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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've wanted a hedgehog for a while and kept my options open and just two months ago I rescued an albino, about six months old - give or take a bit - and I've researched and prepared myself for this amazing creature who is now my baby...and I know they take a while to trust their caregivers and two months is nothing compared to others, but I'm truly afraid Elbern doesn't like me. He has fresh food and water daily and I upkeep his cage regularly. I give him treats when he's out "adventuring" on the couch or in his play pen. I thought he would be perfect since he would sleep most of the day and I wouldn't feel bad for being away at work and I would have time with him when I got home later in the evening. He used to roam all over me when I would watch t.v. after work. Recently he's grown even more distant. He does Not appreciate me picking him up when previously he would sniff around and wait for me to put him down. He always puffed up at first, but now he won't even calm down. He prefers to stay under his blanket and come out to eat and do his business when I'm not even around. I've ordered a wheel, he has a tube to crawl through, toys to push around like he used to. I keep him near a heater - not too close, because I know they like warm environments. And just tonight he made some weird...not squeaking noises, but almost whimpering when I put him down in his play pen (while he was in the blanket because he refused to let me pick him up.) I haven't tried to trim his nails because I know he doesn't trust me enough yet, he despised bath time - normal for some as I've read - but I just want him to be happy and healthy. I feel like a terrible mom. Any advice? Suggestions?
To add a note that I just thought of: his first month and a half in my home it had just been us two...my boyfriend has just recently come home from work. Do you think he's, I don't know, jealous? Or maybe he doesn't like my boyfriend's smell?
I'm trying to do everything for this little guy, but experience is nothing compared to reading up and mentally preparing. Please help

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Welcome to the forum! If you didn't encounter it during your research, this is an excellent care-guide.

Changes in behaviour can be a sign that something is wrong, so it's good to be paying attention! I'm going to run through a whole list of questions to see if we can narrow down what's up.

1. What temperature is he at? He might need a thermostat to control his own heat source (space heater or CHE) to keep him at a stable temperature.

2. Does he have a regular light/dark schedule?

3. Can you examine him for any scratches, threads or hair tangled around toes, quills growing in, or other physical changes to him?

4. Here's a bunch of examples of hedgehog noises. Do any of them sound like what you heard?

5. What's in his cage? Does he have somewhere to hide? (I see you're getting a wheel -- good! That's essential for his health and happiness.)

6. Have you changed soaps, lotions, or detergents? (Yes, your boyfriend could smell very funky to him, but if he's still acting this way when your boyfriend is in a different room, that's unlikely to be the problem.)

7. Have you brought one of those anti-rodent supersonic things into your home, or do you live in a situation (apartment or condo) where one of your neighbours might have?

It is not unusual for hedgehogs to poop, eat, and run in private. Is he raising his quills at you? Huffing or puffing? He might just be more of an explorer than a snuggler, and too busy investigating to pay attention to the human-creature. Sometimes visiting at different times (late night vs early morning) can find more of a snuggly mood.

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Two months is not very long for a defensive or abused hedgehog to learn to trust you. I’ve taken in hedgehogs who took over a year and some never would let me handle them without throwing a fit when I’d pick them up. This is something you need to prepare yourself for, but his personality may just be one of defensiveness and he may never decide to trust anyone. Sometimes it is caused by improper handling by a prior owner, and sometimes it’s just who that hedgehog is.

Do you have a snuggle bag and have you tried to just cuddle with him at night? Get him up at the same time daily. Let him run around and play for a bit, and then offer him a snuggle bag. If he will go in and relax, great! Hold him in his snuggle bag while you browse the web, watch television, etc. The bag will allow him some security and cuddling is a great way for him to get more used to your movements, your sound, etc. Also offer him mealworms, if he will eat them, right after you get him out of his cage. They quite often will start to expect mealies when they are taken out of their cage, and will expect to be offered a snuggle bag soon after if you go this route. Even some of the grouchiest of hedgehogs has learned to enjoy this type of interaction. Oh they still throw a fit if I try to touch them, but we at least get to spend long periods of time together.

If you haven’t taken him into see a veterinarian yet, and you are seeing sudden behavioral changes, you may want to take him in for a checkup. Get him looked over, ensure that all is well in his world. Your vet could also use a little gas to knock him out and get his nails done, although I would try to do them just after a bath. BTW hating bath time is quite normal for most hedgehogs. Its more rare to find one that enjoys them, than hates them, at least that is my experience.

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497 Posts

You know, one thing that it could be is if he is going through his second (6 month) quilling! They become very grumpy and distant during that time. Think of a baby teething - it hurts them....so they don't want to be held.
If he was acting normal and suddenly began doing this that could be an explanation. Have you noticed any quills falling out around your house?

Also, I have not had a male myself, but 6 months to a year, year and a half is kindof the adolescent stage for hedgies......have you noticed any other *odd* behaviors?;-) Maybe someone else who has dealt w/ males can chime in about that.

Well, good luck and I hope he comes around. I second taking him to the vet. I would also recommend pet insurance. I have had really good luck w/ it so far and it saves loads of $ in the long run.

-Susan H.
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