Do hedgehogs bite? And what should I do if bitten?

Hedgehogs can bite people for a variety of reasons.

Whilst the initial shock of the experience might have taken you on this internet search, we hope the following detail helps you deal with it practically.

Here’s a quick checklist that will come in handy when you’re looking for help on this topic:

Why will a hedgehog bite?

Hedgehogs are wild animals after all.

Even domesticated ones are wild at heart although subdued and trained by people.

They will bite at times – no matter how well accustomed to your company they become.

So, it is always worth handling them with the expectation that on rare occasions, something unexpected may happen.

If, however, biting happens on a more frequent than often basis, the following points could point you in the right direction as for ‘why’.

This will, of course, help you work towards minimising the chances of it happening ongoing.

Smell

Hedgehogs, like most land animals, have a very keen sense of smell. And various types of smells can influence their behaviour more than others.

  • Food smells, sweaty hands, tobacco are all fragrances which are quoted by people as sometimes causing a bite reaction with hedgehogs.

Exploration

Hedgehogs are natural explorers. They will use their noses and mouths as the primary body parts for examining their habitat.

If a hedgehog bites you unexpectedly it can be that they were just naturally being inquisitive.

Hand jewelry etc. are a particular point of fascination which might prompt a nibble or two.

Communication

A bite from a hedgehog might simply be them telling you something.

A reaction to uncomfortable handling perhaps, or irritation at continual handling.

Have a more observational, rather than relational dynamic will minimise such occurrences.

Panic, Pain, Threat, Distress

Discomfort is a common source of a biting response from many animals. Hedgehogs are the same.

Pregnant hedgehogs or new mothers, in particular, will bite as a defence mechanism to protect their babies.

Injured or sick hedgehogs might bite as a natural reaction or coping mechanism for what they are feeling.

How to tell the difference?

The key thing is to allow your hedgehog to independently forage its wild domain.

Over-handling and prolonged captivity can lead to unnatural familiarity or proximity that can produce difficult results.

For best outcomes, cultivate a conducive wild environment with creature comforts on your premises and keep regular routines of care to maintain the hedgehog in good condition.

Hedgehogs enjoy their natural environment of the outdoors and this is where we see them at their best.

What to do?

If you have sustained a bite from a hedgehog – cleaning the wound should come first.

This should remove any unwanted bacteria from the site of injury -reducing swelling or redness which might occur.

If a hedgehog is still holding onto you with a bite and won’t let go, try the following to stimulate a release:

  • pushing your finger, rather than pulling away
  • shouting at the hedgehog
  • blowing in its face

…these are all common techniques used by experienced handlers, which they claim work for having the hedgehog release its bite.

Do you have experience with hedgehog bites which will help others learn?

Please feel free to join the conversation below.


References:

Reasons Why Hedgehogs May Bite

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