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I'm looking for help/suggestions on dealing with my girl-hog. Bronwyn is about a year old and the worst tempered hedgie I've ever met. She was our third hedgie; we also have two boys (3 & 7).

She doesn't bite, but she wont uncurl if anyone's in the room and starts huffing when you get within 5ft of her cage. If you actually try to pick her up, she starts hissing and spine-ing at you with great vigor. She will actually "jump" up and down trying to spine you. And she's been like this since the day she came home. I did all the same acclimatizing things with her as the boys (shirt in the cage, hold her a few mins each day while watching tv, give her treats/food from your hand, etc), who are now sweet and friendly and hardly ever ball up.

We've tried moving her into a larger cage, to give her some more space, in case she was feeling cramped and that's why she was so cranky, but she still hisses when we get too near, like say to feed her. Last week when I tried to give her a bath, it took her 10 mins of lying in the water on her back just to unball, and then when I tried to scrub her spines, she would puff up, which would cause her head to pull under, dunking her nose under water and sending her sputtering. Over and over again. It seemed like she would rather drown than let me near her!

If I bring her out of the cage and put her on the living room floor, she just sits and hisses and gets more worked up; she won't let us hold her; it's hard to keep her clean... but I know its not fair to give up on an animal. However, she's so unhappy and her quality of life is obviously quite low. I've thought about whether another home would be better for her, but I don't know that anyone else would know how to take care of her better - I certainly couldn't drop her off at the SPCA.

So it's very frustrating and makes me sad because I feel like I failed her. The boys are so good and sweet and I don't know what I did wrong. It doesn't help that my younger boy-hog is going through some medical problems and the eldest hog is starting to show his age quite poorly which both of them require extra time and care - so I'm feeling even more at a loss and the end of my rope.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions, I'm open to pretty much anything. Thanks in advance.

-JMO
 

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Sorry...I can't help much...too new at this whole "hedgie slave" role.

How long have you had the little huffer?
 

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Did you adopt her or have you had her since a baby? Reason I ask is sometimes if you have adopted one from a bad situation it could affect them, it sounds like she is really scared and doesn't realize people won't hurt her. It is really frustrating but it sounds like you are really working hard to help her and I wouldn't worry that her quality of life is low. All the actions she is doing sound like fear so I don't think it would help going to a new home because then she would have to go through the whole acclimation process again. Its a tough situation and she may never come around but you are trying and supplying her with her with her necessities (water, food, heat, light ect) so it sounds to me like you are doing a great job. Since she keeps dunking her head in the tub you can always throw a small piece of wet fleece on the bottom for her to walk around on and it will help clean her feet that way she cant dunk anymore and then you can fill a cup and gentally pour over her. That way there won't be any standing water. Just an idea though cause I know somethings are easier said then done when dealing with a scared hedgie. Sounds like you are doing good to me :)
 

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I'm glad you have her, and not someone who bought a hedgehog as a Christmas gift for a kid. What a terrible experience! How long have you had her? I'm hoping she's slow to adjust, and not just a forever-crankpot.

I only have a little girl, but since you said you have two males, I was wondering how close she is to them. The reason I ask is because females are opportunistic ovulators (only ovulating when males are around). Perhaps she's too close to them and distressed? Territorial? Frustrated? Maybe if you move her to another room, so she's not anywhere near your boys, she'll be able to calm down and bond. But I'm relatively new to all this-- I could be way off base.
 

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Puffers' will hopefully come on & give some advise. His girl Hester sounds a lot like Bronwyn. He loves her from afar. :lol:
I would venture to say that she's better off with you - even if she never wants to be handled. Some are just like that. As long as she has food, water, wheel, warmth, she should be happy (even if you aren't) :lol:
 

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I've had many shy unsocial ones. Some it is just their personality. It's like they are scared of the world and constantly on defense. Some we just need to figure out what works best for them. While they may never be a social butterfly, they can improve.

What I have found.
- leaving a radio on 24/7 in the room they are in helps them get used to noises and sounds
- a set routine works for some. They know exactly what is going to happen and when.
- carry on a running conversation the whole time you are around them and tell the grump you are going to open the cage, before you actually do.
- instead of handling nightly, do it ever other night or every third of fourth night. Of course continue fresh food and water daily but do nothing more than say hello on the off nights. I've had a couple that improved immensely when they were left alone for a few nights.
- Every night give a treat. Set it in the bed with her. Over a few weeks, gradually set the treat out further until it is in the doorway/opening of her bed. I had a grumpy old gal start coming out each evening to get her treat and she would sit and wait for it. Visor quills would be down but she'd be watching.
- When you have her out, do you cover her with something. Often the shy ones need to be under cover to make them feel secure. Get her out on you in a bag or under a blanket and just sit with her. Let her huff and puff and carry on all she wants but don't put her back. This might work if you do it every day, every second day, or every 3rd or 4th day.

Try and find what works for her. It will be a slow process but try the radio and a routine first.
 

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I wouldn't rehome her, like everyone else said, sometimes there are just some hedgehogs who want little to do with their human counterparts, and like PJM said, I have one, Hester (Satan's Hedgehog). Follow the tips Nancy gave you, they'll help her calm down and not be so scared, hopefully at least get her to the same level as Hester, as she's not as bad as Bronwyn, but probably would have been if she wasn't young when I got her.

But she's a very anti-social girl, she hisses, balls up, pops and jumps at me with her quills, has connected with said quills a couple of times (dark night, checked on her, stupid to stick my hand in her house). I keep the cage covered at night to help drown out any light (my sweet shy boy Loki is an anti-any-light hedgehog) so she doesn't notice me as much, but if she does, she'll hiss and pop at me. I've never removed her with my bare hands as she goes into ball form everytime, bath time is like a rodeo as she is constantly trying to escape, though its the one time I can pick her up with my bare hands. She just doesn't care for the human contact, but personally I'm alright with that. Quality of life for a hedgehog to me is being warm, having good food, a clean wheel and clean home, and vet checkups and vets when needed in emergencies.

I wouldn't give up on her, just work with what Nancy suggested and see if we can't get her not so scared, she'll probably never be a sweet hog like your boys, but she can be a happy hog.

My favorite thing about Hester is when I go to bed, I say goodnight to her, and she hisses at me, I find it cute.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
mtnwmn said:
The reason I ask is because females are opportunistic ovulators (only ovulating when males are around). Perhaps she's too close to them and distressed? Territorial? Frustrated? Maybe if you move her to another room, so she's not anywhere near your boys, she'll be able to calm down and bond. But I'm relatively new to all this-- I could be way off base.
I've never heard of this - does anyone else have males & females housed in the same area? If you keep them apart, how much space are we talking? Opposite sides of the room or separate rooms altogether? Bronwyn was our first girl so that part's pretty new to me.

As for all the other advice - thanks everyone! I'll try some of these and see what happens. I appreciate the encouragement.
 

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I have males and females in the same room and always have had. Boys caged beside, below and above girls. Yes females ovulate in the presence of a male but that means when they are actually touching distance. I also tend to not put my girls out on the same play blanket that a boy was just on. I don't know if it will affect them but it certainly affects the boys to be put on a blanket a girl was just on... if you get what I mean. :lol:

In other words, she is fine being caged in the same room. Just no playtime with the boys regardless of how well supervised. :)
 
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