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Thread: New hedgehog owner and I have questions!

  1. #1

    Exclamation New hedgehog owner and I have questions!

    Hello! My name is Caitlin and I am a new hedgehog owner and new to hedgehog world. I have been in love with hedgehogs for the longest time, and finally got one for Christmas. She is 5 months old (7-26-15) and her name is Penelope. So, feel free to give me any tips/pointers. I did not know you are not supposed to give them their wheel for the first couple of days, so she adopted that as her litter box. I ended up putting a litter box in there and she has used it a couple times but I see she is still pooping in her wheel, but I don't want to take her wheel away from her completely...any suggestions there? Also, the whole reason I started litter training her was she was starting to poop and pee on me which she had not done previously it just started up randomly. I also am a little worried that I may have bought a hedgehog that was not handled daily/frequently. I have watched several videos on youtube where people wake up their hedgies and remove their igloos and the hedgie hisses a little but then wakes up and roams around. When Nellie wakes up she hisses a lot, and is very grumpy. I know being huffy is a typical hedgehog behavior but I feel like she is extra grumpy. Whenever I do get her out and hold her she does eventually calm down and is friendly (plays, snuggles, etc.) At night, she is very good! She will crawl into my hands and is not very huffy at all. I started to hand feed her her dried meal worms every night around the same time and then after have bonding time along with leaving my t shirts in her cage. Any suggestions on how to help her adjust more? ALSO she has bit me twice, not hard but both times in the palm of my hand. I have heard as soon as they start licking that's a good indication and I think both times it's because I smelled like something she could eat, but now I am nervous every time she's sniffing around on my hand. She also bites my clothes a lot which is fine but she also bites my shirt when I'm laying down and get's my stomach at times, is there anyway to stop this? Sorry this is lengthy but I have ONE MORE THING. There are times when she is itching like crazy. She itches and I can tell it really bothers her and she will ruffle her quills afterwards. I'm really worried it's mites because she is a little old or quilling. I gave her a bath a couple weeks ago with Aveeno unscented baby soap with oatmeal in it and it seemed to help a little. Any suggestions with that as well? Thanks guys!
    Caitlin Chiri

  2. #2
    Congratulations on your new pet! The pooping-in-the-wheel habit is something that I've just accepted as part of owning hedgehogs. I won't speak on the issue of litter-training them, as that is not something I have ever done. It is normal for her to use the bathroom on you, especially if she has just woken up. Like humans, waking and moving around "gets things going" in that sense.

    In my experience, hedgehog behavior is a mixture of their own genetic predispositions as well as their handling and raising, especially from a young age. The worst-behaved hedgehog I ever owned was originally purchased from a reputable breeder at 8 weeks old, a gorgeous boy with fantastic lineage, and I had bought him with full intentions of eventually breeding him. Despite handling him daily and giving him as much socialization as I could, he remained a grumpy, biting, people-hating hedgehog for his entire life. For that reason, he remained my pet and was never bred. Alternately, I've owned hedgehogs who would rarely ball up or hiss and you could rub their bellies without any negative reaction from them. She may be attracted to the scent of your laundry soaps or personal scents (lotions, deodorants, perfume) lingering on your clothing. Sometimes you can identify patterns (does she bite at certain times of the day, or a specific time in her routine such as when she is first woken up, is she more attracted to specific items). When she bites, you can try blowing on her face to disrupt the behavior. If she bites your hand, you can push back towards her throat/face to dislodge yourself and As with any animal, be careful not to positively reward her after a bite (such as give her a treat soon after).

    As for bonding, I would continue what you're doing as far as familiarizing her to your scent and handling her, as well as maintain her routine (don't keep her cage somewhere with lots of noise or light fluctuation and be aware of stressors, such as other animals nearby (in my case-dogs))

    It is normal for hedgehogs to itch, although not excessively or to the point of causing damage to their skin, fur, or quills. At 5 months old she should not still be quilling. A good way to check for mites is to do a visual inspection under a strong light - you can often see them crawling around on the surface of the skin in-between the quills. A vet will do a skin scraping and examine the scraping sample under a microscope to check for mites, which is usually relatively inexpensive (minus the cost of the office visit). Many people supplement their diet with a little omega oil supplement or something similar to help relieve dry skin.

  3. #3
    Mites are easy to treat and the vet will give you a topical medication to put on your hedgehog's back.

    There are a lot of great archive articles and threads on this site regarding bonding with your hedgehog. And of course we love pictures.

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