Before you decide to breed hedgehogs, it is very important that you know about the responsibility that comes with breeding hedgehogs. You also need to know who’s going to take care of the babies. Both the mother and the babies need lots and lots of care. Having hedgehog babies (aka hoglets) is a huge responsibility.
If your pet hedgehog is female, then you should know that her personality will most likely change while she is pregnant and even more after she gives birth. If she is disturbed during pregnancy or during the first week after she gave birth, she will kill or eat the hoglets. Even having the male in the cage can cause this. Over the next several weeks, you must play and handle the hoglets everyday.
Here are a few things to consider if you want to breed hedgehogs:
- The females personality will change during and after pregnancy. She may even reject you once she has been bred.
- It is possible to lose your hedgehog during childbirth.
- The mother and the hoglets will have to be left alone, so you must be patient.
- You will need to have the time everyday to play with and handle the hoglets until they have good, safe homes.
- The hoglets will have to be put in separate cages when they’re old enough. Are you ready to find the all good homes (this can include yourself)
- If there are complications with birth or problems with the babies, you will have to take them to the vet which may be followed by high bills.
- If the mom rejects the babies, you will have to take care of them or put them to sleep.
Choosing The Parents
After you’ve consider the above, and your ready to breed the hedgehogs, you need to choose the parents. Choosing by pointing your finger and saying this female and this male is not something you should do.
Neither of the parents should be ill-tempered, personality will be passed down to the hoglets. Both hedgehogs should be in good health. The should be from strong, healthy litters. Also, they shouldn’t be related.
The female should be no younger than 5 months old, but no older than 12 months when you first breed her. Breeding her before 5 months can damage her internal organs, leading to death. After 12 months, the chances of conceiving for the first time drop dramatically. The bones in her pelvic area will have fused and she will not be able to have babies.
Males should also be older than 5 months when bred. However, the side effects are less noticeable in males.
Breeding The Hedgehogs
(I recommend speaking with a professional breeder and asking any questions you may have before you start the breeding process.)
To breed the hedgehogs, you will be taking the female hedgehog to the male’s cage. Before doing this, clean the male’s cage and remove any obstacles, such as toys (Leave the food and water bowls, of course.) After this is done, you may take the female to the males cage and leave her there for 7 days.
Shortly after the two are put together, the male will start to squeak and squeal and chase the female around the cage. The two may look like they are fighting, the female will hiss and bang heads with the male, but this is completely normal and nothing you should worry about. Some males will not breed if you are watching, so it’s best to leave them alone after you place them together.
After 7 days have passed, take the female back to her clean cage. You can also put back them together, a week after returning the female to her cage, to ensure pregnancy. NEVER leave the male with a pregnant female. IF a male is with her when the hoglets are born, both parents will eat the hoglets.
Telling if your female is pregnant is not an easy task; it is very simple to guess wrong. There are a few hints you can look for though. You should weigh her daily and look for weight gain. She will also have a larger appetite. Also during the last week of her pregnancy, the odor of her urine will become noticeably strong. She may start to nest by making piles of bedding or blocking the entrance to her den. She may lose her appetite a day before the babies are due.
The normal gestation period of hedgehogs is 35 days. You should keep a calendar and mark off all the days the male and female were together, and mark down the expected due dates. Some hedgehogs will give births as early as 30 days and others may give birth after 46 days. Most, however, are normal and will give birth between 34-36 days. If the mother does not give birth, wait an extra 11 days before assuming the breeding wasn’t successful.
A good breeder will keep a comprehensive record of the names of the male and female, their age, and their color; this will all be useful later on.