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Old 02-27-2009, 01:02 PM Canada
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Nancy Nancy is offline
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Default Hedgehog breeding Part 1

Written by jandshyne:

Hedgehog Breeding

Hedgehog breeding can be a very rewarding experience but it can also be heartbreaking and very costly. Hedgehog breeding should only be undertaken after some important points have been given the utmost consideration:

Most importantly are you USDA Licensed?? Are you aware breeding hedgehogs requires a USDA License? Do you live in a legal state?? Do you know if your state Game and Fish or your local animal control require specific licensure to breed hedgehogs?? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you’re not quite ready to breed, breeding without the proper licensure or in an illegal state puts both you and your hedgehogs at risk. Hedgehogs can be seized and destroyed and you can be fined so please be sure you have covered all of your bases with the proper licensure.

Hedgehogs should only be bred with the intention of improving the breed and producing top quality hedgehogs of superb health and temperament. It should never be undertaken for monetary gain.

Pet store Hedgehogs, rescue Hedgehogs, and other Hedgehogs lacking a traceable lineage should never be bred. A Hedgehog should only be bred when you can be certain you are not furthering a line full of possible genetic diseases and undesirable traits.

Take care in purchasing your initial breeding stock, many breeders (myself included) get so wrapped up in buying Hedgehogs they make the mistake of buying animals with undesirable traits or incomplete pedigrees. This is a costly mistake I can assure you! You may spend more money buying high quality animals at the inception of your breeding program but in the end it will be worth it to know that you are breeding the best stock you possibly can for the right reason.

There are mentors out there. Find a mentor, their experiences and their guidance are invaluable when it comes to breeding quality animals.

As the numbers of animals in your breeding program increases so will your veterinary costs, feed costs, equipment costs, etc… You must be prepared to spend the money required to care for your animals. Many breeders purchase a large number of animals and then discover both the quality and quantity of care and supplies diminishes and becomes cost and time prohibitive. This is irresponsible and inexcusable; the animals should always come first.

Breeding is a long term commitment, do not undertake it if you are not absolutely certain. Many breeders burn out in a short amount of time and this usually takes its toll on the animals who are then sold to another breeder who’s may be in the same boat in 6 months. It’s a vicious cycle. Please do your research and be fully prepared.

Losing your Hedgehogs is devastating. Losing those you’ve fought to save, been up with round the clock, syringe fed, ran back and forth to the vet clinic with, lost sleep over, etc… is absolutely heart breaking and I can guarantee you if you breed it will happen at some point. You have to be prepared for that eventuality. It won’t just be hoglets you will lose, you may lose your adult Hedgehogs as well and nothing quite compares to sitting up for 12 hours with a Hedgehog only to have them die in your arms. The more Hedgehogs you have in residence the more Hedgehogs you run the risk of losing. Ask yourself if you are fully prepared to lose your entire herd. On the flip side of that ask yourself if you are willing to do what’s necessary should a parasite, fungus, or bacteria take hold of your herd and present you with the need to spend thousands of dollars identifying, treating, and eliminating the problem. As a hobby breeder to lose 1 Hedgehog is a major blow but to lose 12 is devastating.

Ask yourself if your lifestyle and geographic region supports your choice to breed. Do you often spend long hours working away from home? If so how will you hand feed a hoglet every 2 hours when necessary or administer syringe feedings to a convalescing Hedgehog every 2 hours? Do you like to travel? If so who will take care of your Hedgehogs while you are on vacation? Can they really be trusted? Are you willing to forgo any future vacations with your family in order to stay home and care for your Hedgehogs should you not be able to find a competent pet sitter? If you do find a pet sitter are you willing to trust them with the lives of your entire herd and their offspring? Do you have access to an emergency veterinarian? Most Hedgehog emergencies happen in the off hours and on weekends, it’s Murphy’s Law and it will eventually apply here. Are you willing to pay the excess for an emergency charge when necessary? Do you have the space to house any offspring for an indefinite amount of time should they become un-saleable? Female hedgehogs can only breed for a certain amount of time, when they are done they are done. What will you do with your retired breeding hedgehogs?? Do you have the space, time, determination, and will to house, care for, and feed any offspring for an indefinite amount of time should it not be a seller’s market? Do you have a customer base available to you? Can you ship your babies to other parts of the country or even the world? Are you willing to take in rescues? If you breed you will eventually be presented with rescues that can be very time and cost prohibitive. Are you willing to offer a money back guarantee for the life of any hoglets born of your breeding? Are you willing to take back a hoglet and possibly offer a refund should a buyer decide they’ve made a mistake and a Hedgehog is not the pet for them?

Are you willing to learn what it takes to breed the best of the best? Are you willing to possibly limit your lines to a reasonable and manageable amount so as not to sacrifice quality, health, and temperament for quantity and the simple pleasure of breeding for those unusual colors?

Are you prepared to keep the necessary records to ensure you are not inbreeding, to track hereditary diseases, to manage the accounting side of Hedgehog breeding? Do you know enough about running your own business to keep accurate financial records? If you do not keep accurate financial records it could get you in to serious trouble with the IRS and other agencies. Breeding also ensures you will have to keep track of all receipts for any supplies, food, animals, travel, etc… so you can accurately file your taxes. It will also mean paying a little extra at tax time when the tax preparation service in the mall has no clue how to help you file as a breeder.

Are you prepared to educate and guide pet owners and potential breeders? Are you prepared to answer calls and e-mails at all hours of the day and night 7 days a week, 365 days a year when a stranger is given your name by your hairdresser and she has a problem with her Hedgehog and she needs your help? Better yet, are you prepared to receive e-mails and phone calls from people who are unfit to provide homes for these magnificent creatures?? Do you have what it takes to tell a potentially bad owner you will not sell your baby to them?? Are you willing to make sure your babies go to loving homes no matter what you might have to do or say?

Finally, and in my opinion the most important, do you want to be a large scale mill or a hobby breeder of pet Hedgehogs?? Hobby breeders have a duty to uphold themselves to a different standard than millers. Millers have hundreds or even thousands of animals. To a miller the loss of one Hedgehog who may have eventually been tossed in a bin to die once bred out, is no big deal. To be a hobby breeder is to put the animals and the pet owner first and foremost. Before profit, before pride, before the show, and before even your own self. To be a hobby breeder is to take on an overwhelming amount of responsibility and to give your self heart first to the animals and to finding them the perfect forever home. Please make that distinction in your mind and in your heart before deciding to breed.

There are MANY more things to consider. These are just a few of the things that immediately come to mind and that other breeders or myself have had experience with.
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  #2  
Old 02-27-2009, 01:03 PM Canada
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Nancy Nancy is offline
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Default Hedgehog Breeding part 2

Written by jandshyne:

Now that we’ve covered the most important aspects of breeding we can discuss the actual process of breeding.

Female hedgehogs should be a minimum of 6 months old before breeding. Breeding after the 6 month mark can also have adverse reactions such as a greater instance of cannibalized litters and rejected hoglets, and/or birthing complications. It’s advisable you breed two females at the same time. That way they will hopefully be delivering and weaning at the same time and should one become ill or reject her hoglets the other can hopefully foster. This is not always a given.

Hedgehogs are induced ovulators meaning they will ovulate when in the presence of a male. The gestation period is 35 days. When breeding you should introduce the female in to the male’s habitat or introduce them both in to a neutral habitat. This will ensure the female doesn’t get hostile while defending her territory. Remove all sleeping boxes, bags, toys, wheels, etc… from the cage to prevent distraction. Leave only the food and water bottle in the cage. Chances are you will notice your male “singing” to your female immediately. It doesn’t take them long to figure out they’re in with a female. In most cases mating will take place immediately. We personally leave our males and females together for 3 days, remove the male, wait 3 days, and place the male back in for 3 more days. We have had good luck this way and most times babies are delivered 35 days from the initial pairing date.

I remove the wheel from my female’s cage at mating and do not replace it until the babies are at least 4 weeks old. I like for my females to get lots of rest and concentrate on being healthy. I do still give them their free run time up to 10 days before delivery to allow them some amount of exercise. About 10 days prior to the early due date you will want to thoroughly clean your female’s cage. Clean the bedding, wash the blankets, and bags, wash the food dish, etc… When you give back the cage also give her a nesting option. I like to offer all new moms at least two different options, so say a nest box and a hedgie bag. She can then choose which one to birth and raise her litter in. You will notice in the days before birth your female becomes agitated, re-arranging her cage, shuffling things about, digging out holes, moving her food dish, etc… DO NOT interfere, she is nesting and she needs to be allowed to do so at her own pace and as she prefers.

Some females will nest incessantly and some will seem to throw together a hap hazard nest and just go for it. The ONLY time you should interfere with her nest is in the event you notice she’s having trouble keeping her babies in the nest. If this should happen gently scoop up the babies and place them inside a hedgie bag or box in the same general area as her original nest. From her due date on resist ALL temptation to move or alter the nest. Don’t peek in to see if there are babies, don’t peek in to check on mom, etc… You can listen for squeaking indicating babies have been delivered. Female hedgehogs rarely have birthing complications. If your female does have complications you will know because she will be listless, irritated, out of the nest, bleeding profusely, crying, and/or panting profusely. If any of those should occur an emergency vet is necessary immediately. For the most part you should NOT interfere with the birth and never touch babies unless it is an absolute necessity for at least 2 weeks and in most cases 3. Generally it’s safe to touch the babies and the nest once their eyes have opened at about 14 days old. Until that point make sure mom is doing ok and leave her alone. Minimize her stress by placing her in a room out of the central area of your home. NEVER allow strangers in to the room, and minimize your contact with the cage. For the first 14 days after birth DO NOT clean the cage, use a cat pooper scooper and quietly scoop out solid waste or dump the litter box, but NEVER fully clean the cage. It’s a good idea to place her food bowl and water source as near to the nest as possible for the first few days as she may not want to venture away from the nest long enough to eat and drink. You should never have to offer your female supplements, DO NOT do so unless a vet suggests it.

Female hedgehogs will cannibalize a litter for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes it’s easy to put your finger on the specific cause. A disruption in the room, a drop in temperature, a first time mom, etc… Often times it comes without warning or reason. Occasionally you can catch a female before she’s destroyed her litter. This can be very tricky. First of all, a mother may destroy one hedgehog out of a litter. Perhaps this is because she feels that baby is not healthy enough and is taking nourishment from the others, perhaps she thinks she can’t handle them all, we just don’t know, but it does happen and it is very much a reality in hedgehog breeding.

If your female seems to have rejected her litter watch her closely for signs of a problem. A fetus not delivered can kill your female, various infections, mastitis, uterine infections, etc… are possible so if you notice your female has simply rejected her litter rather than cannibalized, if she’s moved to the opposite side of the cage away from the hoglets, if she seems lethargic, shows a loss of appetite (it is not uncommon for females to lose their appetite after birth, more concerning is a rejected litter coupled with loss of appetite), feels cold to the touch, or doesn’t respond to your interfering with the babies, this is not normal and a vet visit is necessary. It could just be first time mommy blues, or it could be a problem with your female so it should never be ignored. An X-Ray to rule out a possible un-delivered fetus as well as a simple blood test to screen for infection is all that’s usually warranted to diagnose a problem. Being overly cautious in this instance is generally much cheaper and much less stressful on mom than not being concerned enough and ending up with a very sick female.

Female hedgehogs should be bred no more than twice a year. The only exception would be a breeding that didn’t take and in some cases if a mother cannibalizes a litter. If a female cannibalizes a litter early on before she’s nursed them and I am certain it was a fluke, I may give her 3-4 months to recoup and breed her again. If I’m not 100% certain she’s back to her pre-pregnancy self I will wait a full 5 months to re-breed her.

Some breeders will say a female should only have 3 litters in her lifetime and should be taken out of breeding prior to their 3rd birthday. Others will say this is not the case. You have to use your judgment. If your female is in good health and seems to do okay with litters, no history of cannibalizations, breedings not taking, etc… then you will have to make the choice you are comfortable with. In any case if you have a mother who’s cannibalized more than one litter and you can’t be certain of the cause (e.g. outside noise, influence, distraction, threats, etc…) then it’s time to retire her.

If you try to breed two females at the same time one may not take. Sometimes if a female can hear another breeding pair nearby they will not breed. Likewise if a female can hear the offspring of other females sometimes they will destroy a litter. We haven’t had this happen here, our females have all done exceptionally well but it is something that can happen and you should be prepared to move them to different rooms if it becomes necessary.

For the most part female hedgehogs won’t require intervention. One should always be observant on the days leading up to the early due date or EDD and if your female seems to be having trouble a vet visit is necessary, otherwise you just stand back and let nature take its course whatever it may be. Hopefully the outcome is a good one but please be prepared for the possibility it won’t be.
__________________
* * * Nancy * * *
Rescue contact for HWS and IHA since 2004

For all your hedgehogs needs visit
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