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Discussion Starter #1
Yesterday I adopted/rescued a 1 year old male hedgie from a 16 year old boy on Craigslist who, while he loved his pet, couldn't take care of him properly anymore. I'd been looking to adopt a hedgehog for some time, having a half dozen good friends with prickly babies of their own, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to give this little guy a good home!

However, since I brought Hugo into my house, I've been getting a little worried about him! First of all he's VERY overweight (to the point where he takes up all of my two hands when I hold him on his back!). I know that can be fixed with a change of diet and more exercise....but I'm afraid to do anything right now because he's so terrified! In the 24 hours since I brought him home he hasn't uncurled from a ball for more than a moment or left his igloo while I was looking. He was uncurled, of course, when I gave him a quick brush in the sink when he first came home (he got a little messy during the car ride) and uncurled a little bit when I held him on his back for a few minutes (with some fleece between up because he was determined to stab me) before putting him in his cage. Other than that, I've not really seen his face at all.

I know it's going to take him some time to adjust, but it just doesn't seem healthy that he jumps and hisses whenever you move in his vicinity at all. He has eaten some of his food overnight, but he hasn't used his wheel...which is a problem because with his weight and his cage being (for now) too small he needs to run somehow!

Basically I just want to know if I should be worried about him or if he'll calm down in time? He was friendly with his previous owner so he's not an inherently grumpy hedgie. I'm already planning on giving him the shirt I'm wearing and I want to take him out of his cage for a few minutes tonight, if he'll let me. Anyone have other advice?
 

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Congrats on your adoption!

thatnerdtori said:
First of all he's VERY overweight (to the point where he takes up all of my two hands when I hold him on his back!). I know that can be fixed with a change of diet and more exercise....but I'm afraid to do anything right now because he's so terrified!
You should keep his diet the same for the first couple days so he doesn't have too much to adjust to-- he's already in an entirely new environment. After a while, you can start gradually adding a healthier food. If you change the food cold turkey, he may not eat it or he might become stressed.

thatnerdtori said:
In the 24 hours since I brought him home he hasn't uncurled from a ball for more than a moment or left his igloo while I was looking. He was uncurled, of course, when I gave him a quick brush in the sink when he first came home (he got a little messy during the car ride) and uncurled a little bit when I held him on his back for a few minutes (with some fleece between up because he was determined to stab me) before putting him in his cage. Other than that, I've not really seen his face at all.
When you hold him, you should hold him on his belly-- he'll be more likely to poke his face out and explore. However, he's in a new environment and doesn't recognize your smell, so it will take him some time to warm up to you. That's totally normal.

thatnerdtori said:
He has eaten some of his food overnight, but he hasn't used his wheel...which is a problem because with his weight and his cage being (for now) too small he needs to run somehow!
He probably won't run on his wheel until he adjusts more. Give him some time to get used to his new surroundings and he should be wheeling in no time!
 

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Yesterday I adopted/rescued . . . However, since I brought Hugo into my house . . .
This is an adult hedgehog whose life has just completely changed. Think long-term, big-picture.
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Having a good wheel available will get you started on exercise. For now, I wouldn't worry about whether he is using it. (Bigger is better for cages, IMO. I do consider the recommended minimum to be extremely small.)
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Depending on the food mix that he is currently eating, I would remove the worst kibble and replace with a ration (limited offering) of new, healthier kibble. I wouldn't change the diet all at once, but I would start right away. At least get something healthier in there and start getting a look at whether introduction and acceptance of new food will be an issue.
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He'll probably be scared most of the time for a while. Just get your routine set up and stay with it.
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Some hedgehogs do not like being on their back. Sophie has never liked it. She is put on her back anyway for a minute during her foot-and-belly baths and has never warmed up to it.
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Basically I just want to know if I should be worried about him or if he'll calm down in time?
You've had him for one day. Think long-term, big-picture.
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. . . and I want to take him out of his cage for a few minutes tonight, if he'll let me.
I would take him out and spend time with him whether he 'lets' you or not. You need to start setting the new schedule / routine right away. He'll get better bit by bit. I wouldn't worry, just keep on course.
 

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Thanks very much for the advice! I'm going to take him outbox his cage for a bit as soon as I get home tonight and start mixing some of the new food into his bowl. I'm also looking into getting him a larger cage. What dimensions do you recommend?

Also, how often should a hedgie be bathed?
 

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I certainly prefer a larger cage, but available space and living situation do limit options for some people. Sophie's home uses a six foot utility table as the 'starting point'. I have room to place a six foot table and to be able to work around it. Her cage sits on top of the table; 26" x 68", wire linen-shelving, which is about the size of a 2 grid x 4 grid C&C cage. That's a pretty good size. Not everyone can do that. If smaller is the space you have, then smaller is workable.

The table was $55 from Lowe's. Five wire linen-shelving panels (four walls, two lids) were $60 from Lowe's. Small binder clips, medium binder clips, four inch zip ties, and long twist ties for connectors; ~$20. This design does require oversize fleece cage liners; homemade, custom made, or ready-to-use Walmart option.
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Sophie gets three, water-only (lukewarm), foot-and-belly baths a week (with nail inspection / clipping included). I use several inches of water and let her feet soak clean for a few minutes. While we wait for that, I brush her quills with her toothbrush. When she is running on her wheel, it is basically raining poop and pee, so I think that regular quill cleaning is important.

She gets a full bath with Aveeno Body Wash and under-the-faucet rinse every eight weeks. Some hedgehogs are prone to dry skin. That isn't an issue with Sophie (at least not so far), so more cleaning, rather than less, is a priority.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the advice! :D I have him out of his cage now, but he's just balled up on his fleece and hisses and pricks me whenever I try to touch him...
 

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Update on his first hour and a half out of his cage: I put him in my lap and went about my usual internet business and he really calmed down! He crawled all over my lap, walked around on the couch....and also decided he wanted to chew on the clothes I'm wearing? Is that normal? He actually bit me pretty hard while trying to gnaw on my pants. :/
 

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Some of them really love to chew on cloth or our clothing. It's totally normal. When he starts to chew on your clothing, pull it out away from your skin because sometimes they do accidentally grab skin too. :)
 

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Three day update:

I've taken him out for an hour or so each night and either had him sitting in my lap or walking around on/hiding in a blanket on the ground. He's still jumping and hissing and hyperventilating and now even making a weird growling/bubbling at every loud noise or sudden movement, he spends most of his time out of his cage balled up, and huffs so violently and balls up so tightly when I pick him up that I'm worried for his health. :(

Is all this hissing and fussing healthy? Is this normal? Is he ever going to let me pick him up without rolling into a ball??
 

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Have you tried one of your shirts in his pigloo so he can get used to your scent?

Keep in mind that this is a big chance for him, and you don't know what kind of treatment he had while he lived with his previous owner. It will take time and patience for him to get used to you.
 

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Yes, I did. I gave him a pajama shirt I'd worn for a couple of days and he seems to like it...he was burrowed in it asleep this morning....I just hope I can pick him up without him hissing and jumping eventually...
 

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I feel like I'm definitely being paranoid and such a pest by continuously asking questions...but he's still so terribly grumpy! I still can't go anywhere near him at all. He'll walk around very actively when I put him down on the floor, but if I touch him or even think about touching him or make a sudden movement or loud noise he hisses and balls up. He's also making this new rumbling/rumbling kind of noise and that's sort of concerning. :( I'm also worried that since it takes so much effort to pick him up when he's in a ball, I might accidentally hurt him!
 

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I've had my hedgie for about 7mo now and he still balls up and pops and hisses and rumbles when I pick him up or if he sees me when he's out in his cage. I've read that sometimes hedgies just take a REALLY long time to warm up and some just never really do. I got mine when he was already a year old as well and after a few weeks I did notice some change in him. For instance, coming out quicker from his ball once I set him down or lowering his quills a little faster. Since then, meh, I don't know how much better mine has gotten. Recently though I had him at my fiance's parents house and his Mom commented on how much he looks like he trusts me now compared to when I first had him. Since yours was friendly with the old owner you may have a better success then I am, mine was never friendly with his previous owner and I don't know his history past her because she was not his first owner either.

What you are experiencing is NORMAl :) . Keep up your bonding time and try and stick to a schedule. When he's good on your lap (un-balled) offer a mealworm or kibble as a treat. He will ball up again yes but if you stick it near his nose area he will peep it out and get the treat if he likes them. He may start to trust you more with treats too. Although now I think of it you said he's a bit fluffy so maybe a piece of his new weight loss kibble instead of a mealworm.

I don't think the rumbling is concerning. He may just think that if he's louder you will leave him alone! Just an idea.
 

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Well, I was just about to make a post about how, one week in, he's doing a lot better....but then, as he was sitting placidly in my lap he just popped his head up and, for no reason at all, bit my hand! Hard! He drew blood! And now I'm afraid he's going to try it again. :C Is this because I skipped a night of taking him out? He's suddenly become even grumpier?

I really want things to work out between him and me but if I wave to be afraid of him biting me every time he goes near me...
 

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Also, once he had my skin in his mouth, he tried to pull on it and it was kind of hard to get him off. :C

He's also a lot more jumpy tonight...he was so much better just a day or two ago!!
 

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Hello, I am apart of breeding African Pygmy Hedgehogs (I'm also USDA Certified) . I think Wild hedgehogs are born bigger than African Pygmy, so I don't think there is something there. You might want to leave him alone for a few days. He does not know where he is, so I'd do that if anything. I am well exprienced with the little guys and I think he needs an XL rabbit cage with no mesh at the bottom (that is very dangerous) or bigger cage... he is probably a wild one so he might just be bigger because of the breed, I still think he should have a wheel though, I use the Carolina Storm bucket wheel which you can order online ( there my personal favorite). You also do NOT want to use tea tree oil in shampoo, that stuff will kill them in one drop, you would want to use Vet Oatmeal shampoo. He also might be in hibernation mode (that is deadly) hibernation mode is the false hibernation, hibernation mode is where they are cold, they need the tempreture to be 75-80 degrees in the room or buy a reptile heating lamp. They NEED to be warm! They can die if they aren't warm. Also, for treats feed him mealworms :) I also would consider buying beni-bac for him. I hope this helps cause this is wonderful true info.

Thanks.
 

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Just another update: I feel like a bad hedgie mom, but I haven't been taking him out as regularly as I should. Work has been insane and left me with little time for anything other than sleep. He's still very jumpy and grumpy, probably because he hasn't been on a set schedule. Although, he's still less grumpy than when I first got him, which is good. I'm going to set an alarm on my phone to motivate me to remember to take him out at the same time every night. Right now I've got him sitting in my lap and he's jumping at sudden movement or if he's touched, but seems to calm down after a moment or two?

In other news, he's eating his weight loss food just fine and has been running on his wheel. He's also in a new home! I got a big sterilite bin that gives him a few more inches on his old cage, at least. Also, I'm lining his bin with fleece which is SO much cleaner than all of that bedding getting everywhere. I'm going to give him another tshirt I've been wearing tonight. Hopefully that will help. :/
 
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