Can Hedgehogs Shoot Their Quills?

People have become more open to keeping hedgehogs as pets. However, there are still people who worry about hedgehogs causing them harm because of their quills. One question which is most unanswered about hedgehogs is if they can shoot their quills.

Contrary to popular belief, hedgehogs cannot shoot their quills. 

A hedgehog’s quills are attached to its body, and it cannot make them shoot. Therefore, the only defence strategy that a hedgehog has is that it curls into a spiked ball. When a hedgehog is stressed or feels threatened, it will not attack; rather, it raises its quills and curls into a ball.

By doing so, any predator will refrain from touching the hedgehog orbiting it because it will hurt.

Do Hedgehogs Quills Hurt?

The top reason for people refraining from keeping a hedgehog as their pet is the sharp quills. There is a misconception that a hedgehog’s quills will hurt to touch. However, how the quills feel depends on which position the hedgehog is in and how it feels.

When a hedgehog is relaxed, its quills will not be upright; instead, they will lay flat and lay towards its tail. Therefore, if your hedgehog is relaxed, it is the perfect time to hold it. Furthermore, the quills will not hurt you when your hedgehog is in a relaxed position and will lay flat on your hands.

The feeling of touching a relaxed hedgehog is like feeling a hairbrush. If you are a new owner, your hedgehog will take some time to adjust to its new surroundings. Your hedgehog may be nervous or stressed and may take a few days to settle in.

Do Hedgehogs Lose Their Spikes?

It is completely normal for a hedgehog to lose its spikes. Hedgehogs lose their spines more than once in their lifetime. The process of losing spikes to be replaced later by new ones is called quilling.

Quilling occurs the first time when hedgehogs are young. Hedgehogs are born with softer spikes that have a smooth texture than adult hedgehogs. When the babies grow to be six weeks, they lose their quills to get adult ones.

Hedgehogs, on average, have 5000 quills, and among them, 90% are replaced throughout their lives.

Quilling is a hard time for hedgehogs, and they may feel irritated during the whole process. In addition, as babies lose their teeth and grow new ones, that is how hedgehogs lose their quills.

Can Hedgehogs Quill for Other Reasons?

While quilling is normal for hedgehogs, it is also important to monitor and see that your hedgehog is not quilling excessively or for different reasons. If a hedgehog is sick or stressed, it may begin to quill too much.

If your hedgehog has lost too many quills, it is best to consult your vet.

One factor that may be the reason for hedgehogs to quill is if they are receiving insufficient nutrients. If a hedgehog does not get enough nutrients, it will lose its quills and not get replaced. In addition, chronic stress can also cause hedgehogs to lose their quills.

If your hedgehog has been losing quills excessively, it is also good to check its hormones. Hormonal imbalance also contributes to quilling in hedgehogs.

Your hedgehog can lose many quills in a day when it is quilling. Normally, hedgehogs lose between fifteen and twenty quills in one day. If you notice your hedgehog losing more quills than this normal amount, external factors can contribute.

Can You Trim Hedgehog Quills?

Hedgehogs have quills that are important for their survival. As hedgehogs lose their quills naturally through quilling, there is no reason to trim their quills. As a result, pet owners often worry that the hedgehog will shoot quills or harm them.

However, hedgehogs cannot shoot quills, and the quills are not barbed like porcupines.

If you choose to trim your hedgehog’s quills, you will do more harm than good. First, you will expose your hedgehog to infection. Second, your hedgehog can become distressed because of losing its quills. It is best to let your hedgehog go through the natural quilling process.

Do not trim your hedgehog’s quills.

Quilling begins when hedgehogs turn six weeks of age and last for a few weeks. After that, hedgehogs lose fifteen to twenty quills in a day. Anything more than that is abnormal. When hedgehogs grow older, they lose fewer quills during the quilling process.

How To Comfort Hedgehogs During Quilling

When hedgehogs are quilling, they are uncomfortable as the entire process is painful. It is best to take extra care of your hedgehog while it is quilling. Hedgehogs lose thinner quills and get thicker and stronger ones.

Your hedgehog will have small holes that will gain thick quills. It is best not to touch your hedgehog as it will be irritable.

To help relieve your hedgehog of the pain, you can try giving it an oatmeal bath. You must consult your vet about suitable oils that you can use on your hedgehog’s back to help ease the process.

If your hedgehog faces quilling because of stress, hormonal imbalance, or lack of nutrition, you must consult your vet and immediately treat it.

Summary

Hedgehogs are famous for their sharp quills. However, contrary to popular belief, hedgehogs do not shoot their quills.

The quills remain intact, and the hedgehog only curls into a spiked ball if it wants to defend itself. A hedgehog’s quills will not hurt when they are relaxed. The quills lay flat and go down to the hedgehog’s tail.

You can hold your hedgehog when it is relaxed without hurting yourself. When a hedgehog feels threatened, it will erect its quills, and then they hurt.

All hedgehogs go through a process called quilling as early as six weeks. When hedgehogs quill, they lose their softer and thinner quills, replaced by new, strong ones. Quilling is a painful process for hedgehogs, and they can be irritable.

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Hey, I'm Brian and I love hedgehogs. They're curious little animals that fascinate me. Over the years, I've become extremely knowledgeable about hedgehogs so have decided to share that knowledge here