But they are so spiky! Really sharp! That’s a common reaction from many people who have never held a hedgehog. In reality, although hedgehogs are spiky, the owners have to handle them on a regular basis. The handling includes picking hedgehogs up and holding them for an extended time period. This may sound scary at first, but actually it’s not too bad. In this post, you’ll learn all about picking up your hedgehog, putting them back in the cage, and everything in-between.
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Quick answer: can you pick up a hedgehog?
You can pick up a hedgehog. Use a proper technique and you don’t even have to use gloves. When your hedgehog isn’t used to you as an owner yet, they might get scared or stressed. In this case, take care to let them relax. Then you can try picking them up and handling them again.
How to exactly pick up a hedgehog?
In the following paragraphs, you’ll learn how to pick up and handle your pet hedgehog.
Bet on the evening times
You should always prefer evening times for handling your hedgie. The evening times are better because hedgehogs are nocturnal animals. In other words, they are the most active in the nighttime. Evening borders on their active time, which means that picking them up and handling them is less of an ordeal. Plus, when you have just woken up a hedgehog during the daytime, they might be surprisingly grumpy. In turn, you’ll have a very hard time handling them.
The smell is a vital communication channel for hedgehogs. They explore the world through different scents. That’s why smell is one of the ways you can increase bonding with your pet hedgie. In other words, make sure that you don’t use perfume and scented beauty or personal care products. Instead, try to make your hedgehog recognize your natural smell. For example, put some of your personal belongings or clothing in their cage. Just make sure that these items won’t pose any danger to them. Slowly, they’ll get accustomed to your smell. In return, this makes picking them up easier. They’ll get less stressed out.
Also, it’s a good idea to wash your hands before handling your hedgie. And take care to use the same soap every time. Then they will associate you with the particular mix of your unique smell and the soap. By the way, did you know that the smell of gloves might upset them? That’s especially true when you have used the same gloves for handling other pets.
The right technique
Using the right techniques is important. This helps to ensure that you won’t injure your hedgehog. Also, handling in the correct way puts less stress on your hedgehog’s body. Remember that they aren’t used to being picked up in the wild. At first, they might automatically get a reaction that corresponds to a significant danger.
For starters, put your hands on both sides of your hedgehog. The palms should face upwards. Push your hands underneath your hedgehog when they are in a standing position. Gently, without any force, corner them in their cage. This raises the chance of them just walking onto your hands. If you are scared of feeling any prickles, scoop up some of the bedding. This gives your hands some extra protection.
Now it’s time to cup your hands. Lift your hedgie up, using your hands to cradle them along the way. Definitely put your fingers together and keep them this way. Don’t hold your fingers on their belly. They might suddenly curl up into a ball. This position would trap your finger, creating unexpected pain and discomfort. It would be an unfortunate situation for both the hedgehog and the owner.
Some owners use a towel to pick up their hedgies all the time. Of course, this approach feels safer compared to direct contact. However, there’s a significant caveat associated with this strategy. As we already established, hedgehogs rely on their sense of smell quite a lot. Introducing your hand through the towel is a way to cover up the natural scent. Accordingly, your hedgie has a harder time bonding with you.
That’s why we don’t encourage the use of towels too frequently. But you should still know the gist. For example, you might have guests who are too afraid to use their bare hands. When they use a towel, they should slowly but surely scoop the hedgehog from its side. Another approach is to grab the hedgie from the top. It always pays to be gentle when doing this.
You can use any towel if you keep in mind some important restrictions. Opt for towel materials that won’t easily stick on your hedgies’ quills. Pick towels that are a bit thicker than the usual ones. Hedgehog’s spines are sharp. You could still go ‘ouch’ if you stick with thin towels.
Rolling into a ball
Now, it’s very likely that your hedgie rolls into a ball every now and then. It’s still fine to pick them up after they have done this. But don’t pick them up when they are in a defensive position too often. We believe that this could subject them to unnecessary stress.
There’s one trick you could try. When they unroll, then give them a tasty treat. A nice, juicy mealworm will do just fine. Soon enough, you might discover that your hedgie starts putting together the pieces of this puzzle. And they will understand that unrolling is good for getting treats.
How do you know your hedgehog feels relaxed? That’s easy. If their spines lie flat, you can be sure that they are completely relaxed. When they curl up into a ball, you can see the opposite. All the individual quills start poking in different directions. You don’t want to get in the way of a hedgehog who feels angry or scared.
Owners have differing views on what constitutes as ‘quality time’ with their hedgie. While there are different takes on this, you should always keep the playtime safe and free of stress for your prickly pet.
Avoid petting your hedgie’s face. This is usually a sure way of getting them annoyed. Sometimes even angry. Once they are relaxed on your hand, then gently place the hedgie on your lap. Let him explore around. Don’t start petting before you see that the hedgie is tranquil.
You could offer some nice treats when they explore. Take care of not giving too many treats, though. Hedgehogs living as pets are in a high-risk group of getting obese. When you pet your hedgie, do it in the direction of their spines’ growth. Any other direction proves to be painful and could be upsetting for your spiny buddy.
The bottom line: can you pick up a hedgehog?
Yes, you absolutely can pick up a hedgehog. Prefer evening times because then they are more alert and awake.
Take it slow. If they curl up into a ball, then don’t start petting or touching them. You could still gently place them on your lap, though.
Get them used to your unique scent and voice. This helps the bonding process. Never push your hedgie into playing when they are clearly in stress. In these cases, wait until they are able to relax again.