7 Things Hedgehogs Do When Frightened [Pet Owner’s Guide]


Hedgehogs – those cute, spiky creatures that have charmed the hearts of many! If you’ve ever encountered one in the wild or considered having one as a pet, you might have wondered about their behaviors.

Understanding what hedgehogs do, especially when frightened, can be a fascinating journey into the world of these unique animals.

An Overview of Hedgehogs

Hedgehogs are small mammals that belong to the family Erinaceidae. Their distinct appearance, adorned with thousands of quills, sets them apart from other creatures.

These quills are not just for show; they play a vital role in the hedgehog’s defense strategy. Hedgehogs are found in parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and their habitat can range from forests to suburban gardens.

Why Understanding Hedgehog Behavior Matters

If you’re a pet owner, understanding your hedgehog’s behaviors is essential for their well-being. Recognizing signs of fear or stress can help you provide a comfortable environment.

For wildlife enthusiasts, knowledge of hedgehog behavior can enhance observation and appreciation of these creatures in their natural habitat.

Fun Fact: Like us seeking warmth on a chilly day, Hedgehogs enjoy cozy spots. While not essential, a warm corner in their habitat lets them snuggle up and relax like a spa retreat.

Things Hedgehog Will Do When Frightened

Hedgehogs are known for their peculiar reactions when frightened. It’s not just about curling into a ball; there’s more to these creatures than meets the eye.

Here, we’ll unravel the seven things a hedgehog will do when frightened. Understanding these behaviors can benefit pet owners and those interested in wildlife observation.

1. Curling into a Ball: A Defense Mechanism

Probably the most recognized behavior, hedgehogs curl into a tight ball when they feel threatened. This forms a protective barrier with their spines, keeping potential predators at bay.

If you’ve wondered, “Do hedgehogs ball up when scared?” it’s their go-to defense strategy.

2. Raising Spines: Intimidating Appearance

Another fascinating reaction is the raising of spines. By elevating their quills, hedgehogs make themselves appear bigger and more threatening.

It’s a natural way to ward off any threats and create an intimidating appearance.

3. Hissing and Snuffing: Warning Sounds

Hedgehogs may also produce hissing and snuffing sounds as a warning to potential threats. These sounds signal that the hedgehog is ready to defend itself if necessary.

4. Running Away: Escaping the Threat

When faced with danger, a hedgehog might choose to run away. It’s their way of escaping the threat and finding safety elsewhere. Speed and agility can be their allies in these situations.

5. Biting: A Rare But Possible Reaction

Though it’s uncommon, some hedgehogs may resort to biting when extremely frightened. It’s a more aggressive response and usually happens when the hedgehog feels cornered.

6. Spreading Foamy Saliva: A Peculiar Self-Anointing Behavior

One of the unusual hedgehog behaviors is the spreading of foamy saliva over their quills when frightened. This is known as self-anointing and is still a somewhat mysterious phenomenon in the hedgehog world.

7. Vibrating Quills: A Lesser-Known Response

Lastly, some hedgehogs might vibrate their quills when frightened. This lesser-known response is thought to create a rattling sound that can deter predators.

How to Handle a Frightened Hedgehog (For Pet Owners)

Having a hedgehog as a pet is a delightful experience but comes with responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is knowing how to handle a hedgehog when frightened.

This section is tailored for hedgehog owners who want to ensure their spiky friends feel safe and comfortable.

Approach with Caution

When you notice signs of fear in your hedgehog, it’s crucial to approach them cautiously. Abrupt movements can exacerbate their anxiety. Instead, move slowly, speaking softly, and allow them to come to you when ready.

Understanding Hedgehog’s Body Language

The better you understand your hedgehog’s body language, the more effectively you can respond to their needs. Look for signs like raised spines or hissing or curling into a ball.

These are clear indicators that your hedgehog is frightened.

Tips for Calming Your Hedgehog Down

  • Provide a Safe Space: Ensure your hedgehog has a quiet and secure place to retreat. This can include their cage or a designated hiding spot.
  • Use Familiar Scents: Familiar scents can comfort a frightened hedgehog. You might use an old shirt or a blanket that carries your scent.
  • Avoid Loud Noises: Sudden or loud noises can frighten hedgehogs. Keep the environment calm and quiet.
  • Offer Treats: Sometimes, offering a favorite treat can ease anxiety and create a positive association.

Do hedgehogs get frightened?

Absolutely! Like any other animal, hedgehogs can get frightened. It might be due to a new environment, unfamiliar scents, or the presence of a perceived threat.

It’s entirely natural, and as a pet owner, your understanding and empathy can go a long way in easing their fear.

For those interested in ensuring their hedgehog stays entertained without stress, our guide on games to play with your hedgehog offers fun and engaging activities.

Handling a frightened hedgehog with care and compassion enhances your relationship with them and helps them feel secure in their environment.

With these tips and insights, you can make your hedgehog feel at home.

Fun Fact: Hedgehogs are the solo rockstars of the animal world, usually enjoying their own company. While they might not need a sidekick, some might be up for a duet or a musical collaboration in companionship.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Navigating the world of hedgehogs can lead to many questions, especially understanding what they do when frightened. Here, we’ll address some of the most commonly asked questions to provide concise and helpful answers.

Q1. What does a hedgehog do when it is frightened?

When frightened, a hedgehog may exhibit behaviors like curling into a ball, raising its spines, hissing, running away, biting (rarely), spreading foamy saliva, or vibrating its quills.

Q2. How do you know if your hedgehog is scared?

Look for signs like curling into a ball, raised spines, hissing sounds, or other unusual behaviors like spreading foamy saliva. These are indicators that your hedgehog may be feeling frightened.

Q3. Do hedgehogs get frightened?

Yes, hedgehogs can get frightened just like any other animal. It might react to unfamiliar surroundings, loud noises, or perceived threats.

Q4. Do hedgehogs ball up when scared?

Curling into a ball is a common reaction for hedgehogs when they feel scared. It serves as a defense mechanism, using their spines to create a protective barrier.

Q5. What is an unusual hedgehog behavior?

One of the more unusual behaviors is spreading foamy saliva over their quills when frightened. This phenomenon, known as self-anointing, is still not fully understood.


Hedgehogs are truly fascinating creatures with unique behaviors, especially when frightened.

From the well-known defense mechanism of curling into a ball to the more mysterious act of spreading foamy saliva, their reactions offer a captivating glimpse into their world.

Understanding what a hedgehog does when frightened is not just about satisfying curiosity.

For pet owners, it’s about forming a bond, recognizing signs of distress, and knowing how to handle them with care and compassion. By recognizing these signs and employing thoughtful strategies, you can create a safe and loving environment for your hedgehog.

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