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Hello,

I am adopting a hedgehog from my local animal rescue league. The age and sex of the hedgehog is unknown. It was surrendered to the animal rescue league 4 days ago and is in great distress right now, it has hardly eaten and when they try to get it to come out of its bed, it looks like he has hiccups and makes funny noises (it's very scared and unhappy).

I have never had a hedgehog before but I was approached by one of the workers there asking me to adopt it so I'm going to give it a try.

I know I will need to go slow from what I've read, what I want to know is, do hedgehogs bite and how will I know when I should attempt to make contact with it? I am going to put one of my shirts in it's cage so it gets my scent and I'm sure I will just leave it alone for the first couple of days for so, but what is a good amount of time before I try to make contact?

Any advice would be appreciated. I won't mind if I never get to make contact or anything I just want the little guy to have a good life for whatever time it has left.

Thanks!
 

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Congrats on your new adoption! If you search the behavior/personality section there is lots of info on bonding. I'm still new at owning hedgehogs, here is what we have been doing:

After a few days of having alone time to settle in, we started taking them out each night. Since they are night-owls I chose 4 p.m. as the absolute earliest I would disturb them. I would gather one up with a soft blanket to protect my hands when I first picked them up. Then I would lay on the sofa with one on my lap, the blanket over him for darkness and warmth. That was it, for about an hour or longer depending on my evening's events but I have been consistent in doing this every night. Tv or radio on, talking aloud, or playing with the laptop, just to get them used to being with me.

Riley is my love-bug, he was socialized before I received him and it has been wonderful. He will huff when first exposed to the light/air when I retrieve him but does not ball up and cuddles once he knows its me. We spend hours together as I just love to be with him.

Whyte has been more of a challenge but we are seeing more progress as time goes on, I think its been over a month...(maybe two?) now since I've had him. He is a giant ball of spines every single time, unballs under a minute now though so that's the progress. He has also stopped completely balling-up and hissing over every single noise or movement while laying on me. He is definitely making slow progress but I hope in time he can relax and enjoy himself more.

Whyte does bite but he does not attack. If you put your finger in front of his face he will lick, lick, nibble. So far he has not broken the skin and it has only happened in this manner. (so, ya, I keep my fingers out of his face, ha!)

I would say be consistent and take it slow at first but don't give up. Hugs to you for rescuing.
 

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I've had my hedgehog bite me before when I first got her. She was licking my finger and I was all happy and then she bit me. And it hurt. Bad. I'd keep the fingers out of his face. Especially if you smell like gumbo
 

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Keep your hands clean is common advice for biting. Mostly the first little while your hedgehog will be to afraid of you to bite. he/she will just stay curled up. I also adopted an older unsocialized hedgehog and it was a challenge. He is adorable but some nights he is just GRUMPY!!!!! I cannot get him to calm down for anything. He just sits and hisses. By the way the hiccups you heard when the hedgehog is picked up is probably popping. Popping goes along with hissing but is usually only done when the hedgehog is really upset. On a scared/angry scale of 1 - 10 open with quills flat is a 1, partially balled (face covered quills up) is probably around a 5, hissing and balled up is like a 9 and 10 is popping and hissing (this is just my interpretation).

The first thing I did was walk Quigley (my little grumpy hedgehog) home from the place we got him. Instead of holding him in a box and completely freaking him out I wrapped him a towel they had and put him under my coat (it was winter). It was warm under my coat and he made himself comfortable (even if he had hissed the whole time I think it was a better transport than a box. Few things to note about this. We really didn't have far to walk and my boyfriend was with me to help just in case I needed it. If you are driving a hard sided pet carrier would be a better option for you.

Second thing I did. I made one change at a time. His cage came with him and even though it was super dirty and smelly I didn't clean it till about the second day. at which point I also changed the bedding. Next the wheel was added. then gradually the food started to change. I didn't want anything to be overwhelming for him as he was two and had never been handled never been out of his cage etc. Because he was in the same cage and it was just the environment around the cage that had changed I started handling him right away (if you have to change cages a few days to a week is a good amount of time to settle in I think). At first I sat cross legged on the floor in a dark hallway and just held him in my hands in his little ball. He was curious right away (we got really lucky with temperament) but it still took a while for me to see his face, his nose would pop out and then tuck back in a second later. It took ages before he actually opened and would crawl around. We've had him for 10 months now and he is still making progress. He likes walks. He likes the motion and he likes being snuggled in my clothes or smelling all the stuff. We keep them short because he gets impatient.

Biting has been a minor issue. He's taken to the smell of sweat, shampoo or something and is obsessed with my hair (which is long) he bites, digs and pulls at it which is somewhat painful. Also he's bitten pretty hard before but I've learned what triggers biting (outings that take too long, nail clipping, long baths mainly) and try to avoid most of the situations and keep nail trimming short.

I'm not going to sugar coat what you are undertaking. This is going to be very difficult. It will require a lot of time and patience if you want to end up with a tame hedgehog and you may start to feel it is impossible but don't give up. Good Luck!
 

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He's taken to the smell of sweat, shampoo or something and is obsessed with my hair (which is long) he bites, digs and pulls at it which is somewhat painful.
Riley absolutely loves my hair but ya...it isn't pleasant.

How's it going so far?
 

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krbshappy71 said:
He's taken to the smell of sweat, shampoo or something and is obsessed with my hair (which is long) he bites, digs and pulls at it which is somewhat painful.
Riley absolutely loves my hair but ya...it isn't pleasant.

How's it going so far?
sorry was that "hows it going for me or the OP?
 

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michebai said:
Any advice would be appreciated. I won't mind if I never get to make contact or anything I just want the little guy to have a good life for whatever time it has left.
You're already doing a great thing! This website has tons of wonderful information on hedgehogs. To educate yourself you can browse the stickies from all of the threads and use the search feature if you have any questions about something.

As far as the biting goes I wouldn't be too worried about it just yet. Animals can sense fear and reluctance and if you are worried about biting before you even know if he has a behavior issue you might make him nervous. Some owners have had problems with hedgehogs biting to get out of being handled. There are many threads about how to deal with this.

Basically there are two kinds of biting: exploratory and behavioral

Hedgehogs explore interesting new scents by biting the object, smacking their lips and teeth, and sometimes spreading the foamed scent over their quills (annointing). Sometimes your hedgehog will try to do this with your scent or the scent of one of your lotions, soaps, shampoo, laundry detergent, etc... If the hedgie licks your skin they are probably getting ready to take a nip. Simply move the body part away from him, and keep moving away with each lick until he gives up. Always wash your hands with an unscented soap before handling your hedgehog to discourage exploratory biting.

Some hedgehogs, through temperament, abuse, or learned behavior, learn to bite in order to stop the unwanted handling. It's important to keep handling at least 10 minutes after each behavioral bite so that they unlearn that biting = being left alone. If the hedgehog manages to bite you, you can blow in their face. Some owners say that having a q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol and bringing it close to the hedgehog's nose (but not touching) can also get them to let go from a painful bite. A lot of owner's don't like this method though it could be used as a back-up if blowing in his face doesn't work.

I would say to leave the hedgie alone for 24-48 hours and only disturb them to give them food and water, clean the wheel, and change out the t-shirt with your scent if you have to.

Also, they are nocturnal creatures which means that they will be active at night and sleep during the day. The best time to handle your pet is in the evenings or very early morning. Waking them up at 3 pm is the same as someone waking you up at 3 am. This doesn't mean that you can't ever wake them up during the day. Some hedgehogs don't seem to mind getting up once in a while in the afternoon, but others (like my Quillbert) are a balling, hopping, clicking, hissing mess if you dare to disturb them before 8 pm. I would avoid handling before 7 or 8 pm until you two have started to bond.
 

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hedgielover said:
krbshappy71 said:
He's taken to the smell of sweat, shampoo or something and is obsessed with my hair (which is long) he bites, digs and pulls at it which is somewhat painful.
Riley absolutely loves my hair but ya...it isn't pleasant.

How's it going so far?
sorry was that "hows it going for me or the OP?
Oops sorry I should have clarified.

How's it going Michebai? Is it a boy or a girl? (I'm guessing by now you learned how to tell) Pics please! :)
 
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