All hedgehogs are vastly different. Some let you hold them wherever you want, while others are timider, and depending on their temperament, can curl up into a ball to avoid being held.
Some hedgehogs may require bonding sessions before being able to hold them, while others are more curious and will let you pick them up straight away.
Nevertheless, all hedgehogs can squeeze tight into a ball, and with their spiky quills, it can often be tricky to get them to uncurl.
So whether you are a new hedgehog owner, have had one for a while, you are wanting to have a cuddle with your prickly friend, or just want to see how they are doing, this guide will help you understand why hedgehogs curl up into a ball and how to uncurl them.
Why Is My Hedgehog Curled Up?
Hedgehogs are fascinating creatures; while they are small and seemingly unthreatening, hedgehogs have a very unique self-defense mechanism.
They use their strong spines to curl up into such a tight ball that their predators can’t get to them.
Likewise, they spread out their quills and if anything tries to harm them, they will get poked and injured by their spikes. The saying ‘small and mighty’ definitely applies to hedgehogs!
So, hedgehogs curling up into a ball is just an instinctive behavior and could mean they are feeling anxious or threatened.
In most cases, when you first buy a pet hedgehog, it will display this kind of behavior because they are in an unknown environment and may need time to adjust to it.
Even so, some domesticated hedgehogs may curl up in a ball when they are feeling stressed, angry, fearful, and from any sudden movements.
In such cases, the best thing to do would be to just give your hedgehog some space to calm down and they are sure to return to normal.
Like most animals, sometimes hedgehogs just want to have their own space.
How To Uncurl My Hedgehog?
Whether your hedgehog is grumpy, anxious, or scared, when a hedgehog is curled up into a spiky ball it is often hard to get them to uncurl again.
Having said that, there are a few techniques to get a hedgehog to calm down and uncurl, and if done properly, it only takes seconds.
Although these methods may not work for all hedgehogs, if you are struggling to get them to uncurl, it’s best to leave them alone and try again another time.
Method 1 – Piquing Their Interest
Hedgehogs are naturally curious animals, and while curled up, they can’t see anything – relying on their ear and nose senses.
So why not take advantage of this? Potentially piquing their curiosity may get them to uncurl naturally.
One way to do this would be to use food to entice them. Firstly, you would need to pick up your hedgehog with a blanket, to avoid pricking yourself on their spikes.
And using the flipping technique, pick your hedgehog up with its back in your hand, so you should be able to see a small opening with its face.
Next, use a small pair of tweezers to pick up your hedgehog’s favorite food and gently wave it around its face, and you should begin to see its nose moving and sniffing around.
Before you know it, they’ll be uncurled and nibbling down their treat!
Method 2 – Bathing Or Grooming Them
If that doesn’t work, another way to get them to uncurl would be to give them a warm bath.
Not only will this pique their curiosity from the sounds of splashing water, but it will also be very relaxing for your hedgehog.
To do this, all you have to do is fill a sink with shallow warm water – you only need enough water for their feet, any more could be dangerous.
When your hedgehog is in the water, you can then use a cup and gently pour water over their quills, using a sponge to delicately wash them – Just make sure to avoid their little faces!
This is a great way to uncurl your hedgehog and gain some much-needed bonding time with your spiky friend while they are relaxed and calm. Even the grouchiest hedgehogs will uncurl while taking a bath!
Do Hedgehogs Curl Up When Hibernating?
Generally, domesticated hedgehogs do not hibernate. Although this is sometimes hard to distinguish with new hedgehog owners who have never seen a hedgehog hibernate before.
While a curling hedgehog is a positive sign of health and strength, a hedgehog curled up for a long period of time can be a bit alarming.
If this is the case and your hedgehog has been curled up for a long time, it’s important to check your hedgehog’s room temperature.
Anything under 72 degrees Fahrenheit, or a cold draft coming in from an open window, could prompt a hibernation attempt.
In such a case, the best thing to do is to keep your hedgehog close to your body warmth as quickly as possible.
While it is safe and necessary for wild hedgehogs to hibernate, this is not the case for domesticated hedgehogs.
This is because domesticated hedgehogs don’t eat the same amount of food a wild hedgehog would need to eat to survive hibernation with enough fat and energy content.
Therefore, if you suspect your pet to be attempting hibernation, the best thing to do is keep them warm, while keeping a watchful eye on them.
While a curled-up hedgehog is a good sign that it is healthy and strong, it shouldn’t stay curled up all the time. In such cases, you may need to help uncurl your hedgehog in a different way.
The best ways to do this is by piquing their natural curiosity, and by giving them a warm bath.
The more time you spend with your pet, the easier it will become for them to trust you and uncurl naturally.
Hopefully, this guide will help you understand your hedgehog better and provide you with the knowledge to successfully uncurl your hedgehog.