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Old 02-23-2015, 04:33 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default New Hedgehog - Not Friendly


I got my hedgehog back in early December, so he's been around for about two and a half months. I got him from someone who didn't want him anymore when he was about six months. (I realize getting a hog from a breeder would be better but I prefer to have animals that others didn't want, to ensure they have a good home.) Since Day 1, he has hissed and "rattled" a lot. He seems to be scared of everything, especially loud noises.

I can't pick him up except in his cuddle blanket (his cuddle blanket is the only thing he likes). When I pick him up in his cuddle blanket, he curls into a ball and hisses. I try to visit with him every day but he is never out of his cuddle blanket. If I take his cuddle blanket off of him, he gets mad/scared and hisses.

I try to get him used to my scent by putting my hand in his cage but he runs away. He's gotten a bit better lately and he actually let me lightly pat his back a couple times but that's the best we've gotten.

We live in a very quiet apartment. We don't make noise often in the living room. There is just myself and my boyfriend and our cat who live there. My cat is VERY quiet (she's old lol and she's never bothered my hedgehog). We don't have guests over a lot.

I have tried sleeping with the cuddle blanket (before I made it lol) before giving it to him. He comes out in this play pen about once a week and I try getting him used to me then. But he is just so scared and he's always hissing and curling in a ball.

Will it just take more time? Is there anything else I can do? I just want him to not be so scared of me! lol
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Old 02-23-2015, 05:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Sugar Grove, VA
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Have you taken him to the vet yet? There may be a physical reason that he is acting this way. Have you been able to really get a good look at him? How is he eating? Sometimes hedgehogs can have tooth problems, for example, and unless he has been to the vet and knocked out w/ gas you would not know. He also might have mites, or an ear infection, etc. etc. If I were you I would take him to the vet and make sure nothing is causing him to be "grumpy".

That being said, you have to take him out to play every single day for at least an hour. You can try to make a place where he can just run around loose, like a certain room in your home. While he is out, don't let him just go hide under his blanket...give him some things to play with. When he does good, and lets you touch him give him some mealworms and tell him how wonderful he is! I applaud you for rescuing him from his previous situation. It is better than adding more unwanted hedgies into this world for sure!
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ah, no I have not taken him to the vet. I didn't even think about it, to be honest, since he's been kinda like this since Day 1.

He eats just fine though. He runs on his wheel. I don't exactly have a full room for him to play but the play pen seems to work okay. When I take his cuddle blanket away, he gets very anxious. So I don't like to do that for too long.

It's so hard to "play" with him when he just hisses and prickles me lol but we'll keep at it!
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Do you darken the room at all when he's out? Many hedgehogs are more comfortable in a darker room.

When you take him out, trying getting comfortable on the couch and let him just sleep in your lap. I know it's not terribly interesting, but he'll start getting use to your smell and sounds that way and he'll start associating being out with you as a positive thing. He gets to get all cozy and snooze. Eventually he'll probably get brave enough to start exploring you a little bit. Talk to him softly while you have him out too.

Mostly this whole process is just investing the time. He'll come around
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Old 02-23-2015, 11:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Unfortunately, in this situation, you just need to be persistent and patient. Since your little guy is a re-home, it'll probably take him even more time than usual to get used to you. Keep doing what you're doing, though! As the others said, it definitely helps to darken the room while bonding.

Have you tried giving him treats? Maybe playing soothing music (that helped with my girl when she was a baby)? Even sitting or laying down in a blocked off area, like his playpen, and letting him explore or sniff around you, can help the bonding process. How long do you have him out everyday for? For most hedgehogs, the longer, the better.

Also, if he ever hisses or balls up, immediately putting him back in his cage lets him know that that's all he needs to do to go back into his cage. Again, just be persistent when handling him; move very slowly, and avoid saying "shh" (as they may take it as a hissing noise). Have you been able to give him a bath? Many hedgehogs will un-ball in water, so have you been able to handle him normally that way? Oh, and it usually helps to form some kind of routine every time you take him out of his cage, so he knows what to expect. For instance, taking him out around the same time, waking him up in the same way, playing the same music, bonding in the same way, even wearing the same clothes (it might sound gross, but when I was bonding with my girl, I wore the same hoodie so she would get used to the smell).

Sorry for all the questions, but I hope that helped
I love my little Tansy [1.3.14] <3
& my boys, Wally [10.6.10], Runner [12.16.2004] and Champ [11.10.2003]

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Old 02-24-2015, 01:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Oh more helpful responses! Thank you!

I also wanted to add about the vet, I certainly don't have a problem taking him, I took my hamster to the vet before she passed when she was sick. I just kind of doubt that's the issue as he's been this way from the beginning and he doesn't show any other signs of being sick. BUT I will definitely monitor it!

He comes out when I'm asleep at night LOL! I try to keep the lights off BUT my cat is old and doesn't have the best eyesight so she needs one light on at night. But most of the light doesn't go into my hog's area. Our apartment has a huge window so the light comes in during the day. Would it be practical to put a sheet over top of his cage? I wonder if that would be okay.

He also doesn't seem to like toys. I have given him a variety of toys but he doesn't seem to play with any of them!

As for treats, I have given him a few and he likes them but I can't feed them to him. I try and get him to associate my smell with the treats.

I haven't given him a bath either. I was honestly scared of him drowning or something if he kept being curled up in a ball. But hogs should instinctively un-curl then.

I mostly take him out in the evenings after work. I don't like to disrupt him during the day since he seems to enjoy sleeping then.

It seems like it'll just take time. What I probably should have mentioned is that he came from a home with lots of kids... possibly loud kids that maybe harassed him? I really don't know know, they seemed pretty nice (just didn't have time for him) but there were quite a few kids and who knows how he was treated.
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Old 02-24-2015, 01:29 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I reward Thumbelina when she unballs and walks around the cage with a piece of chicken. She's statting to catch on if new mommy wants her she'll his and ball up still but she'll come out and stuff. I also were the same shirt a week long (of course under clean cloths). And switch it and leave it in her snuggle box it seems to help a lot. She's more use to me that way. It'll take time it's a new change and a big struggle don't worry over time with TLC he'll warm up to you

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Old 03-06-2015, 11:17 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Aw that is too cute! I'll try to get him to associate the treats with not being shy lol.
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Old 03-06-2015, 04:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Location: Sugar Grove, VA
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It really sounds like you are doing everything correctly. In my opinion he definitely needs to go to the vet for a checkup and you probably should just bite the bullet and give him a bath...Does he scratch a lot by chance? he could have something wrong with his skin. Personally I would just want to be on the safe side and rule out any physical problems. My Daisy came from a pet store and there is no doubt in my mind she had some kind of bad experience with kids. She hates kids! Anyway, it is a good idea to find a vet who deals with hedgehogs before something serious comes up. That way you know where to go.

As for the bath, just put a little bit of water in the tub and put him in there. He will unball and walk around. You can use a little facial brush with some unscented shampoo. He may hiss and try to run away but just be persistent. Then use a cup or something like that to rinse him off with. Get a towel fresh out of the dryer and wrap him in it. Then you can take him on the couch and let him get cozy.

Last edited by shmurciakova; 03-06-2015 at 04:16 PM.
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