The 4 Reasons Why Hedgehogs Hiss (With Video)

One of the most unusual and curious sounds that a hedgehog makes is a hissing sound.

But why do hedgehogs hiss? And is hissing a sign for concern in your hedgehog?

In this post, we will answer all these questions and more so you can better understand your hedgehog, why they hiss and if it’s something that’s unhealthy or not.

First, let’s briefly answer the question that everybody wants to know…

So why do hedgehogs hiss? When a hedgehog makes a hissing sound, this is usually a sign that they are either angry, upset or feeling threatened. This can be for a number of reasons, however, two of the most common reasons are that they are unhappy with another animal nearby or being new to a home.

Read on to discover…

Why Do Hedgehogs Hiss? (A Closer Look)

According to experts that have studied this behaviour, hedgehogs hiss when they are nervous or upset about a certain situation.

When a hedgehog feels threatened, uneasy or angry they can choose to display a hissing behaviour as a warning or to get a point over.

In the wild, hedgehogs might hiss at other animals that they consider a threat in order to make themselves sound more fierce than they actually are.

This will often make the other animals think twice before attacking or even staying in the area.

In captivity, hedgehogs can use hissing in much the same way and if they feel threatened then they may feel like hissing is the best option.

Hissing can also be a sound that’s made when hedgehogs are grumpy or upset with a situation.

If they are fed up or frustrated the hedgehog can find themselves becoming short-tempered and displaying an aggressive hissing sound. 

The bottom line is that no matter what causes the hedgehog to hiss, it’s a sign that your hedgehog isn’t happy.

Here’s a video of a hedgehog hissing aggressively…

There are 4 common situations where you may find your hedgehog hissing.

Let’s now take a look at each of these situations in more detail…

1. Seeing Another Hedgehog Can Cause Hissing

One of the most common reasons for a hedgehog to hiss is when they are in contact with another hedgehog.

Hedgehogs, for the most part, are solitary animals and only mix when mating and when females are bringing up their young for around 6-8 weeks at a time.

Apart from that they enjoy being alone and encountering another hedgehog can cause a lot of territorial issues, especially if they are housed together.

Male hedgies can be notably aggressive towards each other and often don’t mix.

They can display many aggressive behaviours towards each other as they try to force their dominance and hissing at each other is common.

If you have 2 hedgies and they are constantly hissing when near each other then it’s best to keep them separate.

We’ve actually written an owners guide that shares if it’s wise for hedgehogs to live together in the same cage, room and even the same house?

2. Another Animal Can Cause a Hedgehog to Hiss

Hedgehogs don’t just get angry or upset with other hedgehogs and they can quite easily show other animals exactly how they are feeling by hissing.

This is backed up by the experts at Veteriankey who also talk about how hedgehogs commonly hiss when they encounter another animal.

If you own other small pets and their cages are close together then your hedgie can quite easily feel like they are having their territory invaded and hissing towards them can be a warning sign to back away and leave.

It’s not always a good idea to allow hedgehogs and other animal breeds such as hamsters and guinea pigs to come into contact with each other as this can cause unneeded stress and problems.

Sometimes they can get along with no territorial issues but it’s always handy to have another room to house one of your pets if either or both of the pets look stressed or are displaying aggressive behaviour.

If you own or are thinking about owning either a hamster or a guinea pig then we have created guides that share in detail if hedgehogs can be housed with both hamsters and guinea pigs.

You can check out the guides below…

Can hedgehogs and hamsters live together?

Can hedgehogs and guinea pigs live together?

3. Hissing Due to Losing Quills

A very common reason for a hissing hedgehog is that they are grumpy for some reason.

One of the best examples of this is that around the age of 2-6 months, hedgehogs lose their quills.

This can be a slightly stressful and uncomfortable time for your hedgehog and can lead them to have a decreased appetite amongst other things.

Due to this, they often hiss and become less tolerant in situations where their temperament would usually be pleasant.

Many experts talk about this including Vetmed, who also state how hissing is common in this period when hedgehogs lose their quills. 

It’s worth noting that there are other situations where hedgehogs can feel irritated and grumpy too and understanding your hedgies mood will help you to better deal with the situation.

Further Reading: All You Need to Know About Hedgehog Quills In Under 5 Minutes!

4. New to The Home

When you first bring your hedgie home, you may notice that their personality has changed from how it was in the home you got them from. Source:

Don’t forget that their world has been turned upside down and everything from new surroundings, cage, bedding, sounds and smells can all make your new hedgehog feel unsure and even unsafe.

This can lead to a hedgehog displaying a multitude of different emotions and feeling from being grumpy, frightened, angry, stressed and more.

This can then manifest into lots of different behaviours such as hissing.

The main thing is to give your hedgie time to settle in and get used to their new surroundings and you as an owner.

Usually, the hissing and other unwanted behaviours will settle down pretty quickly once they get to know and trust you.

Regular handling outside of their cage even though your hedgehog is hissing is the only way they are going to stop the hedgehog hissing in this situation.

Other Situations That Cause a Hedgehog to Hiss

The 4 reasons we have just been through are the most common for a hedgehog to hiss in our experience, however, there are still many more situations where you could find your hedgie getting anxious, angry or grumpy and therefore hissing.

Below are some other common reasons why you could find your hedgehog hissing…

  • Handled while napping
  • Loud music or TV
  • Handling by someone new or who they don’t trust
  • Rough handling
  • New and unfamiliar surroundings
  • Unwell
  • Injured

Is It Unhealthy For a Hedgehog to Hiss?

Hedgehogs have the ability to hiss for a reason and this is usually to be used as a warning of some sort.

If your hedgehog is only hissing once in a while then it’s not a problem as even us humans get angry, upset or frustrated once in a while.

Although, you will still want to find out the route cause of what is causing them to feel this way as it would be something that’s easily solved in a matter of minutes.

If your hedgehog is hissing constantly or at least most days then this is a different matter and something needs to be done to stop this happening.

A lot of stress can be caused if animals like hedgehogs aren’t happy with something in their environment and if this stress continues over a long period then it’s particularly unhealthy.

If your hedgehog is new to your home then it’s natural for them to feel this way for an extended period of time and this behaviour is nothing to worry about.

If your hedgie has lived with you for some time and is usually settled and all of a sudden starts to hiss regularly then it’s a good idea to investigate further.

As we mentioned before, knowing what is causing the behaviour is key, as sometimes it can be caused by a reason out of our control such as a young hedgie losing their quills.

On the other hand, the stress could be caused by another hedgehog housed directly opposite and simply changing the housing arrangement would instantly solve the problem.

So back to the main point again, if your hedgie is hissing occasionally it’s nothing to worry about but if it’s happening constantly then you will need to get to the route of the problem.

How Can I Stop My Hedgehog From Hissing?

If your hedgehog is hissing then there’s only really 2 things you can do to stop it from happening and calm them down.

The first thing you want to do is back off and give them some space.

Often if you try and pick up your hedgehog it can aggravate the problem further if you don’t know why they are hissing so allowing them their space is the best option to begin with.

The second thing you need to do is look for the source of what is causing the problem.

Sometimes it’s easy to find out what’s going on and causing this kind of behaviour and other times it’s more difficult.

This really is a process of elimination and you should start with what seems the most obvious and work backwards.

As we mentioned before, if you have 2 or more pets in the same room then separating the pets might be a good place to start.

Less obvious reasons can be things like an injury or losing quills which is another reason we mentioned earlier.

We recommend that you go back and check out the list we provided earlier in this post that gives you lots of possible reasons why your hedgehog may feel they need to hiss.

This will help you brainstorm and possible reasons and maybe pick up on something simple that you previously overlooked.

Adam Woods

Hi, My name is Adam. I'm the main author of Pocket Pets Forever. I'm a pocket pet enthusiast and I love sharing my knowledge and passion for these amazing animals. Thank you for supporting us on our journey as we continue to publish content with the aim of helping owners care for their pets in the best way possible!

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