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Old 11-29-2016, 01:35 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default new hedgie - am I doing the right thing?

Apologies, because I feel like I've posted a ton since bringing Mabel home, but despite how much research and reading I did, I'm really worried about whether I'm doing everything right, so I'd appreciate some input.

Mabel's about 1.5yrs old, so I knew it would take a long time for her to get used to me, but even after taking her out every day since Wednesday, she still seems SO stressed. She immediate huffs, hisses and spikes if I try to come near her - or if she just hears me walking, etc, in my apartment. When she's out, she un-balls pretty quick and immediately sets off to explore - I think looking for somewhere to burrow. I usually have a fleece out with her for her to explore but she gets bored of that pretty fast.

What concerns me is that she still hisses and spikes if I so much as move a finger, or shift my weight. She sniffs me if I'm perfectly still, but if I move too much, she spikes and twitches and full-on balls up. She just can't relax if she thinks I'm still there. I try to ignore it; I don't pester her and try to pet her or anything, but if she wanders too far away, I bring her back to where I'm sitting, etc. Is this what I'm supposed to be doing? Is there something else I can try?

Also, I've noticed yesterday and today she's started burrowing under her fleece liner, which she hadn't done before. I'm worried that because most nights, I've disturbed her while she's been in her hide box to take her out, so now she's associated that with me and is trying to hide somewhere else. But she's rarely out of her box when I get home, so if I wait for her to come out, I'll never end up handling her. I worry she's going to get stuck under her fleece, though, or have trouble breathing.
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Old 11-29-2016, 02:07 AM   #2 (permalink)
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You've only had her since Wednesday. That's no time at all. Just keep handling her. She will eventually get used to you. For now, she's in a brand new place with new smells and new sounds. It's scary. She's going to be defensive for a while. And by a while I mean you can expect it to take months to start warming up to you. This isn't a fast thing. Just grab a fleece blanket, plop her in your lap and cover her with it. Then turn on the tv and relax. You'll both be fine.

Don't worry about the liner diving, that's perfectly normal. It's more annoying than anything else.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:55 AM   #3 (permalink)
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They are not animals that play like dogs so most likely she will never show you affection or even to be interested in you. My hedgie is a year old and very relaxed but every time I go to get him out he is hidding in his tunnel and balls up for a little bit and then relaxes.

Some are explorers and some just like to sleep when out of the cage.

Be patient because it's going to be s long ride.
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Old 11-29-2016, 12:41 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thanks both for your replies. I guess I wasn't directed enough in my post... I know it'll take much longer than a week (months, possibly years) for her to fully be comfortable with me. That's not a bother to me -- I spent four years getting one of my horses to trust me. What I'm more concerned about is just how stressed she seems about absolutely everything, and whether I was doing something wrong or if there's something I could be doing to make things easier for her. But if it's just keep on and carry on until she learns to relax, I guess I'll just keep on!
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Old 11-29-2016, 05:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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She's still trying to figure out if you or any sound around will try to eat her. She's a prey animal and her instinct is to be protective.

Try putting a shirt you have worn in the cage and talk to her when you are near the cage and when you are getting her so she associates you with safety.
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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It really is just a matter of perseverance. I know it seems like she's stressing, but she's really just doing what instinct is telling her to do. She simply doesn't know that you are safe. She'll start getting the idea eventually.

Things to make bonding time a little easier would be to have her out in a dimly lit room and have either the tv or radio on at a reasonable volume to cover up sudden noises that might startle her. Generally I use indirect lighting from the kitchen while I have my girl in my lap while I watch tv or play on the computer. She typically naps in her blanket, or she starts climbing on me.
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Old 11-29-2016, 08:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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If you're worried about stress than take a step back in handling. Before I got my girl I was reading that you shouldn't even touch them the first week or so. So my first 2 weeks was me talking to Hazel every night and giving her dried mealworms. I've had her a year now and she lets me pick her up, give her treats and do just about anything I need to do.

I also acquired Hazel at about a year old

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Old 11-29-2016, 10:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If you don't handle them for a week or two it will just set things back that much. It's only recommended to give them a day or so when you first get them.
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Old 12-05-2016, 12:56 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Instead of making another thread I thought I'd just try posting an update here - I hate to clog up forums.

First, thanks all for the advice; both comforting and helpful!
I've been dutifully taking Mabel out every day for at least 30 minutes, usually closer to an hour, but if anything, I feel like she's getting worse. She still pops and hisses if I even come near her cage, let alone pick her up and hold her. She uncurls relatively quickly, but then she just runs as far away as quickly as possible. She avoids my hands/body if I sit back and let her explore. She never relaxes her quills and she doesn't sit still for a second. I sometimes try just cradling her in my arms to encourage her to get used to my scent, but again, it's Mission Run Away every time. Her movement is positively frantic.

I'm not worried about it taking time for her to trust me, but I feel like I'm torturing her, and I worry that continuing to handle her will just cause her anxiety and stress. She's abandoned her hide box entirely and just burrows under her fleece, and I hear her scrabbling at the walls sometimes as though trying to find a way out, and I just feel sad and worry I've made a mistake. I don't want her to be stressed/unhappy, but I'm really unsure how to make this easier.
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Old 12-05-2016, 02:27 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Did you try the t-shirt in the cage? Does she have a dig box and a wheel? Have you put her in a snuggle sack when you take her out?
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