Belly Rubs: How to tame a Hedgehog

How to tame a Hedgehog

Spikeball to Belly Rubs: Here you'll learn how to tame your hedgehog.

 

You see them everywhere on social media platforms, whether YouTube, Facebook or Instagram: Pet hedgehogs enjoying belly rubs by their owners. This probably makes you wonder, how they get their hedgehogs to be this tame and relaxed. Here's how they do it.

When I picked Pokee up at the breeder in Germany, he was only eight weeks old and anything but tame. Whenever I dared to move my hand toward him he would wince and hiss at me. Every time I tried to take him out of his terrarium, he curled up into a ball and made it almost impossible for me to touch him.

 

 

Habituation & Quilling

Now, please don't get me wrong here. The process of taming an African Pygmy hedgehog is neither easily done nor in a very short period of time. Quite the reverse: It takes a lot of time and especially patience until they will get used to you. Within the first months there are some things that you should definitely know in order to gain a better understanding of your hedgehog. Here are the most important ones:

 

  • HABITUATION: You need to remember that your hedgehog is torn away from its usual environment and must first find its way and settle into a new home. This may take several weeks.
  • QUILLING: Your hedgehog passes the state of quilling within the first few months of its life (usually between 3rd and 6th month). During that period, it loses some of the small, sharp spines, which are replaced by stronger, firmer ones. This exchange causes a kind of itching on its sensitive skin. The result is an unfamiliar feeling, which the hedgehog is unable to allocate. Thereby it experiences human contact and affection as rather distracting and annoying.

When the state of quilling has been passed your hedgehog should have adapted to its new environment and home.

Instructions:

Now is the perfect time to make it familiar with yourself. Again, don't get me wrong, of course you can already start doing this in the first couple of months and during the quilling, you just simply need to be more cautious. I've compiled the best tips for you here based on my personal experience with Mr.Pokee. The adaptation process until your hedgehog will be tame consists of three main steps, that you simply need to follow:

 

1. Habituation

Hedgehogs have very good noses and ears, however, very poor eyesight. Thus, in order to get your hedgehog accustomed to you, you should repeatedly confront it with your scent and your voice. Here are some examples:

  • Take a worn T-shirt and put it in the terrarium.
  • Talk to your hedgehog and call its name again and again.
  • In case you can sing, sing a song - that seems to calm hedgehogs down. (And if you can't sing, just do it anyways, except when nobody is listening - from own experience I know this works.)

2. Reward

Thanks to Pavlov we are familiar with the principle of Classical Conditioning. Pavlov's dog is the best known example: A dog gets food in conjunction with the blade of a bell. After a few repetitions only the simple sound of the bell activates the dog’s salivation. This principle can also be projected onto the hedgehog:

  • Shake the food box, when he's about to be fed.
  • Call its name before he's being fed.

We can also spin the idea a little further: How can we unite this with our goal of getting a hedgehog used to us? This has worked with Mr.Pokee:

  1. Place your hand inside the terrarium and let it sniff it for a while. (He should already know your smell from the T-shirt.)
  2. Slide your hand slowly under its belly and lift it out.
  3. When the hedgehog is already outside of the terrarium sitting on your hands, you may feed it with a mealworm as a reward.

There’s nothing in the world that hedgehogs like better than mealworms. So, by linking the idea of reward with the classical conditioning, you're getting your hedgehog to unconsciously link the preservation of mealworms with your hand and your smell. You should repeat this several times to provoke positive associations.

 

3. Trust

Since your hedgehog has now accustomed to you and if you’re lucky even associates you with the reception of mealworms, you can now start to establish trust. Concerning this, I have two tips for you:

  1. I hope you all have a terrarium, that can be opened from the front instead of the top. Place your terrarium at eye level, because the enemy always comes from above (and you don’t want to be the enemy). Before you take out the hedgehog, lay your hand in front of its nose and let it sniff it until he is ready and no longer grumpy.
  2. Lie down on the bed, turn off the lights and busy yourself with something else (for example, with your smartphone, watch an episode on Netfix with your headphones, read a book, listen to soft music). It is important though, that it’s relatively quiet and as dark as possible. Let it run around on your bed for a couple minutes to hours. Your hedgehog will love this: It will come to you, seek your attention, climb on your phone, climb on you, scurry through your hair, hide under your arm and happily run around.

When you’re at that point and your hedgehog has become used to you and also trusts you, you can take the next step. You now slowly turn it upside down onto its back while it’s in your hand. Lay it down on something soft and slowly move your hand towards its belly. Let it sniff it, so it knows it is you and slowly start massaging its belly. Done! Your hedgehog is now tamed.

Write a comment

Comments: 19
  • #1

    Stefano (Tuesday, 24 May 2016 19:20)

    Ohh, how sweet!! :3

  • #2

    Lina (Wednesday, 02 November 2016 11:12)

    That's so cute <3 im getting a hedgehog too and I can't wait!

  • #3

    Major Duhart (Thursday, 02 February 2017 23:15)


    Greetings! I've been reading your weblog for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  • #4

    Karol Engel (Friday, 03 February 2017 12:18)


    I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I certainly enjoyed every bit of it. I have got you saved as a favorite to look at new stuff you post�

  • #5

    Buford Fulgham (Friday, 03 February 2017 16:03)


    I enjoy what you guys tend to be up too. This sort of clever work and exposure! Keep up the superb works guys I've added you guys to my blogroll.

  • #6

    Jerry Fike (Saturday, 04 February 2017 15:30)


    My family members always say that I am wasting my time here at web, however I know I am getting experience all the time by reading thes good posts.

  • #7

    Jenise Linsley (Sunday, 05 February 2017 12:45)


    Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be running off the screen in Firefox. I'm not sure if this is a format issue or something to do with browser compatibility but I thought I'd post to let you know. The layout look great though! Hope you get the issue fixed soon. Cheers

  • #8

    Ashlyn Sipe (Monday, 06 February 2017 01:01)


    Inspiring quest there. What happened after? Good luck!

  • #9

    Hiram Gorgone (Monday, 06 February 2017 05:23)


    Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they just don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

  • #10

    Lula Selvy (Monday, 06 February 2017 16:03)


    Hi! I know this is kinda off topic nevertheless I'd figured I'd ask. Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My website covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I think we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blog by the way!

  • #11

    Ted Belfield (Wednesday, 08 February 2017 13:18)


    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your webpage? My blog is in the exact same niche as yours and my users would truly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here. Please let me know if this ok with you. Many thanks!

  • #12

    Kyla Prentice (Thursday, 09 February 2017 03:11)

    I really enjoyed this! I have been working on gaining my hedgehogs trust and taming him as well so this content was very useful to me!

  • #13

    Hannah Caves (Thursday, 09 February 2017 13:38)


    Whoa! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a completely different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

  • #14

    Tasia Truss (Thursday, 09 February 2017 19:09)


    Thank you for any other informative website. Where else may just I am getting that kind of info written in such a perfect means? I've a undertaking that I'm just now operating on, and I've been at the look out for such info.

  • #15

    Edison Bentz (Friday, 10 February 2017 02:13)


    This text is priceless. How can I find out more?

  • #16

    Latricia Ayers (Friday, 10 February 2017 02:31)


    WOW just what I was searching for. Came here by searching for %keyword%

  • #17

    Elise (Wednesday, 03 May 2017 21:10)

    This is so helpful!!!! Thank you so much! I have a year old hedgehog who's still anxious and this was SOOOO helpful!!!

  • #18

    Sydney (Sunday, 21 May 2017)

    This is very helpful!!! Thank you. You should do more things like this.

  • #19

    Lauren (Thursday, 17 August 2017 20:12)

    How do I get my hedgehog used to flipping over? Everytime I try she tries to instantly flip back on her feet. I've also tried when she is still a little sleepy and that doesn't seem to work either. Any advice?