Ouch! My hedgehog BIT me!
Most hedgehogs will not aggressively bite. Their instinctive defense is to ball up.
That being said, it CAN happen. Here are some different reasons why the hedgehog bit, and how to react.
First, are you SURE it was an angry bite and not ‘yum!’ you TASTE GOOD!
If licking preceded the bite, you are yummy. Try to remember if you have done any of these things:
– finished eating a sandwich and not shared,
– put on Axe (well, ok, they SHOULD add a disclaimer to their ads), or other heavy/floral/fruity scent,
– washed your hands with a nice smelling soap (watch out for that vanilla brown sugar soft soap!)
– worked out (aka perspired alot)
If you have ruled out all of the above, let’s continue our quest to discover the cause of the bite so you can avoid it in the future!
Mistaken identity –
Do not hand feed your hedgehog. They are scent oriented, and their vision is poor. They very well may mistake a finger for food.
Fear biting –
This type of bite is the second most common in a hedgehog; after taste biting. It is most commonly done in a high energy, loud, unfamiliar environment; such as strange smells, or handling the hedgehog around too many people, passing the hedgehog around. Signs that this type of bite will occur are abnormal, frantic type running or wiggling in your hands. If you feel your hedgehog has had enough, have a safe place for him to curl up and feel secure. Sometimes, these bites seem completely random, however, if you pay attention to the signals your hedgehog is sending, *most* can be prevented.
If your hedgehog has hurt himself somehow, he may bite defensively. Rule out other reasons, but be aware of this possibility too.
What to do?
If your hedgehog is licking you, stop, and go wash your hands with a plain soap. Try again.
If your hedgehog does nip you, do NOT! put him away in his cage. He will quickly associate biting with going home. Instead, hand him off to someone else, or redirect his attention to something else entirely. See if you can track down the ‘why’ of his bite, and not repeat the trigger behavior.
Whatever you do, do not be afraid of your hedgehog. Bites hurt, but most often do not break the skin. Many can be prevented, and you and your hedgehog will gain mutual understanding as you handle him more.