us to have our hands on her, and even pet her. She doesn't hiss anymore when we go near her cage and actually greets us and looks at us with flat quills. I know we still have a long way to go and she might never be as friendly as Mustard, but I know things will improve in the next months and as longs as she is happy and healthy, then I'm happy.

That being said, you only had your hedgie for a few days. It sounds like you're doing everything right and that your heart is in the right place. Just give it some time, keep doing what you're doing, keep looking for info here, and she'll get used to you. Patience and the love are the key words with hedgehogs.
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Old 12-27-2010, 10:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Time Owner - Needs Reassurance

They don't often like being petted in their cages (which doesn't mean you shouldn't try necessarily). I've read that females can be especially territorial about the cage so yes all the hissing and popping when you reach into the cage is normal. It might stop, it might not, most hedgehogs will hiss when first picked up no matter what. With Quigley after a while he would still his and put all his quills up around him but not ball up.

It's great that she calms down once you take her out. It took me two weeks just to see Quigley's whole face. Before that he was a really tight ball of quills that would pop and hiss like crazy at every movement, or sound. I had to sit as still as possible in a dark room and was barely able to breath without making him freak out. Now he tolerates so much more. However this is two years later with lots of handling and snuggle time.

It sounds like you are doing everything right. Don't feel badly about the hissing. It is mostly a natural defensive reaction. Once you get to know your hedgehog you will come to know all her different hisses. I can tell by tone of the hiss, duration and body language what Quigley is "telling me" with his hiss. If he is seriously mad and I ignore him I get a growl and soon after a chomp.
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Old 12-28-2010, 03:29 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: First Time Owner - Needs Reassurance

I just got mine on the 23rd and handled him as soon as I got him home. He only popped on me once. I found that handling him for a few hours at a time, regardless of the time of day, has really worked wonders. He wasn't too keen on me just reaching in and grabbing him unannounced. He's became much more accommodating after I started slowly reaching in and placing my hand next to him so he can smell me first. He was a little scared for the first day, but now I'm on day 5 and he has stopped huffing, lowers his spines when I place my hand next to him in his cage waiting to be scooped up, and loves to sleep in my lap. Mine doesn't seem to like being balled up for more than a few seconds. The couple of times he did ball, I found that cupping him in both hands and gently rocking my hands up and down at the wrist was enough to coax him out of it pretty quick.

I'd suggest putting an old, worn, unwashed shirt in her cage if you don't have one in there already. This will give her something that smells like you all day and help her become familiar with the scent more quickly. I use a cloth liner in my cage so the shirt is his only option for burrowing meaning he's sleeping in my scent.
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