Why Do Hedgehogs Hiss?

hedgehog on a concrete background but Why Do Hedgehogs Hiss?

Hedgehogs make a lot of distinct noises and it is important to know what each sound means so you can act accordingly. These noises are their way of communicating so do not ignore or brush them off as trivial because your hedgehogs could be in serious trouble.

This article answers the question “Why Do Hedgehogs Hiss?” by revealing the underlying reasons behind the disturbing sounds and ways to calm them down when repeatedly heard. We also delve into other popular hedgehog noises and what each entails. Let’s dive straight in.

Why Do Hedgehogs Hiss?

Hedgehogs hiss as a sign of agitation, discomfort, or stress, especially in new environments with unfamiliar folks and scents. Hissing may also be a sign of irritation when your hedgehog is unhappy about something in its environment such as cage interruptions. Predatory approaches in the wild can also lead to hissing in hedgehogs.

The takeaway is that hedgehogs hiss constantly when all is not well in their environments and your first job is to figure out the underlying reasons behind the strange sounds in the first place. Once that bridge is crossed, getting the hissing sounds to stop could be as easy as making the necessary changes to provide reassurance for the agitated or distressed hedgehog.

Common Situations That Make Hedgehogs Hiss

Many situations can force hedgehogs to hiss loudly for extended periods and a few are discussed below.

Hunger & Thirst

Hedgehogs require consistent access to food and water after waking up at night. They’re physically active pets that spend several hours of their wake times running and engaging in other energy-demanding tasks.

Waking up to no food and water can be very irritating especially when they’re angry and this could result in hissing continuously to draw your attention. The hissing often gets louder as their food delays and their energy levels decline continuously.

Handling By Strangers

hedgehog handled  by human

Hedgehogs have weak eyesight and are unable to recognize their owners by face. However, vision defects are compensated with a sharp sense of smell and hearing. Getting picked up by strangers could be agitating since they can smell the new, unfamiliar scent.

The lack of clarity about what the future holds when in the arms of strangers may stimulate fear in hedgehogs and hissing is often the typical response. This is some sort of cry for help to attract the attention of their owner to save them from impending harm.

Being Woken Up From Sleeping Abruptly

No one likes to be woken up abruptly from sleep and hedgehogs are no different. They spend the daytime getting some much-needed shuteye after staying up all night due to their nocturnal behavior and the freedom to sleep uninterrupted is the least they expect from their owners.

Waking them up from deep sleep could be irritating and hissing loudly can be their way of expressing their anger at the situation. It is also a sort of warning not to interrupt their sleep again in the near future.

Illness & Injury

Hedgehogs can be prone to numerous diseases and infections including diabetes, stomach cramps, and wobbly hedgehog syndrome. They may also suffer physical accidents like broken legs resulting in severe discomfort.

Hedgehogs wallowing in pain may hiss as a sign of distress and typically, the deeper the pain, the louder the hissing sounds can be. A trip to the vet could be a great idea to find out the underlying reasons behind the pain and illness for the right treatment to be administered.

The pain could range from inflammation due to severe illnesses like cancer. The hissing often mellows after receiving treatment in the form of antibiotics or painkillers.

Loud Noises

Hedgehogs have an extreme sense of hearing and exposure to loud sounds can see them literally trembling. Their stress levels may go through the roof in noisy environments and they typically respond with a loud hissing.

Hedgehogs in Environments with high TV volumes or loud music go through significant stress so it is little wonder that the hissing keeps rumbling on for several hours immediately after the loud sounds are switched on.

New Environments and Scents

Loud hisses are common in hedgehogs that have just been introduced to a new environment. Newly arrived hedgehogs from a breeder, pet store, or pet charity could experience extreme stress from the unfamiliar scents in your home resulting in continuous hissing.

This is often caused by the hedgehog’s fear of the new surroundings because it is unsure of what is up next. The hissing should cease within a week or two once the hedgehog gets familiar with the environment and becomes more comfortable.


Quilling is the process where hedgehogs shed their baby spines for adult spines over time as they grow older. A hedgehog could experience 2-3 episodes of quilling within the first year of life and extreme soreness is to be expected each time as the old quills fall off for new ones.

The pain can be unbearable and it is not uncommon for quilling hedgehogs to hiss loudly to register their pain. Attempts at handling quilling hedgehogs may result in more discomfort so staying away could be crucial.

How To Stop Hissing in Hedgehogs

Calming your hedgehog’s nerves typically results in the hissing sounds coming to an end even if the process is only gradual. Here are a few easy ways to stop your hedgehogs from hissing.

Create a Familiar Environment

Creating an environment close to their original habitat is one of the best ways to stop hedgehogs from hissing. For instance, if the breeder previously held the hedgehog in a glass tank then that should be your enclosure of choice.

Offering the same food as their previous surroundings can also help them settle in your home much quicker. Over time, subtle changes could be made to their habitat to suit your preferences.

No Sleep Interruptions

Waking up sleeping hedgehogs during the daytime is a big no if you’re serious about providing world-class comfort. No matter how tempting, allow them to sleep during the daytime to boost their energy levels at night.

This can also minimize their stress and make them happier which automatically reduces the probability of loud hisses.

Maintain The Same Food

hedgehog eating from a ceramic bowl

Hedgehogs do not take too kindly to new foods and combining that with the stress of unfamiliar environments can lead to loud hisses day in and day out. Speaking to the pet store attendant or breeder to find out the provided diet during their time with the hedgehog can come in handy.

This could maintain stability in the hedgehog’s life and help calm down its nerves. The result is a much lower probability of loud hisses.

Mites Treatment

Mite infestations are a popular source of distress in hedgehogs and it is normal for them to respond with consistent loud hisses. Mites typically suck blood and nutrients from the affected hedgehog’s skin resulting in itching and severe discomfort.

Revolution is a popular treatment for mite infestations and can be a great option if you suspect that your quill baby is suffering from the deadly parasites.

Dim Lights

Hedgehogs are sensitive to bright lights and their presence in such environments can increase their stress levels. We recommend dimming the lights, especially at night when hedgehogs are active on their wheels or engaged in other activities.

No Handling By Strangers

Hedgehogs know the scents of their owners and smelling them can be a source of calm when they’re agitated. However, allowing strangers and other members of the household with unfamiliar scents to handle them can increase their stress levels which may lead to loud hisses.

Ban everyone else from handling a new hedgehog for at least the first month after arrival. This could help them settle in much quicker and eliminate the hissing sounds for everyone’s peace of mind.

No Loud Sounds

The last thing you want is to put a hedgehog in a noisy environment because it may stimulate fear. Always lower the volume of the TV, sound system, or musical instruments to guarantee exposure to only low-tone music.

Hedgehogs typically relax to whisper-level background music instead of loud noises that can result in faster heartbeats due to fear.

Oatmeal Baths During Quilling

hedgehog getting a bath

Not much can be done to alleviate the pain associated with quilling but you can at least provide oatmeal baths once in a while. Oatmeal baths offer a relaxative effect on hedgehogs and minimize their discomfort from the process of shedding and developing new softer quills.

How To Interact With Hedgehogs When Hissing Loudly

Hedgehogs may look furious and uninterested in physical interactions with you but the opposite is often true. Here are the best ways to bond with them when making loud hissing noises.

Handle Them Daily and Confidently

Handling hedgehogs confidently and consistently when they’re making loud hisses especially after arriving in a new environment could be critical. Not only does this get them used to physical contact with you but also enables them to get familiar with your scent.

Patience is the Key

Hedgehogs require patience during periods of loud hissing. Whether irritated from a lack of food or simply showing signs of rebellion, patience can be critical to helping them get settled.

Maintain A Routine

hedgehog enjoying fresh air on a colorful fabric

Hedgehogs often wake up around the same time at night and creating a routine may help them get used to the new environment faster. Maintain a schedule for feeding, bathing, cage cleaning, and other activities that could increase their stress.

Consistent routines also help hedgehogs know what to expect at different periods which could provide a calming presence in their lives. Furious hisses can be eliminated or at least minimized when you stick to the same schedule daily.

Spend Time Together

Loud hisses should not discourage you from spending time together with your beloved hedgehog. Even if they hiss at you, continue keeping them company and use the opportunity to pet their quills gently. The petting could also extend to various areas of their underbellies resulting in pleasure that could reduce their pain and provide more comfort.

Sleep On Your Lap

Hedgehogs love sleeping on their owners’ laps because it does not only allow them to smell their scents but also offers reassurance that everything will be fine. Even illness-induced hisses could be reduced when your hedgehogs enjoy your presence.

Offer Occasional Treats

mealworms are great treats for hedgehogs

Hedgehogs enjoy eating numerous treats including insects like crickets and mealworms. Offering such treats occasionally can help speed up the bonding process by associating your presence with pleasure in the hedgehog’s eyes which should allow them to calm down from the hissing.

No Scolding or Shouting

Scolding or shouting at hedgehogs in an attempt to get them to stop hissing may backfire because it can stimulate more fear. Your presence could begin scaring the hedgehogs which can inhibit the bonding process.

Healthy Cage Temperature

Cage temperatures should range between 72F to 80F to provide the utmost comfort for hedgehogs. Extreme heat or extreme cold could expose them to excessive stress resulting in loud hissing noises. Cage temperatures should always fall within the declared range regardless of what time of year it is to encourage positive moods.

Take Them Out Of The Cage

Sometimes, the loud hisses are just a plea for you to get them out of their cages. You could even take the hedgehogs out of the house to enjoy some fresh air. Trips to the local park or local Walmart could be the perfect opportunity for pet hedgehogs to enjoy some much-needed change of scenery.


vet in scrubs with stethoscope

If none of the recommendations above yields positive results, consulting your local vet could be your last resort. The hedgehog may be battling serious health problems that require urgent treatment and a vet could be the best option.

The loud hisses should cease after successful treatment of the underlying reasons for the hedgehog’s troubles.

Other Common Hedgehog Noises

Hedgehogs make lots of other noises aside from hisses and it is up to you to know the differences. A few common sounds to expect from your quill baby include:

  • Chirping
  • Coughing
  • Farting
  • Screaming
  • Sneezing
  • Snoring

Conclusion: Why Do Hedgehogs Hiss?

Hissing is a common sound of pain, disinterest, or fear in hedgehogs when they’re in unfamiliar environments or hungry. It is also common among hedgehogs fearful for their lives due to stressful situations like the presence of loud blasting music in their environments.

Hedgehogs require tender care during hissing periods. Petting, physical contact, and tasty treats like mealworms could help achieve that. Maintaining healthy cage temperatures, offering oatmeal baths, and banning strangers from physical contact are additional ways to stop hedgehogs from hissing.

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