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Hi, I'm Bekkah and I need some help with my new Hedgie. Okay, so here is the story:
I was at my friends house on election night. My dad called and said to get to the house stat. So, I went to my house. My uncle --that I have never met before in my life-- and his daughter were standing in the doorway and my father was holding a box. He said to take a peek inside, so I went over and opened the box. In there, before my very eyes, was a little ball of quills. I silently screamed in my head. He is a male, his name is Harry Potter and he is 10 months old. (I believe.)I have wanted a Hedgehog for over a year now. We had to give him his own cage and everything. I gave him a wheel, a bed, toys, and all different kinds of cat food. I tried feeding him meal worms but he didn't seem to like them. I haven't tried crickets but I'm planning to. So, he just won't get used to me...He keeps balling up into quills when I walk in my room and he sometimes hisses when I pet him. He won't let me pick him up unless I use a towel and he still wrestles. Then when I finally have him up he won't come out of a ball. What can I do? Is it because hes nervous or because he is just stubborn or doesn't like me? How can I pick him up? I don't want to give him up, I love him so much already. Answers as soon as possible will be really helpful!
Here is his picture:
 

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I've had Sylvie for a couple weeks now. It took a good while for her to warm up to me & unquill. I found picking her up in a towel and wrapping it loosely over her (so she's hidden inside) & lying on the sofa was the trick. After a couple nights I started to see her nose poke out of the towel. For the first while though if I moved then she'd go back inside & hide. I still pick her up that way, often because she's sleeping & I'm waking her. But now she'll eventually climb out and explore around me.

Also the trick of putting a shirt that smells like you in the cage seems to be a common practice.
 

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Do you know where little Harry came from? At 10 months he's a young adult, and his reactions to people in general are going to depend a lot on his early experiences. Is he a "rescue" hedgehog--meaning is he an animal that his prior owners didn't or couldn't take care of properly? Is there a way to find out if he spent his babyhood at a pet store or at a breeder's?

Nearly all hedgehogs require a lot of patience before they really trust a new person, but grown hedgies who have rarely been handled are going to require even more.

There is a sticky thread in the "Personality And Behavior" section that talks about reasonable and unreasonable expectations of hedgehogs. It comes out a bit strong on the "they may never really relax around you" issue, but I think the idea was more that new owners should be prepared for that possibility, not that a large percentage of hedgehogs will refuse to bond if they're handled well.

We have people on this site who've cared for up to 100+ hedgehogs (not at the same time), ;) and of course I'll defer to them on the care issue. But I've had 4 of them sequentially, which adds up to about 11 years, so maybe my experience has some value.

I'd give a thumb's up to silvercat's advice--absolutely put something that smells like you in the hedgehog's cage. A fleece bonding pouch would be ideal, since then later you could carry the little guy around in it, but failing that, anything that has your scent and doesn't have loose strings on it is good. Whatever you use, try sleeping with it a couple of nights, or wearing it a few days without washing.

If at all possible, feed the hedgehog whatever it was eating at its last home. I've seen Nancy recommend giving a new hedgehog water from its usual source in its last home, although that's obviously not going to work if you don't have access to his last house. If you plan on changing his food, add just one new food at a time, and increase the percentage of the new food slowly. Too much dietary change can make his stomach hurt. Adding something that smells like the former home to the hedgehog's cage can be helpful, too, even if it's just a handful of bedding from the old cage. Little Spirit was able to bring along some "security blanket" bedding from her home at the breeders, and she seemed to find that very calming.

Early on, weigh the hedgehog on a kitchen-type scale, preferably one that registers in grams. Write down the weight and the date on a piece of paper you won't lose. Weight changes can be one of the first signs that a hedgehog is ill or over-stressed, and if the hedgie won't let you examine him, weight changes may be the only sign you'll see. Sick hedgehogs are not going to be in a good mood or likely to let you play with them. Be on the alert for runny green poo, food and water dishes that never seem to be touched, and sounds like itch-scratching or sneezing. A little bit of green poo and appetite loss isn't horrible, especially if the hedgie had to change food, but if he won't eat or drink after the first day or two, he needs to go to the vet. Weighing him again before you go will give you some information to take to the vet. A hedgehog who's lost 30g in 2 days is almost certainly severely dehydrated, and will likely need subcutaneous fluids. (You can test for dehydration yourself by holding onto a few quills and pulling the skin up. If it doesn't snap back right away, the animal's dehydrated. Take him to the vet anyway, though.) ;)

If you're keeping a close eye on your new friend and he seems to be eating, drinking, and pooping well, leave the hedgehog alone for the first 24-72 hours. Most hedgehogs don't like change, and if he wasn't sick when you got him, excessive stress can make him sick. The hedgehog will help let you know when the quarantine can be lifted. If he comes out of his house, walks over to the side of the cage, and wants to sniff you, he's probably ready to meet you. If you never see him and just hear him start to hiss when you get near the cage, he's probably not ready.

Don't let a shy hedgehog be shy forever, though. Even if the little guy seems to want to be left alone after 2-3 days, try building up his tolerance for human contact. You might want to start with just holding your hand close to him and letting him smell you. If he doesn't seem petrified of you, you can try scooping him up in your bare hands and holding him for about 5 minutes, speaking to him softly. If he balls up and his spines hurt you, you can try holding him in a small pile of bedding, or on a cloth. Don't use gloves, or he'll have trouble getting used to your smell. DON'T try to pet him. Hedgehogs aren't social animals in the wild, and they don't have the fondness for grooming that some animals do. (Grooming is what petting basically is.) Most hedgehogs I have known need to be taught that holding and petting is okay. On the first day, they're very likely to reject it.

After 5 minutes or so of just letting the hedgehog get used to your voice and the feel of your hands, put him back (unless he's one of those little guys who's fearless from the start). If he stays balled up, don't try to get him to uncurl. In the wild, the only creatures who would try to force him to uncurl would be predators trying to eat him. Don't do anything to make him put you in that mental category! Over the next few weeks, very gradually increase the time you spend holding your hedgehog. Once he's reasonably comfortable in your hands, you can try firmly stroking his lower back and butt with a couple of fingers. He may not like it at first, but if you try a little bit more each day, and he discovers it doesn't hurt him, he'll likely relax. He may eventually let you stroke his whole back, from his head to his tail, and even his belly. Try to get him acclimated to being touched on the feet, so you can groom his nails. There are no magic dates when all of this should be possible--I'd say an average juvenile hedgehog who's been handled and treated well since birth could take 2 weeks to a month to be fully hand-tamed by a new owner. (Of course, there are always those odd little guys who love everyone from day 1, or who remain very, very testy for life.) Adult hedgehogs who have an uncertain history could take much longer.

Try to take your cues from the animal--if he isn't hissing, or if he hisses but quickly calms, then what you're doing is probably okay. If he hisses and pops and seems to get more and more scared, then either stop at the level of interaction you have for a little while, or reduce it a bit. What you're doing in the first month(s) is winning the little guy's trust. Every time you interact with him without pushing him to the point where he's truly afraid, you do a bit more to convince him that you aren't going to hurt him. Remember that he's probably retained a lot of wild behaviors from his ancestors, and wild animals don't usually love snuggling with humans. You've got to slowly convince him that you're safe.

If you've got a runner or an explorer rather than a cuddler, your hedgie may never want to lie around in your lap for very long. That doesn't mean he "doesn't like you," though. He may just want you to sit with him while he plays instead of having you hold him. So long as you can pick him up and at least examine him for health problems, you're going to be able to do your job as a pet owner.
 

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What I like to do is pick my hedgie up with his blankie to get him out of his cage and then place the blankie on me and let him come out on his own. Once he does then I can hold him (even though he prefers to climb on me or sleep than be held... I think it's because he is still quilling) Also when you take him out bring out some of his toys :) I think mainly though if you take him and place him on you without touching him or anything he may become calm enough to explore and smell you.
 
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