Trust excercise

So about twenty minutes ago, I decided the trust level between Tobias and I was sufficient that I could attempt the heart trick. This went nothing like it usually does.

Rather than lying there passively, Tobias started licking me. This is generally a warning; a hedgehog that “tastes” you is generally trying to decide if they should risk biting you, and Tobias has been looking for an opportunity to bite me at every step.

He hasn’t quite gotten used to the idea that I have two paws; he’s okay with the one he can see — it’s the one behind him that keeps touching him that freaks him out, so  he’s always trying to spin around and nip it.

Hedgehogs generally won’t give you more than a warning bite; they’re not trying to provoke a fight, they’re trying to startle you into leaving them alone. But you don’t want to push this, either — I have scars. I’ve been bitten through double-layered, leather welding gloves.

So naturally, I’m holding him, trying to get him to relax, speaking softly to him, and sweating like a motherfucker, giving him that much more to lick. A minute passes. Five. Having a hedgehog lick you without biting you is a surreal experience if you’re not used to it; I’m not.

At which point, he sat up and anointed himself with the sweat and whatever else it was he found on my hand.

This behavior continued until he was quite sloppy, so I finally relented and put him down for the evening.

But I think this represents a new level of acceptance.

And it really makes me appreciate the fact that he isn’t like any of the other animals I’ve had so far. Tobias is his own hedgehog.

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  • Comments (3)
    • Mopsy
    • July 15th, 2010

    Yay for HedgeFace and new levels of trust, the early stages of trying to work out what your pet/sprog means are fun.

    • jane
    • July 16th, 2010

    amazing. so very few pets that are really this difficult to tame …

    • Max Bell
    • July 16th, 2010

    Dogs, cats, even rats have hundreds of generations worth of socialization to incline them to domesticity; hedgehogs have about ten since some guy first pulled them out of a dump in Cameroon. And we’re also talking about something with a brain the size of raisin.

    The challenge is the whole point, though. When I’m done, I’ll have actually become friends with it, and not just the thing with thumbs that can work a can opener.

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