As a potential or current hedgehog owner, you likely already know that hedgehogs are not your "run of the mill" ordinary pets. In fact, this is probably part of what attracted to you to hedgehogs in the first place! Yet, most people can quickly become frustrated with what they view as their hedgehog's anti-social behavior.
Its only natural to be full of excitement and expectations when a new pet arrives at home – especially one as exciting and unique as a hedgehog. However, it is important to remember that hedgehogs have only been widely domesticated since the 1980's – meaning that wild tendencies and shyness are still an issue. Any new hedgehog is going to be shy and wary around you and your home. This does not mean your hedgehog does not like you or that he or she will never be social – not at all! All this means is that your spikey little friend needs some time to get to know you, your home, and all of the new smells within.
How can you tell if your hedgehog is afraid? You may notice that his or her quills start to raise. This is a sign that you need to ease back as your hedgehog is not ready to be touched.
How can you help your hedgehog learn to trust you? One, by respecting his or her boundaries and not forcing excess contact before your hedgehog is ready. You need to move step by step towards making your hedgehog feel comfortable. One important secret is to place an old T-shirt that smells like you in your hedgehog's cage. This is the fastest way to hekp your hedgehog associate your scent with safety and "home."
When is the best time to approach your hedgehog for playtime or laptime? Not until later afternoon or evening! Do not forget that hedgehogs are primarily nocturnal and most will not appreciate being woken from sleep to be played with.