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
NATURE OR NURTURE:
Where does hedgehog temperament come from?
Some people believe
that hedgehog temperament is all in the genes while others
steadfastly insist that it all depends on handling. The true answer
appears to fall somewhere
in the middle.
Just as human babies are born with some inherent personality characteristics, hedgehog babies seem to have some traits that are inborn. Some hedgehogs are just naturally more curious and outgoing while others are naturally shy and easily startled.
Having raised hedgehogs babies for over 20 years now, I can see where selecting parents based on friendliness has made a big difference in the personality of our babies over time. In 1996, a good temperament was a baby who would only tightly ball up for a little bit. Now babies who tightly ball up at all are considered well below average temperament.
I had the awesome experience
in 2006, 10 years into my breeding program,
that a friend visited and went to play with the babies. This friend used
to raise hedgehogs but had her last litter born about 4 years before. When
she saw how friendly the babies were, she cried. She was amazed at how
big the difference in friendliness was from what she remembered.
Handling babies is also very important. I have seen some hedgehogs who maintain an absolutely wonderful personality, even if they come from a situation of severe abuse or neglect. I have seen other hedgehogs for whom the handling makes all the difference.
One striking example of nurture making a difference is a hedgehog named Gizmo. Gizmo came to us at nearly five years of age. Gizmo had spent her life in a home with yappy-dogs and was so “cranky” they never saw her face. The owner thought that Gizmo was saying that she did not want any handling so they did not handle her.
The owner brought Gizmo to visit me, to see if I could tell if Gizmo was a boy or a girl. Gizmo not only unballed for me, she went happily zooming around my living room, stopping only to taste the finger of my curious toddler daughter (daughter was surprised but unharmed. The owner was so impressed that she insisted Gizmo join our family. Gizmo was never the hufflebutt in our household the way that she was in the previous one. The quieter environment and gentle handling was what made the difference for Gizmo as she no longer had to worry about harassment from yappy dogs.
Given the interaction between nature and nurture, it is very important that owners keep in mind that the best way to bring out the best in a hedgehog is to carefully try to match the environmental to the needs of the hedgehog. An outgoing, friendly hedgehog can handle longer, noisier, more interactive handling sessions than a shy, anxious hedgehog. A shy, anxious hedgehog especially needs quiet, loving contact, or sometimes gentle talk and limited intrusion. Watch your hedgehog and it will teach you what it needs to bring out its best.
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