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Old 11-24-2013, 12:05 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Nervous to pick up Jody

I just got my first hedgehog. I did all my research prior to picking him up, so I expected some hissing and popping. What I've found is that I can't get anywhere near him without getting uncomfortable with his behavior. I know to pick them up from underneath and let them maybe sniff you first, but I can't even get close to him. I want to be able to bond because I know that's crucial, but frankly i'm unable to even pick him up I don't want to pick him up and make him more angry or scare him, but I don't know what to do. Any suggestion?
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:27 PM   #2 (permalink)
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If you can give him a snuggle sack to sleep in, you can scoop up the sack, hedgehog and all, and transport it to your lap.

If you have a bit of fleece or other fabric blanket, you can lay that on top of him, and use it to scoop him up.

You can protect your hands with your shirt-sleeves while picking him up.

You will scare him at first, but he'll learn that you won't eat him every time you pick him up and totally fail to eat him!
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:28 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Honestly...the best thing is to just make yourself do it! I know that's not terribly helpful, but it's true.

What are you most nervous about? Scaring him more, hurting him, his quills hurting you, etc.? If you're worried about his quills or having him bite you, try using a blanket to scoop him up. That will help protect your hands a bit and you'll have something already handy to let him snuggle into for cuddle time.

If you're worried about scaring or hurting him...there's not a lot you can do other than remind yourself that without handling him, he's not going to learn that you won't hurt him. We can't talk to them, so we can't really explain with language that we don't want to eat them. The best way we can tell them that is by handling them regularly and letting them slowly realize on their own that hey, this big noisy animal that drags me out every night isn't actually that bad! Also keep in mind that if you frequently go to pick him up, then draw back when he huffs & pops that a) that's reinforcing the behavior and going to make it worse - he'll remember that doing so scares you off, and will continue to do it and b) you'll make him more nervous since he'll be able to sense that you're nervous, so that tells him that hey, maybe there's a reason to be.

If you're worried about dropping him, the blanket is good to use for that too. You'll be slightly protected from the quills/bites, so you hopefully won't have the "ouch, drop painful thing!" reflex. If you're still worried, don't go far at first with him. Scoop him up, then plop yourself down (in a comfortable position) near his cage and just sit with him in your lap in the blanket. Covering him up can make him more comfortable since he'll feel hidden & safer. You probably won't be able to pet him right away - that's fine, just give him time to realize that when you pick him up, he's not getting attacked or eaten afterwards. If he falls asleep on you, that's fantastic since it means he feels safe enough that you won't hurt him while he's sleeping.

Just go slowly & try to make yourself do it anyway. It can be very hard to get used to handling such a cranky little quillball, but things won't get better till you get started! Be patient with him and yourself...it'll take time, but most hedgie owners agree that it's all worth the time & effort once they feel comfortable enough to sleep on you, or stop raising their quills when you go to pet them. Hopefully you guys will get to that point too.
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Old 11-24-2013, 12:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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He's not mad at you, he's scared. And think about how you overcome things you're afraid of. You have to face the fears or they will be there forever. In other words, the sooner you start to handle him, the sooner he will understand that you're not trying to harm him. Good luck!
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Old 11-24-2013, 01:21 PM   #5 (permalink)
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We just got our baby yesterday. A few things we noticed already.

She likes warm hands, if yours are cold warm them up first.
If she is awake we make sure she sees us first, before we pick her up.
She does better if we scoop her up fairly quickly, in one smooth movement. No hesitation.
When we first pick her up, we hold our hands and whole body very still. Let her make the first move. Then we go sit down with her.
Keep the light level low or provide shade. Same as I would for any baby

Accept that they will huff and ball up at first. It is their instinct. You are not hurting him, by teaching him to accept you you are doing him a great kindness. His life will be so much richer if he gets used to you and can be held and loved on.
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Old 11-24-2013, 09:08 PM   #6 (permalink)
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thank you for the advice! I let him hang out in a towel in my lap and he seemed to like it at first. Eventually he just went to sleep . He still seemed very scared and would puff and hiss when I would even move hair our of my face. It's very encouraging that he explored a little bit. I'm taking baby steps! thanks
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I too just got a hedgehog and was afraid to pick him up. If you go to his sides and scoop him up then he should be fine. Just be careful to not let him ball up on your fingertips. Just try to be confident. after the first time you pick him up it gets easier.
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Old 11-24-2013, 10:19 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Perfect! Incremental progress.

Some people find it helpful to play music, tv, or other quiet background sound to keep any noises you make from standing out quite so harshly in the silence.
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Old 11-25-2013, 07:33 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I usually nudge puffers from behind gently with my bare hands so they slowly slide. Once they realize that their spines seem ineffective to you, they will unball and try to walk slowly. That would be the perfect time for me to pick her/him up. You'll learn your own way of pickin hedgies up as time goes by. Be confident and good luck!
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Old 11-26-2013, 03:13 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I can relate to this so much! I was very very intimidated by my Petra's behavior when I first got her as well. Just keep at it!
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