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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I’m Dana, mom to three little boys who will be 5, 7, and 9 w/in the next few months and believe they are extensions of Steve Irwin - fighting for conservation and urging pet owners to act responsibly! Anyway, my oldest truly has a gift with animals as I like to believe I do as well - a calmness that animals gravitate towards. We got a call yesterday from a wildlife care center as they had an abandoned hedgehog and the adoptions officer knows us rather well as we do unofficial wildlife rescue and fundraisers for them in lieu of having b-day parties w/ gifts. She wanted to know if we’d take this young female hedgehog. I ran down to see her w/ my youngest and she was quite adorable. It’s a given that if I lay eyes on something - esp. one in need - it will be in my home shortly.

The hedgehog is not well-socialized, hence the difficulty of the care center placing her. We are up to the challenge and I know my oldest son will be diligent in his attempts to tame her. Does anyone have any suggestions other than patience and frequent handling to aid in the process? The volunteer at the care center said she has been caring for her for three months and slowly bribing her w/ small worms which has been helping. At first, she couldn’t get the poor thing to not be all balled up whereas now she is sniffing around for the worms she knows are nearby. I was encouraged by this.

I was a little disappointed to read some info online from a breeder who said that her babies were held from one week old daily and that if they were not, they would never be socialized, good pets. Is this true? Are we going to be fighting a losing battle? We’d never surrender an animal or anything, but I don’t want to have my son have false hopes if it’s not going to happen - he’ll love her just the same, etc.

Anyway, if there’s any hope of gaining this little one’s trust, we’re open to suggestions. I got a little bit of hope from one thing I read that said these animals always curl up, hiss a little, and jump at new circumstances etc., so I’m crossing my fingers that like the "unplaceable" cats, birds and guinea pigs we’ve opened our house to, this tiny forgotten one will warm up to us at some point. Not to worry, friends, the hedgehog will not be in harm's way at all in our house as it's quite large and there will be no confrontation of other animals with her. She will share my son's room (unless the wheel is too noisy!) who now only has fish and newts in it.

Thanks for any help,
Dana
 

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There's always a chance you can tame her, but it does depend a bit on the individual hedgehog's personality. Once she's in your home and comfortable, and being handled every night, she may figure out that she's in a good place and open up a bit quicker. Or she may still be very shy and take a long time to get used to you.
You can keep using mealworms to bribe her and help her realize you = something good. Other than that, lots of time spent cuddling is the best way. Socializing doesn't have to be petting her or trying to get her to play with you. You or your son could just hold her in your lap on a blanket or in a hedgie bag and let her sleep. She'll still be getting used to your scent and you, even if it doesn't feel like you're doing anything.
 

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Its excellent that you are helping a hedgehog in need. As you have done rescues in the past i am sure you will do a great job trying to socialize the hedgie the best you can.

It is true that some hedgehogs will never become social, but if the care center has made progress so far, likely if you continue to handle the hedgie, it should get better. It may always be skittish around you, but hopefully it will come to know you and bring you many years of joy.

A good way to help hedgie socialization is to only introduce one person/smell at a time. If your son is going to be the primary socializer make him wear a shirt to bed for 3-4 nights, and then when you get the hedgie put the boys shirt into the hedgies hidey spot. This way the hedgie will come to notice your sons scent as something comforting. Eventually you can start adding in different smells (shirts) to the cage, but i would try and stick with one person handling the hedgie to start. Let it warm up to one person, and don't expect it to love everyone.

Also if you haven't yet researched hedgehogs, they do have some specialized need.
This forum, together with Hedgehog Wiki, provide an exceptional starting point for all you should need to know about hedgehog care.
There are a few article on Hedgehog Wiki and this forum that will tell you what certain hedgehog sounds are as well as describe body language. Kalandra also has a very good post in the behavior section about what to expect from a hedgie. Also you may want to be aware of a hedgehogs diet, sleeping arrangements, need for a good wheel, climate as well as other tidbits of information that will help.

If you son is very into taking care of the hedgie, i would just provide him with Hedgehog Wiki, and let him learn all the information for himself, asking for help when he needs it. Once he learns the information you should ask him about what he learns. The best way to solidify information in a child is for them to explain it to someone else. It makes it more exciting for the child (from personal experience). Once he turns into a hedgehog encyclopedia, he will forever be engrossed with hedgehogs!

Your son will also have to do at least 30 minutes of socialization a night (minimum) and at least 30 minutes of cleaning and maintenance a day (minimum). It is best to change food at night before the hedgie starts to eat, and to clean the wheel in the morning so that it is ready for awake time. The tasks can be spread out throughout the day making things easier.

If you have already been doing your homework, congratulations to you!

WELCOME TO HEDGEHOG CENTRAL!
If you have any more questions at all, don't be afraid to ask, we are a very friendly community and want to help all hedgehogs and their slaves (owners).

PS: WE WANT PICTURES :D :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much for all the help thus far Kelsey and Azyrios. I am a dentist, but a Zoologist by degree - my kids ask me to "downplay" that whole DMD thing and tell people I'm just a Zoologist, lol. Anyway, I've been rescuing and rehabilitating animals for ages and my sons are cut from the same mold, so we will not be going into this uninformed. I'm SO happy to have found this group and I am very glad to see the friendly atmosphere committed to these adorable animals.

I still have many questions about food - read where Science Diet was good somewhere online, but didn't see it on the list here. I will certainly get a mixture of the best foods available and will provide the hedgie w/ a very large space and appropriate wheel. I've also been reading about cancer plaguing the species - a true fear of mine. I don't take the "down" side of pet rescue well...but who does?

I'll check out the other threads on food and treats and, will no doubt, be asking more...

Thanks again,
Dana
 

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Definately check out all the "stickies" of the threads. Science Diet is no good, any food on Reaper's list is fine to feed, the most popular seems to be Wellness, Frommes, CSCLS, Solid Gold, Natural Balance(you come across the names of those often).

Wheel wise, I can tell you that flying saucers aren't too loud. I have my hedgie in my room and all I hear is pattering of his feet on the wheel. Also, Reaper's Cake Walk are as silent as they come from what I've heard. So that's also an idea as well.

Hedgehogs do tend to be a bit timid. And some don't really seek out affection like a cat or a dog would. Mine just sleeps in my lap for hours at a time, but if I move, I hear his hissing of disapproval :lol: We also have a few hedgehog rescuers on this forum as well, and I'm sure they can shine some light as to what you might expect for the first little while.

^_^ Good luck and Welcome! And if you have more questions, definately feel free to ask away
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the warm welcome and the warning about Science Diet. It's definitely listed somewhere online as a good option as it stood out in my mind since I use it for a couple of my cats. I hope I can find the others listed - are they available at typical pet stores? I have one cat that needs food from the vet for renal problems, so I'm not opposed to going the extra mile if need be.

This weekend, we will set out in search of the perfect habitat - something we'll need to show the rescue center when we go to pick her up. They are very careful about who they adopt to even doing in-home visits for first time adoptive families.

I'm sort of laughing about the old smelly t-shirt for the hedgie as that's what they tell adoptive parents to do to get an infant used to them! My son already calls me "grandma" to his pets as he views them as his children - I'm sure this t-shirt thing will reinforce that. His brothers are following suit as well!

Anyway, more questions will arise this next week as I learn more. For all of the things we've taken in, this will be our first hedgehog. It will be an exciting journey for us all.

Thanks again,
Dana
 

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Wellness and Chicken Soup are both ones that can be found at a typical store, I believe. Natural Balance and Solid Gold are both found at Petco, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, Kelsey. I noticed some "light" formulas mentioned, some adult, some sr. My hedgie-to-be is a "young" female, full grown. I'm not sure the care center has an exact age as she was mistreated and abandoned w/ a few others that were more tame. Maybe they were her sons? I saw that they reproduce early - or maybe they were litter mates. Anyway, do you just buy the regular or adult versions of the food you mentioned? I will see what I can find and do a mix as suggested at this site.

Thank you!
Dana
 

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Try to find something with under 15% fat, so usually an adult or light formula works.

Also be careful with a female rescue. If she was in contact with males in the last 55 days, she may be pregnant. As a precaution i would read about a pregnant females and what to do if you have unexpected babies. It's always better to be safe than to lose the babies. If she for sure has been in contact i would remove her wheel until 55 days are up since last contact, cause a mother can mis-give birth on a wheel, and will ignore babies and keep running, or worse try to bring the babies on the wheel and trample them.

The main problem if you are not prepared, is your child could open the cage one day and see the mother eating the babies, which is a horrifying sight for even the most experienced breeder.

There are many posts explaining what to do with unexpected litters, and if you have any questions about an unexpected litter PM Nancy or HedgiePets and they will best be able to help you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, Azyrios. I do not believe she is pregnant as they are closely monitored by exotic vets and thoroughly checked out upon adoption at the center. Most animals are spayed/neutered upon arrival - all of the bunnies, guinea pigs, and smaller rodents are. The adoption agent wasn't sure if hedgies were safe to spay, but if so, it would be done. I will pose the question, however, about the possibility. They've had her since January, so I'd imagine she is safe?

Thanks,
Dana
 

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As long as they have not kept her with any males she should be fine. A lot of owners these days are getting female hedgehogs that suddenly pop out babies. It is very hard if not impossible to tell if a female hedgehog is pregnant. The only real way to do so is to keep daily records of weight gain. If a large amount of weight is being gained after direct contact with a male, she is likely pregnant.

In most cases even the most experienced breeders only have a 50/50 shot of guessing if their hedgehog is actually pregnant when they planned the pregnancy, and a vet cannot give any real estimate.

Female hedgehogs can be spayed as far as i know, and it helps to slow/stop the development of "female" cancers. Other cancers can still happen, but it helps to limit the "female" variety.

Another owner/breeder may be able to provide you better information, as i have only owned a male.
 

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Since your oldest son is going to be the primary care-giver/socializer I think that it would be a good idea to take him down to the shelter and let him see/hold her. I know the first hedgehog I held and tried to pick up was kind of hissy, jumpy and spiky so I was a tiny bit nervous at first. If you let your son go and hold the hedgehog with people who know how to handle her close by, it could alleviate any nervousness he has. Besides, if he is going to be the one taking care of her, he must be able to pick her up. As well, it will help the two of them get used to each other.
As well, if she puffs a little when you try to pick her up, it's fairly normal. Most hedgehogs will uncurl soon after they are picked up. But, like either azyrios or Kelsey mentioned already, let her get used to one person at a time.

I think it's great that you are willng to take her into your home. I wish you all the best.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks, everyone, for all of the great advice. We will get her Thursday. Tomorrow night we will get the extra large cage at a distant store. The stores closest to us don't have the largest size available, so this other store is holding one for us.

My son has NO fear about any animals. He's the type who can sit and wait in the backyard. Soon, squirrels and even a wild Common Yellowthroat will be at his side. He can actually pet this little bird. I explained to him about the hedgie's jumpiness and he is undaunted. His friend just adopted a little one and has briefed him on all the behavior in this department.

Thanks again - I'm popping over to more info on the other boards re: health and cage set-ups!
Dana
 

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good luck, and if you can pry the little hedgie away from your son for a few minute photo shoot we would all appreciate to see pictures! (they are hard subjects to capture)
 
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