Posted: August 13, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: This is my second batch of hedgehogs. The first batch I had, my female gave birth to four babies. Around weeks four to six there was a sizable difference between the four babies -- two were large, two were small. Around week six, I lost the littlest one, and on week seven the second-littlest one died. The other two went on to being happy and healthy. I am noticing from the first batch the size contribution may be due to the weakest getting pushed out or away, in addition the babies tend to wander and get away from their mother. If I am not able to catch it say after four hours, the baby may suffer from hypothermia. I did separate the male from the female last time, but this time I am leaving the male in the cage with the babies; my train of thought is an extra warm body in the cage. There are two things I would like to try, but I want to get some feedback first:
1) What about raising the temperature of the cage a bit with a heat lamp (my house temp is 75 degrees Fahrenheit)?
2) Is it a good idea to build a box with an open top and one side with an edge low enough for the mother to get in and out but not the babies (to deal with the wandering hedgehog problem)?
A: There is no single method for breeding hedgehogs, because all hedgehog breeders will tell you what works for them. One thing all breeders would agree on, however, is that a male hedgehog cannot stay with a female. He plays no role in raising the babies and is almost certain to eat them.
In my 15 years of breeding hedgehogs, the type of breeding box that works for me is a cardboard box about 13.5 inches long by 10.5 inches wide by 6 inches high. Give the mother plenty of bedding. She will build a nest in the box by building up the bedding so that the babies cannot wander away during the first week. Keep the temperature in the area of the cage at least 75 degrees.
As for the babies that were too small and died, there could have been health issues. It is Mother Nature’s way of weeding out the unhealthy ones. If you encounter small babies that are half the size of the others, you can do supplemental feedings so the babies will catch up. There is plenty of information on the Internet about hand-feeding baby hedgehogs. I have only tried it once, without success, but if the babies are older, and you feel they need extra feedings, there will be a better chance for survival.
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