Give me tips to help me destress my hedgie!

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PippyDePip

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2011
Messages
9
So I'm working on getting Pip to be accustomed to me. I bought Pip at 4months old from a family that was selling him because they said they didn't have time for him (so a bit neglected) and the family had 4 kids, youngest being about 12, so I'm thinking Pip, when played with, might've been handled in way kids handle pets....
Anyway, I got him 2 days ago and gave him some "alone time". Now I'm trying to de-stress him. Could you guys and gals please give me tips to help destress Pip?
And specific questions related to the destressing:
1) should I give him a warm bath, or wait? (The previous owners said he didn't like baths, but I'm not sure, and I don't want him to get sick since I think he is due for a bath!)
2) should I pet him on the back when he puffs up just because I "got close" to him?
3) I read that I can sit with him on my lap or chest, wrapped in a shirt I wore to sleep so he can get accustomed to the smell. How long, each time, should I do this for?

4) not about destressing, but I want to throw the old shirts Pip uses to sleep on in the washer. Is this a good idea?

Thanks in advance for the help.
 

Kalandra

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
3,267
Location
Michigan
Lots of time and patience. I have found that with rehomes who have been neglected it can take them a very long time to learn to trust you. Some go faster, and others can take many months.

Start out by spending time with him. Hold him on your lap, with a fleece blanket to hide under and let him explore around on you. Don't try to touch him. Let him learn your sounds, scent, and movements are not so scary.

As he begins to trust, interact more. Offer him treats, and try to touch him. Also put him on a schedule. Hedgehogs like routine. If you get him up at the same time, feed him at the same time, he will learn what to expect and when to expect it.

1. Unless he is very dirty, hold off. Bath time can be very stressful. If I take one in that is very dirty, I try to wait a little while to ensure they are eating and maintaining their weights.

2. Some hedgehogs absolutely hate to have their quills stroked. I'd really start out by limiting petting to let him know you are not going to hurt him. If he was kept with small children, he may be afraid that your touching is going to hurt him. You may also find that he may like his rump quills stroked more than those on his shoulders, and some like to have the fur along the edge of their quills/skirt line, rubbed. If he will lay down and nap on you, you may also try putting your hand near him or laying your hand against him.

3. Let him tell you how long. I'll start out with short periods of time and let the hedgehog dictate how things are going. I usually sit with mine for a couple of hours each night, and have had a couple of rehomes that were fine with that from practically the beginning. If he uncurls, and naps on you, even better. He has enough trust in you to nap.
 

PippyDePip

Member
Joined
Apr 11, 2011
Messages
9
Thanks for the tips. Just to be sure, all these tips are to be done at night, right?
Last night, I took him out around 8pm (he was sleeping since about 6am I pressume), wrapped him in a shirt I wore to sleep the night before. He snuffed a bit, but he quickly relaxed because he was on the shirt. I notice he doesn't like being stroked at the shoulders, but he was okay with being stroked from mid-back and down. While he laid on my lap in the old shirt, he'd just doze off and lay still. But I'll minimize touching him until he's feeling better.

He's not very active, but I guess I shouldn't expect much of him now? When I laid him and the shirt on the table, he'd sniff around and explore a little....a very little. But then he'd go back to the shirt and look for a spot to hide in. :T

I am a little worried that he's sleeping a whole lot than normal, but then again, I don't know what's normal. But for the past 3 days, he'd sleep more than 12 hours if he could. Basically, if left alone, I'd find him sleeping from 7am when I wake up, till 11pm when I'm off to bed. (It was only last night that I took him out). I know he does wake up to run in his wheel and eat during the night when I'm sleeping, so he's taking care of himself in that way. But he just sleeps and sleeps and sleeps. :(
 

Kalandra

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 28, 2009
Messages
3,267
Location
Michigan
Yes, these are night time activities. Some hedgehogs are ok with some interaction during the day, but typically those that do allow for it only want it in short amounts of time as you are interrupting their sleep.

I wake mine at 8pm nightly, hold them/interact with them until 10pm then give them their supper. Most of the time they will sleep, and as we get closer to 10pm they will start to wake up and become more interactive.

Each hedgehog is very different in their personality. Some will be content to nap on you, some will want to get away to find places to explore or hide, and others are content to interact with you more. Some will not come out and be active until all lights are off and will stay in their hidey place to sleep until they are off. You can also try dimming the lights to see if he gets more active.
 

LexieHeg

I'm a Hedgie kinda girl
Joined
Apr 2, 2011
Messages
174
I have a young hedgie who was bred by people who did not handle her much - so I am kind of dealing with the same issues.

What I've learned through our experience is:
1) Baths will only stress them further if they don't like them, and can result in a very scared and potentially biting hedgehog.
2) Petting while quilled up is a bad idea...they go into that position to warn off predators and when something is touching them, in their mind they may think you are about to make them lunch. That's probably pretty stressful. With Lex we blow gently on her nose (or where it should be) and she just cannot resist sniffing and begins to lower her quills to check out that scent. You should try blowing gently on your hedgie to see if he/she responds.
3) I agree with Kalandra...we always let Lex call all the shots (how long we hold her, how we hold her, whether its snuggle time or exploring time...etc...). She's always good at telling us when she's had enough.
4) If you do wash them, and you should to prevent your hedgie getting sick, use unscented detergent and dryer sheets. If you want him/her to get used to your smell, wear them for a bit once they come out of the dryer and then give them to him/her.

As for sleeping...Lexie can sleep for 12-13 hours a day. She is snoozin when I get up at 6 am and doesnt start to join the world until about 9 or 10 pm. Some days she is snuggly when we have her out and others she will crawl all over us exploring. One thing I have learned is that hedgies are , like humans, in the sense that they have many different moods and habits. As long as you monitor food, water, poop and exercise you should be okay. Anything abnormal, and we go to the vet. I always check Lex's wheel first thing in the AM and if it isn't covered in poop, I worry. The first little while is always scary because you don't know what to expect, but you learn as you go and soon you will be an expert on your little prickly friend.

All hedgies are different and react differently, but that is the experience I've had with mine. Hope it helps!
 

LexieHeg

I'm a Hedgie kinda girl
Joined
Apr 2, 2011
Messages
174
Oh and if you eliminate background noises (TV, radio, loud voices) while holding Pip, and speak in a soft voice he will get used to you a lot faster and I have found that they relax faster too because its soothing to them.
 

Cara

Loves my spiky girl :)
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
15
Hello everyone, first let me start by saying Thank you so much for having a site like this :)

I am a new owner of a little girl called cracker, she is terrified of everything at the moment, she is a rescued girl, her previous owner didnt touch her, feed her the proper diet, or use the right bedding. Her cage looks like it has been kicked on several occasions :(

I have had her for 14 days now, i have been reading alot of threads, which have been a great help (phew).

What i was wondering is what fruit & vegtables can i giver her, that will benefit her nutritional needs. Do these vegetables need to be cooked? She has been having cat biscuits for 14 days now. She was not sure what to do with them at first. I started her on mealworms 4 days ago, she only has 2 a day, i am hoping they will aid her nutritional needs. Am i correct in this thinking?

Cracker has had to get used to new bedding, her last bedding was sandy looking wood chips that cut her feet. I cant for the life of me think of the name of the old stuff * Total brain freeze*.

I touch her nightly by putting my hand next to her & keep it there for awhile, she does have a sniff but is mainly a ball all the time. I have tons of patience & am wanting her to come to me, not the other way round. She does play in her cage when no one is about, she moves everything about and puts biscuits into her water bowl nightly. She has a wheel that she just adores, she goes to the toilet on it & it flys of the edges, is this normal? Yes a very strange question i know ;) Thats all i can think of for now

Huge Thank you :D
 
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