How To Look After A Baby Hedgehog – Step By Step Guide
You might be in a situation where your female pet hedgehog has given birth unexpectedly or you found baby hedgies in your garden. In both cases, it’s important to know how to how to look after a baby hedgehog. The steps to remember include correct enclosure, providing warmth and feeding them goat or sheep milk.
This guide will help you with the basics on how to look after a baby hedgehog and answer all your questions around the topic by exploring the following:
- Baby hedgehogs in the wild
- Baby hedgehog appearance
- How to look after a baby hedgehog – providing warmth, cage set up, toilet training, safe handling and diet
Baby Hedgehogs In The Wild – Birth And Life
Before exploring how to look after a baby hedgehog, first it’s important to understand the female hedgehog’s pregnancy and what is normal.
Female hedgehogs’ pregnancy lasts around 32 days. During the pregnancy, the mother will take her time to build the “nursery” nest out of sticks, mud and small rocks.
Normally, the female will give birth to a litter of 4 to 5 baby hedgehogs, also known as hoglets.
The adult female hedgehog will be feeding on small insects and grubs whilst being pregnant. The female need all that food, so she has the energy to go through the pregnancy and then nourish her babies with milk for the first few weeks of their life.
In the first 3 weeks, the baby hedgehogs will feed on the mother’s milk. The mother has two sets of five nipples on each side of her belly which allows her to feed a litter up to 10 babies! However, most litters are of 4 to 5 baby hedgehogs and only 2 or 3 would survive in the wild.
After 3 weeks, the hoglets will start eating solid foods. However, the mom will still need to chew up the foods before giving them to her babies.
After 4 to 6 weeks, the babies will be ready to leave the nest and explore the world on their own.
To learn more about hedgehog pregnancy and labor, read the full guide here Hedgehog Labor Signs And Pregnancy Signs
Baby Hedgehogs Appearance
Another important thing to learn before discussing how to look after a baby hedgehog, it’s what a healthy newborn baby hedgehog looks like and what to expect in the first few weeks of their life:
- Small, weighing in around 25 grams
- Blind. However, the eyes will start to open slowly around day 15 and 18. That’s when the babies become curious and start exploring their surroundings
- Grey skin with a layer of liquid like a water blister. After 1 week, their skin will start turning pale pink colour
- No spines at first. After 2 weeks, they will start growing fur and the skin will get darker as their brown spikes start coming through
- Milk teeth. They get their adult teeth at 3 weeks old and lose their final milk teeth at around 3 months old
Now that we looked at the baby hedgehogs behaviour in the wild and we know what to expect once they are born, it’s time to dive into the step by step guide on how to look after a baby hedgehog at home.
How To Look After A Baby Hedgehog – Step By Step
If your female hedgehog has given birth, ideally she will be raising the babies herself. However, sometimes, the female will reject the babies. In this case, you’ll have to step in and learn how to look after a baby hedgehog.
If you’re not sure how to do this, keep reading this guide we’ve put together to help you raise healthy and happy hedgehogs.
Follow these steps on how to raise a baby hedgehog:
- Keep the hedgehog warm
- Provide adequate cage setup
- Learn how to handle the hedgehog safely
- Baby hedgehog diet
The most important factors that you need to consider when looking after a baby hedgehog are temperature, hygiene, and diet.
1.Keep The Hedgehog Warm
When thinking about how to look after a baby hedgehog, you might think that the most important thing is feeding. However, once separated from their mother, the baby hedgehog’s body will lose heat very quickly and you should never feed a cold hedgehog as they use the warmth to help with digestion.
Furthermore, if a baby hedgehog stays cold for too long, it can quickly result in death.
With that said, the first step in looking after a baby hedgehog is to heat them up. You can do this by:
- Filling up a hot water bottle with boiling water. After you’ve done that, wrap it up with two towels before using it on the baby hedgehog
- Gently place the baby hedgehog on the hot water bottle. Then, place a small cloth such as a blanket over the hedgehog. This will prevent the heat from escaping
- Keep checking on the hedgehog. Once the baby hedgehog feels slightly warmer than the temperature of your own skin, place it in a box with a heat source
Although, it’s very important to heat up the baby hedgehog quickly, it’s equally as important to not overheat them!
If the baby hedgehog ends up overheating, it can result in blood cloths which can be very dangerous and even fatal.
Symptoms of overheating to keep an eye on include:
- Gaping, also known as breathing with the mouth wide open
- Floppiness when picked up
- Hot to touch
2.Provide Adequate Cage Setup For The Baby Hedgehog
The second step in how to look after a baby hedgehog is providing an adequate cage setup. When housing baby hedgehogs, you should separate the males and females. This is done to avoid breeding as hedgehogs reach sexual maturity at around 2 months old.
The baby hedgehog will benefit the most from the following set up:
- Small plastic terrarium/aquarium or pet carrying box as enclosure. You want something that is easily cleaned and not flammable
- Heat source. As mentioned earlier, the baby hedgehog must be heated up when separated from the mother. To do this, you can use a desk lamp and fit a bulb that emits heat aswell as light such as Wuhostam 2 Pack 100W Infrared Ceramic Heat Lamp. Place the heat source on one end of the enclosure. This way you’ll prevent the hedgehog being blinded by the light and provide them with a cold spot
- Thermostat to track the temperature, so the hedgehog doesn’t overheat
- Absorbent bedding that can be easily washed or disposed such as shredded newspaper or vetbed
- Hide spot. This is important for the hedgehog to feel safe. Good hide spots can be made of cardboard box or toilet roll
- Hygiene. Keeping your hedgehog’s environment clean is essential for their health. To keep a clean habitat, you must keep the bed clean by either washing it or completely disposing of it and disinfecting the enclosure daily
3. Toilet Training
The next step in the guide on how to look after a baby hedgehog is teaching them to go to the toilet. Normally, the mother would lick her babies to encourage them to pee and poop.
However, as their new parent, you can help them go to the toilet by using a damp cloth or a baby wipe to gently rub the baby hedgehog’s private parts. Keep wiping/rubbing until it urinates or poops.
This must be done after every feeding.
Helping the baby go to the toilet it’s an important part of how to look after a baby hedgehog. If their bladder becomes too full, it can spill over with urine and scald the baby’s legs which can promote skin infections.
4. Safe Handling
When learning how to look after a baby hedgehog, important part is safe handling. By handling your hedgehog from an early age, they will get used to being held and learn to trust you.
When handling your baby hedgehog, follow these tips:
- Always wash you hands before and after handling
- After you pick them up, hold the baby in the palm of your hand
- Don’t hold it by the sides with the legs dangling
- Talk to your hedgehog whilst handling to build a good relationship
- Stroke in direction of the spines
4. Baby Hedgehog Diet
When learning how to look after a hedgehog, an important step is learning what to feed them, how often and how to administer the food safely and successfully.
How Often To Feed A Baby Hedgehog
Baby hedgehogs need four meals a day and must be fed every 2 to 3 hours in the first 3 weeks of their lives. A good routine includes an early morning, lunchtime, late afternoon and a bedtime feed.
Getting enough food is essential for the baby hedgehog’s development and health.
What To Feed A Baby Hedgehog
Baby hedgehogs’ diet can be one of the following milks:
- Goat’s milk
- Sheep’s milk as it’s closest in nutrition to hog’s milk
- Milk substitute such as Esbilac. This contains all the fats, vitamins and minerals they need
Avoid feeding cow’s milk as it’s not a good alternative for hedgehogs.
Normally, the milk from the hedgehog’s mother will be warm. Therefore, you must warm up the milk before feeding. You can do this by submerging a container with milk in hot water. Similar to how you’d warm up baby food or milk.
The milk’s temperature should be just above body temperature. You can test if it’s the right temperature by dropping some on the back of your hand. If it feels nice and warm, the temperature is right.
How To Feed A Baby Hedgehog
Once you have the food, you’ll need to know how to administer it. Normally, the baby hedgehog would suck on the mother’s tit. To mimic that, you can use one of the following:
- Kitten feeder bottle
- 1ml syringe
Always, disinfect whichever feeding tool you pick before and after every feed. You can use a steam sterilizer to do this.
Now, let’s look how to use the feeding tools to administer the food:
- Place a drop of milk at the end of the feeding tool
- Hold it near the baby’s mouth. If that doesn’t work touch the tip to its lips
- Let it suckle until their belly is full and rounded
Sometimes the mother will reject her babies and that is when you need to step in and help raise them.
The most important part of looking after a baby hedgehog is ensuring they stay warm, have a correct enclosure setup and are fed the right diet.
Now you know all the basics and with the help of this step by step guide on how to look after a baby hedgehog, you are guaranteed to raise a healthy and happy hedgehog.
However, if you have any concerns or questions in regards to your hedgehog care, you should always contact the breeder or the local exotic vet.
Your number one priority should always be the hedgehog’s wellbeing.
Related Topics Q&A
When To Feed Solids To Baby Hedgehog?
Baby hedgehogs should be fed with milk until they are around 4 to 6 weeks old. The hoglets should be fully weaned somewhere around the 6 weeks mark.
Once they are weaned, you need to switch to solid foods.
In the wild, hoglets will start eating small insects around that age. However, when kept as pets, you can offer them small amounts of wet cat food or specialized hedgehog food.
How To Care For A Hedgehog After She’s Given Birth?
After your hedgehog gives birth, it’s essential to give her 5 to 10 days space and to not disturb her.
Furthermore, you should ensure that the enclosure is quiet and warm (around 74 °F to 80 °F). The most important thing is to monitor the mother’s eating as she needs her strength during this process.
Giving the mother space, peace and quiet is so important because if she experience unnecessary stress, it can result in her rejecting or even eating her babies.