If you’re thinking about getting a hedgehog as a pet, you may certainly be wondering whether or not they hurt to touch.
They can seem frightening and fragile at first, but once you become accustom with the right way to handle a hedgehog, you should find his quills very tolerable to touch!
First, what are these quills exactly?
These quills are technically spines and are hollow, modified hairs.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs, the most common type on Earth so far, have between 5,000 and 6,500 of these quills!
These hollow spines lie on top of two (2) back muscles that allow the hedgehog to curl up and extend his quills as a defense mechanism when threatened.
So, do hedgehog quills hurt to touch?
A hedgehog’s quills will feel differently to the touch depending on whether the hedgehog is relaxed, or curled up in defense.
Let’s discuss a bit further these two (2) points:
Though, the spines come to a point, they are not sharp when relaxed.
When you hold a hedgehog who is not in an alert position, the quills will lie evenly across your hands.
Somehow, they will also distribute the weight your hedgie, meaning that the quills will not poke into your skin.
Some owners describe the feeling as touching a bunch of straws or a hairbrush.
When a hedgehog curls up because of a threatening feeling, that even distribution of quills changes.
Their quills become more spread out ready to do harm if required.
Since the quills are more spread, they will become more sharp to the touch.
The quills should not break through your skin though, but it could be a bit more painful to touch.
Some owners describe the feeling as touching a bunch of toothpicks.
There is always the possibility the your hedgehog could go from relaxed to threatened in your hands, so to avoid any surprises:
– Make the hedgehog feel familiar and comfortable with you.
– Use puncture resistant gloves the first times if you feel like need more experience holding it with your hand.
Although, it may cause some discomfort from suddenly raising his quills, it should not cause any sort of serious pain to you.
Other notes on hedgehog quills
– Baby hedgehogs will have sharper quills than adults, since the quills are smaller and not fully developed.
– Quill sharpness can also vary depending on the species. Some hedgehog’s quills can simply feel a bit more awful than others’ to touch.
– Always pet the hedgehog from head to tail – in the direction the quills. Like petting a dog’s fur, petting backwards feels much more rough, both on your hands and on your pet!
– The more comfortable your hedgehog becomes being around you and its handlers, the more they will stay in a relaxed position with the quills down.
– Most owners say that although the spines seem frightening at first, you will quickly become accustomed and comfortable with the feel of the quills!