If you've never held a hedgehog you're probably wondering what those quills, or spines, on their back feel like and if they're prickly to the touch. You might also be wondering if they are prickly, why would I even want a pet I can't hold?
Those are completely normal questions to have and you'll want to do as much research as possible before you decide to get your own pet hedgehog.
So lets jump right in!
Are Hedgehogs Too Prickly to Hold?
The quills, or spines, on your hedgehogs back are their main defense against predators. The orientation of those quills will also quickly tell you their overall mood.
When a hedgehog is stressed, angry, or scared they tend to raise their quills and point them in all directions. Trying to hold them when they're in this defensive position can be prickly to the touch and you may even need a glove or towel.
This will be one of the only times when your hedgehog will be somewhat painful to handle. These quills wont stab you, or break the skin, but they are quite prickly to the touch when pointed in all directions.
When your hedgehog is relaxed you'll notice their quills lay straight back. When laid straight back they are actually quit easy to hold and aren't at all prickly.
It may take some time for your hedgehog to acclimate to you and feel comfortable in this position. This also has a lot to do with their overall personality and temperament. However, over time your hedgehog will begin to recognize your smell and grow more comfortable being handled by you.
We try to breed both for color and temperament, but there are still those just born more skittish than others.
How Do You Handle a Hedgehog?
You'll want to begin by handling your hedgehog later in the evening when they're awake and active. Trying to handle them or get them to play in the middle of the day is like waking a person in the middle of the night.
They'll probably be a bit grumpy and irritable...
You'll want to gently scoop them up with two hands and leave them belly down. They generally don't love being flipped upside down on their back and will probably ball up if you do.
Either way, they may still ball up, but should quickly unroll and start to investigate their new surroundings. If you they don't, don't worry. Some hedgehogs might take a bit longer to warm up to you.
You can either continue to be patient and hold them flat close to your body, or you could try enticing them with a tasty treat. Our hedgehogs favorite is typically mealworms, but you could use pretty much an insect feeders.
If you have a more difficult hedgehog that just doesn't seem to want open up, don't give up. You'll want to continue working with them, holding them as often as possible.
When it comes time to give your hedgehog a bath, you'll also notice them open up and lay back their quills. This can be an excellent bonding experience between you and your hedgehog. Just be sure not bathe your hedgehog too often. They have naturally dry skin so you'll need to take special precautions to avoid irritation.
Hedgehogs can be amazing pets once they acclimate to their owners. Some will be easier than others, but with a little work they all open up.
The only time they'll be prickly to the touch is when they're stressed, angry, or scared. Once they adjust to your smells and are comfortable around you, they'll lay down their quills and will far more receptible to snuggles.