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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I brought my hedgehog Priscilla home 4 days ago and have taken her out a few times to play with her. She's obviously very nervous and it took a lot to get her to even take a mealworm from her bowl with me there (she doesn't seem too fond of them). I'm trying to just use my hands to touch her and play with her, but on the occasions I've had to pick her up in a hurry I've needed rubber gloves as she huffs and puffs quite vigorously and it REALLY hurts, even with gloves!

I realize it is very early days but is there anything I can do, or any advice on getting Priscilla to trust me? She's happy to flatten her quills down in her cage, and even when she is out on the floor if she isn't touched she's fine, but as soon as she feels something brush her back she's balled up and making the most awful huffing noise.

I have cut up an old non fraying tee that I slept with for a night and left it in her den, which is a large plumbing tube. She kicked it out, but at least it's in the cage to get used to. Today when I played with her she clambered all over me although if I even flinched she was back in a ball - hedgehog quills on tummy? Very painful.

Her night life is good; she is running on her wheel (too small but I am giving her my home made one later today) and eating the things I'm putting out for her, which have so far been a hedgehog food soaked in water, a small bit of Whiskas fish cat food and little bits of what we might have for dinner, such as a few bits of plain rice or some small chopped up cubes of pepper.

She seems to have horrendously dry skin - at least I think - but I am having trouble finding images of what healthy skin should look like. It looks very flaky between the quills although her pink underbelly is lovely and smooth. I've got her first vet check up next Tuesday to make sure she's doing well from the get go, but any advice would help. I know about Aveeno baths but I don't want to freak her out with the prospect of water quite yet.

Any advice you can give me on stopping her from being quite so nervous and defensive would be great. I see these images of hedgehogs upside down in their owners laps and I want that for us one day.
 

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#1 piece of advice for any new hedgie owner: Time and Patience. It sounds like you're off to a good start, the t-shirt with your scent should definitely help. Try not to use gloves if at all possible, again to further the getting used to you. Otherwise, just be patient and see how it goes. Sometimes it takes a really really long time for hedgies to warm up to a new environment.

Also, check out Reaper's list of recommended foods in the Diet and Nutrition section, it's super helpful.

As for the dry skin, it could be dry skin, or there is also the possibility of mites. Mention this to the vet when you take her in and they can check for that.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Also, how much food should I feed her a day?
I did see threads about how much food but I couldn't find one that actually answered the question. I've been doing two tablespoons, but I don't want her to starve to death or get too fat.
I'd welcome the advice :)
 

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If you aren't, sit with her on your lap, or lay down and put her on your chest with a blanket over her. The blanket will make her feel a little more secure and the closeness will let her get used to your movement, sound and scent.

Create a schedule for her. Take her out at the same time, give her the same amount of attention, feed her at the same time, etc. It helps them to figure out what is going on.

If she is a baby, some of the grumpies could be from quilling. It usually passes, but continue to hold her and continue with a schedule.

I just took in an adult 2 weeks ago. She was pretty uncertain of what was going on. She's extremely friendly, but freaks out if she is exposed. However with each day that passes I can see improvements where she is starting to figure things out. I have her on a schedule and we just lay together watching tv in the evenings. I don't "play" with her much. We mostly just lay together and I let her do what she wants to do. I want her to just learn to trust me. Learn my voice, learn that when I move its OK. She's also learned that when i pick her back up out of her cage at 10pm that she is going to get mealworms. She now sits in her sleep bag and watches.
 

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Oops missed your food question. Is she eating all of the food? If she is, give her some more. If she is young, she will eat a lot of food and needs it to grow. Most hedgehogs will not over eat. I have one who would eat an entire bowl, and later stopped that when we gave her a larger wheel (12"). I think she was uncomfortable on the smaller size wheel and just got bored so she ate.

I give mine 2 tablespoons each night and if they eat it all, I'll give them a little more in the morning. I see some weight fluctuations, but for the most part my hedgehogs' weights stay pretty steady.
 

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I just got my hedgehog Fabio a few days ago and when i first held him it did hurt because mines spikes seemed to be sharper than my sisters hedgies spikes. I just dealt with the pain though. I wouldnt use gloves, if i were you i would just let the spikes poke me, keep just holding him with no gloves on and he will soon trust you and wont roll up in a ball anymore. Mine now trusts me alot more since i did that. If yours is more shy it will take a bit longer. Taming can go up to a year. My hedgeHog has dry skin so i gave mine a bath with Aveno. His skin is still a little dry but it did help. When giving hedgehogs a bath they may bite, if yours does bite dont move and he will soon let go. Moving will make the hedgie bite harder. :D
 

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Looks like everyone has most of your concerns covered (free-feeding, checking out Reaper's list of quality kibbles, having a schedule so she'll know what to expect, etc...), so I'll just add one thing. You mentioned how she'll huff when something touches her back when she's out.

The same can be true for mine depending on where and when her back is touched. If I just start trying to pet her back anywhere, she shows her displeasure by huffing at me. But, if I start petting her toward her tail end, she's fine. Over time, I can pet higher and higher until I reach her head (the top of her head is a don't touch me or I'll huff at you zone ~95% of the time) - it just takes a few minutes to keep her feeling calm. It's still early for you and your new hedgie... you'll come to learn where she's okay and not okay with being touched. For now though, just go with the most "okay" spots... and that might be lower back rather than mid- or upper region. Or even just holding her without any petting, like Kalandra mentioned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
thank you guys, for all your suggestions and support. I will try not to use gloves anymore, but by god its painful when she puffs her quills out.

The free feeding thing seems to indicate she wanted a little more food, but overall I think I had the amount right. Now for the evening/night she has the dry and some wet, and when I'm gone during the day and she's asleep and less likely to eat, I just leave some dry food, which she has taken to a lot more since I started soaking it in water.
 

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hogmother said:
thank you guys, for all your suggestions and support. I will try not to use gloves anymore, but by god its painful when she puffs her quills out.
Are you scooping her up from underneath? By that I mean placing your hands on each side of her and slowly sliding them under her belly? If not, that helps a lot. That way she can get a little bit of a footing and not be so frightened about being suddenly lifted into the air.
The problem with gloves is that she can't smell who you are so she has no idea what's going on and what's trying to pick her up. Allow her to smell your hand before you try to pick her up. And if you REALLY REALLY have to do so, you should just use a towel that has your scent on it to pick her up instead of gloves. This will help her get used to you much faster. And your hands will get used to the quills. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Success! I picked her up yesterday (I had been doing the scooping thing from the beginning) but I took advantage of her being wet after a bath and got her used to being petted then, when she couldn't fuss.

Then later yesterday I took a dry Priscilla out and she still let me pet her! She did occasionally puff and get nervous but overall she was fine. Weird thing though, she didn't smell before her Aveeno oat bath (but she did have little 'boots') and now she has this sweaty hedgehog smell... very strange. If anyone has any idea what that is, I'd be interested.

I'm really happy she's trusting me more!
 
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