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Old 08-19-2009, 03:18 PM   #1 (permalink)
 
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Default Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Hey everyone,

I just recently aquired a 2-3 year old hedgy from a family who could no longer give her the love and attention she needs due to their daughter going off to university for the year.
They say she is a little grumpy but it wasn't that big of a deal. Upon our first meeting the hedgy bit me and my boyfriend. The family was shocked and said the hedgy had never ever bit anyone. Where they lying? I don't think so. So I take her home anyways, hoping she'll warm up to me once she gets to know my smell. I've had her 5 days and I have not been able to get her out of my cage. She tries to bit, and quils out and huffs when I stick my hand in the cage or try to pet her. I read about putting a shirt of mine in her cage with her so I did that. She immediately attacked it - biting it, and taking it into her hut with her. Why is this? Is it something about how I smell? I don't wear much perfumated body products so it wouldn't be that. I need help on how to deal with this problem. I know she needs to be let out of her cage but I just have had no luck doing it. I thought about taking her to the SPCA but I think I'm going to stick with it for a while. And well, she's just so darn gosh cute.

Hopefully some of you friendly hedgy folk can help me.
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Also,
I put my boyfriends sock in there and she sniffed it and walked away... what does that mean?
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Well first of all, even the nicest hedgie will quill up and hiss when you take them out of the cage. You just have to get over it and pick them up. Don't use gloves, because it's even scarier for the hedgie. If you're scared of the quills you can use a blankie to get them out. Usually once hedgies are out of their cages they'll unball and either calm down or go exploring, but if you try to approach them in the cage they get huffy.

Also, it's only been 5 days. Everything that was normal to her is gone now, and there is an adjustment period. Hedgies are sensitive to change- even getting water from a different source can cause stomach upset.

Hedgehogs also have extremely sensitive noses. You should always wash your hands (preferably with unscented soap) before handling, so that there are no foreign smells that could cause hedgie to bite. My understand (which could be very wrong) is that if they smell things on you and bite it's because they think it would be something edible. They don't recognize you by sight/sound or anything-- it's by smell. So if you have an inconsistent smell or if you smell tasty, they'll probably bite. A warning sign is licking, so if you see that.. they're not being cute, you should pull your hand away.

You also said you don't wear MUCH perfumed body products, but if you wear any it could be the culprit. (I think)

In rare cases, some hedgies are just biters, and you just need to make a concerted effort not to put your hands in front of their mouths.

Other people could probably offer more advice, but mine is: make sure everything is unscented, and always wash your hands before handling. I'm still a new owner so if anything I said is misinformed, I'm sure someone will correct me

Congrats on your new hedgie

[edit] You should read this sticky because it has a lot of great information about hedgehog behavior and what you should be expecting.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=13
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Thanks for your reply!

It may be my smell, my hedgie may be even more-so sensitive to smells. I'm not sure. Though, she didn't seem interested at all in my boyfriends sock. Just my shirt. (I also tried 2 different shirts - same thing.)

I'd let her out of her cage and let her climb on me, but I have this sneaking suspision she'll just start licking and biting.. but I'll try it first before I assume anything.

I'd really appreciate some replies as well

Thanks again! I'll try a new soap I think (unscented)
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

As Freda mentioned try changing your soap, lotion, deodorant, etc... to something unscented. Is the hedgie licking first and then biting? Licking and then nipping is the hedgehog trying to taste whatever you smell like. While unpleasant it's not usually dangerous. If so, just keep moving your body away until she gives up, or go wash your hands.

From what you described it sounds more like a behavioral problem to me. The parents may have been lying if they were desperate to get her out of the house. Would there be any way for you to contact the daughter? My thinking is that she probably has more knowledge of the pet's behavior than the parents.

From everything that I have read It's important to keep handling even though she bites. She could have learned that biting means being put back into her cage. If it is a behavioral problem you will need to correct it by teaching her that biting will not be rewarded with going back in the cage. Try blowing in her face to deter biting. I've also heard of keeping a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol nearby and putting it close to but not on her nose. I guess the smell is supposed to shock them into letting go. No matter what you do though, don't stop handling her. And if she does bite (not just a nibble) don't jerk your hand away as it will just hurt you and the hedgehog more. If despite everything she won't let go push your hand further into her mouth. This usually confuses them into letting go.

Here are some threads that talk about biting as a behavioral/aggressive problem.
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2676&p=21771&hilit=biting#p21 771

viewtopic.php?f=16&t=1342&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=bit ing
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Old 08-19-2009, 06:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Hi there,

Quilbert is an adorable name!

Anyways, the thing is when I went there I only talked to the daughter. It was her I spoke to most as it was her pet. She was upfront telling me the hedgie had a bit of a tude, but never bit her. She let me know she had a bit of an edge. She seemed like she gave her the attention she needed and made her a little sock out of flannel pants the hedgie could even crawl into. So I don't think she'd be the cause of the problem. The daughter seemed trustworthy, close in age with me, university student.. so I really don't think she would purposely lie but.. I mean who knows really. They seemed like a pet loving family at least. (had chickens, cats, a barn etc).

Its my goal tonight to get her out of her cage and to interact with her, so we'll see how that goes. She's been with my shirt all day and last night so hopefully that helps a bit.
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Old 08-19-2009, 07:18 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

She may just need more time to adjust to you.
Some adjust quickly, some takes quite a while.
It sound like your doing everything right, so maybe give her another week to adjust and she will stop the biting.
She may never stop quilling up, one of mine still does.
Or if your a little nervous when your handling her (which is understandable with a biter) she may be sensing that and knows it's going to scare you when she does it.
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Old 08-19-2009, 07:53 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Do either of you smoke? If so, the scent remains on your hands and hedgies sometimes find it totally offensive. Hedgies that bite in smokers' residences will often not bite when rehomed.

If not, what kind of soaps do you use? If it's a strong smelling soap you might get the same reaction as smoking. Try switching to unscented soap, and be sure to wash your hands before handling.

Biting the shirt is a typical reaction. It's not that she was being aggressive toward that scent, especially since she took in into the house with her. My hedgie loves to bite the armpits of my shirts, then anoints with them. Her reaction was probably just an anointing type deal with the shirt.

You need to keep handling her anyway. You can pick her up with a shirt if you need to, to get her out of the cage. Let her lie on your lap or explore or whatever she wants to do. Make sure it's a hedgie proofed area where she can't fall off anything or get under anything. And just keep interacting with her. Don't be discouraged!

Congratulations on your new little girl.
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:23 PM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Hey guys,

So I went home after work and attempted to get her out her cage. I used this little sock thing made out of flannel plants that she likes to pick her up.... I was not entirely successful but it was the closet to getting her out I've ever been.

So here's the low-down: I actually had a good enough grasp on her (I don't mean tightly or anything but like, enough to pick her out of her cage which is something I hadn't been able to do until now) and I almost got her but she kept wheefing and poofing out which sort of scared me so anyway she rolled into a ball and I stopped.

I waited for her to unball and I tried again and I was unsuccessful. I've now left her alone as I wasnt sure if it was right to just keep frightening her for sake of getting her out...

Should I keep trying or maybe try tomorrow night once she's awake and out of sleepy mode?
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Old 08-19-2009, 09:24 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Help! New 2 yr Old Hedgy with BIG Attitude Problem

Oh and neither me nor my boyfriend smoke.
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