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Old 01-14-2020, 10:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question New hedgehog worried about behavior

Hi all! So I just got Goose four days ago and her breeder said shes very adventurous compared to the rest of her litter. She was great when I first brought her home and she didnt puff up much or at all when handled by my multiple family members. Since I got her Ive been handling her at least a half hour every day and shes been fine but yesterday she started doing this thing where she goes to sniff my fingers when I reach into her cage and starts taking little bites. Ive tried washing off my hands with just water before handling her to make sure I have nothing on my hands shed want to lick. But shes still been nibbling. Ive been sitting with her on my lap with a felt blanket and towel for her to snuggle in but she still puffs up when she smells my fingers and tries to nibble me before she falls asleep. Im just worried Im doing something wrong with handling her that will affect her behavior permanently. Is there anything I should change?
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Old 01-15-2020, 01:22 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Location: Michigan
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Most likely you aren't doing anything wrong. If she is a baby she is likely just testing her environment. Wash and rinse your hands well before picking her up. She may just be tasting a bit of sweat(salt) or even the moisture on your hands still. However, if you use lotion, smoke, have picked up food that leaves a strong smell, she may reacting to it.

One thing to note though, don't allow her to lick or nibble. Keep your hands away from her mouth. While it may feel interesting and seem to be cute, it can lead to a behavioral issue later.

If she does bite, don't punish her (no blowing in the face, pushing your finger into her mouth, etc.). These negative reactions are scary and can cause her to want to bite more. Also don't reward her for it. Don't put her in her cage, not pick her up, or whatever you are doing at the time. Doing these things will encourage her that biting gets her what she wants (away from you).

Usually just keeping your hands/fingers away from their mouths works great at getting them to forget that biting is a thing.

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Old 01-15-2020, 01:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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How are you reacting when she nibbles? If your reaction is to not pick her up, youre reinforcing the behaviour by letting her know that if she bites = human leaves me alone.

If youre still picking her up regardless, it's something she will eventually stop doing as she learns it gets her nowhere. Some hogs will bite as an attempt to communicate that they want to go back to their enclosure - generally speaking, unless they have literally been out for hours, it's important that you do not give in to this behaviour or they can make a habit of it and become aggressive.

You've only had her four days, so it's really not something I would be concerned about. Hedgehogs are naturally antisocial, and it is incredibly common for them to take months (3+) to establish a trusting relationship with their human. The huffing isn't anything I'd be concerned about; a huffing hedgehog is like a meowing cat, or barking dog - the tamest hedgehogs will huff. The nipping/mouthy behaviour isnt necessarily a cause for concern just yet (given how you've practically just got her), and should disappear within the coming weeks as you build a trusting relationship.

eta; ninja'd - Kalandra gave you great advice, and I couldnt agree more with it being important that you don't punish the nipping by blowing/negative reinforcement. Essentially ignoring (don't give her any reaction or stop you from picking her up) it is the best way to correct it.

Last edited by Emc; 01-15-2020 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 01-15-2020, 08:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: Colorado
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My hedgehog licks and nibbles my fingers when I have had her out for a little bit and she is telling me she is hungry. I get her a few pieces of food, and she happily goes back to exploring or snuggling. Maybe let her eat before you take her out?
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