Why Is My Hedgehog Running Around Like Crazy? (Weird)


It is vital to know all your pet’s behaviors in order to be prepared for any surprises. Besides the cute faces and tiny paws, your hedgehog may display some worrying habits like acting crazy or running around hysterically. Therefore, you need to know the cause and how to calm them down.

So, why do hedgehogs run around like crazy? Primarily, hedgehogs run around when they are agitated or stressed since they get scared of unfamiliar faces or more giant animals. Secondly, they do it due to ear or back problems. If the ear infections extend to cause neurological issues, the condition may cause imbalance, making the hedgie keep running around in circles. Lastly, courting may be behind it since they portray the behavior when in the wild during the mating season.

A hedgehog running around in circles is instinctive behavior, while other times, your pet may be suffering from an illness. Read on as we tell you the primary reasons for hedgehogs running in circles, whether you should let them run around, and how to calm them down.

Can You Let Hedgehogs Run Around?

Hedgehogs running around is nothing new. Most pet books have highlighted that it happens, although not frequently. Notably, hedgehogs do it even when they are in perfect shape, and some go for minutes or even hours. Therefore, you may wish to bring them out of their cage to see what would happen if they run around the house.

You can let your hedgehog run around in the house, but it is not recommendable unless you put in place specific measures. There must be a lot of food, and the area should be of the right temperature level and lighting. You also need to check for any other hazards such as stairs, holes, and large spaces under doors.

However, letting them run around has disadvantages because they may leave their excrements all over the room and climb onto easily accessible top surfaces. Therefore, you need to supervise them at all times when you let them freely roam.

Wild hedgehogs run miles to keep in shape, and this is why owners set up wheels for them to exercise as much as they need to. Some also choose to let them run around in the house, but experts do not recommend it. There are several risks associated with getting them out of their usual cages. They may get dehydrated, lost, or injured in the process.

Hedgehog running on exercise wheel

Before you allow them, you need to ascertain that the place is entirely hedgie-proof. The concern is that they tend to hide in small holes or cracks and under raised surfaces. If you let them move, the chances are high that you may lose them, and locating these tiny creatures is nerve-wracking. Apart from hiding, they may are also get lost when they fail to find their way back in their enclosure. Hence, they tend to escape and disappear.

Secondly, you have to set up proper lighting and provide food and water bowls around the house. You also need to injury-proof your house, as they may also get injured when they fall on stairs or jump from high ground. Lastly, you will have to frequently clean up their droppings because they also tend to excrete when running.

The best way to go about it is to provide them with a sizeable wheel to exercise while in their cages. That way, they will be safe, and you won’t have to worry about them ripping apart or pooping all over your expensive carpets!

Why Is My Hedgehog Running in Circles?

Hedgehogs run a lot at night because they are primarily nocturnal animals. Even when they are in good health, they can go three to ten kilometers moving around in their cage. It is one reason why experts require that it is best to build them a large enclosure.

Hedgehogs are typically active animals; therefore, you don’t need to worry about seeing them running around in most cases. They do it when exercising and is a clear sign of good health.

However, it may be stress-related, connected to certain illnesses, or to signify the mating season. When they have infections or are under duress, they tend to run around in circles. Once you realize any anomalies, it is wise to take the necessary actions to find out why and help them calm down.

Read on for more reasons why your hedgie may be running in circles.

1. Infections

Hedgehogs also suffer from diseases and infections, making them run in a circular and clockwise/ anticlockwise direction. Researchers have established that your hedgehog may run around in circles due to severe illness and irritation on the hedgehogs ear or back.

If it is an ear problem, you will find it tilting its head and running around hoping that the discomfort would go away. If instead, it is on its back, maybe on the tail or anal region, the animal will fight to try to reach for its tail to eliminate the irritation. Consequently, it will move over and over again in circles.

2. Brain Problems

Brain issues and damages are usually caused by mishandling or head injuries after falling but more commonly can arise from tumors and cancers, which can be common in hedgehogs over the age of three.

These issues are likely to lead to constant circling and rotating, which is primarily involuntary. Apart from head injuries, the hedgehog may have an ear infection that spreads to the brain leading to neural issues such as seizures.

There is an effective way to differentiate between normal behavior and neurological problems. For brain conditions, the animal cannot change the circling direction and maintains it for a while. On the other hand, a healthy hedgie will rotate in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction and keep changing the order.

3. Stress

Animals also get disturbed and threatened when there are drastic changes in their environment. Your hedgehog probably behaves weird because you have brought it to a new tank or introduced it to an unfamiliar face. In other cases, they may do it when their cage is too tiny, which also stresses them out.

Similarly, they may get scared of other bigger pets living in the house. As a result, they may start running around in circles, trying to relieve the stress levels. Although there is no concrete scientific research to support this argument, many keepers believe it’s a possible reason for the circular motion.

4. Courting

Some experts also argue that hedgehogs can move in circles in groups during the mating period while in the wild. During this period, the male hedgehogs may become noisy and run around as they try to seduce the females. This ritual may take longer as they all puff and snort.

Simultaneously, rivaling males can face each other until the toughest male is left standing, winning over the female. However, running around due to mating rarely happens with single pet hedgehogs. 

How Do I Get My Hedgehog To Calm Down?

Hedgehogs are excellent pets when they get used to their habitat and their owner. Therefore, as a keeper, you must take ample time to understand how they behave when they are in good health and when they are ill.

You can make your hedgehog relax by providing proper housing in which they don’t feel squeezed and ensure that they are always healthy with regular visits to an exotic pet vet. Always remember to check the animal’s physical health, for it significantly influences their behavior. Finally, it is advisable to secure a proper-sized wheel for your pet to exercise on, but ensure that it is a perfect fit, not too small or too giant.

Initially, you can start by socializing with the pet to get them to relax around you and fully trust you. Try to hold your pet at least once a day and stroke them whenever you can. Practice touching its head, face, and body to let it recognize and register your scent.

Afterward, you can carry him slowly while wrapped in a towel to avoid being pricked if the animal becomes hysterical in the process. Do it continuously until you become great friends where you can hold him without struggling.

A wheel will also do wonders to help your pet ease the stress and exercise to keep in shape. By regularly working out, your hedgie can boost its immunity and get rid of the boredom from being in the cage for too long.

Buy a good wheel, especially recommended for hedgehogs, or consult your vet since some wheels will affect the pet’s health by causing injuries to its legs, joints, and other body parts.

Also, prioritize seeking medical attention once you recognize unusual characteristics on your pet because delayed responses may lead to the dispatch of your buddy due to infections that would have otherwise been treatable.

Hedgehogs Are Active Animals

Since hedgehogs are primarily active at night than during the day, their circling, combined with the noise, may interfere with your sleep. However, if you give them a comfortable surrounding, they will have peace of mind; hence, reduced activities. For instance, you can provide a wheel to run on; it will be good exercise, and they won’t get bored in their tank.

Moreover, being on the wheel will be safer, and you won’t need to worry about them getting injuries when running around the house in circles. Lastly, if you have a hunch that something is off with your pet or the circling becomes too frequent, it is best to call in an expert. In the meantime, you can try to make their environment as conducive as possible.

Bal Kang

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

Recent Posts