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Old 06-26-2013, 08:19 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Rescue Hedgehog Biting: Need Advice

Today I rescued a hedgehog.
I check Craigslist every day to see if there are any hedgehogs in really terrible conditions that I could take in, and this one came along.
The little guy was in a home with well-meaning people, but they were very ignorant.

He was eating Meow Mix and hamster food. They had him in a cage that is suitable for hedgehogs, but he had no source of heating or lighting, and they said at one point they put in a wire wheel, which he did not like so they put in a Silent Spinner. (I will be getting him a Carolina Storm wheel like the one my other hedgehog Meeko has this weekend.) They also said he sleeps in his wheel and that they had gotten the hedgehog for their two nephews and that they were always running in and out and riding four wheelers and they didn't have time for the hedgehog. He was covered in dirt and his spines were caked with grime with shavings stuck in. It didn't appear to be cedar, but it also didn't look like aspen. (I will be using a liner once I make one.) They didn't mention a name, so we named him Truffles. They said they think he is about two or three. We gave Truffles a bath and he looks much better, but he didn't seem like he had ever had a bath before. He is all settled into his newly cleaned cage and I put in some of the food I feed Meeko (Spot's Stew) and gave him a few mealies. He played tug of war with an old shirt of mine I put in his cage and appears to be sleeping in it.

What I am worried about is biting. That is one of the main reasons these people were getting rid of him. They said he bit and were angry the previous owners didn't tell them this, but I think the reason he bites is because children were handling him (probably roughly based on the way I saw the owner handle him.) They also said they were just tired of getting poked with the quills. So far today he has bitten me once and my boyfriend twice. Neither of us smelled like food. I have never read anything about hedgehogs actually being aggressive, they are just scared, but it almost appears as if he is aggressive. He doesn't ball up, he just bites when you put a finger near him.

What I would like to know is, what should I do to rehab Truffles? I plan to let him settle in for a few days before I try to handle him again, then start with trying to get him to sleep in a snuggle bag in may lap. All he seems to want to do is run away though, which is very different from my snuggly baby Meeko. I could really use some advice with this little rescue of mine!

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Old 06-26-2013, 08:45 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Rescue Hedgehog Biting: Need Advice

Good for you for taking in this poor boy.

The best thing to do for his biting is to keep your fingers or exposed flesh away from his mouth. If necessary, pick him up using a small blanket and let him get used to be handled gently. You hopefully will be able to figure out what if anything triggers his biting and he will hopefully stop doing it once he realizes it won't accomplish anything and that he has no need to.
* * * 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 06-26-2013, 11:56 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Rescue Hedgehog Biting: Need Advice

My hedgehog used to bite constantly. I got him from a pet store and I don't think he was ever handled while he was there. He was very poorly socialized. He would bite so hard when I got him, I'd bleed. He very very rarely bites now and it just took a lot of patience and handling. In the beginning, I just had to be very conscious of where my fingers were and my bare skin when I was handling him. Like the previous poster said, putting him/her on a blanket and then petting is always good. I definitely gave him treats too,if we had a particularly good cuddle session. Bribing is always good!
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Old 06-27-2013, 05:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Rescue Hedgehog Biting: Need Advice

Sounds like a very similar situation to my own chompy rescue, Etnie, who has since been adopted by a member of the HWS. The key is patience (not what you want to hear I'm sure), and consistency. He is biting out of fear. Don't give him a reason to be afraid (so, if he bites, DO NOT REACT, just act like nothing's happening). Don't put him away right after he bites either, as that is likely what happened at his last home so he has learned that if he wants to be put away he should chomp. Stay calm, talk to him lots (I used a front-facing carry bag so he could snuggle in it while I did chores), put a dirty old t-shirt in his cage to familiarize him with your scent, and just keep on loving that little dude.

Some people suggest blowing on their faces if they bite. I very, very strongly advise against that, especially in this situation. He needs to learn to trust you, and fear does not establish trust.

Bless you for rescuing this boy, best wishes!
Proud hedgie-mama of the Storybook Hedgehogs herd!
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Old 06-28-2013, 09:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Rescue Hedgehog Biting: Need Advice

Thanks for the advice, everyone! I let him just chill on his own yesterday and may continue doing that for a few more days. He is still adjusting to his new home and new food, and I know normally you would want to transition a hedgehog to new food, but I could NOT let him keep eating HAMSTER FOOD. That just makes me so upset. He absolutely loves his new food, but his body is still adjusting, and as a consequence, he has some pretty wet poop. Not so much diarrhea, just really wet poop. (I kind of have a feeling they weren't changing his water everyday and he was dehydrated as well, which may be contributing to the wetness.)

Unfortunately, I think he did pick up aggression from his past homes, because he doesn't seem to be too afraid of people, or talking, and he wheels all night long. The only time he bit me was when I put my finger out for him to sniff, and when I held him the first few times he was fine, so I think with a lot of patience and time, he will learn I am only going to be kind to him.

I put an old t-shirt of mine that smelled like me in his cage, and he proceeded to try to tear it apart, tugging at it as if he was warning me, "Hey, watch out human, I'm tough!" He seems like he is much happier with a dark snuggle bag to go into during the day and then a dark night to wheel by.

I really do think you guys are right, and that just being patient and trying to act like nothing is happening when he bites me will make him realize that it isn't going to do anything and that being held isn't so bad. I will keep you guys posted on Truffles behavior and health!

Also, here is what the water looked like after I gave him a bath the first day. (He still has dirt on him, but we did the best we did with how stressed out the poor guy was.) The water is cloudy and tons of dirt is floating around. Poor buddy...

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Old 06-28-2013, 09:58 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Rescue Hedgehog Biting: Need Advice

Poor little boy! I want to hug you for rescuing him!
Hedgie Mommy to little Piglet
* Abby *
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Old 06-29-2013, 02:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Rescue Hedgehog Biting: Need Advice

I've been doing some poking around the forums, and I think he may have fungus on his ears. It's been hard to get a close look at him, because of how dirty he is and how defensive he is, but his nails are very, very long and his ears are definitely tattered. I am going to try putting vaseline on them in the next couple of days. Hopefully he will let me do it. He doesn't seem very used to being touched. And if it doesn't go away I am definitely going to take him to the vet.
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