Articles on basic care and considerations for new or prospective owners.
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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 shows and hedgehog colors!
Wondering where on earth 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 Hedgehog Valley
Q: "How do you handle a hedgehog?"
A: "Very carefully!"
As reflected in the joke above, 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 hedgie to feel more relaxed and confident!
In the photo below, Becca demonstrates the appropriate way to scoop up a hedgie that is somewhat reluctant about being handled:
Notice that her hands are relaxed and prepared to scoop underneath, where there are no prickles. See how it works:
You insert your fingers underneath and scoop, giving hedgie the safety and security of your hands, while what you are touching is primarily soft belly fur.
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 hedgie as in the photo below is probably not your idea of fun:
If your hedgie is this uncomfortable with handling, you may want to use a towel to pick up hedgie, to protect yourself from the prickles and keep hedgie safe. If you aren't getting prickled, you aren't as likely to get startled. If you are calmer and not easily startled, that will help hedgie to relax.
There is a hedgie secret that helps frightened hedgies relax. You can hold hedgie in your hand if you are comfortable with that, or set hedgie in your lap or other comfy setting, then you rub the back in a gentle, circular motion.
You can see that even a hedgie who is completely balled up can be coaxed out by gently using this method.
As you see in these photos, this albino hedgehog was initially very reluctant to be handled, but after some gentle talk and a back rub, he relaxed enough that it doesn't hurt to hold him.
As a hint, if you don't have nice, long fingernails and still want to try the "back rub" method, the eraser end of a pencil can be used. You want to apply a gentle, even pressure as you rub.
As a side note, 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 hedgies, I've found that 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 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, but I find it is more the anticipation of how much we think it will hurt than the actual poke that is what is most uncomfortable.
Different people definitely have their different levels of comfort. My son has happily patted hedgehogs since he was a year old, and giggles if a cranky one pokes him. My four-year-old daughter, on the other hand, complains bitterly about being "poinked" if she thinks a hedgie has even looked at her cross-eyed. When considering a hedgehog as a pet, your level of comfort with handling it is essential to consider.
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