Hedgehog Care

Do Hedgehogs Bite?

Looking at a hedgehog, the first thing you’re likely to notice is his sharp-looking quills. The good news is that with gentle handling, a hedgehog’s quills are much less prickly than they look!

The next natural question is, “do hedgehogs bite?”

Hedgehogs can bite, but they rarely will.

Hedgehogs are generally gentle and shy animals, and they have no desire to harm their human handlers unless they are uncomfortable, they smell something tasty on your hands, or they’re attempting to get used to a new environment.

With proper care and precautions, your hedgehog will have no reason to bite you. Let’s take a look at the reasons that would prompt a hedgehog to bite you:

1. Defense/Discomfort.

Hedgehogs can go into defensive mode for a variety of reasons. They will typically just curl up into a ball to defend themselves, but they can become aggressive and bite if they feel very threatened or uncomfortable. Some causes may include:

  • Waking up your hedgehog and making him play while he’s tired
  • Holding him when he wants to explore and walk around freely
  • Keeping him out of his cage for too long when he wants to go back to rest in his cage
  • Handling your hedgie roughly or putting him under stress from loud noises, intense odors, etc.

2. Eating.

The next thing that may cause a hedgehog to bit is that he smells something yummy on your hands and wants to have a taste! If you notice your hedgehog licking your hands, it may be an indication that he will bite, as he thinks he’s found something good to eat.

3. Curiosity. 

When exploring new people and new environments, you may find your hedgehog biting different materials or your hands in an attempt to get accustomed to these new things.

How can I prevent getting bitten by me hedgehog?

Here’s a few tips for avoiding a bite:

  • Do not wake your hedgehog- handle him only during evening hours when he’s awake
  • Observe your hedgehog’s mood when handling him. If you notice he seems uncomfortable, tired or overwhelmed, allow him to go back in his cage to relax.
  • Clean your hands with scent-free soap before handling. If you have food on your hands or fruity smelling soap or lotion, they may be tempted to have a taste.

How badly does a hedgehog bite hurt?

Hedgehog’s teach are built for chewing insects, as they’re insectivores in the wild. This means that their teeth are not as sharp or powerful as an animals’ whose are made for chewing meat.

It is said that a hedgehog bit is much less painful than a hamster or rodent bite, which is good news. Very rarely, if ever, should a hedgehog bit break the skin and cause bleeding.

Of course, bites will not be pleasant, but they are not typically very painful at all.

How can I stop a hedgehog from biting?

When you find your hedgehog biting, there are several ways you can gently reprimand him to train him not to bite in the future.

  1. Firmly yell “NO” when the bite happens – hedgehogs do not like loud noises.
  2. Push your fingers against the hedgehog’s mouth as he bites rather than pulling your fingers away. They find this uncomfortable, but it will not hurt them.
  3. Blow air at their face to startle them, once or a few times in a row.

These are the three most common and humane methods for training a hedgehog against biting. If you find that they are ineffective on their own, try two methods at the same time; for example, yell “NO” while pushing the hedgie back.

If you do find your hedgehog biting, be sure to train him consistently with the methods described above. It may take some time, but you can definitely have a safe, pain-free experience with your hedgehog!