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Meet the hedgehogs of Hedgehog Valley!
Meet the other critters that call
or have called Hedgehog Valley
Five things you will want to know
Some hedgehogs adjust well to change while others find it difficult. Here are some ideas about how to help a hedgehog feel comfortable in a new home if your hedgehog is one that struggles with change.
1. Smells: Hedgehogs get a lot of their information about the world through their sense of smell. They do not see very well, which is probably why they duck and snuffle when strange blurs come at them. If that strange blur smells familiar, it will be less threatening.
To help your new hedgehog get used to your smell you can give it bedding that smells like you. You can wear a T-shirt and then give that to the hedgehog or tuck its hedgebag under your pillow for a few nights before placing it in the cage. When you do this, your smell gets associated with a safe place.
If you need to use gloves to handle your hedgehog, use canvas gloves that you have worn enough times that they smell like you. If your hedgehog is really prickly, use a towel or hedgebag to pick up the hedgehog, then set it in your lap. Quiet lap time helps the hedgehog to learn that your lap is a safe, warm place.
If you have a new smell on you, like if you've just handled some food or you've used a perfumed soap, expect that curious hedgehogs may want to taste. They usually lick before they taste so you will likely have the chance to move your hand out of the way before you are tasted.
2. Exploring: Some hedgehogs want to explore everything when they get to their new home. Others just want to sleep. Both are normal. It's best to give the hedgehog a few days without much handling while it adjusts if appears to be afraid.
If your hedgehog wants to explore, give it a hedgehog proofed area to play in where it can run around. You can also spend quiet lap time with your hedgehog. It can stay in the hedgebag while in your lap if it is shy. Talk to your hedgehog soothingly because they can learn to recognize familiar voices. You can offer treats as this can help your hedgehog to think of you as the bringer of good stuff.
If your hedgehog wants to hide in its nest box or hedgebag, then sit outside the cage and quietly talk to it. The more it gets used to your voice and presence, the more it will get used to you. Once you notice the hedgehog seems a little calmer, start offering treats to help cement the idea that you are indeed the bringer of good things.
3. Personality: One really awesome thing about hedgehogs is that each one has its own special personality. To some extent, we influence temperament through carefully breeding only those hedgehogs that have good temperament. We help maintain this by handling when babies are ready.
There do seem to be a few basic personality categories that most hedgehogs fall into. Understanding what sort of hedgehogs like being interacted with in what way helps you to better connect with your hedgehog, whether its an adult who is already set in its ways or a baby whose personality is still being formed.
The snuggle bunny: These hedgehogs like to be held. Some will curl up at your neck, others like your lap or the crook of you arm. They are usually pretty calm and content to be held quietly. Some hedgehogs who initially huff up and roll into a ball and refuse to come out can tame into snuggle bunnies once they discover that you don't intend to make them lunch.
The runner: These hedgehogs don't want to sit still. They are perpetual motion machines and squirm like crazy when you try and hold them in your hands. They do well with lots of things to climb and explore. They need lots of room to roam. Try laying on the couch and letting them use you for terrain. They think you're pretty awesome to climb and may want to sample your hair. Watch out for the ones who explore armpits as some think the scent of deodorant warrants a taste!
The scaredy cat: These hedgehogs may unball and snuggle or they may explore, but the slightest thing scares them. They instantly snap into a ball at the tiniest noise or movement. They need a lot of patience and understanding. With time they might learn to be a runner or a snuggle bunny, but some will always keep that high-strung tendency. Their jumpiness is an excellent help for survival in the wild, but a trait we are trying to reduce in the domestically bred hedgehogs.
The hermit: Some hedgehogs just want to be grumpy and hide. A good way to get these hermits interacting with you is to put a blanket over yourself, then turn them loose to hide under there. They will usually end up curled next to or on you when they go to sleep because you are warm! You can also put them in their hedgebag for quiet lap time. Hermits may not want to snuggle with you without some protective blanket hiding them, but they can be really sweet when they feel safe. Hermits are sort of like grumpy old men (or women) who just need a little understanding.
The pick-me up!: These hedgehogs will come out of their bags when they hear you talking in the room. They may walk straight into your hand and try to climb up your arm! Like the runners, they often don't want to sit still, but are more likely to come and try to crawl up your leg when you set them on the floor than to run laps around the room. Pick-me-ups are a rare and delightful treasure!
4. Treats: Hedgehogs usually have one of three reactions to new foods: ignore it, gulp it down, or anoint with it. Sometimes you have to introduce a food to the hedgehog several times before it will try it. Once you find something that you know your hedgehog likes it can be used as a treat to associate you with good stuff. If you give it a treat every time you get it out for handling it will be happy to hear or smell you. Giving treats in moderation can help add variety to the diet and help with bonding. Treats to try include chopped fruit, bits of cooked or shredded vegetable, cheerios, or small bites of cooked meat.
5. The "elimination" problem: This is not the most pleasant of topics, but it is one of the most common ones that we encounter. Yes, hedgehogs may poop or pee on you while being held. Sometimes they do both at the same time for double the mess!
Baby hegehogs are the worst, with the older ones having better bowel and bladder control. Most of the time we pick up our hedgehogs right after we wake them up. Once you have woken up a hedgehog for playtime, it doesn't take long for hedgehog to feel the urge to eliminate.
You can avoid a stinky mess with the following suggestions: Always have some type of clean up material close at hand, like a paper towel, some toilet paper, or wet wipes. As soon as you wake your hedgehog up and say hello, place it in an area where there is an uncarpeted floor or plastic mat. This makes clean up easy. Wait for hedgehog to void, clean up, then you can play.
After a hedgehog does its business, it may run right into the mess several times if you haven't gotten to it first. They can track it everywhere, not to mention getting it all over themselves. After hedgehog has taken care of business, it's time to snuggle.
If your hedgehog becomes extra squirmy while being held, check its tail. This happens with the explorer/runner types quite a bit. If the little stub is up and sticking out, more than likely output will follow! Have a paper towel handy for these occasions!
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