Posted: October 15, 2008, 8:00p.m. EDT
Q: I am a new hedgehog owner. My hedgehog has brownish spots on his quills and fur. The quills are indented in the brownish areas. This concerns me, and I have no vets in my area who see hedgehogs. He also has a biting problem. I tried disciplining his biting with a light tap on the nose, but this just angers him. I’ve also tried hand-feeding him to discourage him from biting my hands but he retaliates by refusing to eat. Any light you could shed on this would help me greatly. We were getting along well in the beginning, but now I aggravate him and he huffs more often.
A: Without seeing your hedgehog I can't tell you what is going on with the spots. Your hedgehog might have backed into his food or stool, and it is now stuck on his quills and fur and has hardened. If this is the case, in time will come off.
Your second question states that your hedgehog stopped eating completely. This is a serious matter. See a vet as soon as possible. To find a vet that sees hedgehogs, call your area nature centers, zoos, nature rehabbers and science museums. Vets that specialize in exotic animals service these facilities.
Most hedgehogs do not bite. A hedgehog is very scent-oriented. If a hedgehog smells something that seems tasty, it usually digs in. Wash your hands before handling your hedgehog. If your hedgehog still bites then he must learn to associate biting with something unpleasant. Tapping him with your hand will only make him afraid of your hand; no wonder he is huffy around you.
When you pick up your hedgehog give him a flat hand so there is nothing he can grip. Hedgehogs often lick before they bite so if your hedgehog starts to lick try blowing a puff of air straight at him. This should startle him, and he might start to roll up in a ball. If he goes to lick again, repeat the puff of air. Your hedgehog will soon associate the biting of flesh with something uncomfortable.