Pets are the true friends of humans. When they live with their owner for a long time, they sense their behavior, body language, anger, gestures, and voice tone. The pet owners enjoy the fun of sharing quality time with their pets. Among the oldest and most common types of pets providing a pleasant life to their owners and other family members, Hedgehogs are somehow new to the pet world with gaining popularity as unique pets.
New York Times has reported that they have become 70% more prevalent than in the past three years. Imagine spending a good time with your pets- the Hedgehog being one among others. You are walking in your garden or sitting in a chair while pets roam around you.
You hold your cute Hedgehog in your hand and suddenly feel something wrong and painful. Oh, it’s your Hedgehog biting you. You feel discomfort and worry about this cutting feature of your pet. However, it would be best if you did not worry about it as we will familiarize you with Hedgehog bites, the reason for biting, how to avoid them, and what remedy can help you against this.
You must go through the article if you already have a hedgehog in your pet family or are thinking of making it a new addition.
Why Does A Hedgehog Bite?
The school of thought behind this is that every animal bites at some point. It is a typical attitude when they are angry or have other unusual conditions. A person living in the pet environment must be ready for bites that could happen to anyone by any pet. Similar is the case with Hedgehogs; might bite you when they live in captivity.
Many hedgehog owners have experienced the hedgehogs biting their feet at the initial stage of captivity. Biting is not an expected behavior of Hedges, but some recent studies have reported that they might bite using it as a defense mechanism for protection.
Unlike rodents, hedgehogs have flat teeth similar to humans and use them for biting or cutting. They sometimes hold the skin so tightly that it may start bleeding. Whenever a hedgehog bites you, it indicates some hidden issue or underlying cause that is happening to the pet. The best way to avoid biting is to learn why they bite and what to do if they develop this bad habit.
Why Hedgehog Bites – Top Reasons:
If the hedgehog bites rarely or for the first time, keep calm and note the behavior for the next time. If it does it continuously, it’s time to stop it from developing such a bad habit. There could be multiple reasons behind this, including hunger swings, physical discomfort, defense mechanisms, scary attitudes, pain or injury, territorial or unusual smells, etc.
It has been a primary defense mechanism of hedgehogs for ages to bite when they are scared or angry. When upset, it raises their spines, and they may bite others immediately. They curl up into a ball to exhibit a defense mechanism and bite when they feel threatened.
Pain, Injury, Illness, Or Discomfort:
If the hedgehogs suffer from physical discomfort, they will bite you, along with other exceptional signs exhibiting distress. It may bite when it is emotionally upset. A proper warm temperature (23-26 degrees Celsius) is essential for hedgehogs.
Any sudden changes in temperature conditions help them feel uncomfortable, thus forcing them to bite the owner. Nail and hair trimming or other similar cleaning processes have been linked with biting. It annoys the Hedgehog because trimming nails can freak them out.
One of the other causes leading to discomfort is poor handling techniques or keeping it under intense odors. Playing with the Hedgehog, when it is rest time or has no desire for it, holding it in your hands when it needs to move around, or keeping it in a cage, can lead to biting actions. It may often link with a new owner who has no idea how to hold, move, and squeeze them.
Sometimes quilling forces it to bite or may nip on the finger. If suffering from any illness, the hedgie will find a bite to help overcome its pain. It is a typical attitude between humans and animals as we also do negative actions when we are not suffering well.
Stress Or A New Environment:
Hedgie is one of the sweetest and most harmless pets making the training part like walking in the park. Taking them with you for the first time will create a new environment where they might feel uncomfortable, stressed, or helpless. Maybe they are coming from a peaceful place where they live alone, and you take them in the company of other pets making a loud noise.
It will put them in a state of stress, thus pushing them to show anger by biting the owner. The stress level will also increase if they are tired, move to a new home, or do not have a proper and peaceful place to sleep. When you play too much, or at the wrong day times when they have to take a rest, they will react badly by biting you.
Lack Of Basic Training:
Educating or training an animal before making it your pet is necessary. It will help you survive it happily, and you and your pet will start developing a mutual understanding of how to live together. Like all other domestic animals, the Hedgehog also needs basic training or education. Hedgehogs are not traditional domestic animals or pets.
They are new to the pet world. It is the main reason behind their solitary attitude finding it challenging to live with other species or human beings. At the start of petting, they need their own space to live independently. They need daytime sleeping at places where they can sleep without any other interference. So, if the owner forces them to live together or keep waking in the daytime just at the start of their pet world, he manipulates them to bite.
The owner must provide the most appropriate environment and gradually educate it to socialize and play with him. The slow educational process will bring satisfying results so that biting issues can be minimized easily. Also, when a hedgehog bites you, please do not remove your hand immediately, as it may be good practice for getting rid of the owner's hands. Please keep it in your hand so it will never do it again, learning that nothing happens with such an approach.
The delicate pet Hedgehogs have sensitivity to different scents to help find food through the sense of smell. When you keep a hedgehog with you, you will observe it sniffing all around to feel the smell. Hedgehog’s body language is more sensitive to smell than sight, thus using it to get an idea of the surroundings.
They sometimes bite because they sense favorite odors from your hands. If your hands have touched a salty thing, your Hedgehog will bite you while licking this salt. Sometimes people consider the harmless nibble and few licks as cute bites.
If the hands smell bad, that may frighten the Hedgehog; it will also push the pet to cut your hand while licking. The smell of garlic, grease, hairsprays, detergents, and perfumes causes the hedgehogs to nibble at the owner. Biting due to liking is typical but unacceptable and should be avoided initially. It is the easiest way to prevent biting by moving your hand away when the Hedgehog starts licking the hand.
Ways To Communicate:
Animals can’t talk like humans. They need specific gestures, nibbles, or bites to convey their messages. Hedgehogs share the same features as other animals. Sometimes the Hedgehogs bite because they want to say something or make a communication with the owner. It may want to say, It’s time to sleep, stop holding me, I want to move, I am hungry, or many other things. The Hedgehog may bite you to convey that it must be controlled.
Hedgehogs are solitary creatures enjoying their own company without any other interference. Too much handling and holding may cause discomfort or frustration to the tiny animal. How to handle a hedgehog is frequently asked by many pet owners. These introverts run down their temperament if they do not find a proper solitary place. Thus too much handling will lead to hedgehog bites.
Just like human babies who always put everything in their mouths to enjoy and feel them, Hedgehog shares the same behavior. They start licking the owner's hands to touch or enjoy the new phase. Also, they get fascinated with different things in your hand and arm, including nail polish, rings, bracelets, watches, and artificial nails. They will touch them with the mouth; in this practice, you might experience a minute or severe bites.
Sometimes it is expected behavior of animals that they will behave abnormally after getting everything perfect. The Hedgehog will exhibit this unusual behavior by having an unexplained biting reaction. A hedgehog biting its foot and its owner is a common practice that can occur when all procedures, including raring, breeding, feeding, and caring, are perfectly done.
It is somehow a difficult situation and requires you to contact an experienced person or its breeder immediately. One cannot understand why this is happening and how to avoid it, which makes it very difficult
What To Do After A Hedgehog Bites You?
Like all other pets that may sometimes bite you, hedgehog bites are also common. First, train them at the initial stage of petting not to do this again. However, if it happens suddenly or for the very first time, try to teach it immediately.
Regular bites are a sign of danger. If your Hedgehog bites you, you must control your emotions. We know it may appear painful for you, but you must try to avoid any adverse reaction. Some of the valuable things to do after hedgehog bites are:
It’s natural that if something you find hurting, you first throw it away from you. But in the hedgehog bites, try to avoid throwing it away as it will scare your pet. Keep calm and treat it well. If you are holding it and it bites you, you will pull it away or flick its nose, which is unsuitable.
Try the push strategy that includes pushing a finger or hand towards the pet, moving its head away with push, and it will open the jaws. The backward stimulus is not painful for the pet but is somehow uncomfortable.
A loud noise or a cry may scare your pet, but it will let it open its jaws immediately. The hedgehogs are delicate pets and get scared of loud noise, so do not yell or scream. Try to avoid it, but if necessary, shout at the Hedgehog to stop it from biting.
Sudden Air Blow:
When the Hedgehog is biting you, blow a strong puff of air at its face to force him to stop doing the shit. One or more blows will prevent it from harmful action. It will make it to open the jaws and stop doing it. Combining Air blow with a Pushing finger and loud noise can stop it more effectively.
If you want your Hedgehog to stop further bites, never punish it. Punishing through different means, including restricting foods, ignoring the pet, and not cuddling with it, may not work ultimately. These reactions will create further stress and anger. An animal has no idea how to link the present punishment with past acts; it will never understand why its food has been restricted, so try to avoid such foolish strategies.
No Reaction To The Bite:
Another technique that most Hedgehog owners favor is the No-response mechanism. Some experienced owners claim that if you bear the pain and ignore biting, it will bring nothing special for the Hedgehog. The Hedgehog will find it natural that it obtains nothing from it, including attention, fear, or any other thing, so it will stop doing it again. We do not recommend this method as it might take a long time for the Hedgehog to open its jaws; also, bearing it for a long time is not easy for everyone.
If your Hedgehog bites you and is unwilling to open its jaws, try the methods mentioned above. If no positive response occurs, immediately put the Hedgehog under the tap running water to let it stop from biting. Some experienced Hedgie owners recommend applying alcohol to the nose, but it is not entirely practical. It may irritate the pet so the biting action will take longer.
How To Prevent Hedgehog Bites?
If you are getting bites frequently, you must try different strategies. Try various ‘preventive measures’ before biting results in a difficult situation. Here we share some common and simple ways to let your Hedgehog not develop this habit or stop it from further bites.
- Wash hands regularly after every meal or before touching the pet. It will reduce the food smell. Try to use hand sanitizer that does not carry the favorite scent of hedgehogs.
- The owner must understand hedgehogs’ hunger, sleep, and rest times and make them comfortable by providing suitable conditions. It will stop them from any adverse reaction, including bites.
- The tiny creature is an introvert avoiding frequent socialization and interactions. Make a schedule for interacting with it at the optimal time. Get information from other hedgehog owners or try different day times for interaction. Once you find the most suitable time, keep sticking to it.
- A hungry tummy is the most dangerous thing of all. The Hedgehog, if hungry, is more prone to bite rather than with a full belly. Try to maintain their feeding schedule to help continue the positive attitude.
- A proper understanding of hedgehog body language is essential in preventing biting actions. If it bites while licking, try to avoid licking action by moving it somewhere else. Look at their quills as a calm hedgehog will have smooth quills without standing at the ends. If the quills are sharp, they are aggressive, and it’s time to leave them back in their place.
- Try to avoid licking action but if the Hedgehog has developed this habit, try to force it to lick your palm rather than your fingers. It will minimize the risk of biting because biting at the palm is difficult.
Food odors will remain on your hands for hours so try to wash your hands with a strong scent or two to three times so the Hedgehog will not sense it properly.
Diseases Transmitted Through Hedgehog Bites:
Living in a close relationship with your pet allows you to live life to the fullest. Oh, some crucial factors must be considered before coming close to the animals. Nearly all animals carry risks of a few diseases transmitted to humans. We termed these diseases as Zoonotic.
Do hedgehogs also transmit diseases to humans? Yes, they do so. It's a natural phenomenon observed in all animals living close to humans. Some of the most common types of diseases, including viral, bacterial, parasitic, and fungal, that researchers have reported being caused by Hedgehogs are as follows:
Parasitic Hedgehog Diseases And Infections:
Cryptosporidium- a species of parasite living in soil, water, and food may get transmitted to humans through Hedgehog bites. The pet will take the parasite through water and food and spread it to humans. The human body’s accumulation of parasites includes common symptoms like vomiting, cough, and diarrhea with a mild attack. Always use clean and filtered water for your pet or, if possible, make them drink bottled water to avoid the risk of parasitic diseases.
Bacterial diseases have been commonly associated with hedgehog bites. The Hedgehog's body language and living style allow bacteria to get into the body and spread to humans through bites.
Salmonella has been reported to be most commonly associated with Hedgehogs. The animal can spread it quickly to humans if it carries enough strains of salmonella, resulting in diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Salmonella is a foodborne disease that can be avoided through some preventive measures.
Give adequately cooked food to the hedgehogs and touch their food after hand washing. Good sanitary practices and properly cooked food can save the owner from spreading salmonella infections through hedgehog bites.
The bacterial disease Yersinia pseudotuberculosis is rarely reported to be associated with Hedgehogs. The foodborne bacteria live in the colon, where they can cause abdominal cramping, fever, rashes, or even bloody stools in severe cases. You can easily prevent the hedgehogs from ingesting the bacteria by not giving them raw meat or partially cooked food.
Viral Hedgehog-Related Diseases:
Rabies- a severe disease of humans, has been reported to be associated with hedgehog bites, but only 2-3% of cases have been found that may carry it due to hedgehogs. Undoubtedly, a hedgehog will only bring the risk if some other animal with rabies virus bites it or comes close to your pet; otherwise, a hedgehog living in your home in a clean environment is safe from it.
Numerous Herpes Simplex Virions:
Herpes, including herpes simplex, is one of the most concerning diseases that have shown some relation with Hedgehog pets during necropsy. The Hedgehog could be a carrier of herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2, taking it from the old home to the new wner's home without the new owner having an idea about it. The control measures include:
- Not touching the pet without gloves
- Washing hands properly
- Keeping it away before having its thorough medical checkup
Fungal Diseases Linked With Hedgehogs:
Ringworms, scientifically known as Trichophyton mentagrophytes, are probably the most common fungal diseases frequently reported by the owners of hedgehogs. Candida- yeast in nearly all mammalians and other animals may get transmitted between humans and hedgehogs if its amount crosses the limits.
How Do You Treat A Hedgehog Bite?
Hedgehog bites are not very severe, and they rarely cause bleeding. If you experience a small bite, immediately wash your hands with an antibacterial soap to help prevent the risk of microbial attacks. If it results in rare bleeding, immediately wash the infected area with water hand wash, and apply antibiotic ointment.
It would be best if you use a bandage to stop it from bleeding. When you experience a bite, put them back into the cage. Do not shout as it may scare them; try to bear the tiny pinches smartly.
How Much Pain Do Hedgehogs Bite Cause?
One common question that arises among potential hedgehog owners is, “Do Hedgehogs Bite?” Hedgehogs do not have sharp teeth like dogs and cats. Their bites are less painful than other animals, like rodents and dogs. Their bites only cause redness or rash. In some rare cases, bleeding has been reported after hedgehog bites. Though bites are undoubtedly painful, they are not as much as you think.
Is Hedgehog Bite Infectious?
Hedgehog bites are similar to other mild skin injuries. It is always at risk of becoming infected. According to research, skin injury becomes infectious only when the bacteria living in an open environment come into contact with the skin injury or wound.
If the Hedgehog is 100% healthy and bites a healthy person, it will not carry a severe risk of infection. The chances of infection are indicated by redness and swelling around the wound. Applying a cleansing cream or bandage will reduce the risk of disease to a maximum level. It is best practice to use tetanus shots or injections as a precautionary measure before any severe infection occurs.
How Strong Is A Hedgehog Bite?
Hedgehogs are not naturally biters like some other animals. They bite their fingers, thinking of it as a feeding thing at an early age. Typically their bites are not too hard, or you feel like a pinching syringe. Adult hedgehogs have two small rabbit-like front teeth that are sharper than young ones.
When the adult bites, its teeth penetrate the skin, and you need a tug of war to help remove the penetration. However, these types of severe bites are infrequent.
Can I Get Rabies From A Hedgehog?
Diseases transmitted through animals to humans are termed zoonotic diseases. Hedgehog bites are also liable to cause zoonotic diseases in humans. Rabies is associated with Hedgehog bites, but sporadic cases have been reported till now.
If the Hedgehog is your pet living away from wild animals, its bite will never carry rabies or any other viral disease. If the Hedgehog causes rabies, it might be related to another hedgehog carrying rabies germs.
Is It Safe To Touch The Hedgehog?
From a biting point of view, touching and holding the hedgehogs is very safe. It might carry some germs and microbes considering the other microbiological and safety aspects. The Hedgehog takes a lot of things that a human may get and develop.
Ticks are often present in the body of hedgehogs and are very dangerous for human beings. These ticks are harmful to hedgehogs and other animals, even to humans, by bringing bacteria if they get stuck to the body. Other than ticks, worms, lungworms, mites, fleas, and ringworms are sometimes present on the hedgehog’s skin. We recommend washing hands after every touch will reduce the risk of contact.
Are Hedgehogs Aggressive?
No, it is not so. The hedgehogs have a solitary lifestyle requiring proper time to sit alone and enjoy their own company. They run away from human beings when they encounter them for the very first time. However, the sharp needles on their back can irritate you after penetrating the skin.
Sometimes it results in itching leading to redness and rashes. Some people have claimed nausea and fever after experiencing needle penetration; however, it does not hold any evidence. As far as aggressiveness is concerned, this tiny creature is humble and loving.
How Much Duration Does A Hedgehog Need To Sleep?
Hedgehogs have a fantastic reputation for being sleepy and lazy all the time. Hedgehog body language shows its lazy attitude by moving slowly or having its eyes closed all the time. The tiny introvert creature needs an unusual sleep time of 18-20 hours daily.
The cute Hedgehogs typically characterized as (non-biters) are somehow new to (pet life) in the United States. Their reputation as a pet is good enough that a person without getting any fear can adopt them quickly. It’s time to open the book with some significant facts.
Yes, like all other pets, hedgehogs also have teeth and bite sometimes. It is not their usual behavior, but one can encounter it sometimes. Why do new owners often ask about hedgehog bites? We have done thorough research on this matter and reached the point that it could be due to physical discomfort, injury, or other similar issues. Moving a hedgehog to a new place can force them to bite other animals or humans.
We have shared multiple reasons for biting, ways to prevent bites, and how to react if your pet bites you. One must know how to avoid, train, and combat hedgehog bites and, if any severe biting occurs, what to do to get it treated well. Like a human child, a pet also needs basic training and learning. So try to train the pet how to live and get socialized, no matter how much time it may take.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What Happens When A Hedgehog Bites You?
A hedgehog has small teeth like humans, not typical incisors of rodents or sharp carnivorous canines. Typically they do not bite; however, you might not feel it very painful if they bite you. You will feel somehow uncomfortable or irritated, but its pain is not like the pain of a dog or a cat bite.
How much pain you will feel depends on the type and severity of the bites. If it is on softer skin between fingers, it will harm you more than on the finger bone.
Do Hedgehog Bites Hurt?
Hedgehogs can bite, but their bites are typically not very painful.