Hedgehogs make beautiful pets for people. They are cute, intelligent, curious and the best part is that they sleep at night. Thus you won’t have to wake up every now and then check on it. In areas where they are licensed, it’s quite easy to find a hedgehog for purchase. You can try the local pet store for that matter.
But now that you have decided to buy a hedgehog, would you be open to hedgehogs breeding? Well, many people consider hedgehogs breeding, and if you are planning to go on similar lines, here are a few insights which you must know.
So let’s dig in!
Hedgehog breeding Age:
Like in most species of animals, there is an exact hedgehog breeding age. You have to have the patience for your hedgehog to grow and reach that stage of maturity when you can go for hedgehogs breeding. This applies both to male and female hedgehogs. You need to wait for the hedgehog breeding age to ensure that your pet is fertile and physically ready to get pregnant. In many periods of their lives, they won’t get pregnant but the health risk associated with pregnancy goes up.
Both male and female hedgehogs must reach the minimum age of 5 months before you can even consider breeding them. This age is fine because at this point they reach overall maturity. Even though they can be fertile at an earlier age, but the psychological stress resulting from pregnancy can cause serious damage to them.
It’s important to note while considering hedgehog breeding age, the females used for the purpose must have been bred at least once before the age of 1 ½ year. If not, then they must not be bred as that can cause physical problems.
How Do Hedgehogs Mate?
Though it may seem funny to many, how do hedgehogs mate is not a joke? In fact, it is a very delicate process. The female has to get into a particular body posture with her spines flattened, so as to enable to male partner to ride her from the back. Radio tracking method has shown that generally, hedgehogs are promiscuous, i.e they can have multiple partners in a single breeding season.
How Many Babies Do Hedgehogs Have?
How many babies does a hedgehog have? This is one question that every hedgehog owner has asked sometime in their life. Of course, its an important question if you are considering breeding your hedgehog.
Well, you might have a load full of surprise to the question “how many babies do hedgehogs have?” Unlike human beings, who can produce a maximum of 2 two babies per birth generally (there are exceptions and rare cases), other animals produce a litter in each birth.
Hedgehogs can be unpredictable at producing babies. They can produce a minimum of 1 per litter, but the chances of producing many hoglets( baby hedgehogs) are really high. Many times, hedgehogs can produce 4 babies per litter. But most commonly 8 to 9 babies appear per litter. Thus you have to prepare yourself for handling such a big litter.
Your preparation will involve buying accessories for the babies, cages and other things which you will need when the babies grow up. You will also have to care for the litter in a proper manner and line up a loved-filled home for these hoglets to get adopted in once they grow up.
Hedgehog Gestation Period
Many breeders are often confused about the hedgehog gestation period. To make the concept clear, the gestation period is the time required by the animal to give birth. Once the hedgehog is pregnant, the hedgehog gestation period can be anywhere between four to six weeks. However, the exact time period depends on the particular species though. For instance the four-toed hedgehogs, a.k.an Atelerix albiventris female hedgehogs are generally pregnant for 35 days before giving birth. On the other hand, Western European hedgehogs (Erinaceus europaeus) have a longer gestation period. The gestation period can actually extend to 49 days for this specific species for hedgehogs.
The labor time also varies from one female hedgehog to another. While some go into labor and give birth within minutes, others might take hours.
Now that all the key questions regarding hedgehog breeding have been answered, its time to get into the main concern of every hedgehog breeder, how to breed hedgehogs?
How to breed hedgehogs?
First things first, hedgehog mating is not something for the faint hearted, you need to meet a few points in the checklist to become successful in your venture. Few points can include the following:
Check if you need a license: In many areas, pet hedgehogs are regulated in and in many other areas they are illegal. In order to breed them officially, you might need a special permit or license. Thus it’s important to know the following points:
If you hail for the USA, you must check with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to know if you need a permit to breed hedgehogs in your area.
Selection: Once that is sorted, select male and female hedgehogs for the breeding process. However, both must be above the age of 5 months.
If you are finding it difficult you can check with the authorized dealer in your area to find an age appropriate hedgehog.
However, it’s important to get the age of the female hedgehog checked from the vet before the process begins.
Select Healthy Partners: On reaching sexual maturity, male hedgehogs can breed for their entire lifetime. However, for the health of your female hedgehog and the litter, it’s important to select a male which is free from defects and is in good health.
Creating The Setting: Begin the process by bringing the female cage near the male’s cage. Remove any obstacles, such as toys, tubes and such from the cage. After some time, place the female inside the male’s cage and let them be for a couple of hours.
However, do not be paranoid if you find your hedgehogs hissing at each other, appearing to fight or chasing each other. That’s how they “date”.
Return The Female To Its Cage: Most hedgehogs will complete mating in a few days. After that, you must return the female hedgehog to its own cage so that it can rest. If you want to improve her chances of being pregnant, return her to the male hedgehog’s cage after a week or so.
Projected Due Date: Hedgehogs generally take 35 to 40 days before delivery. Thus mark the day when your hedgehog mated and count 35 days from that day to get a probable due date. However, you must wait for a few days more, say 46 days to assume that your hedgehog is not pregnant.
However, if your hedgehog is pregnant, you must keep it warm, provide it proper nutrition and keep it hydrated. It might become important to replace the empty dishes of water and food often when your female hedgehog gets pregnant. Additionally, in the last two weeks of pregnancy, you might have to increase the amount of food and water. Generally, female hedgehogs eat more than their daily measurement during this time. Just check the dishes often and keep them well fed. Very soon you will have a handful of hoglets to keep you busy. All the best!