You have probably stumbled on cute pictures of adorable hedgehogs lying on their back while being belly rubbed. But once you tried this on yours, you noticed that your hedgehog doesn’t seem to love being placed on their back.
So, why does my hedgehog not like being on its back? Your hedgehog dislikes being on its back because it’s a prey animal and instinctively won’t like the position because it feels very exposed. Additionally, your hedgehog protects itself using the quills on its back, so the position practically renders it defenseless. Being belly up and exposed is against your hedgehog’s survival instincts; therefore, hedgehogs won’t readily accept an attempt to have them that way.
Some hedgehogs eventually allow their owners to lay them down on their backs while others continue to clamor on their feet desperately. Understanding the root of this behavioral reaction is the road to discovering whether or not your hedgehog will ever let you lay them on their backs. Therefore, read on to understand whether hedgehogs like being on their back, if they can get off their backs, and if they sleep on their backs.
Do Hedgehogs Like Laying on Their Backs?
Hedgehogs are quite new to domestication compared to other conventional pets like dogs and cats. Therefore, it can get a bit confusing to figure out exactly what they like and what they don’t.
Generally, hedgehogs are afraid of being on their backs. As mentioned, the position makes them very vulnerable and practically defenseless. The fear is the reason hedgehogs will fight being placed on their backs. However, hedgehogs can warm up to lying on their backs. Since their dislike is based on the fear of attack, they just require enough trust in the person handling them to lay down their guard and defenses.
As you continue to bond with your hedgehog, eventually, they will realize you mean them no harm and begin to allow you to lay them on their backs.
Hedgehogs that have bonded enough with their owners enjoy being on their backs, especially for tummy rubs. Once a hedgehog allows it, they freely accept to be laid on their backs and enjoy the belly rubs. However, some hedgehogs will never warm up to the idea of being on their backs, especially not for belly rubs.
You’ll notice this if your hedgehog, over time, even after earning their trust, still hisses at you when you attempt to give them a belly rub. For such hedgehogs, the best thing to do is accept that laying down on their back position just isn’t their thing.
Can Hedgehogs Get off Their Backs?
Most animals, such as tortoises and turtles, hate being on their backs because they can’t easily flip themselves over without external help. Therefore, can your hedgie get off its back?
Hedgehogs can get off their backs but will take their time. Getting off their backs by themselves isn’t the easiest task, especially if it’s bigger in size. It’s not uncommon for hedgehogs to land on their backs while going about their explorations in your house and remain stuck for some time before managing to turn over.
A hedgehog will take about fifteen to thirty seconds to get off their backs on their own after several uncoordinated attempts. However, your hedgehog should eventually manage to get themselves back on their feet without any help. If yours is not able, it’s prudent to see a veterinarian about it, just to make sure that their spine is okay.
Do Hedgehogs Sleep on Their Backs?
Many hedgehog owners get amused by their hedgehog’s choice of sleeping position, particularly when the hedgehogs feel comfortable and safe. So, is sleeping on their backs an option for hedgehogs?
Hedgehogs can sleep on their backs. In fact, for some, this is their best sleeping position. Usually, the hedgehog lies on its back while curled in a ‘C’ position with its feet in the air. They will take a minute or two to get off their backs when they need to, but this does not deter them from sleeping in this position.
Some hedgehogs prefer to sleep on their side while splatted out on their stomach. Others will curl up into a loose ball with their backs shoved up the door or walls to their igloo’s. It’s a comfortable position that the majority of hedgehogs prefer to sleep in.
An alternative position that some hedgehogs choose to sleep instead of on their backs is rolled up in a ball position lying on their tummy. Hedgehogs are prone to rolling up into a ball, especially when protecting themselves. Some find the position comfortable for sleeping too.
A hedgehog’s sleeping position is dependent on its emotional state. When a hedgehog is feeling nervous or annoyed, it’s most likely to sleep when curled up. When happy, relaxed and content, especially after a tummy rubbing session, a hedgehog is most likely to sleep on its back. On days when the hedgehog is full and content, it will sleep on its side.
Hedgehogs are majorly nocturnal, so expect yours to sleep a lot. They’ll sleep about ninety-five percent on the day and night, nothing to worry about; it’s perfectly normal.
How To Lay a Hedgehog on Its Back
As much as hedgehogs naturally oppose lying on their backs out of fear, having them on their back is beneficial to them and their owners. It’s a lot easier to perform health checks and nail clipping on them in this position.
Putting your hedgehog on its back will first require a start. So, if the two of you have not bonded enough or in a while, maybe press pause to the process and bond a little more. If your hedgehog does not completely trust you, you will not manage to have them successfully lay on their back no matter what you do.
To start off the process, hold your hedgehog in one hand. Have your other hand out in the open, then put it on its back slowly. Flip your hedgehog carefully and slowly but not flat on its back. Use your hand to sort of cup around them and have them seated up a bit.
If your hedgehog moves frantically and behaves like it is not enjoying the process, then stop. The key is to support their head, be calm and slow, if unhappy, do right by the hedgehog by letting it go. Sometimes, you have to push through with the process, especially if it was for nail trimming and such. However, if you want to lay the hedgehog just for the sake, don’t force it if they are unwilling.
Social Needs of a hedgehog
Pets offer great companionship. In return, you must meet the needs of your pet. However, hedgehogs are not the most social but will still have social needs.
A Hedgehog is a great pet option for people who have sufficient time to interact and handle it daily, including socializing. Hedgehogs do quite well when housed alone, and you do not necessarily have to adopt other hedgehogs to give them company. However, you need to allow them time outside their cage at least once daily for social interaction and exercise.
Hedgehogs require patient pet owners; they are notoriously shy and will use their back muscles to roll up into a tight ball that hides their face. Their spiny quills, in that position, point out to their predators, which often the hedgehog perceives as you or members of your household. Hedgehogs require a patient owner to understand their fear and constantly feel threatened since they are prey animals.
Hedgehogs need an owner that takes them out of their cages and helps them learn to interact. It’s the constant out-of-cage time that makes a hedgehog comfortable with being handled. The interruptions gradually make hedgehogs less afraid of people.
Hedgehogs are nocturnal, which might not excite light sleepers. You’ll constantly hear the sound of a wheel running at night when the hedgehog is running. The advantage of their nocturnal lifestyle is that they will sleep for several hours during the day, making them ideal for the pet owner that prefers and can only manage to interact with their pets at later hours of the evening.
The skin on the back of a hedgehog is filled with prickly quills, much like those of a porcupine, to protect them from predators. The difference is that unlike porcupines, the hedgehogs cannot shoot their quills out as a defense.
The pointed quills in a hedgehog may at times make them difficult to hold. Unless your kids are old enough to keep up with your rules, hedgehogs may not be the best pets for families with kids. The quills may also not be the best for individuals with sensitive skin.
Hedgehogs are little insect-eating mammals that live for an average of four to seven years when they are kept as pets. They are timid little animals that can get very interactive when socialized properly.
Hedgehogs make terrific pets when socialized with proper interaction. The more you interact with your hedgehog, the more you learn about your hedgehog. With time, you will learn how to place your hedgehog on its back without struggle; you’ll also learn your hedge’s best positions. Keeping a hedgehog, like any other pet, is a journey that requires patience.