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I just adopted a hedgehog, Piper, and he has been neglected. When I picked him up - he was in a backroom that was cold. He had no heat, no wheel and sadly, has had NO human interaction (other than feeding) since the end of June. I know this because her papers from the breeder were included and he was adopted the end of June.

The former owner (their words) just "didn't want him." I called the breeder for information about the best care to provide at this point. I have gotten some Hill's Ideal Balance food to help him gain weight (he is underweight). I have some Benevac (probiotic) and am adding it to his food. Ofcourse, he has a heat lamp and it is turned on (the former owner had this too....just chose to not have it on :mad:)

The poor guy is terrified. Upon hearing me enter the room....he hisses, growls and pops violently. I enter the room frequently just to talk to him so he will get used to my voice. I also placed a shirt of mine in the cage so he will learn my scent. I am giving him a few days to adjust so I won't shock him any further. But he balls up so tightly.....any suggestions or anyone experiencing this same situation? I want him to eventually enjoy the human interaction and fully understand this will take time. The breeder said he most definitely needs a bath but I am concerned: (A) How can I do this with a shaking, popping, hissing hedgehog; and, (B) When should I do this so I don't scare him any worse? I know he needs a bath and a trim because the tools came with him, still packaged in plastic, of course, because they have never been used.

Just looking for input, suggestions, stories of hope. I am so glad I have him because I am certain his fate was sealed at his former household. Just want to help him. Thanks

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Just like you said, it's going to take time. Probably a lot of it. It's good that you're going in and talking to him frequently.

The best thing I can suggest I think would be to make a schedule and keep to it. Choose what time of day you'll get him out and how long you'll have him out and be sure to do that every day. Feed and water him at the same time, clean the cage at the same time. Everything. Eventually, he'll come to know what to expect. If he knows what to expect, he won't be so afraid.

I would get him in to see a vet soon to get checked over and make sure he's healthy. This will have the added benefit of establishing a relationship with your vet.

A bath is just going to be unpleasant for him. There's really no way around it. I typically do bathing for my girl in the bathroom sink. That way I can easily switch out water when she inevitably poos in it. I generally fill just the bottom of the sink a little and set her down in it. Hedgehogs typically won't ball up when in water. Likely, he'll be desperately trying to escape and be too busy with that to notice what you're doing to him. This is also a good opportunity to get at those nails. You may only be able to do one or two, but that's ok. You can spread nail clipping over several days.

Beyond that, just tour the stickies on the forum. There's lots of great information to be had on just about every topic.

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Thank you for taking in Piper. It sounds like he was in pretty poor conditions and it is wonderful to hear that he is with an owner that cares so much about him, and it seems like you have been doing pretty well so far!

I went through almost the same thing when I took in my anxious-ball-of-quills, Hyde. Hyde was moved around a lot didn't get the socialization that he needed, so he was a very scared and anxious quillbaby.

The things that I found that really helped him was setting up a routine for him; slowly increasing the bonding time (starting at 15 mins and going all the way up to an hour and a half every night) and splitting up the bonding time so he would spend half of it laying in my lap (or, once he trusted me some more, crawling all over me :lol:) and the other half on the floor exploring and letting him come to me on his own terms; and giving him some treats when he was having a good night (though be wary of what and how much you are giving him, as it could lead to obesity).

Even once Hyde got to know me, he still hated to be picked up. So, to avoid his ridiculously sharp quills, I would wrap my hands with a piece of fleece or one of my shirts that had my smell and pick him up from underneath him.

As shinydistraction has mentioned, bath time is going to be a little difficult. For Hyde's first bath, I put him butt-first in some warm water that just barely covered his feet and then slowly let his upper half go (I was trying to make sure he didn't get a whole bunch of water up his nose, but he did manage to get some up there before he realized there was water lol). I did not use soap his first bath and just washed off his quills with a wet washcloth, because I did not want to stress him out too badly. I also suggest trying to do his nails while in the bath/right after a bath, but if it becomes too much if/when you take him to a vet to get a health check, maybe ask the vet if it is possible for them to anesthetize him and cut his nails. I would not recommend this as a permanent solution, because it is costly to have it done ever 2 weeks, but it will help out in the beginning until you can establish some trust between you and Piper.

Some things to keep in mind is that sometimes you have to adjust your goals to what is reasonable for him. For example, you mentioned that you hoped that he would come to enjoy human interaction, but he might not. Which is okay, it just means that you will have to work around it.

Also, there will be good days and bad days, and sometimes you might feel like nothing is working, but if you can roll with the punches and keep trying, whenever you reach those progress points it will be so rewarding.

I only had 7 months with Hyde before he crossed the rainbow bridge, but those 7 months were some of the best months of my life and right before he left we were able to reach a complete level of trust.

I hope that I have been able to help and wish you and Piper the best of luck!
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