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How To Handle a Hedgehog

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Many new hedgehog owners are nervous about handling their pets. Hedgehogs can be handled, although some patience is required.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 20 minutes

Here's How:

  1. Start in the evening, when your hedgehog is likely to be awake. A sleepy hedgehog can be grumpy!
  2. Allow your hedgehog to sniff your hand, so that he/she will recognize you.
  3. Place your hands palm side up on either side of the hedgehog. If necessary, you can gently corner your hedgehog in it's cage.
  4. Gently push hands under hedgehog. You can even scoop up a bit of bedding to protect your hands a bit more if you are nervous.
  5. Cup hands and lift hedgehog cradled in your hands. Keep your fingers together and out of the way if your hedgehog rolls into a ball.
  6. Your hedgehog may huff or roll into a ball. Try to persist unless your hedgehog is unduly upset; it's okay to scoop him or her up if she has rolled into a ball.
  7. Hold your hedgehog (try cradling your hedgie on one hand or forearm and placing the other hand gently over his or her back for security) or place him or her in your lap. Most will unroll shortly and begin exploring.
  8. Feel free to resort to bribery if necessary. If your hedgehog rolls, offer a treat such as a tasty mealworm as soon as he or she unrolls. Your hedgehog will probably decide quickly that being picked up is a good thing!
  9. Once your hedgehog is out, allow it to explore your hands and lap at his orher own pace.
  10. A relaxed hedgehog lays down its spines, and at this point you can try petting him or her (in the direction the spines lay, of course).
  11. Offer treats intermittently while handling your hedgehog, and your pet will likely learn to look forward to handling.

Tips:

  1. Hedgehogs will recognize you by smell. Wearing gloves will only confuse your hedgehog; hand lotion or heavy perfumes may confuse the hedgehogas well. Placing a worn t-shirt in their cage may familiarize them with your scent.
  2. If necessary, a thick towel can be used to pick up a a stubborn hedgehog at first, rather than gloves.
  3. Do not grab your hedgehog from above (ouch) or hold it in such a way that a finger could get trapped by the hedgehog rolling into a ball (big ouch!).
  4. Remember the spines are not barbed nor do they come out like porcupine quills -- if you do get poked it will be a bit painful but not terrible, so try not to be nervous.
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