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Old 01-11-2014, 05:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Legitimate aggressive hedgehog-please help

Before I start out I would like to say that I have owned animals all my life and have worked at a wildlife rehabilitation center for years where I have taken care of raccoons, foxes, ground hogs, squirrels, porcupines, skunks, etc. and I understand animal behavior very well.

My hedgehog is very different and I have contacted several breeders about him when he was a baby about this problem and they just told me it was just his personality (explorer), but I have owned him for 2 years and he has gotten worse. I have contacted the breeders again about his new problems and they have not messaged me back even though they have been clearly on facebook for the past several weeks. I think they do not want to deal with him since he would be a severe case and most likely not adoptable.

My hedgehog has never curled up in a ball before (remember he is 2 years old) and I always assumed this meant he was friendly. Regardless of noise and touch he does not curl up and instead bites now. When I would hold him he literally tried to run away, not explore. He wants nothing to do with me and avoids everybody. He literally will not eat his food if I am awake and will wait a whole night to not eat if anyone is in the same room as him. He doesn't accept treats either so I can not use positive reinforcement to change his vicious biting behavior so I have no idea what to do. Every animal, including domesticated and wild, has accepted treats, but my hedgehog refuses. In his cage he is very lazy and just sleeps and eats, but if I hold him or if he is out of his cage he will run around and be extremely agitated. He will not sit still and bites at items and people if he is out of his habitat.

When my hedgehog bites he does not sniff or lick as an animal that would be investigating would. He will bite at random when held and does not give any warning of when he will bite. When he bites he latches on and tugs at the site of the bite for up to a minute at times. During this time I used to blow at his face, but now I let him relax on his own then I continue to hold him until he has calmed so I do not put him back in his habitat to reinforce any negative behaviors. I have no idea what to do because if I go to pet him he will try to reach around and bite me so picking him up is very challenging.

I really need help with him, is he a lost cause? He has never been cuddly and friendly so this problem is not new and getting worse. I have a contract with the breeder so I can not give him away, but it does not seem she wants to talk to me so I don't know what to do. Send her another message, again?

Thank you for any suggestions.
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:10 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sorry you're going through that...honestly sounds a bit frustrating to me.

I don't have any actual experience with an aggressive hog (I only own one) but the fact that he has NEVER balled up and the way he bites without warning makes me wonder if it's actually a medical issue. Hedgehogs often hide pain or don't show signs of discomfort at all...maybe this is your hogs way of telling you something is actually wrong. Do you have any exotic vets in your area? I would start with that to see if they have any ideas or can run a few tests to see if they can find the source of the problem. Like I said that's just what I would do...sounds like the hog is uncomfortable or stressed without an apparent reason so personally I would try to find out why. Hopefully others wih give their suggestions as well. Good luck to you and your hog!


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Old 01-11-2014, 07:48 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm sorry you're going through that...honestly sounds a bit frustrating to me.

I don't have any actual experience with an aggressive hog (I only own one) but the fact that he has NEVER balled up and the way he bites without warning makes me wonder if it's actually a medical issue. Hedgehogs often hide pain or don't show signs of discomfort at all...maybe this is your hogs way of telling you something is actually wrong. Do you have any exotic vets in your area? I would start with that to see if they have any ideas or can run a few tests to see if they can find the source of the problem. Like I said that's just what I would do...sounds like the hog is uncomfortable or stressed without an apparent reason so personally I would try to find out why. Hopefully others wih give their suggestions as well. Good luck to you and your hog!


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There is only one vet in my area that will see hedgehogs, but I'm not sure how experienced they are. He has been unusual all his life, but became a biter in the summer. Also, would cancer cause these behaviors or could it be a psychiatric condition?
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Old 01-11-2014, 07:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I wish I could help you more...but I don't want to make any guesses and pass on incorrect information. Hopefully your little guy is ok and someone has some input for you soon!


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Old 01-11-2014, 08:09 PM   #5 (permalink)
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You have a contract with the breeder, so you can't give him away. What? You purchased him. He is yours. She can't tell you what to do with your own pet, any more than a car dealer can tell you not to resell your car. If you want to rehome him, there's really nothing she can do about that, especially if she is not willing to talk to you to help you solve these issues.

I'm not saying that getting rid of him is the best option. I'm just saying that if you do decide to rehome him, it's really none of her business. Be responsible and try to find a loving home for him, and that's all there would be to it.

As far as his behavior though, I wish I could help you. That sounds like a disheartening situation. I hope you find a solution so you can both be happy and well.
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Old 01-11-2014, 08:19 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I have taken in a couple of rescues that were like this. They were chronic biters but had never been abused and their families actually hated that they couldn't keep them. I found they were happiest when I just left them alone which is what I did. I of course fed and watered them, and checked them daily for any issues but otherwise I just let them be. I think that there are just some hedgehogs that don't want anything to do with people. None of these hedgehogs took treats either, they only ate them if I left the treats in the cage.
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Old 01-11-2014, 08:30 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Most breeders contracts don't mean you can't give the hedgehog away, but rather you can't give it away without contacting them first and giving them the first option to take it back. Rather difficult though if the breeder won't get back to you. I would continue emailing and by chance to you have their phone number?

I congratulate you on being able to hold still while he is biting you and letting him let go on his own. That is not easy. Often doing this and hedgie will give up biting but it sounds like this is not working with your guy.

With his biting being a newer behaviour it makes me wonder if either there is something physical with him, or there's been some environmental change he does not like. Has anything changed around the time frame his biting started? By chance do you smoke? I know of a hedgehog that was a chronic biter until his owner stopped smoking. Any different household scents. Any new pets that might be upsetting him.

He is obviously a runner, won't cuddle personality, but to be suddenly biting, there must have something that is causing him to bite.
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Old 01-11-2014, 09:18 PM   #8 (permalink)
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About health and vets... You can ask the vet near you who sees hedgehogs if they're willing to reach out to other more experienced vets in their network for more information...
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Old 01-13-2014, 07:02 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nikki View Post
I have taken in a couple of rescues that were like this. They were chronic biters but had never been abused and their families actually hated that they couldn't keep them. I found they were happiest when I just left them alone which is what I did. I of course fed and watered them, and checked them daily for any issues but otherwise I just let them be. I think that there are just some hedgehogs that don't want anything to do with people. None of these hedgehogs took treats either, they only ate them if I left the treats in the cage.
Thank you for sharing because I never heard of another hedgehog similar to mine before. It's very reassuring knowing that other hedgehogs can be like this too and that some hedgehogs have this personality.

We plan to keep him because I'm assuming no one would want an aggressive hedgehog and we like having a pet in our home.
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Old 01-13-2014, 08:14 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Nancy View Post
Most breeders contracts don't mean you can't give the hedgehog away, but rather you can't give it away without contacting them first and giving them the first option to take it back. Rather difficult though if the breeder won't get back to you. I would continue emailing and by chance to you have their phone number?

I congratulate you on being able to hold still while he is biting you and letting him let go on his own. That is not easy. Often doing this and hedgie will give up biting but it sounds like this is not working with your guy.

With his biting being a newer behaviour it makes me wonder if either there is something physical with him, or there's been some environmental change he does not like. Has anything changed around the time frame his biting started? By chance do you smoke? I know of a hedgehog that was a chronic biter until his owner stopped smoking. Any different household scents. Any new pets that might be upsetting him.

He is obviously a runner, won't cuddle personality, but to be suddenly biting, there must have something that is causing him to bite.
I plan on getting in touch with a good hedgehog vet and having him checked out.

Nothing changed over the summer that could have caused him to be such a biter environmental wise. I tried handling him more and got him a better play pen, but this increased his agitation and his biting behaviors; he seems to be happier being left alone. I have never smoked and I do not wear perfume.

Hopefully an injury isn't the cause of this trouble, I couldn't imagine what he could have since he doesn't show any signs of being injured.
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