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Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
Section - <6.6> Biting and nipping

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See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
Most hedgehogs rarely if ever bite, however, as with any animal, it does
happen, and some just `are' biters.  Many young hedgehogs will nip at almost
everything -- it's their way of testing the world around them, so they can
learn what is and what isn't food.  Others will nip if they want to be left
alone or are feeling a bit stressed (this often occurs just after they arrive
at their new home -- don't be discouraged if it happens).

Regardless of the reason, if your hedgehog nips you, you want to discourage
it.  Here are some tips on how to curb little nippers before they get carried
away.

Wayne Clendenin sends along the following advice on whether hedgehogs bite
and other useful advice on hedgehog as pets:

    [Hedgehogs] seldom bite, it's not a usual trait.  The short teeth and 
    dog-like mouth don't cause any damage, unlike a hamster or gerbil bite.
    We have found that a pup will usually lick before tasting a finger or 
    hand...but we also have a real mean female.  Maybe she's overly 
    protective, but she bites without the warning lick.  (She also spent her 
    first 6 months unhandled in a pet shop).  We usually don't recommend 
    hhogs as pets for kids under school age...those spines can be sharp to
    tender little hands. I've never had a pup ``nip'' or even an adult 
    ``chomp''...break the skin...but, I wouldn't bet on that with a very 
    young child. 

If your hedgehog isn't the overly nervous type, one suggestion you can try
for hedgehogs that nip or bite is to blow gently into their face either when
they do it or, if you can tell, when they are about to.  This doesn't hurt
the hedgehog any, but they don't like it and it can have the desired effect
of stopping the bite and being gentle punishment.

One of the most effective ways of curbing biting comes from Dawn Wrobel, who
has dealt with numerous rescue cases, many of which were quite upset, nervous
and hence prone to biting.  She recommends using a Q-Tip dipped in isopropyl
(rubbing) alcohol applied to the end of the nose.  This won't hurt the
hedgehog, but they dislike it intensely and will let go.  Dawn suggests that
at most 3 or 4 applications will usually dissuade even the most insistent
biter.

Linda Wheatley, an experienced breeder and hedgehog lover, provided the
following advice on hedgehogs and biting:

   It is not common for a hedgehog to bite, but it does happen.  There seem
   to be 3 reasons for biting.  One is for tasting and this is the one 
   usually preceded by licking.  Another is due to stress.  If the animal 
   is new to a situation, and is not left alone to get used to or familiar
   with it they will bite but it is the animal's only way of saying ``leave
   me alone!''  The last type of bite seems to be certain animals' way of 
   identifying people (as painful as it may be).  I had a male hedgehog
   returned to me due to its habit of biting.  It did not bite me for a few
   days and then one day it really latched on.  He attached himself to a 
   meaty part of my hand which was not too painful so I let him hold on.
   He let go after 30 seconds.  He did this a couple more times with no
   reaction from me and that was the last he ever bit.  I have had some more
   hogs do this with the same scenario.

   If a hedgehog bites, don't pull back, which, of course, would hurt more,
   but instead push whatever it is biting towards it.  This causes them
   discomfort and they will let go.  If the biting has caused the owner
   to be hesitant, I tell them to get an inexpensive pair of work gloves.
   Put one glove on and rub your other hand on it briskly to put your
   scent on it.  Do the same with both gloves.  Then pick up the hog and 
   hope that it bites!  If it does, then push back -- not hard but firmly.
   I personally do not like the idea of blowing into a hedgehog's face to 
   discourage biting.  This would seem to cause a shy hedgehog to be even
   shyer.


User Contributions:

Rio
Report this comment as inappropriate
Apr 26, 2012 @ 10:22 pm
Hi, my hedgehog started running around her cage squealing so I took her out to see what was wrong. Her genital area was inflamed and she had open sores all around that area. I gave her a bath, but I'm really worried about her. Do you have any idea what this could be?
Thank you!

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Top Document: Hedgehog FAQ [4/7] - Hedgehogs as pets
Previous Document: <6.5> Any suggestions on bathing, cleaning ears, and clipping nails?
Next Document: <6.7> HELP, my hedgehog is LOST! (or Hedgehog Hide-and-Seek).

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