Taking Care Of A Pregnant Hedgehog

Congratulations! You’re hedgehog is pregnant, but just how do you take care of her? Taking care of a pregnant hedgehog is simple in the beginning and gets a bit trickier near the end of the pregnancy.

What Are The Signs Of Hedgehog Pregnancy?

Wait, you aren’t sure your hedgehog is pregnant? Here’s how to find out.

  1. The most noticeable sign of pregnancy is weight gain.
  2.  Eating more than normal.
  3. Your hedgehog’s teats will show.
  4. A pregnant hedgehog may also become restless.

Food:

Since pregnant hedgehogs have an increased appetite, you should increase the food provided and make sure she always has a large supply of food in the cage. Water, too. The food and treats should be rich in quality and are very nutritious. The foods shouldn’t be high in fat or spicy. Make sure all treats or foods that can go bad should bad are fresh; if you suspect something has gone bad, dispose of it.

In the last two weeks of pregnancy, increase the amount of food given to her.

Exercise:

It is fine for your hedgehog to use her wheel, but you should take it out of the cage at around 28 days. You shouldn’t have the wheel in the cage when the babies are around; sometimes the mother will favor the wheel over taking care of her children. If she’s a wheel addict and is stressed out because you took her wheel, you can give her some supervised wheel time until the delivery. If she isn’t stressed, than just leave the wheel away; she needs to save her energy.

Cage:

The cage should be cleaned as usual. Your hedgehog can co-exist with other females as long as they were used to this before pregnancy. I already mentioned this in the How To Breed Hedgehogs post, but this is important, DO NOT leave the father in the same cage as the mother after she is pregnant. Both parents will eat the babies if you do.

After 28 days from the first breeding day. Clean your hedgehog cage and all the cage accessories very well. It’ll be a while before you can clean the cage again, so be sure it’s a long-lasting type of cleaning. If you use fabric liner, you should switch to an odor controlling bedding. Soft shaved pine or aspen is a good bedding to go with. You should add an extra deep (2-3 inches) layer of shavings.

The expectant mother will require a nest box at least one week before her first due date. There are many variety and designs to choose from in stores. Or you could make your own out of a one gallon plastic ice cream pail. Clean it and remove the handle if there is one. Flip it upside down (with the lid on), and using a sharp knife, cut a round opening that is four inches wide. Try to keep the opening one inch above the base. Put a few shavings inside and put it lid down in the corner of the cage.

Avoid Stress:

The mother should not be exposed to sudden changes or anything that may cause stress, such as trips to the vet, unfamiliar cage-mates, food changes, falls. . etc. Don’t expose her to new people or experiences  Any changes that need to be made, should be made before two weeks of pregnancy have passed, if possible.

It is OK to play with her as long as you are gentle. Be very careful of her stomach, any rough handling can cause a miscarriage or rupture a uterus horn, killing her and her babies. If she seems irritated, agitated, stressed or uncomfortable, than leave her alone. If you think she’s close to giving birth, leave her alone.

After 30 days, listen for soft squeaks, blood in the bedding, before disturbing anything in the cage. After the hoglets are born leave them and the mom alone until the hoglets are two weeks old.

Changes To Expect:

Most females personalities stay normal until late into the pregnancy, but some can change earlier. Friendly hedgehogs may seek less attention and may even become aggressive. Your hedgehog’s activity may also change to more or less.

Your hedgehog will also gain weight, mostly towards her rear end. Three weeks into pregnancy some females develop a bruise on the abdomen. This is the liver, which is displaced because of the expanding uterus horns.

Signs Your Hedgehog Is Close To Giving Birth:

  • Unusual restlessness
  • Cage destruction
  • Decreased appetite
  • Increased drinking
  • Pacing

After Birth:

The first week is very critical. Any disturbance can cause the mom to eat the babies. If one hoglet falls out of the box, do not pick it up with your hands; your smell on the hoglet can also make the mom eat the hoglets. Instead, scoop it up with a clean spoon and return it when the mom isn’t looking.

The litter size can be as small as one hoglet or as many as 8-9. However, most litters consist of 3-4 hoglets. (To see how to take care of hoglets, click here.) The hoglets should be put in a new cage at 6 weeks, and the females and males should be separated at 8 weeks. You should handle the hedgehogs daily to ensure your hedgehogs will be friendly and make great pets.

If the mother seems inactive, lying outside her den. She might have suffered complications during birth or still has a baby stuck inside her. Take her to the vet immediately.

If the mother rejects the babies, you can try to foster the hoglets under another mother that has babies the same age or you can hand feed them. Usually the mother rejects her babies if they have brith defects or are ill. However, if the mother is sick, this might not be the case. If you don’t have another hedgehog mother to foster them with, then you should hand feed them with first born kitten formula or goat’s milk every 3-4 hours. While feeding them you must also simulate them to urine by stroking their lower abdomen gently.

Most hand fed hedgehogs die within the first two weeks, so hand feeding should only be used as if you have no other option.