Holding a hedgehog tricks
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Tricks for Holding and Picking Up a Hedgehog

Holding a spiky ball of quills can be scary. It is important to keep in mind that it is also scary for the hedgehog. There are valuable tips and tricks for holding and picking up a hedgehog. Learning them will make the experience more enjoyable for both of you!

When not to hold

There are times to hold a hedgehog and times to just leave them alone. 

  • During the day
  • While they are sleeping (sleepy hog = grumpy hog)
  • When you first buy or receive the hedgehog
  • When they are younger than 2 weeks old (mom can eat the babies)
  • If you have strong scents on your skin
  • After hedgehog eats (they will go to the bathroom on you)
  • While hedgehog is eating
  • If there is loud noise around
  • If there are multiple people or any pets around

When to hold

  • During the late-night, after they have been awake for awhile
  • After your scent was introduced
  • Preferably after fed and recent bathroom break
  • Older than 2 weeks
  • When you don’t have strong scents on you (perfume, food scents, etc…)

What is feels like

It feels different holding a hedgehog based on what part you are touching. The quills when down, feel like the bottom tips of feathers. You can find out more in our article about what it feels like and does it hurt here.

Ways not to pick up a hedgehog

  • From above the hedgehog
  • By squeezing them up out of the cage
  • By completely circling both hands around (you will get poked)
  • Palm down, fingertips in
  • Their faces or butt first
  • By petting first and then picking up (petting first startles them)

Pick up techniques

There are a few different ways to pick up a hedgehog. Some are for more timid hedgehog owners while others are for more confident hedgehog owners. There are also different ways for different enclosure types. Some people prefer one hand while others prefer two. 

For the timid owner with a shaving bedding (the first couple of times)

  • Place your hand close to the hedgehog, letting them see and smell
  • Reward with half of a treat
  • With palm facing up and flat, just go for it without hesitation (Hesitation and hand jerk will cause hog to huff)
  • Slide hand or hands under the belly and bedding (you will be picking up both bedding and hog)
  • Your hand should be under their belly, separating the front legs from the back legs, fingertips first
  • If it hisses: don’t drop, jump, or be afraid (if you are still in bonding stages you need to get over this, but they could be hissing for good reasons like if you woke them up)
  • Cup hand or hands slightly and lift out of the cage without squeezing or dropping
  • Lift slowly out
  • Reward with half of a treat

The basic hold for confident owners

  • With palm up put your hand in the cage
  • Allow pet to smell and see
  • Quickly slide your hand under their belly, between front legs and back legs
  • Lift out of the cage in slightly cupped hands

Alternet option if you couldn’t catch them or are struggling

  • With palm up put your hand in the cage
  • Allow pet to smell and back them in a corner (you can also lure them into the corner by holding a treat)
  • Fingertips down, preferably under bedding or close to bedding
  • Flatten hand and come in from the hog’s side
  • Quickly push hand under the hog’s belly 
  • Lift up slowly with slightly cupped hands
  • Optional method: offer treat with other hand holding it by your wrist
  • Let them walk into your palm with nowhere to go
  • Lift up with slightly cupped hands

Holding techniques

Hedgehogs can be balls of quills, snuggly fluff, or super-fast little lightning bolts. Depending on your hedgehogs’ mood and how much you have bonded will determine this. Bonding is very important if you ever want to get close to your hedgehog and enjoy them.

Where to hold them

  • In cupped hands, opened (usually only for shorter periods of time)
  • Against chest or stomach (wear a thick shirt without strong detergent)
  • In lap, preferably with cuddly materials
  • In snuggle sacks or their comfy spots (place on or very near you)

Ball of quills

  • For timid owners: you can hold them in materials with your scent: towel, shirt, or gloves (gloves are least recommended)
  • It is recommended that you try hands, it will create a better bond in a shorter time
  • For bare hand: use both hands and slightly cup the fingers
  • Edge fingertips away (you feel things more with fingertips)
  • Keep your hand stiff (feel the quills less)

Superfast little lightning bolts

  • You can tire them out by constantly putting on hand in front of the other for them to walk on
  • Tempt them to stay with treats
  • If they are desperately trying to escape it might not be the right time to hold them; they could be too wound up or you might not have the best bonding yet
  • Try letting them run around in a closed area around you

Snuggly fluff

  • Enjoy! It means you are well bonded and they are comfortable with you
  • Add some belly rubs and soft materials

Quick tips

  • If you decide to hold them in gloves or with materials, make sure your scent is on it
  • Starting out, it is better to do it quickly so you won’t drop them or jerk your hand away
  • Be confident and just do it without hesitation
  • Wash hands with unscented soap before
  • No perfumes or food smells
  • Get treats out of the bag, then wash hands (so your hand doesn’t smell like food)
  • Some people find it easier with two hands. Move both hands at a slight angle ( angled slightly in front and to each side of the hog). It should see your hands
  • It is easier to handle hedgehogs in flat bedding (fleece liner)

Overall, just go for it quickly and without hesitation. Otherwise, you could get scared, jerk your hand, or drop the hedgehog. This will cause stress and startle it. Holding and picking up a hedgehog will get easier with confidence and bonding. If they do huff or ball up, it is okay. They are scared just like you. The comfort level between you two will grow with practice.

Were you scared to pick up a hedgehog the first time? Let us know in the comments if you succeeded the first time. I was scared and backed my hand away the first time.

picking up and holding a hedgehog tricks

1 Comment

  1. Love to see this every day !

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