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PostSubject: Hedgehog Behaviour   Thu Aug 01, 2013 4:47 pm

Rolling into a Ball

defensive behaviour - hedgehogs can roll into a ball due to their amazing muscles, they can manoeuvre their quills to point towards the direction they believe the threat is coming from and it can also perform a "popping" behaviou where they can pop half an inch into the air. This is meant to discourage predators - if you hoggie is rolled up in a ball it means that it feels threatened and wants to be left alone, however, there are methods to encourage them to unball which will be posted shortly.

Raising Quills

Another defence mechanism - even when unballed hoggies can have their quills at half mast or possibly just their forehead quills - a sign that they are feeling uneasy and with something in their environment.


If you hoggie is charging, it will have its forequills raised and huffing noises usually accompany this type of behaviour - again, it is a reaction to threat. If more than one are exercising together, one may feel that another has trespassed on to its territory and will charge at them. Also a mother is likely to charge with babies in the next and a greedy hoggie may charge at you if it feels you are about to take away their food.


Hedgehogs lick if they come across something that smells tasty - worth nothing that if your hoggie licks you it may be planning an exploratory nip if what it has licked tastes as good as it smells.


Hoggies will scratch because it feels good - does not mean they are trying to communication anything else. Excessive scratching may mean a skin irritation and if it continues a trip to the vet is recommended to make sure there are no underlying skin issues. Scratching is considered excessive if your hoggie is scratching to the point where it causes red spots or scrapes to the skin. Hoggies under the age of six months will scratch more as they have the quilling process to go through.


More of a symptom but none the less important to include here.

A hoggie who shows a sudden, drastic decrease in energy is telling you that they do not feel very well. Common causes are hibernation which can be accompanied by defensiveness and also that your hoggies feels cold to the touch. By gently warming up your hoggie you should see them return to normal but if lethargy persists, then a definate trip to the vet.


Hedgehogs can look like they are pouting if something in their environment seems out of place - this can be accompanied by any of the following

Resisting Handling

More so in a hedgehog that does not normally behave like this. They can also go off their food and not be as active as normal.

There are several reasons why they are believed to pout,

Owner being away, cage being rearranged or even the smallest thing like removing their wheel for cleaning and this behaviour can last for as little as a day or as long as a week.

In the event of any concerns over your hoggies behaviour the first port of call should be the vet.


Soft Purring and Whistling:
This is a sign of pure contentment.

Displeasure, uncertainty

Snorting or "Sneezing":
Usually accompanies puffing and means the same thing

Hissing and Clicking:
This means "get away from me, I’m scared or tired of you".

Happily checking things out

Usually done by males while breeding and by nursing hoglets (babies)

Physical pain, fear and sometime anger

Sounds Heard During Sleep:
Believe it or not, some hedgehogs actually snore! Like dogs and cats, they also appear to dream and will sniff, snort and chirp quietly all the while.


Rolled up ball = Fearful

Spines Erect = All Over: displeasure or fear - On Forehead Only: Cautious, uncertain

Spines Laying Flat All Over = Everything is fine. He feels comfortable and safe.

Self - Anointing:

If your hedgehog smells something he likes or if he simply comes across a smell that he is unfamiliar with, such as leather, perfume, etc., he will foam at the mouth and will then deposit this foamy saliva on his back and shoulders. In an effort to cover as much of their backs as possible with this foam, many hedgehogs will contort their bodies in such a way that they will sometimes fall over. Many hedgehogs become so engrossed with this activity that they become totally oblivious to anything going on around them! No one is really certain why hedgehogs perform this unusual behaviour (more often seen in males than females) but there is no shortage of theories.

One possible explanation is that they are trying to remember a particular smell by mixing it with the saliva and then depositing it on the spines. Another is that the foam acts as a repellant or toxin to a hedgehog's enemies. Whatever the reason, though, self-annointing is a normal occurrence and is no cause for alarm.


To be perfectly honest, we don’t understand this behavior either, but it surely is good exercise! Circling should not, however, be mistaken for pacing - common in animals that are confined in too small an area - since hedgehogs in the wild frequently run circles as well. (Perhaps they know about the Olympics.) Not only do they run in circles, but they often run in figure-eights as well!

Awake time:

Your hedgehog is diurnal. This means that, like a cat, he will be awake during parts of both the day and night, but will be most active at dawn and after dark until 2 or 3 am. By handling him mostly during the daytime, you can easily change his sleep habits so that he will sleep more during the night and be more active during the day. If you are normally gone during the day, though, his normal sleep habits will most likely suit you just fine.

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