The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Hedgies have become popular pets in many households. If you’ve been thinking of adding a hedgehog to your family, you likely have a few questions about the peculiar little pets.
Hedgies are one of the littlest pets, but they have significant needs in terms of happiness and care. Choosing to have a pet hedgehog is not the same as adopting a cat or dog. There are no wagging tails or deep purrs to let you know that your pet is happy.
You may be wondering if your hedgie will be affectionate or cuddly and if you will be able to determine if your newest family member is happy in your home. Learning how your hedgie expresses themselves will help you to be a better pet owner.
Keep reading to learn the signs and signals that your hedgie is happy, if your hedgehog will be cuddly or affectionate, if your hedgehog will enjoy being held, and the importance of bonding with your hedgehog. Plus, we’ll toss in a few tips for properly caring for your new hedgehog!
How Will I Know If My Hedgie Is Happy?
Of course, you want to ensure that your newest family member is happy. As a pet owner, you know that providing care, food, water, and shelter doesn’t always guarantee true happiness for your pet.
Hedgies are no different. Yes, they need proper care, adequate food and water, and a secure shelter like your more common pets. However, gauging the level of happiness your hedgehog has isn’t as simple as that of a cat or dog.
Dogs will wag their tails or lick your face to show their happiness, cats will purr or “make biscuits,” but what does a hedgehog do?
A happy hedgie will enjoy exploring your home, making happy little squeaks and chirps while snuffling about. You may notice your hedgehog doing “zoomies” (quick little runs) in its cage, grabbing a nibble of food, then resuming “zoomies,” causing as much havoc and chaos as possible.
Happy hedgehogs are comfortable with human interactions. If you notice that your hedgie hisses or becomes huffy when you attempt to pick it up, you have a bit more work to do in creating a healthy, happy bond with your new pet.
You can also gauge the level of happiness in your hedgehog by paying attention to the way it sleeps. If you notice your hedgie relaxing their entire body and deeply sighing, this indicates satisfaction and satiety.
A happy hedgie will seem relaxed and comfortable around you and in your home. As long as you provide your hedgehog with food, water, a clean cage, and regularly take it out of its cage for stimulation, treats, and cuddles, it is likely to be happy!
Are Hedgehogs Cuddly?
Hedgies aren’t known for being social creatures. In nature, hedgehogs prefer a solitary existence and typically only interact with one another during mating.
With that said, if you welcome a young, immature hedgie into your home, with regular interaction and handling, there’s a high chance you can have a snuggly little pincushion.
Some pet hedgies enjoy cuddling with their owners, while other hedgehogs may not want too much hedgie-to-human contact. It is impossible to generalize the cuddliness of all hedgehogs.
Each hedgehog, much like people, has its own distinctive personality. Your hedgie may be outgoing and personable, or it may enjoy a solitary life.
Some hedgehogs are inherently grumpy. Others are full of personality. The ability to be cuddly with your hedgie will depend on your hedgehog’s character and the amount of time you are willing to put in to create a lasting bond.
Do Hedgehogs Like to Be Held?
You’re likely wondering if your hedgie will enjoy being held. In short, yes, hedgehogs do want to be held. Hedgies enjoy the security felt by being held in the palm of your hand.
Gently cradling your new hedgehog in the palm of your hand can help form a strong bond with you. Once you’ve established a connection with your pet hedgie, it may even choose to rest in your lap or even play with you.
Are Hedgies Affectionate?
As a pet owner, you want to have a kinship with your pets. You would like to know if your pet is happy, and one way for your pet to convey happiness is through affection.
As a hedgehog is not your typical pet, you might be wondering if they’re affectionate. Even though they are generally solitary animals, hedgies are actually loving animals.
The level of affection shown to you by your hedgehog will wholly depend on your pet’s personality. Each hedgie is different in that respect.
Some hedgehogs are incredibly affectionate and will snuggle, nibble, and even give you “kisses.” While other hedgies are less apt to do the same but express their affection through chirps and snuffles.
Your hedgehog can also display a deep level of affection for you when they feel threatened by an outside entity, like when an unfamiliar person attempts to hold your pet. Your hedgie may try to stay close to you or even attempt to hold your hand for protection.
How Does a Hedgie Display Affection?
As previously mentioned, your new hedgehog isn’t going to shower you with affection the way your dog will. Hedgies use slightly different methods to display their love for you.
Hedgehog affections are displayed through unique efforts such as poking its head out of a hiding spot upon hearing your voice or becoming utterly relaxed in your presence. If you are lucky enough to have an exceptionally social hedgehog, it may even display affection by waiting patiently for you at the door of its cage.
Extremely social hedgies may even offer loving nibbles and “kisses” to you. The personality of your hedgehog plays a vital role when it comes to the expression of affection.
Establishing a Bond with Your Hedgehog
Building a connection with your hedgie is a process that begins on day one. Remember, bonding with your new hedgehog will take time, effort, and a bit of understanding.
Hedgies have a powerful sense of smell, acute hearing, and very poor eyesight. Bonding with your hedgie will require effort on your part to appeal to its strengths.
Your new hedgehog will slowly become attuned to your specific scent and the sound of your voice. There are a few tips and tricks you can use to expedite this process.
One tip is to allow your hedgie to associate your scent with security and safety. You can do this by draping a worn shirt over the cage of your hedgehog. This will allow your hedgehog to familiarize itself with your scent while in the security of its cage.
Another step to establishing a rock-solid bond with your hedgehog is to speak to your hedgie. Yes, you read that correctly. Hedgehogs have an acute sense of hearing and will, with time, be able to distinguish your voice from others.
Speak to your hedgehog during unstressful activities, such as when it is resting in your hands, during feeding, or when you are allowing your hedgehog to explore. This allows for your hedgehog to associate your voice with comfort and happiness.
Just remember that bonding with your new hedgehog will take time. Allow your hedgie to open up to you on its own terms. Rushing the process will not benefit you or your newfound friend.
How Long Will It Take to Bond with My Hedgie?
As previously stated, bonding with your new hedgehog is a process that requires persistence, time, effort, and understanding. Your pet is in a wholly new environment with many different sensations to process.
There is no definitive timeline for connecting with your new hedgie. Your interactions and behaviors toward your hedgehog play a significant role in how long it will take for you two to create a bond.
It is best to begin the process from day one. You can start by allowing your hedgehog to rest in a blanket on your lap or by sitting near your hedgie and offering small treats.
The first two weeks of interaction between you and your new hedgehog are key factors in how quickly a connection develops and how strong that bond will be. Patience and persistence on your part are key.
Don’t fret if bonding with your hedgehog takes a bit of time; remember, there is no benefit to rushing the connection process.
Tips for Properly Caring for Your Hedgehog
Hedgies are delightful, albeit unusual, pets that can make a fantastic addition to your household. With that said, they do require a few necessities for proper care. A few things to consider when bringing home a new hedgie are:
Your hedgie needs space to roam with proper ventilation. The cage you choose should be large enough for your hedgehog to have an area for food and water, an exercise wheel or some other type of physical activity, a place to burrow or hide, and enough room to stretch its legs.
Hedgies have been known to eat quite a bit! The diet you feed your hedgehog should mimic what they consume in the wild. There are commercially sold foods specifically formulated for your hedgehog. If you choose to provide your hedgie with fresh meals, you can always use live insects, worms, and the occasional bit of fruit.
Keep their cage clean
This should be self-explanatory. You don’t want to live sitting in a dirty box; your hedgehog doesn’t either. Cleaning your hedgehog’s cage weekly should be sufficient (unless you have a particularly messy hedgie). Be sure to regularly change out your hedgie’s water, as well.
Pay attention to your hedgehog’s health
Your hedgehog is a living, breathing animal. Your hedgehog can become afflicted with pests such as fleas or mites like most other mammals. Pay close attention to the state of your hedgie’s quills, as they can be a quick indicator of illness. If you feel that your hedgehog may be ill, seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Remember, a healthy hedgie is a happy hedgie.
Fun Hedgehog Facts
Now that we’ve covered some questions about your hedgehog, let’s drop a few fun facts that you can use to astound your friends!
- Hedgehogs are not rodents, nor are they any relation to the porcupine.
- Hedgie quills are not poisonous.
- Hedgies cannot “shoot” their quills as a means of defense.
- Hedgies are not native to North America, South America, or Australia.
- Some cultures believe that hedgehog meat has medicinal benefits.
- The ancient Persians believed that hedgies were sacred animals.
- Hedgies are hypoallergenic.
- Hedgehogs are lactose intolerant.
- Hedgies only have one set of teeth.
- Hedgies are great swimmers.
- Your hedgehog cannot roll away from a predator (thanks for the lies, Sonic!).
- Cancer is extremely common in domesticated hedgehogs.
- Hedgies like to party at night (they’re nocturnal) and sleep all day!
- Baby hedgehogs are called hoglets or piglets.
- Your hedgie cannot see very well, but it has an impeccable sense of smell and exceptional hearing capabilities.
- Hedgehogs can have upwards of 5,000 quills.
- Hedgehog quills are actually called spines.
- There are 17 distinct species of hedgehog.
- The most commonly domesticated hedgehog is the African pygmy hedgehog.
- All hedgies have five toes, EXCEPT the African pygmy hedgehog. It just has four.
- It is against the law to own a hedgie in some states, including California, Georgia, and Hawaii.
- Hedgies are thought to be the oldest living mammal on the planet.
- Hedgehogs were first domesticated by the Romans in 4 B.C.
- Many hedgehog species hibernate during the winter months.
Remember that your hedgehog is one-of-a-kind and truly enjoys the solitary life. Your hedgie is most likely satisfied if you do everything within your power to keep it happy.
Hedgies are affectionate creatures, despite their solitary nature. They can and will express affection, though it may not be the typical form you are accustomed to as a pet owner.
As long as you care for your pet properly and treat it correctly, your hedgehog will not only enjoy it when you visit its cage, but it will also want to spend time with you exploring its new home.