The body language of a Hedgehog conveys a lot about their mood and state of mind.
However, sometimes it becomes difficult to understand your pet’s actions.
The same thing happened to me when I found my Hedgehog running in circles for the first time.
So, the question for the day is, why is my Hedgehog running in circles?
I did some research and consulted a few veterinarians. Here is what I found about it.
Your hedgehog may be running in circles for various reasons, including scent marking, exploration, foraging, orientation, reproductive behavior, or health issues. Observe their behavior, ensure a safe environment, and consult a vet if needed to ensure their well-being and address any concerns.
You must also know that running and spinning in circles are quite different in Hedgehogs.
While running in circles indicates a social behavior or compulsive action, spinning in circles could be a sign of an underlying health problem.
If you are worried about your Hedgehogs’ circling behavior or you suspect that they have a health problem, then keep reading this article till the end, and I’ll make sure all your doubts are cleared by the end.
Are Hedgehogs Fast Runners?
Hedgehogs are not known for being particularly fast runners.
They are generally slow-moving creatures, relying more on their defensive mechanisms like curling into a spiky ball to protect themselves from predators.
Their short legs and stocky bodies are not well-suited for rapid movement.
While they can move quickly for short bursts, they are not considered agile or fast runners like some other animals.
Hedgehogs are more adapted for exploring their surroundings at a leisurely pace rather than for high-speed pursuits.
Why Do Hedgehogs Go Round In Circles?
Hedgehogs going round in circles is a behavior that can have various explanations, often tied to their sensory and instinctual traits.
Here are a few reasons why hedgehogs might exhibit this behavior:
Scent Marking and Exploration
Hedgehogs have a well-developed sense of smell.
They often engage in scent-marking behaviors to establish their territory or communicate with other hedgehogs.
Going in circles might help spread their scent more evenly around a specific area, leaving a trail that other hedgehogs can follow.
This behavior might also help them explore their surroundings and gather information about their environment through scent cues.
Foraging and Hunting
Hedgehogs primarily feed on insects, small invertebrates, and sometimes plant matter.
Going in circles could be a foraging strategy where they’re trying to locate hidden or camouflaged prey by using their keen sense of smell to pick up on the scent trails left behind by insects.
Navigation and Orientation
Hedgehogs might engage in circling behavior as a way to orient themselves in their environment.
This behavior might help them create a mental map of their surroundings, helping them navigate and remember key features of their territory.
In the wild, this could be especially important when they’re moving through dense vegetation or unfamiliar areas.
Circling behavior can also be observed during the mating season.
A male hedgehog might circle around a female as part of courtship behavior, helping establish a connection before mating.
Disorientation or Health Issues
In some cases, hedgehogs might exhibit circling behavior due to health problems.
This could include issues with their inner ear or nervous system, leading to a lack of balance and coordination.
If you observe a hedgehog constantly circling or displaying other abnormal behaviors, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian who specializes in exotic animals.
Learning and Habitual Behavior
Hedgehogs, like many animals, learn through trial and error.
Circling behavior might be a way for them to practice and refine their movements or responses.
Over time, this behavior could become habitual even if the original reason for it is no longer relevant.
It’s important to note that while circling behavior is observed in hedgehogs, the exact reason can vary depending on the individual, the context, and the specific circumstances.
If you encounter a hedgehog exhibiting unusual or persistent circling behavior, it’s always a good idea to consult with experts or veterinarians who can provide more specific insights based on the situation at hand.
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Should I Let My Hedgehog Run Around?
Allowing your hedgehog to have supervised time outside of its enclosure can be beneficial for its physical and mental well-being, but there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure the safety and comfort of your pet:
When you let your hedgehog run around, make sure the area is safe and secure.
Hedgehogs are skilled climbers and can squeeze through small openings.
Block off any potential escape routes or hazards, and supervise them closely to prevent them from getting stuck or injured.
Always supervise your hedgehog when it’s outside its enclosure.
They are small and can get into tight spaces or even hide in places that are difficult to reach.
Make sure they don’t chew on anything harmful or ingest anything that could be toxic.
Hedgehogs are sensitive to temperature fluctuations.
Ensure that the environment is at a comfortable temperature range (around 72-80°F or 22-27°C) to prevent overheating or chilling.
Avoid direct sunlight and drafts.
While hedgehogs can be social, they’re also known for being solitary animals.
Some hedgehogs may enjoy interacting with their owners during their out-of-cage time, while others might prefer to explore on their own.
Pay attention to their behavior and preferences.
Use this time to provide mental stimulation and enrichment for your hedgehog.
Provide safe items for them to explore, such as tunnels, toys, and items that encourage natural behaviors like digging and climbing.
Keep in mind that hedgehogs can leave droppings and urine while they explore.
Make sure to clean up after them promptly to maintain a hygienic environment.
Hedgehogs are excellent escape artists.
If you’re letting your hedgehog run around in a larger area, ensure that there are barriers or containment measures in place to prevent them from wandering too far.
Providing supervised exercise outside of their enclosure can be good for their physical health.
However, be cautious not to exhaust them, as hedgehogs have limited stamina and can become stressed if overexerted.
While letting your hedgehog run around can be enjoyable for both you and your pet, remember that hedgehogs might be more comfortable exploring on their own terms.
If they seem stressed or show signs of discomfort, it’s best to respect their boundaries.
Return to Enclosure
When it’s time to return your hedgehog to its enclosure, do so gently and without causing stress.
Always make sure it has access to food, water, and a comfortable place to rest.
Remember that every hedgehog is unique, and their preferences and reactions can vary.
Pay attention to your hedgehog’s behavior and body language to ensure that it’s having a positive experience during its out-of-cage time.
If you’re ever unsure about whether your hedgehog should have supervised playtime or have specific concerns, it’s a good idea to consult with a veterinarian experienced in exotic pets or a hedgehog expert for guidance.
How Can I Calm My Hedgehog Down?
Hedgehogs, like any other animals, can experience moments of stress or agitation.
If you’re looking to calm your hedgehog down, here are some tips that might help:
Provide a Safe and Quiet Environment
Make sure your hedgehog’s enclosure is situated in a calm and quiet area of your home.
Loud noises, bright lights, and sudden movements can startle and stress hedgehogs.
A consistent and peaceful environment can help them feel secure.
Handling and Bonding
Spend time handling and interacting with your hedgehog regularly.
Gently holding them and allowing them to explore your hands can help build trust and familiarity.
The more your hedgehog gets used to your scent and presence, the more comfortable they may become over time.
Establish a consistent daily routine for feeding, cleaning, and handling.
Hedgehogs are creatures of habit and may feel more at ease when they know what to expect.
Ensure that the temperature in their enclosure is within the appropriate range (around 72-80°F or 22-27°C).
Extreme temperature fluctuations can stress hedgehogs, so maintaining a comfortable environment is essential.
Provide Hiding Places
Hedgehogs are naturally shy and like to have hiding spots where they can retreat when they feel stressed.
Providing cozy hiding places in their enclosure, like tunnels or hideouts, can help them feel more secure.
While handling is important for bonding, it’s also essential to respect your hedgehog’s comfort level.
Some hedgehogs might prefer shorter interaction sessions and need time to rest and relax on their own.
Avoid Sudden Movements
Hedgehogs are sensitive to sudden movements and loud noises.
Approach them slowly and gently, and avoid sudden gestures that might startle them.
Play Soothing Sounds
Some hedgehogs might respond positively to calming sounds, like gentle music or nature sounds.
You can experiment to see if certain sounds help soothe your hedgehog.
Massage and Petting
Lightly stroking your hedgehog’s back or quills might have a calming effect.
Pay attention to their reactions to ensure they’re comfortable with this kind of interaction.
Some hedgehogs respond well to treats as positive reinforcement.
Treats like mealworms, cooked chicken, or fruits can be used during handling sessions to create positive associations.
Time and Patience
Every hedgehog is unique, and building trust and comfort takes time.
Be patient and understanding, allowing your hedgehog to adjust at its own pace.
Consult a Veterinarian
If you notice your hedgehog is unusually stressed, exhibiting abnormal behaviors, or seems unwell, it’s advisable to consult a veterinarian experienced with exotic pets.
They can help rule out any health issues that might be contributing to the behavior.
Remember that hedgehogs have their own personalities, and what works to calm one hedgehog might not work as effectively for another.
It’s important to observe your hedgehog’s behavior, learn its cues, and adapt your approach accordingly.
Building a positive and trusting relationship with your hedgehog takes time and gentle interaction.
In conclusion, hedgehogs are intriguing creatures with unique behaviors and characteristics.
While not known for their speed, they exhibit fascinating behaviors such as circling, which can be attributed to a variety of factors including scent marking, exploration, foraging, navigation, and even reproductive purposes.
Their slow, deliberate movements are part of their natural instincts and adaptations, helping them thrive in their environments.
When it comes to interacting with hedgehogs as pets, providing them with supervised playtime outside their enclosures can be enriching for both their physical and mental well-being.
However, it’s essential to create a safe and controlled environment, maintaining an appropriate temperature, and offering sensory stimulation while respecting their individual preferences and comfort levels.
Calming a hedgehog requires patience, understanding, and a gentle approach.
Creating a peaceful and consistent environment, regular handling for bonding, and incorporating soothing elements like hiding spots and calming sounds can help ease their stress and anxiety.
By building trust and respecting their natural behaviors, hedgehog owners can develop meaningful and positive relationships with these delightful creatures.
Overall, whether you’re observing their unique habits in the wild or caring for them as pets, understanding hedgehog behaviors and needs enhances our appreciation for these intriguing animals and contributes to their well-being.