Just holding a hedgehog seems like a daunting task for many people. Hedgehogs may be really cute, but you can’t ignore the fact they are spiky as well. Would you get easily pierced when lifting up a hedgehog and putting her in your lap? In this post, we’ll cover all the essential recommendations about handling a hedgehog. After going through this article, you’ll gain an understanding of how to hold a hedgehog in the best way for both sides.
Before picking your hedgie up, let them sniff your hands. Put your hands on your hedgehog’s both sides, cup your hands, palms up, and gently pick them up. When your hedgie starts fighting back, give her some time to adjust. Don’t wear any perfumes, scented hand lotions, and wash your hands before handling your hedgehog. Following these steps ensures a more positive experience.
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When is the best time to handle a hedgehog?
Hands down, the best time to handle your hedgehog seems to be the evening. They are nocturnal creatures. This means that hedgehogs are awake during the night. When you handle your hedgehog during the daytime, you’ll likely wake them up from deep sleep. In return, you’ll experience some grumpiness from their side. And don’t forget that a grumpy hedgie can be a real handful to deal with. In fact, some owners report that they just can’t properly hold their hedgies when the prickly buddies have just woken up. That doesn’t mean you should start handling your hedgehog in the night. Doing this would disrupt your personal sleep cycles while putting unnecessary stress on the hedgie.
How should you hold a hedgehog?
Holding a hedgehog seems to be an actual skill. When you put a hedgehog newbie into a room with a hedgie, they’ll likely have a hard picking the prickly creature up. That’s why it’s important to learn how to do it in a step-by-step fashion. Let’s go!
Let the hedgehog sniff your hands. It’s very important to do this every time before you pick them up. Hedgehogs rely on their sense of smell. When you let them have a quick sniff, they’ll know that there’s no immediate danger following the feeling of being held up in the air by somebody. It’s useful to wash your hands before handling your hedgehog.
After the sniffing part, it’s time to put your hands on both sides of the hedgehog. Palms up, of course. Some hedgehogs need cornering in a friendly manner before you put the hands on their sides. Doing this makes them more likely to step on your palms. Slowly but surely push the hands underneath the hedgehog’s lower body. Worried about acquiring pricks? Feel free to scoop some of the bedding to add extra protection to your hands.
Cup your hands, effectively cradling the hedgehog in your palms. Lift them up. Always try to make sure that your fingers stay together while keeping away from the hedgie’s belly. The latter is essential to keep your fingers from trapping when they curl into a ball.
You won’t always find the situation to be as easy as just picking the hedgie up. Most owners experience at least some resistance, especially when doing it for the first time. Still, it’s fine to pick up a hedgehog that has rolled into a ball. Also, don’t agitate when they start huffing and puffing. It comes with the territory of picking up your hedgehog. They will easily feel stress.
Any other methods I could try?
Yes, the following one is a popular choice when your hedgehog is very sleepy. In this state, they could stay in the balled-up state. First, you need to use a towel to lift them up from the back or the sides. After you have gently picked up your hedgie, it’s time to flip them over in a way that they start facing you. Do note that some hedgehogs don’t like this position. It makes them feel scared. This results in serious wiggles as they try to land on their belly again. This particular type of method is popular for making cute photos.
Can I use gloves to hold my hedgehog?
Try to avoid using gloves for holding your hedgie. The reason is simple: hedgies rely on their sense of smell. When you wear gloves, both organic and synthetic materials block out the natural smell of your hands. Regularly wearing gloves will just halt the scent-based bonding that would happen when wearing no protective layers. Still, if you are very afraid of pricks, then using gloves a few times isn’t a disaster.
Instead of gloves, you are able to use old t-shirts or bath towels. For example, shirts will likely carry your natural body smell. This will make the whole process a lot smoother. And wearing gloves aren’t the only thing confusing your hedgie. Using perfumes, body lotion, and even some hand sanitizers could lead your hedgehog to not recognizing who’s exactly picking them up. When you use bath towels, opt for the thicker ones or fold a lighter one in half. Regular kitchen towels next to the sink might prove not to be thick enough.
What can I do to make it easier?
Give sufficient rewards after picking them up. Let’s say that your hedgie curled into a ball straight after you picked them up. Give the little fella some time to adjust to the new situation. Immediately after getting back to normal, offer them a tasty snack. Sooner or later, they’ll make a mental link between pick-up and getting something good in return. In this case, it’s best to use this particular treat only when you handle the hedgie. Then the connection between the activity and the delicious snack will be more obvious.
How do I pet my hedgehog after picking them up?
First, you need to make sure whether the hedgie feels relaxed. It’s not a good idea to start petting a stressed hedgehog. Even more so, in the case of rolling into a tight ball. Then it won’t be fun for either side. A relaxed hedgehog allows you to pet them in the growing direction of the spines. Steer clear of petting in the opposite direction as this will hurt. At first, it’s better to avoid petting their face because this could irritate them. Also, give a liberal amount of snacks while petting your hedgie. They will connect the dots: being handled is a good thing as this activity means getting some nice treats.
How can I carry my hedgehog around?
The best way to carry your hedgehog is to use a designated carrier. Still, you might not have that around when the need arises. Just take all the necessary steps already outlined before. Then hold your palms underneath the hedgehog in order to keep them still. In this situation, they’ll need all the additional support they can get. Always carry your hedgehog using the furry part; stay clear from making contact the quills!
When you walk around, keep your hedgehog against your chest for even more protection. Just cover your chest with something that would protect against the sharp quills. It could be just an adequately sized piece of cloth. This approach allows for some cuddling if your pet feels comfortable enough. Try to read the body language in order to decide how snuggly it’s appropriate to get with them.
While you carry your hedgie, try to talk at the same time. This will make them feel more comfortable with your voice. Listening to the owner’s voice is an important part of the bonding process. You want your hedgie to feel at ease with your smell, touch, and voice. Of course, listening to your voice and its many variations is especially important in the early stages of bonding.
Can I get seriously injured while holding a hedgehog?
Be careful when handling your hedgie, but don’t be scared to death. Hedgehog spines are not barbed. Also, these spines are unlike porcupine quills. The latter stick to your body as the quill releases entirely from its carrier. You can do a few things to minimize the danger of mild injuries:
- Never pick up your hedgehog from above
- Avoid laying your fingers in a way that could trap them when your hedgie rolls into a ball
- Prefer holding your hedgehog during their active time
- Use additional safety methods the first time (for example, use a towel)
- Don’t hesitate to lift up your hedgie quickly
How do I hold my hedgehog after waking them up?
You won’t always be able to pick the times when they are naturally awake. Hence, it’s important to know what to do in the cases concerning a groggy hedgehog. If you need to wake your hedgie up, then slowly lift up the pet house or other protective barriers. At first, you might see a hedgehog that seems really angry. They might make annoyance sounds, pop around the cage, and lift up their quills. Especially to new owners, this behavior could easily look a bit frightening. Don’t worry, though, your hedgehog won’t bite you for waking her up.
My hedgehog seems to absolutely hate holding!
Yes, some hedgies aren’t a fan of holding or any other kind of handling. Still, keep in mind that most hedgehogs accept handling after enough exposure. When they feel stressed out, it means that they don’t feel secure enough. That’s why it’s better to use your bare hands whenever possible. In this way, they’ll calm down quickly as they register a familiar scent in their brain. Plus, one of the rookie mistakes involves picking up a stressed out hedgie. Do it often enough and holding reminds them of something very negative.
Remember that hedgehogs are very apt at recognizing different scents. They can definitely sense stress and fear. So, if you are highly stressed when you pick them up, this could easily make them feel scared as well. Try to decompress and take it easy before handling your hedgie. It will be a nicer experience for everyone involved.
Why does my hedgie keep biting me?
When you hold your hedgie and they keep biting or nibbling on your hands, there are multiple reasons for that. The most common reason is simple: you have handled food in the last few hours. Just wash your hands with a scent-free soap before holding your hedgehog. In other cases, they might be very stressed out and biting is their reaction to get free from the uncomfortable situation. Finally, your hedgie could be a natural biter. Some hedgehogs just love to bit and it’s very hard to stop this annoying habit.
Any other tips?
Some owners put their old t-shirt in their hedgie’s cage. Since hedgehogs are apt at recognizing different scents, it’s nice to have your smell associated with safety. Just make sure this shirt doesn’t have any loose threads. These could become dangerous for your pet. Their tiny feet stick easily in the threads. And definitely, don’t wash your shirt before putting it in the cage. This would make the whole action meaningless as there’s no scent for bonding.
The bottom line: how do you hold a hedgehog?
Holding a hedgehog seems scary at first. Just think of all the quills! In reality, following the basic steps to ensure your safety. Always hold your hedgehog by putting your palms on their underside. Stray from putting your hands on their spiny back. Gently lift them up and keep the hedgie at your chest level. Holding your hedgehog is an important part of the bonding process. Some hedgehogs are quick learners. Others might never fully feel safe and that’s natural. Avoid using any perfumes or scented hand lotions before picking them up. Also, be aware of having the smell of food on your hands. Don’t be surprised if your hedgie tries to nibble on your fingers after you made dinner and didn’t wash your hands!