A hedgehog that bites and draws blood has usually a few reasons: they have an unmet need or they are extremely fearful and become aggressive as a way of defending themselves. Finding out why your hedgehogs bites and working to fix that proves to be much more succesfull in removing the unwanted behavior than blowing on their nose or a slight tap on the head. Keep in mind: hedgehogs are prey animals that hardly move towards confrontational behavior unless they feel they have no other choice. Tapping the head or blowing on the nose only adds to the aggittion or fear, making the behavior even worse, more often then not.

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Step 1

Give the hedgehog a steady routine. A set time of feeding, possible lighting on a timer and handle the hedgehog at set times in a later step. A fixed routine gives the hedgehog peace of mind and little unexpected happens, so there’s not much to be afraid of. For example: 09:00 am light on, 10:00 pm light off, 10:30 pm handling and 11:00 pm feeding. Keep that up for a few days until you notice the hedgehog becoming calmer around your presence.

Step 2

Handling often requires some challenge with a fear-aggressive hedgehog. So start very slowly with offering something tasty from your hand. That can be a mealworm or a piece of fruit, but in any case something the hedgehog really likes and can’t resist. Let the animal come to you calmly and eat from your hand. Repeat that for a few days until they come to you without hesitation when you have a treat with you.

Step 3

Now you are going to combine the treat with handling, so that handling becomes something fun. Lure the hedgehog with something tasty, let them eat and then gently pick them up with both hands. For example, pick the hedgehog up and put them on the couch with a hiding place on it. The hedgehog will undoubtedly immediately seek out the hiding place and stay there, but feel free to put something tasty on a dish on the couch to lure the hedgehog out. This will take a little longer than the other steps, but just repeat it every night until the hedgehog actually comes out on their own. Let them walk around quietly without paying attention to them. Wear loose clothing they can softly bite into to anoint, without hurting you.

Step 4

If the previous step was successful, you can add something extra to the rhythm. While walking loose on the couch, place the hedgehog on your lap instead of on the couch. So the hedgehog is forced to be with you. Provide treats and treat them regularly. If the hedgehog bites, DO NOT tap them on the nose as this will make the behavior worse. Get a soft toy and try to be just one step ahead of them. Offer them the toy before they bite you. This does not directly solve the problem, but it does move it to a point where it does not bother you. If the hedgehog picks up the toy, let them go wild and then reward them again with a treat. This way they learn not to bite into you, but into the toy.

Step 5

Once the hedgehog has learned not to bite you, you can start picking up and handling them on your hands. Keep the toy around so that they have the opportunity to relieve their stress for a while. If you keep this up, you will notice that the biting behavior gradually decreases as they gradually learn to trust you and they get to know a fixed routine.

Step 6

Once the hedgehog is completely used to the routine, it is important to stick to that routine as well. Don’t be afraid of relapse. You might have been just a little too fast with the steps. Feel free to take a step back and take it easy!

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