FAQ - Handfeeding a Hoglet

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Always into something...
Jan 28, 2009
Bowling Green, KY
Written by jandshyne:

If all else fails and you must hand feed you will need PMR (Puppy Milk Replacer) or Goat's Milk, a dropper, syringe, or pipette, and sterile water. You can purchase sterile water from the vet or in some pharmacies or you can boil tap or bottled water to make your own. If you purchase PMR in liquid form you will not have to use sterile water as it will be pre-mixed. I like powdered PMR because it lasts a bit longer and does not get stored in the fridge and exposed to airborne bacteria, you mix as much as you need at the time.

If you are hand feeding hoglets the following things are very important:

Never force feed them. If you force formula on them you can cause them to suck the fluid down in to their lungs and they can aspirate which can kill them instantly or worse lead to Pneumonia.

To entice them to eat you can try one of two things. You can place a few drops on their lips. They will lick it off. Repeat this a few times while holding the dropper near their mouth. Eventually they will learn the formula is coming from the dropper and they will begin to suck on it.

If that doesn’t work you can try placing a few drops on your finger and allowing them to suck the formula off of your finger. Slowly work the dropper closer and closer to your finger and allow it to linger there for a few seconds longer each time. Eventually they will be drinking from the dropper rather than your finger. Please keep in mind older hoglets will have teeth so please don’t use this method if he bites you.

Once they have finished eating you will have to stimulate their digestion and disperse any gas build up by rubbing from the chin to the bottom firmly but gently. You can also give them a belly rub firmly but gently in a circular motion, using a cotton ball dampened with warm water or a soft wash cloth dampened with warm water will most closely mimic mom’s tongue.

When hand feeding hoglets you will have to hand feed them every 2 hours around the clock until they reach about 4 weeks old and every 4 hours until they are about 5-6 weeks old, at that time you can try to begin offering crushed cat food and introducing the water bottle. Use a shallow dish for the food so the hoglet can easily sit in it to eat. You can also try feeding certain things from your hand since they will be used to their feedings coming from you. If you have older hoglets of the same sex, adolescent aged, already weaned you can try at this point to place the younger hoglet in with the older hoglets who may teach him to eat on his own. You will have to watch very closely for signs of aggression on the part of the older hoglets. If this works it’s a great way to wean hand fed hoglets but if the older hoglets show any aggression they could easily kill the younger so please be very careful when doing this. If they show any aggression you will have to keep the younger hoglet separate and assume the roll of weaning on your own in the ways previously mentioned.

You will have to make certain they stay warm and comfortable in between feedings. A small cat carrier lined with pine shavings or clean towels, liners, or blankies, and with a human heating pad placed under half of the carrier and set on low heat works well.

Their mother would generally teach them to groom themselves. Most hoglets learn fairly quickly to groom themselves but if you notice your hoglet is not grooming him self, if he has urine stain or a dirty face or bottom you will have to clean that up. Often times when we hand feed any kind of animal we take on the roll of their parent to the fullest extent. If you must clean them up you can use a soft, warm, damp cloth and gently rub in a circular motion. Be sure to start at the face and end at the bottom to maintain the highest possible level of sanitation.

For further information on successfully hand feeding I suggest contacting Laura Tong at PogStar Hedgehogs who has had good luck and also sells hand feeding hoglets. You can find her website and easily contact her by going: Here.

Again I can’t stress enough how dangerous hand feeding can be. Very rarely does it have a positive outcome. There is absolutely NO proof that a hand raised hoglet is any friendlier later in life than one who’s bred and handled properly so please do not attempt to hand feed a hoglet unless it is absolutely necessary.
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