Why Do Hedgehogs Curl Up In a Ball?


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If you’ve ever wondered, ‘why do hedgehogs curl up in a ball,’ it’s because they are afraid or annoyed. This is a defensive behavior.

With its head and belly hidden within spikes, the hedgehog is much safer.

It’s normal for a hedgehog to do this once and a while, but obviously, you want to do your best to avoid any potential stressor!

Why Do Hedgehogs Curl Up in a Ball?

Hedgehog is curled up in a hand
Pretty hedgehog curled up

You’re holding your hedgehog, when suddenly, like a mousetrap shutting, they curl up into a tight ball.

This may have surprised you at first, and has doubtless led you to wonder, ‘why do hedgehogs curl into a ball?’ Luckily, there is a simple answer! 

A hedgehog will curl up into a ball to protect themselves and/or get some privacy. This is quite similar to when a turtle goes into its shell.

If your hedgehog has curled up into a ball, it probably didn’t like something that happened. If you can, you might want to identify what caused it.

This could have been a certain way it was held, an animal or unfamiliar person it saw, a loud noise, or a vibrating thump on the floor.

Go Easy: Hedgehogs are very timid creatures, and they tend to curl up super-fast at the slightest perceived risk!

Why Do Hedgehogs Sleep In a Ball?

Hedgehogs sleep in many positions, such as on their belly or half-curled up.

The most common one is fully curled into a ball, however. They do this because they feeling a lot safer and letting their guard down with spines to guard their back! 

If your hedgehog is sleeping in a ball and has been asleep for some time, waking them to eat or interact can be OK.

Just make sure to do it gently, or your hedgehog will be unhappy to uncurl.

What Do You Do When Your Hedgehog is Curled Up?

What to do when hedgehog curl up in a ball
Hedgehog is a timid creature

So, your hedgehog is in a ball – again. What do you do?

There are a few steps you can take to help your little buddy relax!

Eliminate the Stressor

When your hedgehog curls up in a ball, the first and most important thing to do is eliminate the stressor:

  • Was it a loud noise that did it, or perhaps the sight of a predator?
  • Were they picked up too quickly?

Whatever the cause, make sure that your hedgehog isn’t exposed to it any longer!

Take Them Somewhere Calmer

Once you have removed the specific stressor, you may find that your hedgehog is still not coming out.

Why could this be?

Well, the most common reasons are:

  • It’s possible that the hedgehog simply needs a few moments to recover.
  • Or, they may be feeling extra-sensitive after a scare, and need to go somewhere quieter and calmer.

This can happen even in environments in which they’re normally ok!

Put Them in Their Cage (No Stimuli)

As a final resort, you may need to put your hedgehog back in its cage.

This should be where they’ll feel safest. Just make sure not to pet them or expose them to any stimuli.

When all else fails to reassure your hedgehog, this will often do the trick!

Distract Them With a Snack

As with any animal, the hedgehog can sometimes be distracted and reassured with a healthy snack!

How Long Do Hedgehogs Stay Curled up For?

How long your hedgehog will stay curled up depends on how upset they were.

If the hedgehog was merely annoyed, it may come out in 10 seconds to a minute. When hedgehogs are actually frightened, it may take a few minutes for them to finally unroll.

Sometimes, when hedgehogs are attacked in a garden or scared too badly, they’ll stay in a ball for 20+ minutes.

What To Do: It’s best to make sure that your hedgehog feels safe so that it won’t feel the need to roll up for more than a 1 minute or two, no longer!

How Can You Avoid Making Your Hedgehog Curl Up?

Cute hedgehog with opened mouth
Be gentle with your hedgehog

There’s pretty much no way to completely avoid making your hedgehog curl up.

They’re timid little guys, and something is bound to surprise them at some point.

This being said, you should still try to keep the number of times they feel the need to curl into a ball minimal!

How Do You Handle Your Hedgehog When It’s Curled Up?

When your hedgehog curls up, it’s best if you leave it alone for a while.

Of course, it’s not always possible to simply leave your hedgehog where they are. You might feel the need to move them to another, quieter room, or to their cage.

In these instances, you can protect your hands from their spikes with a towel.

Final Thoughts

So, if you’ve ever wondered, ‘why do hedgehogs curl up in a ball?’ you have your answer.

Hedgehogs curl into a ball when they are annoyed or frightened.

This is because hiding behind their spikes makes them feel a lot safer!

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