Ever since I’ve had my hedgehog, the one thing I found fascinating is his behavior and the wide range of emotions he can experience. Whilst, I haven’t seen all the emotions, I decided to find out about crying to see if this was one of the emotions a hedgehog could experience.
So, can hedgehogs cry? Hedgehogs do cry. Just like humans, hedgehogs can sense fear and danger. Whenever they are exposed to situations or conditions, they find uncomfortable, hedgehogs can cry and wail like a baby. Hedgehogs have different ways of showing emotions; it can be through sounds or body behavior. Therefore, understanding the different body behaviors is vital in taking care of hedgehogs.
Hedgehogs cry by screaming like a baby. In fact, if you are not used to them, you will think the noise belongs to a distressed human baby crying for help. The screaming noise is only made by hedgehogs that are in extreme pain or severe distress. Considering it could be trapped somewhere or injured badly, you should always check on the hedgehog immediately you hear such sounds.
Apart from screaming, there are other sounds that could mean the hedgehog is in danger. For instance, they could quack like a duck. Quacking can be a very weird sound to hear from a hedgehog, but they will be communicating something.
While screaming like a baby means the hedgehog is in extreme pain and discomfort, the quacking sound is made when the problem isn’t extreme. In most cases, hedgehogs quack when they are partly stuck. They could also quack when hungry to show their discomfort.
Hedgehogs will also show discomfort by coughing. There are two types of coughs that show varying levels of discomfort. For example, when a hedgehog has a dry and sharp cough, it could be due to a dirty nest or a dusty environment. However, when you notice a continuous, wet, and chesty cough, the condition is more serious. It could be a sign of lungworm or any other serious illness.
Can Hedgehogs get Depressed?
Another concern regarding hedgehogs is whether they can get depressed. There are several situations that could trigger depression among hedgehogs. Understanding some of the causes will help you take good care of your hedgehog.
When not given enough space or when they don’t feel safe, a hedgehog will show several signs of depression. Some of them are excessive sleeping, repetitious behavior, refusal to eat, and self-mutilation.
They can also chew on their feet, repeatedly rub against the sides of the cage, or scratch themselves aggressively to the point of drawing blood. Several hedgehog owners have noticed this behavior and have mistaken it for OCD. However, it is more accurate to say that the hedgehogs are depressed.
The repetitive behavior by a depressed hedgehog is mostly due to the boredom or discomfort caused by the surrounding environment. An extremely depressed hedgehog can chew off their front toes, rub their noses on raw metals of the cage, and claw their ears till they become bloody shreds. Therefore, it is important to improve the hedgehog’s environment immediately after you notice these symptoms of depression.
How Can You Understand Hedgehogs?
Just like any other pet, understanding your pet hedgehog will help you take good care of it. Hedgehogs are unique animals and it takes some time and patience to understand your hedgehog. The more you spend time with them, the more you will learn to identify their personality traits and preferences.
You can understand your hedgehog by looking at its body language, learning the different types of noises it produces, and its preferences. Therefore, understanding the basics of hedgehog behavior is vital in figuring out how to satisfy their whims and needs. Here are the detailed characteristics and behaviors of hedgehogs that will help you understand their emotions.
Body Language and Quills
In terms of body structure, a hedgehog is almost similar to a porcupine; they are both covered in quills. On average, there are about 7,000 quills on a hedgehog. The quills contain air chambers and are modified to make them light. Hedgehogs start shedding their baby quills at around three to six months of age. During that period, the hedgehog might change in behavior.
When quilling, the hedgehog can be rolled into a ball for extended periods. During this time, they might have a poor appetite or hiss. In most cases, the quilling process takes about a month and the hedgehog will be back to normal. When handling the hedgehog during the quilling period, it is important to be patient and careful.
Just like humans, hedgehogs use body language to show or communicate their emotions. They often use their spines or quills and curl into a ball to show different moods. They also startle easily. When they sense danger or become frightened, hedgehogs curl up into a ball with erect quills. Doing so helps protect their face and vulnerable belly.
When the situation normalizes, they will slowly uncurl after a few minutes. Hedgehogs will also show fear through erected spines. Usually, the spines all over their body are erect whenever they are uncertain and cautious. Contrary to this, they have flat spines whenever they are comfortable and calm.
The environment a hedgehog lives in is vital to its well-being. These animals love to forage and dig for food. They are also excellent at climbing. Therefore, you should secure their housing with a solid lid or slick slides; use materials like glass that are slippery and hard to climb.
Keep in mind that hedgehogs prefer a solitary life, so you shouldn’t house them alongside others. The housing should also have good ventilation and shouldn’t be in direct sunlight.
Given that hedgehogs are diurnal animals, they are mostly active at dawn and dusk. Some hedgehogs can remain active until 3 a.m.; this can be problematic if you keep one in your bedroom. However, you can help reduce the nighttime activities by frequently handling them during the day; this will trigger changes in their habits.
Hedgehogs have a unique habit of producing large amounts of saliva when they come across an unfamiliar smell. They will identify the source of the unfamiliar smell and lick it until frothy saliva develops. The foamy saliva will then be placed on the hedgehog’s quills in what is known as anting or anointing.
It is not clear why hedgehogs anoint themselves but there are several theories. The common one is that hedgehogs anoint themselves to protect themselves by masking their scent from predators. Others suggest that the foamy saliva is bitter and can cause irritation when attacked.
Hedgehogs are sensitive animals and will react to different situations. When under extreme pain and discomfort, hedgehogs will cry by screaming like babies. This is a cry for help, and you will have to check on them whenever you hear such sounds. They can also produce sounds like coughing and quacking to communicate moderate discomfort.
These animals can also get depressed. When not given enough room, hedgehogs will show different signs of depression. Some of them include chewing on their feet, repeatedly rubbing against the sides of the cage, or scratching themselves aggressively. Therefore, it is important to take good care of your hedgehog to prevent such occurrences. You can do so by understanding the animal and learning its preferences.