Physical Characteristics | Behavior Characteristics | Socialization | Gender Differences

Hedgehog Socialization

Socialization Defined

  • All hedgehog pet owners want a well-socialized hedgehog but the term “well socialized” can have different meanings and contexts.
  • Most hedgehog enthusiasts think of a hedgehog that uncurls, relaxes its spines, and generally appears to enjoy handling as a socialized pet.
  • How a hedgehog gets to this point and stays socialized can have many variables.

Hedgehog Nature

  • Hedgehogs are typically naturally shy creatures that tend to fear the unknown.
  • Their poor eyesight but heightened sense of hearing, motion detection, and emotion detection makes them sensitive to how their environment and how they are handled.
  • When a hedgehog is nervous or scared it will ball up and use its spines not as a form of aggression but as a form of protection.
  • You must prove yourself trustworthy before a hedgehog will completely relax with you.
  • More information on this topic can be found in our Behavior Characteristics guide.
  • Hedgehogs with health issues may also be less responsive to handling.  An uncomfortable or sick animal may rather be left alone.  Quilling is an example of a normal process that can be very uncomfortable for a hedgehog and can impact how the hedgehog prefers to be handled.

Owner Responsibility

  • Proper handling is critical to a well-socialized hedgehog and probably the most important factor in whether or not a hedgehog will make a good pet.
  • Hedgehog owners need to learn to understand a hedgehog’s subtle ways of communicating and behavior and then respond accordingly.
  • Owners also need to learn:
  • When to handle
  • How to pick up and hold a hedgehog
  • What can cause a hedgehog to be scared or nervous
  • Bonding is also an important part of the socialization process and will occur over time
  • Patience is probably the most important virtue in hedgehog socialization and in a new pet owner. 
  • We provide our customers information and tips on this topic in our Care and Handling guides.

Quality Time versus Quantity Time

  • My 10 plus years of experience has led me to believe that the more time spent with an animal does not always equal a better response from an animal.
  • Your actions (quality time) tend to make a larger impact on an animal than the amount of time (quantity time) you spend with that animal.
  • Certainly the amount of time with an animal is important but what you do with the animal during that time is far more important.
  • You can handle a hedgehog the wrong way a long time and get no where in the bonding or socialization process.
  • However, handling your pet the right way and responding to its needs will dramatically speed up the bonding and socialization processes.

Purchasing Socialization

  • Every hedgehog owner wants a friendly, outgoing and well-socialized pet.  As previously discussed, socialization greatly depends on how a hedgehog is handled.
  • Proper handling of your hedgehog before it goes home with you plays a role in how your hedgehog will socialize and bond with you at your home.  A hedgehog that has been poked and prodded at in a pet store is unlikely to be as good of a pet as one that has been properly handled and cared for by a good breeder.
  • Our Purchasing A Hedgehog guide outlines ways that you can ensure you that you get off to a good start with your new pet. 
  • Important purchasing decisions include:
    • Where to purchase
    • What to look for when you buy
    • Selection of a hedgehogs available
    • Choosing a hedgehog
    • Education you will receive at time of purchase
  • Once you have selected and purchased your new pet it is up to YOU to continue the socialization and bonding processes.
  • The Handling and Play guide along with the Care and Acclimation guide we provide our customers are designed to ensure your success.