Hedgehog Central banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thank you for granting me access to this forum. I have been reading several threads, trying to find answers to my many questions, and am DESPERATE for help!

On Monday night, I became a first-time HedgieMama to a one year old female hedgehog. To my knowledge, I am the 3rd owner (not counting her breeder and/or pet store). The second owner only had her for about a month, apparently, so wasn't able to give me much insight as to the hedgie's personality/habits, etc.

We were given "all" her supplies, which consisted of (hang onto your hats) a cage, tiny package of cat food, a water bowl (plastic crock), and food dish (tiny Tupperware, which the hedgie continued to flip onto her head). Her "bedding" was a few scraps of paper, torn into strips. Much of the floor was bare plastic. No house/bed. No wheel. I was a bit taken aback, and confused. Surely when Owner #2 received the hedgie from Owner #1, there were more supplies than this?!

As soon as we got home, I put an igloo house in the cage and she RAN into it. The whole drive home, and pretty much ever since, she has hissed at us - unless she's asleep. LOL I've picked her up (carefully, gently) a couple of times, but she squirms out of my hand and RUNS back to her house. I've sat for hours near her cage with my hand on the rungs, letting her smell me, without trying to pick her up. I've put my hand IN the cage, and let her run around me - but typically she will hiss and bounce at my hand. It's kind of comical (she thinks she's SO tough! :lol: ) but sad... I have to wonder if she's never been handled or enjoyed human companionship. :|

Is there any hope that she will come around, and enjoy being part of our family, or did I just invest in a prickly (in physique and temperament) money pit? :?

Also, FYI, I overhauled her cage. She now has a wheel, a litter pan (which she uses! Hurray!), fluffy bedding (recycled absorbant organic paper product stuff), the aforementioned Igloo, and a water bottle (yes, I read the pros and cons... just trying to conserve space in her cage). Perhaps the modified accommodations will make her happier and more willing to be friends with me/us?

HELP!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
3,616 Posts
There absolutely is hope she will come around. It will may take a lot of time and patience on your part though. First, it isn't uncommon for even fairly social hedgehogs to be a little scared when they come home. Her actions that you describe so far sound like a hedgehog that is uncertain of their environment, and she is acting defensively because of it.

Start out by getting her on a schedule. Pick her up at the same time, feed her at the same time etc. This will let her know what to expect and when to expect it.

Next ensure you hold her for at least 1 hour each night. With hedgehogs that haven't been handled much, I start out by holding them on my lap while I read a book or watch television. I place a blanket (a piece of fleece works great) over them. The blanket provides them a sense of security. This allows them to get a chance to get used to my scent, sound and movements. And to let them know I'm not going to hurt them. In time they usually start to uncurl, and explore or uncurl and snuggle on my lap.

I've had very good luck with this method. I've had a couple who were over 2 years old and were either unhandled or mishandled/abused and they turned out to be wonderfully sweet hedgehogs. It just took a lot of time to regain their trust.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for your reply, encouragement and suggestions! Please forgive me if this sounds ignorant, but how exactly am I supposed to hold her in my lap (as all the books and articles have also suggested) when she won't hold STILL? :roll: The problem is not that she curls into a ball (quite the contrary)... she squirms and RUNS off my lap. In order to keep her safe, I end up returning her to the cage and just put my hand in the cage for her to still have my scent available. I so desperately would LOVE to have the chance to hold her, but feel I'm doing her a disservice since she is so adamant about getting.off.my.lap. :lol:

I'm worried, too, that if I force myself on her - e.g. holding her firmly in my hand, on my lap, to keep her from running away - that it will backfire and make her feel "trapped" whenever I try to hold her. I certainly don't want to cause her to become a defensive biter or something.

Any suggestions on ways to interact with her without overwhelming her, considering her inclination to wiggle/run away? :?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Congratulations for "rescuing" your new hedgie!! You ask if there any hope that she will come around... Yes, if you're willing to spend some time with her! It's instict for them to defend themselves, but when she gets used to you and your smell, she should be able to enjoy being part of your family.

Your situation sounds much like ours a few years back. The college student posted her male hedgehog on Craigslist because she didn't have time for him. Like yours, he had a cage, tiny package of cat food, a water bowl, and food dish. He didn't have any "bedding" that I can recall, and his house was an inverted beer can box. No wheel. No toys. Since he was so disagreeable at first, we named him "Mr. Hedgie Huff -n- Puff". Apparently this kid's desire to train him to wasn't her thing, and he just sat in a box in the corner. Not much fun in that for either party.

I got into a habit of getting my prickly boy out of his cage around the time I knew that I'd be settling down to watch TV. I'd put him in a small bucket of flushable kitty litter, he'd do most of his business, and then after playing with him for a bit, he'd snuggle his nose in the crook of my elbow and go back to sleep. Although there was something fun to that, it was disappointing at the same time. I wanted to do more with him and we'd let him run about the house from time to time. My six-year-old who wanted to hold him but "couldn't", and I feared him dropping Mr. H from a great height. We did our best with him but eventually gave him to another rescue person.

Just last night, we bought a new six-week-old female hedgehog off a guy who posted her for sale on Craigslist. I hadn't been to the "Pet" section of Craigslist except to look for any postings about our Tortoise who went AWOL in mid-August. Last night, I entered "hedgehog" on a lark, and it turns out that he had posted his newly-weaned female hoglet for sale just the day before!!

Our son is now nine years old and he's a bit more brave about reaching in and grabbing her and is far more gentle now than before. He has soccer practices in the evening, and it will be easy to bring her in the little carrier. During his practices, since I'm just sitting around doing not much for an hour, it will be a lot of fun to watch her forage for bugs and worms in the grass around me. (I'd have to keep the dogs away from her, though.) I even put a patch of grass in her enclosure (the same bin we had the tortoise in), and it appeared that she was digging in that last ngiht to find worms and ants. She'd stop, sniff in one spot, I'd hear some little crunch and then she'd lick her lips.

I brought her to a Church dinner last night, put her on the table when we were finished eating, and the kids had fun watching her roam about. I realize it wasn't terribly sanitary (as she laid little brown "eggs" from time to time, but they're not soft or squishy and easy to dispose of). Yes, I washed the table with soap when she was done being out. Thankfully (since the carrier looks much like a purse), if we're in a social environment and we don't want to have a show and tell, it will be pretty easy to avoid the issue.

I know not everyone would advocate me carrying her about as much as I intend to, but it will give me more excuses to handle her and expose her to more natural environments. Wood chips in a plastic bin (where she was reared) is good, but I think she enjoys the challenge of finding bugs in the grass too. We won't have much time to do that as winter sets in, so I'm enjoying it now!

Take heart, be patient, and your new hedgehog will come around. Don't be afraid to post questions on the forums; we're a patient bunch and lend advice where we can (when we're not talking about our own babies, of course!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
912 Posts
Ah... a runner :)

Mine is usually quite the snugglebug, but she has some "I want to run" nights. For those, I have a little fence/playpen of sorts that I set up and sit inside it with her. She'll roam around... climbing over me at times. Mine looks a bit like: http://www.petco.com/product/105869/Sup ... SiteSearch
It isn't very tall, so hedgies can climb up and over or shove themselves under it. Not a problem if you're in there to supervise... just don't leave hedgie alone in it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
274 Posts
Well done you for taking in that poor hedgie. She doesn't sound like she's had the best life so far and I felt so sorry for her when I read she had nowhere to hide :( good on you for getting everything she needs. Just be patient and in time I'm sure she will love you to bits!
 

·
Administrator
Joined
·
3,616 Posts
You can also try holding her in a snuggle bag. A snuggle bag may help corral her and also give her a place to hide in. Runners can be a bit more difficult, but they often can be corralled.

Another thought, if she is acting frantic, do you wear a scented lotion/perfume or something else that may have a strong scent? Hedgehogs have very sensitive noses and strong odors can sometimes cause them to act quite frantic. For that matter it doesn't even have to be very strong, sometimes it is just the right smell makes them act oddly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
115 Posts
My Bacon was the same way when I first adopted him.. Now it's been 3 weeks and he has gotten a lot more comfortable with me. I was worried that maybe I had gotten a mean hedgie, but he is really sweet now, especially since I succeeded in finding a treat he likes - eggs and watermelon!
And this may have only worked for me, but giving him a bath was kind of a turning point for me and bacon and we got really close through that experience. He was too busy paddling like crazy in the water so he didn't get prickly at all, so I was able to pet him and brush him. He was also a little constipated from stress but the warm water and the paddling helped him to poop. Then afterwards when I took him out of the water he seemed really grateful that I saved him, and since he was wet and my hands were warm, he fell asleep cupped inside my hands with a towel on him. That was the first time he ever cuddled on me! It was precious!!
Of course it resulted in me not being able to use my hands for 2 hrs since I didn't wanna wake him...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
138 Posts
I'd recommend snuggle/hedgie bag too. Normally, Ender sleeps in his bag in his igloo. When I want some cuddle time I just pick up the igloo and then pick up the bag. He usually ends up going back to sleep in it in my lap, but that's how he got used to me.

Good luck.

Jodi
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'll have to look for a sack - that sounds like a neat idea! Where have you gotten yours? Do any stores carry them (I didn't notice them at PetSmart yesterday), or do I have to order one online? Or can I make one out of fleece fabric??

We made really good headway today, I think. Around 10AM, I spoke softly to her and she woke up in her Igloo. She wasn't coming out, so I slowly and carefully lifted the Igloo (is that a total no-no? :oops: I hate to violate her privacy, but didn't know any other way to have a chance to interact with her) and she waddled around. During the Igloo lifting, she did her hissing, but once she saw it was *me* disturbing her, she actually calmed down! :) She waddled around the cage, checking out everything, and put her front feet on the wheel but didn't get in it. She kept crawling UNDER it! Silly girl. :lol:

I had my hand inside the doorway to the cage, forming an arc of sorts, and she started coming around the cage (repeatedly) and crawling under my hand... "petting" herself by rubbing on me. After a while (20 minutes?) she got her whole chubby self into the wheel and took a few steps. In another 15 minutes, she had gotten the hang of it, and ran like crazy! :lol: It was adorable to watch - I'm convinced she had never seen a wheel before. :| She clearly wasn't sure what to do with it, but NOW she knows. ;)

After about an hour, I tried picking her up again, and she let me, without puffing or hissing. Though she DID still wiggle her way free, and run back to her cage. :lol: Perhaps someday she'll be content to let me hold and pet her, and actually sit STILL for a few moments. ;)

I am so much more encouraged now, but still feel like we have a long way to go. I wish I had been able to post to this forum sooner (applied on Tuesday), because the past few days I have felt so discouraged and confused. Thank you for letting me join you - I still have so many questions. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,268 Posts
Congrats on your new hedgie! You've been given some great advice so far. ^_^

As for the bags, you can make your own out of fleece, or you can order them from people who make them. Nancy has her own online store for custom fleece products. http://www.hedgehogcentral.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1672

Also, keep in mind that hedgies are nocturnal. And they prefer to come out in the evenings. So waking her up at 10am to play with her may not be the best idea. There are those who believe it is possible to switch their hedgie's time schedules, however, that can be potentially dangerous, as you can get a depressed hedgie with a lowering immune system. That being said, there are times when you will have to wake your hedgie up during the day(vet appointments, brilliant day outside, car trips) and that's fine, as long as it's not a daily thing. My boy gets sooooo grumpy and upset when I wake him up in the mornings, he's extra huffy. And usually, if I've woken him up during the day for something for at least an hour, then I don't bug him at night and just let him sleep in and wake up on his own accord.

And it would be good to put a worn shirt of yours into her cage, so that she will become accustomed to your scent, and link your scent to her "safe" home. ^_^

I take my boy out at night, and I'll have the lights in the room dimmed, so he is happier. Also make sure that at night, she has complete darkness, as there are some who refuse to wake up if there's any light. So if you ever need an external heater for her, and decide on a reptile lamp, be sure to get the ceramic heat emitter, which just emits heat and no light. (there are some who are ok with the reptile "red" lights, but most prefer the dark).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
She sounds like she is doing great so far! I am so glad you did your research and got her everything she needs :)

She may never calm down and "want" to be held. Some hedgies are just naturally squigly little explorers, but they can be lots of fun too! One suggestion I saw on this forum that I thought was great for explorer type hedgies is to set up the bed with pillows all around, then lay on the bed with the hedgie and let them explore. There might be pees or poops, but if you can put down a towel (only use towels with supervision during play time or their feet can get caught) you shouldn't have a bad mess to clean. I think it would be a great way to interact and if she gets tired enough she might just try and find a place to sleep for a snuggle!

As for getting her out of the cage, I do try to wake my little guy gently, but you can definitely pick up their hidey spot to get them out. Hedgies aren't like some animals that will "come" when you want to play with them, so just go ahead and pick them up when you need to :) If they huff at first this is normal behaviour, once they see it's you they should calm down and explore/snuggle/etc depending on personailty. Also - I only check on him in the morning to see if he is injured from his nightly marathons, then put him right back to sleep. I take him out about 9pm or so for cuddles and treats.

I second the suggestion of a snuggle sack. My guy is a cuddler, but he will run away to look for a spot to hide if I don't give him something on my lap. Basically, I take him out of the cage, wrap a fleece blankie on him while holding him, sit on my couch with that in my lap and he hangs out for quite a while that way. So, if you have nothing on youor lap even cuddlers might make a run for shelter.

Good luck, keep up the great work!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
125 Posts
I went through a similar situation with my baby, and I believe I found the solution to a cranky hedgehog- mealworms. The way to a hedgie's heart is through their stomach. ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
I also acquired a 1 yr old hedgie with two previous owners about 3 mos ago. She has settled down quite a bit but still huffs and does not like to be petted or handled. But she is a sleeper, and sits/hides under an old tshirt on my lap and sleeps while I watch TV. She has no interest in investigating her environment and goes right into her bag inside her igaloo in her cage after 2 hours. Loves her wheel and plays with the rocks but is still shy and grumpy. But I can see slight changes in her attitude and am being patient. Trixie's Mom
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
Top