Breeding Your Hedgehog
As you look at your hedgehog, you may feel the world needs more hedgehogs just as beautiful and amiable as yours. In other words, you may be thinking about breeding your pet.
Make this decision carefully and only after a lot of research and talking with experienced breeders. Breeding hedgehogs is not as simple as it sounds. To safeguard the health of your pet and his or her offspring, you need to be able to handle any situation you encounter. Some questions to answer include:
- Do you have the time to dedicate to breeding? The time you will need to spend with your new babies will increase dramatically.
- Will you be able to afford the costs involved if a veterinarian is necessary?
- Is an exotic veterinarian available?
- If you can't find new homes for the new babies, are you willing to keep them? This means more cages, more feeding, and more cleaning. Remember you started with one hedgehog, then you acquired a second one and now you may have a total of four – or even more.
The African hedgehog matures sexually with the ability to reproduce sometime between 2 and 3 months of age. However, for ideal maturity and for the safety of the female, wait until your hedgehog is at least 6 months of age before being bred.
Gestation, the amount of time from conception to birth, is 34 to 37 days and litters can range in size from one to seven pups (three to four is average). Problems during delivery are rare, but during parturition (childbirth) hedgehogs become very sensitive to minor disturbances, and if stressed, will eat their young. Therefore, after delivery, allow the female and her young be left undisturbed for several days.
In addition, keep the male away as the time of delivery nears. The male takes no part in parental care and may also cannibalize the young. He may also cause stress to the female. At about 4 to 6 weeks of age, when the pups are weaned from their mother, they should be moved to a separate cage.
If you decided in favor of breeding your pet, be a responsible breeder and give them the best care. They are counting on you.