Articles on basic care and considerations for new or prospective owners.
Articles pertaining to health, nutrition, and veterinary care.
Articles and pictures about hedgehog breeding, growth, and development.
Articles for people who already own a hedgehog or want to know more than just the basics.
Learn more about hedgehog colors!
Wondering where to buy a hedgehog? Start here!
Where to purchase hedgehog supplies and collectibles.
Meet the hedgehogs of Hedgehog Valley!
Meet the other critters that call or
have called Hedgehog Valley
Q: "How do you handle a hedgehog?"
A: "Very carefully!"
When dealing with an animal that has quills over the top half of its body and has the ability to roll into a tight ball, many people are understandably intimidated.
This pictorial page, whose photos were made with the help of Becca Loane and the Daisy Meadows Hedgehogs, is meant to help explain how to handle hedgehogs in a way that will help both human and hedgehog to feel more relaxed and confident!
In the photo below, Becca demonstrates the appropriate way to scoop up a hedgehog that is not thrilled about being handled:
Notice that her hands are relaxed and prepared to scoop underneath, where there are no prickles. See how it works:
Insert your fingers underneath and scoop, giving the hedgehog the safety and security of your hands. What you are touching is primarily soft belly fur so it's less scary for you, too.
For many hedgies, this position allows them to feel secure enough to relax quickly. They like to feel like they have firm footing.
If you are new to hedgehogs, the idea of holding a hedgehog as in the photo below is probably not your idea of a good time:
If your hedgehog is this uncomfortable with handling, you may want to use a towel or gloves to protect yourself from the prickles and keep your hedgehog safe. The goal is to get to where you can handle your hedgehog with your bare hands, but it is okay to use something to protect your hands until you are more confident. If you aren't getting prickled, you aren't as likely to get startled and drop your hedgehog! If you are calmer and not easily startled, that will help your hedgehog to relax and become easier to handle.
There is a hedgie secret that helps frightened hedgehogs to relax. Hold the hedgehog in your hand if you are comfortable with that, or set the hedgehog in your lap. Then you rub the back in a gentle, circular motion.
Even a hedgehog who is completely balled up can be coaxed out by gently using this method.
This albino hedgehog was very afraid of being handled at first, but after some gentle talk and a back rub, he relaxed enough that it doesn't hurt to hold him.
If you don't have nice, long fingernails and still want to try the back rub method, the eraser end of a pencil or any similar object can be used. You want to apply a gentle, even pressure as you rub.
If the idea of handling an animal that WILL prickle you at least occasionally is too scary, then a hedgehog is probably not the best choice of pet for you. If it sounds like an something that you could get used to, then you're on the right track.
With really cranky/scared hedgehogs, I've found that by distributing the weight of the hedgehog in my palm or palms, I can handle nearly all hedgehogs without much discomfort at all. It is only the very heavy (more than 16 oz), very upset/scared hedgehogs who can ever put enough pressure on their quills to actually break the skin. The quills are sharp, but not needle sharp. Yes, they can hurt. However, it is more the anticipation of how much we think it will hurt that is worse than how much the actual poke hurts.
Different people definitely have their different levels of comfort. Some of my children has happily patted and handled hedgehogs since they were toddlers. Others complains bitterly about being "poinked" if they think a hedgehog has even looked at them funny. When considering a hedgehog as a pet, your level of comfort with handling it is essential to consider.
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