Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs Like To Cuddle?


Pygmy hedgehog being held

Being able to cuddle her African Pygmy Hedgehog was very important for my daughter. She wanted to form a bond with her hedgehog and be able to care for him.

Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs like to cuddle? Some African Pygmy Hedgehogs do like to cuddle especially if they are babies and if they feel at ease with their owners, whilst other hedgehogs may not like too much human contact. Each hedgehog has its own personality that defines how they interact with their owners.

Some are grumpy, some are excitable, some look cheery and happy, others look miserable. Depending on the personality traits your hedgehog exhibits, the likelihood of being able to cuddle and bond will be defined by this in the short term.

Be careful too when trying to cuddle your hedgehog, remember they are still an animal and can bite. They may do this if they become stressed out and it’s important to make sure you understand when your hedgehog is becoming overly stressed.

Generally, if they are wriggling, twitching and moving their head a lot and trying to get away constantly then it’s important to put them down, ideally back into their cage and try maybe the next day to try to cuddle with your hedgehog.

Please be patient as it can take time to build a bond which allows you to hold and cuddle your hedgehog without stressing them as well as yourself out.

How to pick up your African Pygmy Hedgehog?

My daughter scoops her hedgehog up using both hands and it’s important to know how you pick your hedgehog up as they can try to wriggle away. Once she has him in her hand, she knows there’s a trick to try to cuddle a hedgehog and it involves letting him lie in her hands.

My daughter picks up our hedgehog and places him in her hands in a way where he cuddles up in her palms. Occasionally he has been known to fall asleep whilst doing this. This is a great way to bond with your hedgehog and better still you can carry on watching TV when you’re doing this as we do.

Wearing gloves to handle your hedgehog is going to make it difficult to cuddle with them as they won’t be able to work out the smell of whoever is handling them.

Initially, we made the mistake of using gloves to take him out of his cage and this is probably why we thought he was so grumpy and we would never be able to tame him. However, when the gloves were off and we were brave enough to pick him up, his aggression towards us subsided over time.

Can you bond with grumpy African Pygmy Hedgehogs?

We originally thought the grumpy hedgehogs would be the most difficult to get a bond with but our hedgehog was very grumpy when we first had him and I still remember the conversation I had in my daughter where she was adamant she could get him tame within six months. In fact, she managed to do it a lot sooner than that, simply by spending time with him almost every evening.

It’s important to remember African Pygmy Hedgehogs are generally loners so don’t need the level of attention a dog, for example, would need. Meaning cuddling with them for prolonged periods of time is not essential.

Just them knowing who you are through your scent is a good starter, from which building up a bond to be able to rub their belly or their spines (should you choose!) can be developed further.

We had a friend come round who without listening to our warnings tried to pick the hedgehog up to cuddle him, only to realize the pain from the hedgehog’s quills. Fortunately, we were able to grab the hedgehog before they nearly dropped them.

What’s the best time to cuddle an African Pygmy Hedgehog?

When they wake up, they are only interested in finding food and if they are still groggy and you pick them up, they may hiss at you and become aggrieved. It’s best to wait a little while, let them eat something and have a poop before you try to cuddle up with them. Otherwise, they may become unruly and worse still poop on you.

If it’s cold, we find our hedgehog just wants to go to sleep in our hands and this could be down our hands providing a nice snugly heat source for them to sleep on.

Can you build a bond with your African Pygmy Hedgehog?

Yes, you can build a bond with your hedgehog and building a bond is very important if you want to cuddle them. By spending at least fifteen minutes with your hedgehog each evening, lets them get used to you and allows a bond to be built.

We didn’t do this immediately when we brought our hedgehog as our hedgehog breeder had advised us to make sure the hedgehog go used to their surroundings first before we tried any contact with them.

It must have been strange for our hedgehog to come into new surroundings with a new cage, so many new smells to get used to and the noises too. Our neighbour has a dog which you can sometimes hear barking next door, so this was another noise our hedgehog had to feel comfortable with.

After about a week, we made our first contact since bringing him home and he was very grumpy and aggressive towards us, which is understandable, he didn’t know who we were and whether we were friend or foe.

When we started to try and pick him up with our hands, as initially, we were using a blanket because we were worried about his spines, this didn’t always go to plan. So we changed tack and made sure we got him used to our scent first. My daughter put in one of her old t-shirts which hadn’t been washed so it would definitely have her scent on it, into his cage.

He explored the t-shirt, moving inside the t-shirt and then out of the holes for the arms. This allowed him to build up an association for my daughter’s scent, so when she put her hand near him, he would know the smell of the hands was a friendly smell.

Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs like being petted?

My daughter does stroke our hedgehog across his spines and I tried to do that but found it hurts when I do it, possibly down to the medication I’ve been using for a number of years which has the side effect of thinning the skin on my hands.

So petting for me involves moving my hand towards his face so he can smell who I am and then moving my hand halfway down his body, where I can start rubbing his belly.

I remember when I was home alone one day as the rest of the family had gone shopping and a friend popped round. I had our hedgehog out, as I was cleaning his cage and was rubbing his belly whilst holding him and my friend was amazed at how calm the hedgehog was. In fact, this also made me calm and relaxed too, so it was a double bonus.

We always take care to pet our hedgehog when he’s we’re holding him or he’s in our laps as trying to do this whilst he’s in the cage can cause him to jump and this can lead to injury from the spines hitting your hand hard. The jumping is because hedgehogs don’t have good eyes sight so all they’ll see is this something large coming overhead causing them to panic.

Can you get salmonella cuddling African Pygmy Hedgehogs?

You have to be careful when it comes to cuddling hedgehogs as there have been a number of cases of owners picking up salmonella[1]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported twenty-seven cases across seventeen states in the US with two hospitalizations.

I’ve reviewed the information on their website about how to avoid getting salmonella and discussed it with my daughter. Her first comment was why would anyone want to kiss their hedgehog?

Exactly, why? This one of the common reasons why some people have managed to get salmonella from their hedgehogs as they’ve kissed and snuggled up with hedgehogs, spreading salmonella germs from the hedgehog to their face and mouths.

It’s also vitally important to wash your hands after you’ve been handling your hedgehog and we have a set routine to do this. So from normal day to day handling, to bathing him or just cleaning out his cage we always wash our hands with soap and water. You can also use a <a href="https://“>hand sanitizer, just make sure it’s alcohol-free, as otherwise, it could dry your hands.

It doesn’t matter how much contact we’ve had with the hedgehog, even if we’ve just touched his toy, swapped his running wheel, it’s always a good scrub with soap and water for our hands.

We avoid cleaning any of the hedgehog’s toys including the running wheel anywhere near we cook and clean cooking utensils, like in the kitchen and using the kitchen sink. We have a small shower room downstairs away past our utility room and we do all the cleaning of his items there.

If your hedgehog poops anywhere other than in his cage, it’s important to remove this and clean the area immediately. When this happens, one of us moves the hedgehog away whilst the other removes the poop by using a tissue and then gets a disinfectant wipe to wipe the area clean.

Taking care to keep the hedgehog well away from the disinfectant wipes as they do have a pungent odour which may cause distress to our hedgehog.

Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs get stressed from cuddling?

Watch out for the tell-tale signs of stress and try to limit the effects of stress by putting your hedgehog back into their cage to relax. The signs for stress as said earlier can include intense wriggling and trying to get away, to green poop (food isn’t digested properly), to intense hissing and biting.

Getting a bond with your hedgehog to be able to cuddle them takes effort to build and time. It shouldn’t be rushed and above all your hedgehog’s health must come first.

Related Questions

Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs bond with their owners? Yes, pygmy hedgehogs can bond with their owner but you have to be patient as they are not like a traditional pet such as a cat or a dog.

Do African Pygmy Hedgehogs bite? They can bite if they feel threatened and many people get bitten because they fail to take simple steps to ensure they don’t get bitten.

[1]Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Pet Hedgehogs

Bal Kang

Hi I'm Bal together with my daughter Jinnee, we've created this website about African Pygmy Hedgehogs. We've learnt a lot looking after our hedgehog Hynee and share our knowledge, tips and tricks.

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