FAQ - Breeding - Part 1

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Always into something...
Jan 28, 2009
Bowling Green, KY
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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