Hedgehog Biting Problems? (Tips and Behavior Checked Out)


Hedgehogs are increasingly becoming popular as household pets, and I found that understanding their behavior was crucial to ensure they remain happy and healthy in captivity. One of the common behaviors of a hedgehog in captivity is biting its feet, this was initially quite concerning to me as it would be for many owners out there.

So, why do hedgehogs bite their feet? Hedgehogs will bite their feet due to stress or poor cage conditions. In captivity, stressors may include loud noises, mites, or illness. Failure to install the wheel in your pet’s cage will also cause stress due to boredom.

A bored hedgehog will find other activities to do to keep busy, including biting their feet. To prevent this, I made sure my hedgehog had toys to distract them and a hedgehog wheel for my pet to climb and exercise.

If you want to know why hedgehogs bite their feet, this is the ultimate guide for you. I will help you know why your hedgehog is biting himself, how to stop a hedgehog from biting, whether hedgehogs can bite hard, why your hedgehog bites you, and why your hedgehog is biting the carpet. Read through the rest of the sections to these strange behaviors.

A hedgehog will bite if triggered by a factor in its environment. Biting is a way of communicating that something is wrong, and a diligent owner should address the underlying cause before the damage is severe.

A hedgehog will bite itself due to mite infestation, an allergic reaction, or a behavioral issue. If your pet has an infection or is infested by mites, it will experience irritation and bite itself. These bites may be on specific locations, but the only way to rule them out is to visit the vet. Your vet will do a skin culture to establish a mite infestation or infection and prescribe accordingly.

Food and bedding allergies could also trigger your pet to bite itself. Urea is the most common allergen in hedgehogs. This allergy results when your hedgehog pees and poops while on the wheel, and you take time to clean it. An allergic hedgehog will have red skin, and its biting will begin a few days after the bath.

Hedgehogs will also chew themselves due to a behavioral problem. In this case, your pet will develop a desire to bite anything. This behavior is triggered by anxiety and putting your pet in a peaceful space will alleviate this behavior. Tooth issues and excess weight may also cause your pet to bite itself. The males will bite themselves while attempting to remove sticky sperm from their bodies.

How Do You Stop a Hedgehog from Biting?

Hedgehogs require attention in terms of care and understanding its behavior to ensure it lives its whole lifespan in captivity. A hedgehog biting itself will inflict serious wounds, which, if untreated, will become infected and fatal. Preventing this behavior by addressing the cause is necessary to ensure your pet’s survival.

If you suspect that your hedgehog is biting itself due to mite infestation or illness, you should take it to the vet for diagnosis. Your vet will recommend treatment depending on the cause to relieve your pet.

Where biting is due to a urea reaction, ensure you clean your hedgehog and its wheel after it litters. Alternatively, you can litter train your hedgehog and provide a litter box in its cage to save yourself the hassle of daily cleaning.

Where anxiety causes biting, relocate your pet’s cage to a quiet environment. This should be away from loud electronics and people. Hedgehogs can tolerate the sound of your air conditioning and PC. For instance, setting their cage in your office area may relieve their anxiety.

You can also provide or cover your pet with a fleece blanket when the urge to bite develops to prevent it from injuring itself. You can give it a bath when this urge comes, such that it will not be able to bite itself without wetting its nose. After the bath, you can further discourage biting by dimming the lights and eliminating any cause of anxiety until the urge disappears.

Also, a hedgehog will bite its feet if it is allergic to the bedding. Replacing its current bedding with a paper towel or fleece will alleviate this allergic reaction. If you try the above options, but your pet still bites its feet, you should take it to the vet for diagnosis and treatment to prevent infection through open wounds.

Can Hedgehogs Bite Hard?

Generally, even the friendliest pets will bite you when provoked. A hedgehog is not an exception, and if you are planning to get one, you should be prepared for this. However, most hedgehog bites are not malicious; hence, avoidable should you take time to understand your pet.

Hedgehogs bite, but their bite is not as hard as that of rodents. Unlike rats and hamsters, which have sharp gnawing teeth, hedgehogs have flat teeth similar to human teeth. Their teeth are designed to bite and crunch insects. Thus, their nip will feel like a pressure pinch than a hard bite.

Depending on the reason and where they bite, the bite may be painful or even break your skin, but this is a rare case. A bite that results from aggression is likely to hurt or break skin than a bite out of curiosity. Finger bites will also hurt less than arm bites or bites between your fingers. 

Hedgehog front teeth

A hedgehog with a history of biting is also likely to hurt you with their bite. Whenever your hedgehog bites you, figure out the reason first to know how to handle your pet. Your pain level will dictate your reaction, but staying calm is recommended if you want your pet to release you faster.

Why Does My Hedgehog Bite Me?

In the wild, a threatened hedgehog will roll into a ball and raise its spines. This defense mechanism continues even in captivity and is unlikely to stop. Your hedgehog will bite you for several reasons and understanding them will help prevent or reduce these bites.

A hedgehog will bite you if it is experiencing discomfort, stress, out of curiosity, or due to hormonal changes. Physical discomfort is the most obvious cause of hedgehog bites. A hedgehog will experience discomfort when you handle it, especially during nail grooming. The sensation of clipping their nails may freak them, causing them to bite you.

If your handling technique is such that your hedgehog feels squeezed or is unable to move, it may bite you to demand freedom. Like humans, a sick hedgehog is more prone to bite due to mood changes caused by the illness. Cage conditions such as freezing temperatures and uncomfortable bedding may also prompt your pet to bite you.

A stressed hedgehog is also likely to bite you. Stress in hedgehogs is triggered by environmental factors such as noise. Your hedgehog’s stress levels may also increase with overhandling or disturbing them when they are resting.

When new, allow your pet to familiarize itself with its environment. Afterward, you can start playing with it by spending less time and increase the duration gradually to prevent stress. Setting a timer may also help to prevent prolonged interactions that may stress your pet. Even if energetic, your hedgehog may not want to play with you for a longer duration since these pets are solitary.

Hedgehogs are curious and will sniff things around them to familiarize themselves with their environment. They also like tasting things, and if you smell tasty to them, they might bite you out of curiosity. Such a bite is not malicious and will rarely break your skin. It is also easy to notice such bites coming because your pet will sniff or lick you first before the bite. Wearing jewels may also trigger a bite out of curiosity.

Just like human beings, hedgehogs become hormonal during certain phases in their lives. A sow, for instance, will be hormonal during breeding and will bite more around this period. Male hedgehogs, on the other hand, will bite more when close to their female counterparts.

Also, due to their territorial nature, hedgehogs will bite you if you reach out to areas in their cage that they consider their territory. Also, if you have two hedgehogs and give one more attention than the other, the other one may bite you though in rare circumstances.

Therefore, whether your hedgehog bites you due to hormonal changes or out of curiosity, you should never hurt it in return. Doing this will make it tighten the bite and injure you. You should also avoid pulling away, as this will encourage your pet to hold tightly and follow you. Instead, push your hand towards its head to open its jaw.

You can also blow on its face severally to make it release its jaws. Telling your pet “no” or “bad” when they bite you may also help them release you, but you should do this with a soft but firm tone. This way, your pet will know that biting is a bad thing. You can combine one or two of the above methods for effectiveness, and your pet should let you go willingly.

At times, a hedgehog may refuse to let you go even after embracing the above techniques. In such cases, you can put it under running water. This sudden stream will cause your pet to let go and find out what is happening.

It is possible to foresee hedgehog bites, but this is not always the case. To stay safe, you can employ preventative measures such as handwashing, timed handling, and mood observation to prevent these bites.

Before handling your pet, clean your hands with unscented soap to remove lotion and food, which smells yummy to your hedgehog and could trigger them to bite you. You should also handle your pet in a clean environment and remove stressors such as loud noises which trigger it to bite.

Reading your pet’s mood during play will also help you notice when they are tired and avoid prolonging interactions to prevent bites. You can also handle your pet during different times of the day, rather than one prolonged handling, and take advantage of the time they are most comfortable to ensure they enjoy your company.

Despite being solitary, you should not stop your interactions with your hedgehog when they bite you. While it seems realistic, doing this makes the whole idea of owning this pet lose meaning. Instead, continue interacting with your pet, and, over time, it will become comfortable with you and bite less. These interactions will also enable you to learn your pet’s mood and body language.

Why Does My Hedgehog Bite the Carpet?

Unlike rodents, hedgehog teeth do not continue growing throughout their life. Therefore, they do not need to chew on objects to wear down their teeth. While this holds, you will still find your hedgehog chewing on objects such as clothes and carpets.

Your hedgehog will bite the carpet out of curiosity, if it is fascinated with its smell, or to cover itself. A hedgehog will use its mouth to explore when it is comfortable, and this should not worry you. However, if your carpet fibers are breaking as your pet chews on them, you should discourage this since these fibers are indigestible and may harm its health.

Your hedgehog may also chew the carpet if it loves the smell of your carpet, especially if you use a carpet cleaner. Hedgehogs are known to self-anoint, and if they love the smell of your carpet, they will chew on it and anoint themselves. For this reason, you should be careful with the cleaners you use if your pet bites your carpet as the ingredients in them could be harmful.

Wrap Up

Hedgehogs, like other pets, will bite if triggered. They will bite themselves, people, and objects depending on their mood or out of curiosity. When stressed, sick, or suffering from an allergy, a hedgehog will bite itself and inflict injuries. The best way to identify the cause of such bites is by taking your pet to the vet for diagnosis. Your vet will also treat the wounds to prevent infections that could be fatal.

If provoked, hedgehogs will bite their owner. This could be out of curiosity or due to physical discomfort. The pain from the bite is dependent on the cause and the part bitten. When your hedgehog bites you, you should stay put rather than react negatively. Negative reactions prompt them to bite harder, and they will take longer to release.

Finally, your hedgehog will bite objects such as your carpet out of curiosity or if the smell fascinates them. However, you should discourage this behavior if your pet is ingesting some fabric and depending on the detergents you use to clean your carpet. By understanding your pet’s mood and behavior, you will be able to foresee most of its bites and take necessary precautions.

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.

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