You will Notice That Hedgehog Are Cute. But, Are They Always Like That?
I know that the general consent is that hedgehogs are so adorable because of their size. Nevertheless, even the most miniature animals can cause a lot of harm.
This is not the case here to raise a level of concern but being cautious is not a bad idea.
The first thing to see is their sharp-looking quills. The good news is that these quills are much less prickly than they look with gentle handling!
This is not the only defense mechanism, but, like any other wild mammal, they can bite.
Hedgehogs are generally gentle and shy animals and usually won’t have a go-to to harm their carers.
This, of course, can change if:
– They feel uncomfortable (activating their instincts).
– Smell something tasty on your hands or,
– They’re attempting to get used to a new environment.
It will have no reason to bite you with proper care and precautions. Let’s take a look at the reasons that would prompt a hedgehog to bite you.
Defense and Discomfort
Hedgehogs can go into defensive mode for a variety of reasons.
They will typically curl up into a ball to defend themselves, but they can become aggressive and bite if they feel very threatened or uncomfortable.
Some causes may include:
– Waking up the hedgehog and making it play when there is no desire for it.
– Holding it when there is a need to explore and walk around freely.
– Keeping it out of the cage for too long when it wants to rest.
– Handling it roughly (as any other animal) or putting it under stress from loud noises, intense odors, etc.
I know some of the points above are hard to identify. You will learn from time to time, though.
Smelling Something Appealing
One everyday thing that triggers the need to bite is the smell of yummy food on your hands.
They usually will lick, but the texture of your hands may make them feel like something else is interesting.
Similar to what I have mentioned in my article – Do Hedgehogs Smell? – it is a good idea to wash your hand before playing and interacting with them.
The curiosity of Something New
When exploring new people and new environments, you may find that they occasionally gently bite to have a sense of curiosity.
This is important for them as a way to identify what can potentially be a source of food.
How Can I Prevent Getting Bitten?
Here are a few tips for avoiding a bite:
– Do not wake your hedgehog. Handle it only during evening hours when it is more active.
– Observe your hedgehog’s mood when handling it. If you notice signs of discomfort, tired or overwhelmed, allow it to go back in the cage to relax.
– Clean your hands with a scent-free soap before handling. They may be tempted to have a taste if you have touched food.
How Badly Does a Hedgehog Bite Hurt?
Hedgehog’s teeth are built for chewing insects, as they’re insectivores in the wild.
This means that their teeth are not as sharp or powerful as animals, which are made for chewing red meat.
It is said that a hedgehog bite is much less painful than a hamster or rodent, which is good news.
Very rarely, if ever, a hedgehog bite may break the skin and cause bleeding. Of course, bites will not be pleasant, but they are not typically very painful at all.
How Can I Stop It From Biting?
When you find your hedgehog is biting, there are several ways you can do to train it not to bite in the future.
– Firmly say “NO” when the bite happens – hedgehogs do not like loud noises.
– Push your fingers against the hedgehog’s mouth as he bites rather than pulling your fingers away. They find this uncomfortable, but it will not hurt them.
– Blow air at their face to startle them once or a few times in a row.
These are the three (3) most common and humane methods for training a hedgehog against biting.
If you find they are ineffective on their own, try two (2) methods simultaneously; for example, yell “NO” while pushing the hedgie back.
Consistency matters, so be sure to train it and do it with the methods described above. It may take some time, but you can definitely have a safe, pain-free experience with your hedgehog.