Tobias: The awesome hedgehog of awesome
Tobias is finally starting to mellow. We spent a couple of hours last night watching Leverage, much of which Tobias spent being as lovable as an aggressive pincushion. I got bit a couple of times, finally. But this is just what hedgehogs do; they are small, they don’t have much in the way of defenses, and you’re unfamiliar and smell strange.
So they curl into a ball, make themselves large, and bounce around and nip at you until they no longer seem edible.
Tobias isn’t to the stage, yet, where he can actually be held; you sort of wrap him up in a towel and set him on your lap to avoid being cut up by spines or teeth. From there, all you can really do is make yourself available to be cut up by spines or teeth while seated in a comfortable position where you’re less likely to drop him from a great height. But if you aren’t willing to make yourself vulnerable to the possibility, this just reinforces the idea that being aggressive is working, and that makes them even more nervous, since why would they need to be aggressive if you weren’t a threat?
So for a while, it was like petting a steel hairbrush.
But after the first hour or so, he finally started getting tired. It’s a lot of work, being a stressed-out rage-ball (I know this from experience). So I took advantage of this and started using both hands. One to pet him with and another to hold over his eyes and face. Strange thing about hedgehogs, having a brain the size of a sunflower seed; if they can’t see you, you’re probably not there.
This started him licking my hand. This is generally where you get bitten, and sure enough, I got a little test bite a couple minutes later. When this produced no response, he REALLY bit me. This is one of the true tests of hedgehog ownership; all you can do is deal with it. If you respond, they’ll just keep biting you. Sometimes they do that anyway.
I didn’t squeal like a boiled pig, though, and he eventually gave up on that, too.
Eventually, he relaxed and the spines on his back laid down flat, so I could pet him properly. Eventually I got a hand under him and rubbed his belly a little and he didn’t curl up into a ball. Later, I put him back in his bin and fed him some chicken.
Tobias likes chicken.
And that’s what amazing progress with a hedgehog looks like. It’s still weeks before we’ll be actual friends. But I’m getting there.