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Old 04-14-2019, 09:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Self Mutilating

My boyfriend and I got our hedgehog Lily a year ago from a breeder when she was a baby. We never had any health issues with her until recently. This all started about a month ago. I picked her up one day after not being able to hold her very much for about a week. I still held her here and there during that week, but it still wasn't as much as usual. When I picked her up, I could tell she was extremely agitated, to an abnormal amount. I thought it was because I hadn't held her for a while, but it got to a point where I couldn't even keep her on me anymore so I put her back in her cage. At this point she was absolutely freaking out, literally jumping on and off of her wheel and just throwing herself everywhere. I could tell she was picking at her armpit area, on both sides. I sat by her cage to watch her calm down but then I noticed a lot of blood all in her mouth and all over her chest. I brought her to the vet immediately that night. They were able to wash her wound and gave me a soap to wash her with every day. I did for a couple days, but then her wounds looked really irritated and the breeder told me to stop using the soap immediately, and to try and just put some cream polysporyn on her instead. I tried that on that night and it must of burned her a lot because she started freaking out again and picking at herself even more. The following days, all I did was bathe her every night with some coconut oil, to wash her wound and also hydrate it. It was finally healing, but our problem then shifted to her not eating since the whole thing started. I brought her to the vet again because she wasn't eating at all, and I had to syringe feed her for a little while. After about a week of that, she finally has been acting like her normal self for a couple weeks.

I held her tonight (I have been holding her constantly almost every day since this all started), and she started freaking out like she did on the night this first started and started picking at her chest again. I put her in her cage immediately since I didn't want to stress her further and she seems okay now. I just don't want her to start this again and stop eating again since it was so hard to get her to start eating regularly again.

I guess I'm wondering if anybody has experienced this? If yes, how were you able to hold your baby and build a bond with them without them trying to hurt themselves? This is all so weird since absolutely nothing changed in her day to day life. I know building a bond takes a long time, but I don't know how I'm supposed to do that if she tries to hurt herself every time I hold her.

Thanks!
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Old 04-14-2019, 10:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I haven't personally experienced this but I would recommend trying more hands off bonding. Maybe instead of holding her just let her sit in a snuggle sack until she starts to trust you more. Also, make sure you have something in her cage that smells like you so that she can get used to your scent.
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Old 04-15-2019, 12:22 AM   #3 (permalink)
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What kind of soap is it? Did you discuss with the vet that the soap made it look more irritated? What did the vet say about the wound when you took her in for not eating?
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Old 04-15-2019, 02:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I had a friend whos hedgehog did this, the hogs name is bilbo, anyway he used to do it on and off and it was always very random, my friend was really sad about it, sometimes it was just an add day, and other times he'd do it for a week, sometimes longer he did stop eating some of the times but not every time, he was a very huffy boy, and hated being handled so they always had more hands off bonding. She did sorta see that the more she handled Bilbo the more he would hurt himself, but that wasn't always the case and the vet told her that she just has to use it and sort the wounds as they appear. She used an unscented antiseptic cream but I cant remember what one, but it worked for her as she didn't want to keep bathing Bilbo. She washed the initial wounds and then used the cream after that.
Bilbo is not alive anymore he died of cancer around Christmas time, and she doesn't like talking too much about at the moment.- it wasnt related to the self mutilating.
But self mutilating doesnt always stop, she used to say that its like a person self harming, sometimes they will do it more than others, sometimes theres a pattern to why and other times its just random. You can't get them to stop, all you can do is care for them.

Obviously this isnt my personal experience but it can upsetting to watch as I did a couple times when I was over, but she used to feel like she went wrong with him and that wasn't true, she treated him like king. I'm not sure how much this well help you.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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A lot of captive animals display self mutilating behaviour out of boredom. I haven’t seen it in a hedgehog but I have seen it in other small mammals, and there’s no reason it wouldn’t apply to hedgehogs. Maybe consider making an enrichment schedule for him to make sure he is mentally stimulated throughout the week and see if that helps the behaviour.
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:45 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stella'sMama View Post
I haven't personally experienced this but I would recommend trying more hands off bonding. Maybe instead of holding her just let her sit in a snuggle sack until she starts to trust you more. Also, make sure you have something in her cage that smells like you so that she can get used to your scent.
I will try that! She always loved her cuddle sack but I haven't used it in a while cause I usually just wrap her up in a blanket and let her chill there. I might do little bits at a time until she can handle being held for a longer period of time. She's an extremely high stress baby, I feel so bad for her 😞 thank you though!
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Old 04-15-2019, 06:59 PM   #7 (permalink)
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What kind of soap is it? Did you discuss with the vet that the soap made it look more irritated? What did the vet say about the wound when you took her in for not eating?
I'm not actually sure what soap it was! But I stopped using it just a couple days after starting and only gave her coconut oil baths and the wound immediately got better. When I brought her to another vet 5 days later, they looked much better and were healing 🙂
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by akitka View Post
A lot of captive animals display self mutilating behaviour out of boredom. I haven’t seen it in a hedgehog but I have seen it in other small mammals, and there’s no reason it wouldn’t apply to hedgehogs. Maybe consider making an enrichment schedule for him to make sure he is mentally stimulated throughout the week and see if that helps the behaviour.
I personally don't think it's out of boredom, cause she doesn't do it when she's alone in her cage, only when I'm holding her. She's an a extremely anxious hedgie, so I think she gets anxious whenever I hold her and that's what causes her to do it 😞
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ria View Post
I had a friend whos hedgehog did this, the hogs name is bilbo, anyway he used to do it on and off and it was always very random, my friend was really sad about it, sometimes it was just an add day, and other times he'd do it for a week, sometimes longer he did stop eating some of the times but not every time, he was a very huffy boy, and hated being handled so they always had more hands off bonding. She did sorta see that the more she handled Bilbo the more he would hurt himself, but that wasn't always the case and the vet told her that she just has to use it and sort the wounds as they appear. She used an unscented antiseptic cream but I cant remember what one, but it worked for her as she didn't want to keep bathing Bilbo. She washed the initial wounds and then used the cream after that.
Bilbo is not alive anymore he died of cancer around Christmas time, and she doesn't like talking too much about at the moment.- it wasnt related to the self mutilating.
But self mutilating doesnt always stop, she used to say that its like a person self harming, sometimes they will do it more than others, sometimes theres a pattern to why and other times its just random. You can't get them to stop, all you can do is care for them.

Obviously this isnt my personal experience but it can upsetting to watch as I did a couple times when I was over, but she used to feel like she went wrong with him and that wasn't true, she treated him like king. I'm not sure how much this well help you.
This is actually really comforting to read! It's always nice to know that others are going through the same thing. I will try some more hands off bonding with her, little bits at a time and see how that goes. Thanks so much 🙂
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Old 04-15-2019, 07:46 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I think trying more hands off bonding will be a good idea to try. It may not completely fix the issue, but it should help ease it at least.

Self mutilating is very commonly linked to boredom, or depression. But to be honest I think it can link to stress too.
Maybe going from not really handling her to handling her a lot stressed her out too much and started this.

No one knows why Bilbo ever did it, his life was as stress free as possible, wasn't depressed, wasn't bored he always has so much to do. He was always treated like a king. Its just a mystery for him.
He was always so grumpy didnt really like being handled at all, always had super poopy feet too !!

I honestly think that maybe if you try just having her out in snuggle sack and then leave everything on her terms its going to work better for you. Try keeping the snuggle sack just smelling of you and her too, because this will help a lot with bonding as well as keeping it more comforting for her with familiar smells all the time.
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