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Old 04-07-2011, 11:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default new hedgie owner here!

hi all!!

as of 2 days ago i am the proud owner of a beautiful hedgehog named fitzgerald. i had been wanting a hedgehog for a while, but sort of impulsively got him. his previous owners put an ad on craigslist looking for a new home for him & i knew i could give him a great home.

i have been reading on websites, bought a book & read it, read some on the forums, all of the information is wonderful but overwhelming. any of your wisdom & tips would be great!

housing: he came in an aquarium w/ bedding, a food bowl, a tube, & water bottle, no wheel, which as i read seems to be one of the most important things for a hedgie. his new home will definitely have a wheel. i went to the store & got several new home options. we decided on a small animal penthouse, which has wire ramps which i know aren't good for hedgies, but i will be making ramp covers, but after research on the forums i may be changing this cage because the sides of the ramp and loft are not enclosed. i didn't realize that they could fall off easy. any advice on how to enclose the ramp & lofts would be helpful. also tips on how to introduce fitz to his new cage. i don't want him to be so overwhelmed, but it'll be a huge difference. i'm going to do fleece liners, gotta love remnants at the fabric store, got a litter box, and will switch to the water bowl instead of the bottle.

behavior: basically i am intimidated. i'm trying really hard to not be nervous, to be calm, but honestly i am a little afraid. i know his behavior, the hissing, the quills standing up, the popping are normal, but it makes me jumpy. last night i had my hand in the cage, he finally lifted his head, licked me & bit me. i have a lot of patience, but any tips from people who "rescued" a hedgie would be great. he was bought as a pet for 2 young girls. like i said he had no wheel, so i don't think he excercised much & he might have been a little socially neglected. what's the best way to get him to bond with me without being too traumatic for him?

thanks so much! i know this was a lot!!!
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:02 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: new hedgie owner here!

My little guy was REALLY not socialized when I first got him, and he bit both me and my mom on the first day.
He probably bit you because you smelled like something tastey The fact that he licked you kind of implies that he just smelled something he wanted to try.
Right at first, every time I held Igel (who was ALWAYS a hissing popping ball of spikey pissyness) I used one of my pajama shirts (to get him used to my smell) because I was a little intimidated... and frankly, so was he. Put your pajama shirt on your lap and put some meal worms in front of him, and let him uncurl in his own time. His reward for uncurling will be those meal-worms, and he'll learn your smell is a good safe thing. The cranky hedgies are the most rewarding in my opinion!!
Proud hedgie-mama of the Storybook Hedgehogs herd!
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: new hedgie owner here!

thank you SO much for your post!!!
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:23 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: new hedgie owner here!

For the ramp you could use cardboard for now, and then maybe put coroplast on the sides later.

Don't worry, I was scared when I handled my first hedgie (I was pet-sitting for a friend as a sort of a trial run with owning a hedgie) as well!
If he's being a grump just use a piece of fleece or whatever you have around and pick him up gently that way. That way you won't get hurt by his quills. Give him a chance to be hidden under covers so that he feels safe.

You could also put an old shirt of yours (that has your scent) in his cage so that he can get used to your smell.

Remember to take things slowly and I'm sure you guys will be buddies in no time

Good on you for rescuing that poor boy!
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Old 04-08-2011, 08:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: new hedgie owner here!

Depending on the cage, making a hedgehog safe ramp and enclosing the loft may not be possible. In some cages there simply is not enough room and others the location and size of doors make it impossible to access the loft and rest of the cage once loft and ramp walls are in place. Could you post a picture of the cage?

Don't put your hand in the cage other than to feed/water and pick him out. Hedgehogs can be very territorial of their cage which is often why they quill up and huff when we first pick them out of the cage. Your hand in his cage may have been the reason for the bite.

Hedgehogs also don't do well with us putting our hand in front of their face. They aren't dogs that need to smell our hand and sometimes a hand in front of their face is an invitation to bite.

Using a small cloth to protect from his quills will help you be less nervous and covering him up as he lays on you will help him be less nervous.
* * * Nancy * * *

Retired from breeding

Rescue contact for both the Hedgehog Welfare Society and the IHA
Rescued over 70 (and counting) hedgehogs needing a new home
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Old 04-08-2011, 10:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: new hedgie owner here!

For the switching, I would switch him over to fleece asap, as tank + no ventilation + shavings = respiratory problems waiting to happen.

Once you get the new cage properly set up, just keep some of his dirty, used fleece and put that in his new cage with him. That way he will still have a strong smell of himself and hopefully make the adjustment quickly.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:47 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: new hedgie owner here!

thanks for all your wisdom! after looking at cages on the forum & reading a little more, i decided that the cage i told yall about just won't work. his safety is number 1 & i'm not 100% sure i could secure the ramp & loft enough to prevent him from injuring himself. so i decided to go with the guinea pig cage i had also bought, at least for now, wanted to get him out of the aquarium & bedding asap. i'm going to check into the storage cubes yall use, that looks great!! & his wheel is coming today. i bought him one, but after i got home & read some more, i noticed the wheel had these little slits & i dont want his little feet & toenails to get injured, so im going return that one & getting another wheel i found that had no holes.

my only problem or question now is i really wanted to litter train him, but this cage will definitely be too small to fit the litter box (i got the ferret one) & wheel & him & food & igloo & stuff. should i just put paper towels down under his wheel & put some of his poop from the old cage?

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