“My hedgehog will not come out of his house, and when I try to pick it up, it stays curled up in a tight prickly ball. Why isn’t my hedgehog more friendly like other hedgies I see on the internet?”
We hear this story often from people who have recently purchased a hedgehog. While we work constantly to ensure our hedgehogs are properly handled and used to being around people, sometimes a hedgehog will need some extra attention and care to get used to its new environment.
Here are some of our recommended tips on how to help your hedgehog become more happy and friendly, and less grumpy and shy.
Patience is Required
Our first tip is that you have to have patience with your new hedgehog. Like any new pet, it is going to take them a while to get used to their surroundings, and will require some time and effort on your part to get them used to being around you.
Imagine being taken from your home and put into a new place that you had never seen before? You might be shy and stay in your hideout too!
So do not expect your hedgehog to be walking all over the place, running on its wheel, or playing with its toys at first. Give it some time to adjust to its new home.
Make Sure the Hedgehog is Comfortable
You want to make sure your hedgehog’s cage is properly placed, equipped, and that you are caring for your hedgehog correctly to rule that out those factors towards the hedgehog’s grumpiness.
- Temperature: Is the cage in a warm enough area and/or equipped with a small animal heating pad? If you are unsure, check out this article on making sure your hedgehog is kept at a proper temperature. Sometimes just boosting the temperature of the cage is all that is needed to make hedgie happy.
- Bedding / Hideout: Does your hedgehog’s cage have a nice hideout and correct bedding? We recommend these kiln dried flake pine shavings sold by The Tractor Supply. Are you keeping your hedgehog’s cage clean (read some cage cleaning tips)? Changing to a new bedding is stressful for hedgehogs, so you will want to use what the breeder was using at first.
- Food / Water: Are you giving your hedgehog the correct type of food in the right portions? Does your hedgie have clean water to drink?
- Light: Does your hedgehog have at least 12 hours of light during the day and darkness at night. Hedgehogs need a light cycle or they become confused and upset, and may attempt to hibernate.
If your hedgehog is being well-cared for, then it is time to try other tactics.
Spend Some Bonding Time with Your Hedgehog
We have written before about how snuggle sacks are a great way to bond with your hedgehog during times you are relaxing.
Take your hedgehog and place them gently into the snuggy sack and have them rest on your lap while you watch TV or read a book. This will allow the hedgehog to get used to not only your scent, but being removed from their cage for a short time.
Make sure there are no other loud distractions or commotion going on when you do your bonding time with your hedgie. If you have very young children, it might be best to do this when they are asleep.
You can also place a new snuggle sack in your pillow case and sleep with it for a few nights before giving it to your hedgehog. This allows the snuggle sack to pick up some of your own scent, which the hedgehog will then grow accustomed to.
Do not expect a miracle at first! It might take a few sessions of bonding before your hedgehog starts to show any type of improvement. But if you are patient and persistent with routine bonding sessions, eventually the hedgehog will become curious and want to explore what is outside of the snuggle sack.
Perfumes, Cleaning Products and Detergents
If you are doing all of the above and your hedgehog is still having difficulty, it could be due to perfumes, soaps, shampoos or detergents that have a strong odor and are making your hedgehog uncomfortable. Hedgehogs are very sensitive to new and unusual smells and new lotions and perfumes often irritate their strong sense of smell.
Be sure to use the same cleaning products every week to clean your hedgehog’s cage. You may also want to try to reduce or eliminate the use of strong smelling perfumes and lotions until your hedgehog has bonded with you. Since hedgehogs use their sense of smell to recognize you, it is also wise to stick with the same deodorant, laundry detergent, soap and shampoo during bonding time.
Change Bonding Location
If you are still having difficulty, try a new location for a bonding session. Take your hedgehog outside if it is a nice weather and see if hedgie perks up. Sometimes just a new location will help.
Other Pets, Kids and Noise
It is always best to keep your hedgehog in the most low traffic, quiet room of the house. Sometimes, a hedgehog will worry about other pets in the home. If all else fails and you do have other pets in the home, you can try keeping your hedgehog in a room free of any other pets to see if that makes a difference in hedgie’s attitude.
All Hedgehogs are Different
Like people, cats, and dogs, all hedgehogs have different personalities. Some need more attention than others to get used to their owner.
However if you follow the steps above, it may help your hedgehog spend less time curled up in a ball, and more time crawling around, playing and exploring its new home.
If you have tried all of these steps and your hedgehog is still being “grumpy”, send us a message and we will do our best to help you out.