Baby hedgehogs are tiny little creatures that range from 4 to 12 inches and can easily fit inside an adult’s palm. They weigh between 5 to 60 ounces and are a delight to watch.
They live with their mother and known as hoglets. Baby hedgehogs are pinkish when born and with quills beneath its skin, which take some time to show. In the initial days, the quills are white. Plus, the baby’s eyes remain closed for a few days.
You don’t need to do much if the mother is around. A baby hedgehog nourishes on mother’s milk in the initial weeks. However, if she’d gone then you have a huge responsibility on your shoulders.
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If you own a pet who has given birth to a hoglet then, by all means, you should not disturb them at any cost. Any kind of disturbance can lead to terrible consequences.
In fact, letting a male hedgehog near the nest can cause the mother a great deal of stress due to which she might eat or abandon the weak one.
So, long story short, the father hedgehog has no role in the upbringing of a baby hedgehog.
The First Week: The white quills on the hoglet are gradually replaced with new ones that are much stronger and visible.
15 Days Later: Its fur begins to grow and covers the flesh. During this period, the hoglet opens its eyes fully as well.
After Three Weeks: it is weaned and may move around.
Fourth Week: The mother begins to take the baby outside on foraging trips.
After reaching the age of 5-6 weeks, the baby hedgehog begins to put on weight rapidly. In fact, it gains 10x more compared to the weight when it was born. This is the time when they abandon the nest.
It can be a tad difficult for a hoglet to survive in the first year. However, if it does survive then it can live up to 8 years.
Hedgehogs keep on growing throughout life and require a nutrient rich food to achieve that.
A hedgehog can’t mate in the first year of its birth. While there’s no specific mating season for hedgehogs, they do love to mate between May to September.
A female hedgehog can stay pregnant for a month or two. They require more food during such times.
You can build a nest inside the same cage where the mother is and make sure that the father hedgehog is nowhere near them. You can collect grass and leaves and put on one side of the cage. The mother herself will build a nest for the young one.
Make sure that the cage is kept in a warm and quiet place because a mother hedgehog doesn’t tolerate distress or noise. Plus, it can also be bad for the baby.
When Do They Leave Start To Live Alone?
They will begin to hunt after about 6 weeks. They do not require their mother after this period and can live on their own. In fact, it might be a nice idea to separate the two as the baby and mother may also begin to fight.
How Long Do They Sleep?
They can sleep for 20 hours every day. Sleeping for more than 20 hours can be a sign of something being wrong.
The baby requires warmth at all times. If the mother is not around then you need to help the little one survive.
A hoglet will not survive very cold weather. Its immune system is too weak to bear even the slightest bit of cold.
Therefore, take a water bottle and fill it with warm water. Wrap it in two towels and place it under the hoglet to keep it warm. Do not forget to wrap it nicely because direct contact can burn their skin.
This method should only be performed for a few minutes or else it could overheat the hedgehog and kill it. If it’s beginning to gape and open its mouth wide then it’s a sign that its body is overheating.
Quickly, transfer it into a box and take care of the temperature. You can install a light bulb to control the environment.
Use a large plastic box that doesn’t have any sharp edges on the inside. They are not flammable and you’d be able to see the hoglet at all times.
Install a desk lamp on top but make sure that it throws light on just one end of the box so that the baby hedgehog can move to the other side of the box if it feels too hot.
Do not go for a normal bulb as it has a strong light and can blind the hoglet. Instead, go for a red bulb (20W, 25W). It has mild light and will also keep the baby hedgehog warm enough.
Lay comfortable bedding such as a vet bed that looks like a decoy sheepskin. It is the most viable option because it’s soft, able to absorb moisture. Plus, you will find no difficulty in keeping it clean.
A baby hedgehog doesn’t urinate or dump until its bladder is full and it can’t take it anymore. You may have to train the animal if the mother is not around.
It can get ugly if the hoglet hasn’t urinated for many hours because that means its bladder is uncomfortably full. Such situations can be dangerous and could lead to an overflow. In some situations, it may dribble down from the leg. The skin may soak the moisture, making the animal vulnerable to infections.
To avoid this from happening, take a cotton ball, soak it in warm water, and squeeze to make it damp. Now, rub it on the hoglet’s rear vigorously to the point where it stimulates its bowels.
The process can take a very long time but it’s very important. Do this every time after feeding the animal.
If a baby hedgehog is orphaned then you will need to feed it yourself and with great care. First, make it a habit of washing your hands both before and after touching the little one.
You need to provide the baby with little quantity of milk for at least 3 weeks. Now, baby hedgehogs aren’t strong enough to drink from a container, therefore, you will need to use a 1ml syringe.
Make sure the syringe is properly sterilized. Fill it up with milk and bring it near the mouth of the little one. Hold it in one hand and feed it drop by drop. You can also use an eyedropper if a syringe is not available.
When it has grown a bit, you can switch to a small feeding bottle that is used to feed kittens. Make sure to clean the apparatus after every feed.
A typical baby hedgehog needs to be fed at least four times a day. You can feed them early in the morning, afternoon, late afternoon, or bedtime.
Milk To Use
Cow’s milk won’t do much good for a hoglet. Instead, use goat milk as it is packed with more nutrients.
Warming The Milk
A hoglet will refuse to drink milk if it’s cold. Hence, warm it up a little but ensure it doesn’t get too hot. Warm the milk in a container, drop a few drops at the back of the hand to test the temperature.
Bring the eyedropper closer to its mouth and let it smell the milk. If it doesn’t react to the smell, try putting the end on its lips, it would motivate the animal to begin to suck.
Let it suck on it until its tummy expands and looks a bit rounded. Eventually, it would lose interest and feel sleepy. Pull the dropper away and allow it to sleep.
If you are using a syringe, make sure to maintain a distance from its mouth or you could hurt the animal.
Feeding Hedgehogs According To Their Age
Two Weeks Of Age :
A hoglet that’s two weeks should have an average weight between 30 to 85 grams. They are the most stubborn to feed in this age which is why you might have to force feed them about 1-3 ml of milk.
They require a feed between every two-four hours. You can try goat milk or use milk substitutes such as Esbilac and Cimicat. If possible, get lactose free milk.
To provide them with healthy nutrition, add 4-5 drops of multi-vitamin (Abidec) once on a daily basis.
Also, make sure to take care of the animal’s comfort when feeding. The best option is to lace its tail on the floor, head facing upwards.
3-4 Weeks Of Age:
By the time your hedgehog reaches 3 weeks of age, it would weigh around 110-170 grams.
Feed the animal at least four times in this period and try mixing things up by introducing protein rich foods to them but in smaller quantities.
Provide them with food that’s easily chewable because the lower front teeth will take some more time to grow. They begin to appear after three weeks.
5-6 Weeks Of Age:
Your hedgehog’s weight would be between 200-206 grams by this time. The animal will have more appetite around this time
You can give them a bowl of mashed meat along with lactose free goat milk. Also, place a bowl of water nearby.
This is the age when they turn nocturnal and behave like adult hedgehogs. They will stop feeding during the day and will spend most of their time sleeping. You should stop giving them milk after they hit week 6.
Note: The weight mentioned above should not be considered a benchmark.
Just like human babies, baby hedgehogs also need to be weaned at the right time. The right age to wean a hoglet is when it reaches 21 days of age.
Grab a small box and place solid food in it and place it near the lil one to test it out.
Do not eliminate milk feeds just yet, but do keep food boxes near it at all times because as the animal grows, it will need to replenish by intaking more calories.
- Foods To Use For Weaning: You can use soft digestive biscuits or Farley’s rusk but softened in goat milk. A baby hedgehog can also eat canned puppy food, mealworms, plants (Dandelion, clover, chickweed, etc.).
Always keep an eye on it and see if it is eating properly. Also, check its eyes and nose for stuck food debris. Clean it properly to avoid infection.s
- Fenbendazole: When your baby hedgehog reaches 4-6 weeks of age, you can warm it using fenbendazole. It is a liquid suspension that you can fill in a syringe and feed your hoglet with. It keeps the baby warm and healthy. The average dosage of Panacur is 50 mg for every 1 kg of body weight. It should be given only once a month.
What If It Is Not Feeding On Milk?
hoglet may decide to not feed on milk. This mostly happens when they breathe during feeds. This can cause pneumonia and require immediate help. If you see such signs, waste no time and take the animal to a vet.
A hoglet must stay clean at all times to avoid infections and bug invasion. Always check their feet, nose, eyes, mouth, and fur for stuck debris, dirt or food particles. Use a wet cloth to clean them off. They are too weak for a bathe hence be careful.
Apart from that, the containers you use for feeding should be properly sterilized. Also, the bedding should be changed frequently.
When you are done feeding the lil one, dip cotton in olive oil and rub it over the hoglet to clean it off and ward off the possibility of diseases. Also, wash your hands both before and after feeding the animal.
Only use warm water as touching the animal when your hands are cold can be bad.
A hoglet is prone to bug attacks. Here are the most common bugs.
Fleas: You can use flea powder to ward off fleas. Make sure to use it properly and protect the hedgehog’s eyes, nose and mouth.
Maggots: Maggots are a common occurrence especially if the animal is injured. You can use different solutions to get rid of the infestation.
Fly eggs: Use tweezers to scrape fly eggs. However, be very careful and make sure to not leave a wound on their skin.
Wounds: If your hoglet has sustained a wound or an injury, use a dilute antiseptic. If the wound is deeper and fatal, rush the lil one to a vet.
Like most pets, baby hedgehogs are also prone to several diseases. Some of the most common diseases include:
If your hedgehog’s skin is beginning to look scabby and it’s losing quills then it might be due to a skin disease. There can be many causes for a hoglet to suffer from a skin disease but mites and ringworm are the most common ones.
You must wear spine-proof gloves if the skin of your hoglet looks shady. This is because some skin diseases such as mycoses are zoonotic (transmissible to humans).
If your pet is losing quills, rush it to a vet for inspection and treatment. The condition can be very serious and needs immediate attention.
Baby hedgehogs are prone to bacteria as they can easily get into their intestines from food.
Salmonella is one of the most common bacterial diseases that can attack a hoglet. It is said to be life threatening and needs immediate attention. The best way to protect the animal is to keep it and the surrounding clean at all times.
There are a bunch of other diseases as well that can weaken a hoglet such as lameness, eye diseases, abscesses, poisoning, tumors, and viral infections.
If your baby hedgehog is producing a green, slimy unpleasant dropping along with blood then it could be a digestive disorder.
Diarrhea, loss of weight and balance, pale mucosa, bleeding from the bowel or mouth, cramps, listlessness or swollen legs are some other diseases that can hit a baby hedgehog if proper care is not given.
If you notice weakness or strange behavior from the hoglet then waste no time and rush it to a vet. It could be suffering from a bacterial disease or an infection. The sooner it gets treated, the better.
Baby hedgehogs are cute little creatures that require a lot of care if the mother is no more or if she has abandoned the hoglet. You need to feed it on time, provide it with warmth and give it a good housing.
Take good care of its hygiene to prevent it from getting diseases and keep it clear from other pets in the house such as cats and dogs.